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Is there any program for writing a book? I tried to find it on some forums and sites, but I really couldn't find any.

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libreoffice can do most anything. If that does not suite your needs please update the question as to what is missing. –  bodhi.zazen Jun 24 '13 at 19:58
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Consider LaTeX. In Ubuntu, you can install texlive, and perhaps LyX if you are used to "seeing" the appearance of your files while you write them. Both are available from the Software Center. –  carnendil Jun 24 '13 at 20:10
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What sort of program do you want? What features do you need? What were you using before you started using Ubuntu? –  Alvar Jun 24 '13 at 20:55
    
@user169939: Can you please add some information? What type of book (academic / story) do you want to write? How do you want to publish it (printed / epub / pdf)? –  moose Jun 28 '13 at 8:06
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16 Answers

For smaller projects, you should be fine with Libreoffice Writer.

If you are looking for a professional typesetting tool, the most well known and most widely used open source program is called LaTeX. On Ubuntu, the texlive LaTeX distribution is available in the software repository.

Beware, that LaTeX is not a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, but a WYGIWYW (What You Get Is What You Want) typesetting language, and can in some respects be compared to HTML.

LaTeX files are plain text, which are compiled by the LaTeX program into DVI or PDF files. There exist numerous style templates, and with some knowledge of the LaTeX language one can write them oneself.

Using a style template and only writing plain text spares the user the tedious work with layout, and lets the writer concentrate on what is being written instead on how it might look in the end.

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I'm being pedantic but: TeX, like with programming languages, is What You ... Wrote. It doesn't come with a Do What I Meant command to read your mind and fix bugs in your markup. –  Dan Neely Jun 24 '13 at 20:58
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For a beginner, I wouldn't go near actually writing LaTeX. Lyx makes it much easier, while still doing essentially the same thing. –  lonesomeday Jun 25 '13 at 8:37
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@lonesomeday Everyone starts out as a beginner. –  gerrit Jun 25 '13 at 9:29
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@Bakuriu lemire.me/blog/archives/2011/03/08/… –  constantius Jun 25 '13 at 12:09
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@Bakuriu, I would assume that "HTML, CSS, and JavaScript" was implied by "compared to HTML". –  zzzzBov Jun 25 '13 at 21:10
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Try Scribus. Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to Linux, it supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.

For other ways to install, and Instructions for Debian/Ubuntu

Or Click to install Scribus Install comixcursors-lefthanded

Source:Scribus

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Scribus is very proffesional tool. –  Misery Jun 25 '13 at 10:36
    
I agree with this. LibreOffice is good for writing drafts, but for publishing you'll want Scribus. I have used it to publish books and there really is no better program for linux when it comes to publishing. –  osarusan Jun 25 '13 at 20:19
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Since no one else has mentioned it: If you want something as predictable as LaTeX, but don't need all of the power (and the complexity that comes with that power), Markdown is a great language. It's what's this website uses for markup.

You write plain text and it gets converted to formatted text:

Input:

# Title

This is a paragraph with *italics* and **bold**.

Output:


Title

This is a paragraph with italics and bold.


Ubuntu has a program called Pandoc, which can convert Markdown to basically any format you could want (including LaTeX, if you decide you want fancier formatting than Markdown can do).

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@moose Yes I know, that's why I said: If you want something as predictable as LaTeX, but don't need all of the power (and the complexity that comes with that power). And see the last line for converting Markdown to LaTeX if it becomes necessary. –  Brendan Long Jun 27 '13 at 22:48
    
@moose I really don't understand what you have against Markdown. Yes, LaTeX is more powerful, but the lack of power is what makes Markdown useful in some cases. For example, if I was writing a book, I would write the entire thing in Markdown, then convert it to LaTeX for the final draft. I don't want to think about formatting while I'm writing. Maybe you do, but then you're not the target audience for this answer. –  Brendan Long Jun 28 '13 at 16:29
    
@Bredan Long: I don't have anything against Markdown. I think its perfect for StackExchange. But I don't see the point of using Markdown when you want to switch to LaTeX anyway. And you should write books with LaTeX as the results are so much better than anything else. –  moose Jun 28 '13 at 16:55
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You can use LibreOffice Writer. It comes preinstalled with Ubuntu.

enter image description here

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LibreOffice Writer messed up two of my student's theses shortly before submission. I wholeheartedly recommend not to use this program if don't want to get really frustrated. LaTeX has a steep learning curve, but performs perfectly for longer texts. I've grown to be a latex fan during the last year. Plus, for writing a book, you might want to check out version control such as git or Mercurial. –  biologue Jun 25 '13 at 9:18
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@biologue That really sucks :-( But that can always happen with any application... Murphy's law. Also, backup stuff. –  Jop Jun 25 '13 at 9:20
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@biologue: I've used LibreOffice for years, and had never had issues with it destroying my work. Don't let a single isolated incident make your decision against using an otherwise perfectly capable program. –  Lie Ryan Jun 25 '13 at 12:16
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@LieRyan Two cases of completely ruined work are reason enough for me. Writing a letter, okay. Use LibreOffice if you want to, but I recommend against using it for anything longer than 5 pages. –  biologue Jun 25 '13 at 14:10
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Backup is great, but if an application has had issues like this, there's no reason not to warn others. A good backup practice should be considered essential, though. –  belacqua Jul 1 '13 at 15:45
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If you're writing a Fiction novel, this is an answer nobody thought about: Plume Creator.

Find it here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/plume-creator/

It's currently the BEST free alternative Scrivener. I've been using it for many short stories, and currently for writing a novel, and it hasn't failed me yet. Plus, the developer of this software is always open to suggestions to make the tool better. :)

That said, Plume Creator only focuses on only writing, so you aren't bothered by formatting and organizing. It also has an Outliner to plan your plot, as well as Notes for note-taking and Attendance for keeping character / items / settings data. This structure helps you finish your book in no time.

Of course, after finishing your draft, you'll need to "format" the manuscript in LibreOffice or LaTeX. So that said, Plume Creator (like Scrivener) is recommended for writing first drafts, while LibreOffice for the actual formatting, editing and processing.

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+1 Never heard of plume-creator. I'm heading over to check it out now. –  Joe Jun 27 '13 at 2:20
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Scrivener is an option. There is well-polished beta available for free on the Literature and Latte site . Because it is commercially available, links for download (and support) come from the dedicated forum there.

As Joe points out, "A lot of people on the SE Writers forum are very fond of Scrivener. You may want to take a look there at some of the posts about it - and for all things about writing."

Sigil, an ebook editor, is available via ppa : http://code.google.com/p/sigil/wiki/LinuxDistroPackages

You might also consider a wiki editor. One of the Writing Excuses people recommended wikidpad. I actually prefer Zim, a "graphical text editor based on wiki technologies", which is available from the repositories.

The Caligra Suite, which is associated with KDE (and Kubuntu) and is available in repositories, has a tool which for authoring books and ebooks.

Here's part of the announcement for it:

Calligra Author is a specialized tool for serious writers [....] The application will support a writer in the process of creating an eBook from concept to publication. We have two user categories in particular in mind:

Novelists who produce long texts with complicated plots involving many characters and scenes but with limited formatting. Textbook authors who want to take advantage of the added possibilities in eBooks compared to paper-based textbooks. For the first category Calligra Author will provide tools which are used in different phases of the creative process: Synopsis, writing, reviewing, polishing and publishing.

For the second category Calligra Author will provide interactive content elements like multimedia, 2D and 3D animations, embedded web content and support for javascript scripting. It is our ambition to work with other application developers to make Calligra Author integrate well with other writers tools like e.g Plume Creator.

Note that if you install Calligra Author, you will be pulling in a lot of other KDE and Calligra Suite packages.

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A lot of people on the SE Writers forum are very fond of Scrivener. You may want to take a look there at some of the posts about it - and for all things about writing. –  Joe Jun 27 '13 at 2:16
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Although LaTeX was already mentioned, I think I have to add an answer.

I am currently employed at university for improving a book that was written with LaTeX.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX [...] is a document markup language and document preparation system. The term LaTeX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor application used to write those documents. In order to create a document in LaTeX, a .tex file must be created using some form of text editor. While most text editors can be used to create a LaTeX document, a number of editors have been created specifically for working with LaTeX.

Source: Wikipedia

Examples

Packages and editors

See LaTeX Editors/IDEs and Wikipedia

What I use:

  • Texlive (sudo apt-get install texlive-full)
  • gedit (now, with MATE it is called pluma)
  • Makefiles (to save the commands for creating the output and removing intermediate files)

Why LaTeX is the best choice

  • Typesetting is brilliant - better than Word (no matter if you take Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, ...). See examplehttp://tex.stackexchange.com/a/120279/5645 with line and page breaking.
  • Text-only: You only write text.
    • You don't have to care about presentation when you write your content.
    • It doesn't crash
    • You can use version control (e.g. git or svn)
  • Community:
  • Price: It's free
  • Consistency: Your results don't change. So you can compile it on a different machine years later and you get the same output
  • You get a PDF as output
  • It's old (TeX was released 1978; Microsoft Office 1990; Adobe InDesign 1999). In this time, many developers improved it; created new packages and fixed bugs.
  • You can get beautiful results (Showcase of beautiful typography done in TeX & friends)
  • You can typeset anything (e.g. Keyboard Font for LaTeX)
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While LaTeX certainly is a major player here, I really like

Sphinx

It's mainly used for writing documentation for open source projects to be published as static HTML. However, it's also possible to write a book with it.

It's not WYSIWYG, but works much like LaTeX. It is a bit easier and has less features. I also think it's a lot more flexible with the use of extensions, custom generators, etc.

Here's an example book (randomly chosen from Books Produced by Sphinx): Theoretical Physics Reference 0.1 (1st-edition) (options: html, pdf, book, source, blog post)

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I've used sphinx for some of my documentation -- I like it a lot. Since it is closely associated with python, there are also a number of users you'll find on stackoverflow. –  belacqua Jul 1 '13 at 15:48
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Org mode of Emacs can be a very simple and practical alternative for document (book) authoring. It can be converted to html, LaTeX, PDF, etc. Here is a short article about how to use org-mode of Emacs for writing short articles: http://www.academia.edu/4005672/Easy_Blogging_With_Emacs

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Everything you need to write fiction - Writer's Café is a set of power tools for all fiction writers, whether experienced or just starting out. The heart of Writer's Café is StoryLines, a powerful but simple to use story development tool that dramatically accelerates the creation and structuring of your novel or screenplay.

Find it here: http://www.writerscafe.co.uk/

*.deb packages available.

It is highly recommended and really powerful.

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I have a friend who makes her living as an author. She tells me that there is only one program for writing a book: namely, "the program your publisher requires you to use." If you're using a publisher, which my friend tells me is the best way to go even though self-publishing is so easy anymore, find out the format in which they want their submissions, and use that program that creates that format.

That may involve using Microsoft Word, at least at the very end (to make sure that the formatting from Libreoffice or Abiword or whatever Word-compatible program you used to write your book has formatted and saved your book accurately.)

If you're self-publishing, I'd recommend using MarkDown in a text editor, only because it'll give you the most options for publishing formats. MarkDown will save to darned near anything.

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A book is a huge writing project. The chief problem is with the organization of potentially hundreds of pages of manuscript during the initial drafting stage. That can be tackled by creating numerous documents for each project, for example one per chapter. LIBRE OFFICE would handle that approach well.

Some writers have issues with creating numerous files for each project because it makes it far more difficult to move text around among the various chapters as they draft the book. For instance, if they are looking for something specific that they drafted a while back and try to search by keyword, then they may have to resort to search through many chapters individually until they score.

With a single file project, Libre Office is very difficult to draft a book. You have to scroll what might seem like forever before finally reaching the desired portion. There isn't an easy to use Table of Contents for the file that organizes one file into units available at a click. With Libre Office you will inevitable end up scrolling much more of your writing time away compared to other tools that automatically navigate around a file to specific sections, like a table of contents.

ZIM WIKI DESKTOP is an excellent way to draft a book length manuscript, quickly organizing the raw text into sections. The output can be exported into numerous formats including HTML, and of course WIKI format, its primary design purpose.

Prior to the drafting stage, TOMBOY NOTES makes an excellent way of sketching the book and writing preliminary chapters in text format. The user creates notes, i.e. chapters, ideas, or anything that typed up. The advantage with it is that it excels above other applications in it's ability to search and retrieve keywords from among all its notes, or a selected portion of notes that fall under a user created notebook. Tomboy Notes can be imported into ZIM WIKI DESKTOP or exported to HTML, or TEXT.

Both ZIM WIKI and TOMBOY NOTES are fairly distraction free compared to heavy weight applications like Libre Office.

FocusWriter is designed specifically to eliminate distractions. The application can takes up the entire screen and has a foreground (page) and background (frame around the page). A menu pops up at the top of the screen when moused over. When mousing over the bottom of the screen the writing goals pop up, such as the percentage of words per day completed. A timer can be set also. When mousing over the left edge of the screen a table of scenes list pops up, to easily navigate from among those defined, making navigation around a lengthy document possible. There is also spell check, as is the case with all the other programs I've mentioned in this post.

Another handy tool is ARTHA It's a powerful thesaurus and dictionary that automatically pops up on any word highlighted on any of the programs mentioned. The user simply presses ctrl-alt-W or the tool gives definitions, alternatives, relatives, and antonyms to the highlighted word. The user can also redefine the ctrl-key activator to anything that suits their taste.

After the manuscript for the book is drafted, it has to be formatted for printing.

Publishers frequently require submittal in RTF or DOC format, then they use this to generate their own proprietary format that they print to paper on. The specified DOC or RTF formats have to be rigorously adhered to else the publishers will reject them outright. Still, It's worth reiterating that this is just a preliminary format, not the format the book itself will be printed to paper directly from.

If you are self publishing, then ebook formats are a frequent focus. HTML is the best format to export to because it can easily be converted to popular ebook formats such as epub and mobi, by a third party vendor who offers the service of ebook publication. Also, the CALLIBRE application can easily convert html formats to epub and mobi since all three are essentially markup language formats, designed for indefinite viewing dimensions. (Various ebook reader sizes, or monitors)

If you are printing your own books to paper, then LyX (using LaTeX and TeX) is a method that's popular, at least in the academic world, and for thesis papers. An alternative to LyX (LaTeX) final formatting and printout directly to paper includes SCRIBUS which offers a true What You See is What You Get approach. All of those final formatting methods will require a significant learning curve to master, but they can offer special advantages. For example, a master of LaTeX can craft a book in simple text, than automatically have LyX mark it up for Fancy Book output, and do this all with minimal fuss, letting the program handle all the formatting specifics and keeping it out of sight, out of mind to the author. The author essentially hits the export to pdf button and the markup is converted to a book with perfect proportions, fonts and layout. That is a markup approach.

Another approach, especially for graphics intensive books, is SCRIBUS A master of Scribus can craft unique books with lots of graphics, and do this artistically as she sees fit, seeing the exact final output on screen as they edit, and do this more effectively than with a traditional word processor like Libre Office, or a non traditional markup "document" processor like LyX.

The key is taking the time, LOTS of time, to learn those tools. Libre Office can also format a final draft of a book for final print to paper. Its easy to start, but still takes quite some time to discover all its capibilites. Prepare to also have learning time with this application. Hopefully you've got a first draft done else the learning phase could be a major distraction from the creative writing process. Still, the hurdle of success is stepped much lower with Libre Office than with LyX or Scribus. Prepare time for any of these, though, to vent from software frustrations as you learn.

Lastly, Calligra Suit and Calligra Author is in fast paced development (not to be confused with Callibre, which easily manages ebook collects and can convert html into ebooks). Calliagra Suit aims to be the KDE destop alternative to the ever popular Libre Office. In addition to Calligra Words, it offers an additional tool called Calligra Author that focuses on distraction free writing, organizing and easy ebook creation directly into the ebook champion formats of epub and mobi. After 2014, its expected that development will reach fruition. Perhaps then Kubuntu Linux will offer Calligra Suit as the default installation for word processing and spreadsheets. I've just started using Kubuntu 13.10 and can tout that their KDE Desktop pleases me very well. And, Calligra Suit is starting to shape up as a contender to Libre Office in Word Processing. Calligra Author might soon become valuable after their planned features are implemented.

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Could you add ways to get hold of each program you recommend? –  Alvar Nov 17 '13 at 20:21
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You might want to try troff (or groff which is the GNU version), the standard UNIX text processing tool. Although its main application area is UNIX man pages, it is more than capable of formatting books.

In my opinion it is far easier to master than LaTeX (especially if you don't need any fancy formatting) and will produce professional output.

It comes pre-installed on any Linux or BSD based OS (to the best of my knowledge anyway).

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You can also use AbiWord. It has only basic features, but it's a very lightweight application.

enter image description here

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If you use Kubuntu, you can use Calligra Words.

Screenshot of Calligra Words

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focuswriter

focus-writer

Focuswriter is a fullscreen writing program designed to be distraction free. You can customize your environment by changing the font, colors, and background image to add ambiance. FocusWriter features an on-the-fly updating wordcount, optional auto-save, optional daily goals, and toolbars that hide away to allow you to focus more clearly. Additionally, when you open the program your current work in progress will automatically load and position you at the end of your document, so that you can immediately jump back in.

Features:

  • TXT, basic RTF, and basic ODT file support
  • Timers and alarms
  • Daily goals
  • Fully customizable themes
  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)
  • Auto-save (optional)
  • Live statistics (optional)
  • Spell-checking (optional)
  • Multi-document support
  • Sessions
  • Portable mode (optional)
  • Translated into over 20 languages

Install via here

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