This article is the first in a series of articles reviewing publishing and marketing tools for authors, featuring a mix of reviews from staff and guest posts. Today’s article is a guest post from Blair Cousins. If you have a product you want to review on Business for Authors, email email@example.com for guest article guidelines.
As an indie author, there is no shortage of tasks that must be done. Whether it’s drafting the next novel or gathering invoices for taxes, you really are an army of one. That’s why I was excited to hear about the release of the new book formatting software, Atticus. Advertised as a mash-up of Scrivener, Google Docs, and Vellum, I was curious to try it. Especially if it works as well as I’ve heard Vellum does, which is a book formatting software only available to Apple users.
With a price of around one hundred and forty-seven dollars, for a lifetime subscription, I was a bit hesitant. In fact, it wasn’t until the topic came up on the popular indie podcast, The Creative Penn, hosted by author and creative entrepreneur, Joanna Penn, that I was sold. I highly recommend giving the episode a listen; it’s episode 585: Amazon Keywords And Atticus For Writing And Book Formatting With Dave Chesson, and can be found on Youtube. Joanna speaks with Dave Chesson, the creator of Publisher Rocket and Atticus, about the new software. I am familiar with his products, as I have used the Rocket software to help generate keywords for my Amazon ads. So, I was excited to hear that his company was behind this new software.
How Atticus works
So, down to business, Atticus boasts that you can draft stories using this software and collaborate with other authors. I wasn’t as interested in those features but highly interested in the book formatting side. In the past, I have used many services to format my novels and coloring books. So I will be basing my review on my experience with those. Here’s a shortlist of the services I’ve used just for comparison: Reedsy and Drift2Digital, both free and easy to use. I’ve hired book formatters, for around one hundred to seven-five dollars USD, per book, and I’ve tried doing it myself through Microsoft Word, which was extremely difficult and came with a steep learning curve. I, unfortunately, haven’t used Vellum, but I have heard good reviews from other authors.
Atticus works on your browser. You don’t have to download the software to your computer. I use Chrome, and it looks nice and modern, as you would expect. It’s relatively easy to upload a project into the software; however, it doesn’t automatically divide up your chapters like Reedsy and Draft2Digital do. So, it was a little frustrating to go through each chapter and split them, but at least it was easy. It does come with a chapter slit feature. There will likely be updates, so they may have fixed it by the time you try it. One big highlight I enjoyed about the software was that its autosave was top-notch, which came in handy when dealing with its biggest weakness: its frequent crashing.
It crashes all the time, making a thirty-minute task last days. I don’t want to take too many stars away from the software because it is new; however, their competitors don’t have these issues, on top of the fact that this product is over a hundred dollars. So, it may be a little slow and crash frequently when you first use it. A little pro-tip I’ve discovered that helped with the crashing was to disable the Grammarly plug-in for Atticus. So, I don’t run Grammarly when using the formatting feature. However, this might pose a challenge for those wanting to draft using the software. I also noticed that it crashed less with smaller drafts. The word count on the draft I was working with was around 106k.
Another plus is that it retains and recognizes other formatting options during uploads, such as page breaks, for example: ***, and italics. I can’t tell you how frustrating it can be when programs meant for writing do not retain the italics when you paste or upload. Nobody wants to go through and find and correct italics; it’s 2022, all writing software should do this already. The next cool feature and the main one I was interested in was the formatting. The software comes with many pre-set themes that customize the font and how the chapters look. The pre-sets were nice, but you can also create and save your own, which was really neat, especially if you’re writing a series.
Atticus also produces epub and PDF files, so you can create ebooks and print books. I upload directly to Amazon Kindle and Kobo, and I upload to Barns & Noble, Apple Books, and Overdrive through Draft2Digial. All platforms took the files, with Draft2Digital warning that since Atticus’ epubs were advanced, they may have trouble on some digital storefronts. I wasn’t too concerned, as my sales are low in those stores, so if you use those stores, check out the preview once it’s live. One big big big heads up, just like with any other formatting software or service, make sure you are generating separate files for your ebook and print books. Don’t be like me and grab a PDF version of your book from Attius, with the ebook information in it. You can avoid this by creating two separate projects in Atticus; it has a duplicate project feature, so you don’t have to start over from square one. Through Amazon, I ordered the proof and the PDF converted nicely for print books.
The verdict: how good is Atticus?
Overall, I rate Atticus at 3/5 compared to the other options I’ve used. I have faith they will continue to improve, and I don’t regret buying it. I would recommend trying the free services out first if you’re tight on money, but if you have the cash to burn, this would be a good investment.
Blair Cousins is the author of the science fiction trilogy Ceapeaya’s Awakening and writer of many science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. She is an avid traveler and is dedicated to learning all she can to forge stories that fuel the mind and imagination.