The best eBook creators can help you go from humble writer to published novelist – and one who could even earn money from your words. Writing an eBook means you can publish your work directly online to start making money without the hassle of real world printing and publishing. That can be quicker, cheaper, and more accessible.
You can write your magnum opus in a word processor, like Word or Docs, then convert that to an EPUB or upload directly to a digital publisher. Alternatively you can write into an eBook creator with multiple formats ready to output.
The advantage of using any of the best eBook creators is that you can use rich media, like links, images, videos and more while also remaining confident the layout will be as intended. This can be a problem when using the above mentioned conversion option. Another big draw of an eBook creator is the ability to pull in other media – ideal if you want to use all your words also located on a blog, podcast or even YouTube, for conversion into an eBook.
So which is the best eBook creator? You may first want to decide if you're going to publish directly with each publisher or if you will use an eBook aggregator who can do this on multiple platforms at once for you. The latter will demand a bigger cut of your royalties but can make life easier in the short term, with the most exposure to potential buyers. If you need more writing help, we have guides to the best online grammar checkers, and a look at the best screenwriting software.
1. Scrivener: Best eBook creator overall
Scrivener, from Literature and Latte, is a writing platform created by writers, for writers with eBook publication as the main goal. As such this is built perfectly when it comes to creating a written work, uniquely allowing you to write any section that you feel the urge to, with the ability to reorganize later, which is made very simple indeed. Overlay research right there in the tool, write in one font and publish in another, and output to lots of formats including EPUB and PDF, with different features in each if needed.
The ability to pull in work from other places, including Word and even websites, is a great feature. This is affordable to buy, with a one time fee, but does require you to pay for two licences if you want it on both mobile and desktop, which seems a little outdated. With a free trial, this is well worth giving a go.
2. Canva: Best free eBook creator
Canva is the best free eBook creator tool as it offers lots of premium features, only without the cost. While this is free to use, you'll struggle to find the eBook maker from the homepage as this focuses primarily on social media and design based content. That's also a good thing for those looking to create an eBook with lots of imagery and visual focus. Plus you can use those tools to better market your book.
Canva is cloud based, meaning you can jump between your laptop and your smartphone to seamlessly continue your work on the book. It also means you can work with a team, all editing the same book, easily from different locations. This is a great option for anyone looking to design a visually engaging eBook for distribution online, best serving devices like tablets where rich content can be appreciated.
3. Apple Pages: Best for Apple users
Apple Pages, formerly iBooks Author, lets you create all kinds of digital content on your Apple devices, including presentations and photobooks but - crucially - eBooks. You can also combine file types to insert photos or videos into text or mix and match templates to create unique projects. The program has an intuitive design and is easy to use.
If you’re an Apple user, you have the benefit of keeping all your creative projects in one place and don’t need to maintain separate accounts on different sites around the web. Even though it’s a standard application released with Apple products, we found this eBook publisher’s templates to be better looking and of a higher quality than many others out there.
Pages has many of the same features as other e-publishing software, including translation and branding tools, and you can use MOBI, PDF and HTML files in the application. Pages has all the support and tools you need get started with web and eBook publishing on your Mac device.
4. Atavist: Best for retaining royalties
Atavist is an online publishing tool that can help you put your work online. Using this service, you can publish online magazines or photobooks, and it can help you publish eBooks.
Crucially, this service connects with the major eBook publishers, Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as with their respective Kindle and Nook formats. It also lets you format content for mobile devices, which is useful if you publish online.
Atavist comes with all the formats and features you need to make online content look good. You can embed videos and photos in articles and combine template types, though you might find this a bit challenging if you’ve never done it before. Atavist also does a decent check of your work to prevent errors in the uploading process.
What sets Atavist apart are the customization options it has that other online publication services don’t. For example, you can select a tailored transition for the pages in your eBook.
Atavist also walks you through how to protect your work, allowing you to select whether the book is for profit or free to the public. There’s tons of in-program support to help you figure out how to use all the features.
5. Ultimate eBook Creator: Best for multiple languages
Ultimate eBook Creator uniquely features support for a number of languages you can publish your work in – the software supports more than 80 at time of publishing.
Navigation of the software could be easier but what it lacks there is made up for in wide format support and apps for both Windows and Mac. It doesn’t have formatting options for magazines or comic books, though you can make more traditional projects like picture books, novels and guides. Ultimate eBook Creator also includes photo rendering tools to make images look clear. You can also add in links, tablets, bookmarks, images and more to make a rich media eBook.
The company has ties with publishers, so it’s easy to monetize your projects. Ultimate eBook Creator downloads to your computer, so you don’t need an internet connection to access it.
6. Lucidpress: Best for flexibility
Lucidpress gives you access to a lot of formatting and project options, making it one of the most versatile eBook creators out there. Ideal if you want to go beyond the standard book format and perhaps even market the end result further.
It also looks up to date – the layout and interface are much more accessible than those of some competitors. Lucidpress is an online program, so you don’t download it, and you store your projects in the cloud. Some may see it as a downside to need internet access to work on projects, but it’s fairly common practice nowadays. You can sign up for a free trial on Lucidpress’ site, and you can even access the software for free if you’re a student or teacher.
The program’s project variety is what really makes it a great option. It includes publishing formats for business reporting as well as those to help educators make learning material more engaging. There’s also a space to create personal projects like family photo albums and picture books. The service makes it easy to add images and sound to your work.
How we tested eBook creators
We researched to find downloadable programs and online services for eBook publication, looking for options that have a variety of publishing templates. We counted the number of file types each software processes and how many template types each service has, taking note of those that include professional tools or support educators. We also looked for services that connect with the most popular eBook stores, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
We used the support options, like email, FAQ, tutorials and manuals to see if they were easy to understand and offered enough information so that you could manage your projects effectively.
After researching, we downloaded or subscribed to all the services so we could try out each one’s features. We created profiles in each system and tried out all of the programs’ tools to get a sense of how they well they work for common tasks. We loaded content into each software and timed how long it took to process the data. We also noted if the program malfunctioned or performed slower than other eBook creators.
When you publish online, you also want to protect your content. As such, we looked for services that offer support and clearly state what types of release agreements are available – whether for profit or the public – and articulate the differences between them so you can make an informed decision about how and where to share your work.
Key features to look for
Ease of Use
Writing a book is hard enough, and you shouldn’t have to deal with clunky, unintuitive eBook publishing software on top of it. As you browse through the programs we reviewed, consider whether each one’s interface and support options fit your needs. During our research, we paid attention to each program’s layout and design and assigned it a grade based on how intuitive its interface is.
If you want to write a story partially or wholly in a language other than English, double-check that the eBook creator you choose supports it. The best software makes it easy to choose your language or switch between languages without disrupting your workflow or inadvertently creating weird characters, typos and unexpected formatting issues.
Cloud vs. Desktop
It’s worth noting how the software you choose stores your work. Does it save it to its server via the cloud, or do you download the software onto your computer? To use cloud software, you need a solid internet connection, so it is a good option if you plan to write at home or a cafe. On the other hand, if you write during your commute on the train, it may be better to find a program you can download. There are pros and cons to both, so consider your situation before making a decision.
The more format options you have, the better. Applications and services that let you publish personal journals, magazines, professional texts, guides, manuals, comic books and other types of work in addition to eBooks provide the best value.
However, services with lots of publishing options can feel overwhelming at first, especially if you have never loaded content into a publisher before. We found that the best software comes with enough guidance and support that extra features are beneficial rather than a hindrance.
We also considered how much support each offers. eBook creators that have tutorials, instruction manuals and contact information are much easier to use overall and received higher scores.
Output File Formats
Many online publishing services make it easy to share your work on the web. Look for one that supports the big names in eBook publishing, such as Kindle and Nook. In addition, choose a program that supports many of the most common file formats, including EPUB, PDB, PDF, video, HTML, LIT and MOBI.
A few of the platforms we reviewed mimic social media accounts – almost like LinkedIn accounts for self-publishers. These can be a great resource for finding opportunities to host your work or connect with other authors. We liked services that let you customize your profile and make professional connections so you can publish your work to as many places on the web as possible.
Licensing & Trademarks
Make sure you check any contracts and fine print associated with the eBook creator software you choose to ensure you aren’t signing over part or all of your rights to what you wrote. You can also look into trademarking your work first.