Sign up ×
Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A friend of mine is going to write a book. Therefore he is looking for an easy WYSIWYG solution. FIrst I recommended latex, but this would be a bit to hard to learn. A big part of the book is finished and saved in a odt-format but for the publishing he has to offer more "powerful" formats (latex, xslt, ..). We tried the following:

  • Latex - LyX: Ok, lyx is great, but it was a bit too complicated and we had to fight against bugs.
  • Markdown (with latex export) : The book will contain a lot of tables (big ones) and so it wouldn't be the best experience.
  • Libre Office: There are latex export tools, but they're very bad.

The best solution (by now) is Sigil (ePub-format) - but tables are not supported yet.

So I am looking for a format and a good wysiwyg editor. Only a few functions are needed (heading, bold, kursiv, underline, tables and picture integration).

share|improve this question
Do I understand correctly that you're self-publishing the book, and this formatting is intended for the final product? –  Standback Oct 31 '11 at 11:47
If you want to self-publish the book, I highly recommend learning Tex/Latex. If you are not familiar how to layout a book for readability (and familiar means most likely having studied the topic for several years), then Latex saves you a lot of headache or even it rescues you from publishing an unreadable book. If you let Latex do the job, it cares about the most problematic issues (correct margin, correct space between lines, between table and text, creating TOC, creating index, etc.). Doing this right is not trivial and far from being easy. –  John Smithers Oct 31 '11 at 12:06
@Standback correct! –  NaN Oct 31 '11 at 18:53
@John Smithers ok, latex is fine and I like it very much, but this friend is older than 70 and no IT-Champ. He is proud to handle M$ Word. Therefore I tried lyx but I have to fight against bugs and the GUI is unclear and not really noob-friendly. –  NaN Oct 31 '11 at 19:01

4 Answers 4

Given that your friend is over 70 and apparently not IT oriented, I would recommend sticking to something he already knows. If he already uses and is familar with MS Word, then stick with that.

If he is planning to self-publish, there are tools that can convert a Word document to the appropriate e-book format. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing does this through an online interface that doesn't require any extra software or any special steps. It may not always format the finished product perfectly, but it's usually pretty good. There are also people who will convert the finished product to different e-book formats, and usually pretty cheap. For example, I know a few who will convert a Word document into four different formats for about $50. That's a lot easier than buying and learning new software.

If he is going to self-publish in print format, then the printer will most likely be able to work with him to make sure everything turns out okay. They may even have certain formatting changes that they will request or require in order to ensure everything turns out okay, but they should be able to provide assistance with that. Here again, if he needs to change the formatting to accomodate the printer, there are people who will do the work for hire.

share|improve this answer

If "he" is going to self-publish then the real question to ask is what format his target audience will want to use?

Second, perhaps the format he thinks he requires is not really required. Some readers don't read the same way some writers think they do.

share|improve this answer

LibreOffice is a perfectly viable option. Use Alkinea to convert to kindle and nook formats:

share|improve this answer
Could you expand this to explain why this is a good choice? –  Monica Cellio Oct 1 at 1:51

Abiword is really light and simple. It looks and feels like Word 2003 so has a minimal learning curve. It is a very small download (<10 Mb). It can save directly to PDF, which makes sharing documents trivial.

share|improve this answer
Would you care to expand on why? This is really more of an comment than answer as it is now. –  Neil Fein May 28 '13 at 5:05

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.