questionswhat is the best software to use for writing…

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Actually, without a publishing contract, I'd suggest just sticking with word. It's been my experience that publishers usually have a template (for word) that they prefer you use, but if this is just something you are publishing on your own, the tools you needs are in there. Why spend the extra money, right?

You do need to consider your target audience, of course. If you are going to be publishing mathematical formulas or similar items in your document, you are probably better off investing in Framemaker (which has a fearsome learning curve).

If this is intended as a digital book, or if you intend on publishing both simultaneously, I strongly recommend checking out the tools on Amazon or Barnes and Noble before venturing too far. You ought also to check out the web site smashwords (it's early, or I'd give you the link), which is a place many authors seem to get a good running start from.

Back later, maybe.

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@shrdlu: As usual - awesome advice! The book is an autobiography so it will most likely not have any mathematical formulas or anything that complicated in it (although this guy is an engineer so you never know :). I believe the plan will be ebook and hard copy all at once so I will check out those sites you suggested. I have a bad habit of thinking I need something special to do a task (and purchasing it) when standard equipment will do just fine.

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Super answer by @shrdlu. I would like to add that there are hardwares available that allow you to put into your book hand drawn illustrations and handwritten text. Books for children, comedies with cartoons, greeting cards and, maybe, even sci-fi books with illustrations do nicely with personalized drawings and renditions. One can either scan-in their work or use a device like an apen [see www.apenusa.com]. Even in the most rigorous of scholarly work, a hand created artwork can have a favorable impact on your future readers.

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Word has been very good to me as well. Don't buy software that you don't really need.

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For submission, you will have to use whatever the publisher wants. For creation, I'd recommend yWriter. It is quite a powerful tool that is designed for novel writers. It's written by Simon Haynes (author of the Hal Spacejock series).

Worth looking at http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

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Just to add my $1.27 (inflation, you see).

Recently, I was contacted by a publishing house (okay, self publishing house) after I had submitted interest from a couple of sites on the web. When I asked them this question, they stated something along the lines of "it doesn't matter." So, I'd stay with Word if you are going to have someone publish your stuff for you.

(Since I haven't come up with the money they were asking for, I'm paying particular attention to the rest of the advice presented. Please, keep it coming!)