Atticus Review: Is This Book Writing Software Your Writing and Formatting Solution?

by Joe Bunting | 2 comments

You’ve fought through the first draft. You’ve worked with your editor to complete all the passes needed to make your book the best it can be. It’s ready to become a book. Now what? Read on to see if you could benefit from Atticus, a new book writing software. 

I had an acquaintance who self-published a book last year. She brought me a copy and asked me to take a look.

The cover was absolutely perfect. She’d hired a designer and it showed.

But as soon as I flipped through it, I knew she had skipped some critical steps. What tipped me off? The interior formatting. 

The last leg of getting your book into the hands of your readers includes a number of smaller steps that will make all the difference in how your book looks to readers. Most writers know they have to get a great cover, but many don’t realize the interior is just as important. 

What’s interior formatting and why does my book need it?

Open a book and take a look at how things are organized. Title pages look different than chapter openings. Look at where the page numbers fall (especially on chapter opening pages). Notice how the headings work on each page—some have the author on one side and the title of the book or chapter on the other. 

Then look at the body text. Look at the spacing. The fonts and size.

This is where I noticed my friend’s oversight. It looked like a Word document that had been formatted for a school report—not a book.

All of these details are a part of the interior formatting, meaning the way the words are laid out on the page, and your book needs interior formatting to look professional. Publishers pay professionals to do interior formatting, but as an indie or self-published author, how can you make sure your book looks just as professional without spending thousands of dollars?  

Thankfully, formatting is one area that is easy to learn if you have the right software. Up until now, Vellum has been the go-to for Mac users, but Atticus is a new option for writing and formatting, especially for those working on PCs.

Atticus is not only for book formatting. It’s a solid piece of book writing software as well, and in this post I’ll share my thoughts on the software, along with an overview of the features I love the most, so you can decide if Atticus is a good fit for your book writing software needs. 

For transparency: I was not paid for my review, and the links below are not affiliate links. Just passing along a review of a great tool. Now, let's look at Atticus!

Atticus Home Screen

What is Atticus?

Atticus is a writing and formatting tool built to be an all-in-one solution for writers. Imagine if an advanced online word processor (think Scrivener meets Google Docs) and Vellum got together in one program—you’d have Atticus. 

Atticus is created by Dave Chesson, who is also the mind behind Publisher Rocket (see our review for Publisher Rocket here), which means this is coming from a team who really understands authors and the publishing industry.

So let’s start with the features that would have helped my self-published friend with her book’s interior. Atticus excels as a formatting tool, and its features allow you to:

  • Create unique chapter design themes
  • Adjust your book size, font size, line spacing, and font styles
  • Quickly add back and front matter (like copyright pages, epigraph pages, title and half title pages, and more)
  • Generate e-books and print books with the click of a button
  • Preview how it all looks on different reading devices like Kindle, iPhone, and print

As I have played with Atticus, I’ve found that it’s both intuitive and fairly advanced. You can easily pick a formatting template and leave it at that, but if you want to adjust every single font style or size for every element on the page, you can do that too. 

Why Consider Atticus?

One of the reasons I think Atticus might be a game-changer for authors is that it runs on multiple operating systems. Vellum has only ever been for Mac, and their own website says that they do not have plans for a PC version. 

As a Mac user, that’s been fine for me personally, and I’ve designed more than a dozen books on Vellum. But I also hear from many authors in our community who’d love an option to format beautiful books regardless of their operating system.

Also, Vellum is a little expensive, even for established authors.

This is where Atticus comes in.

  1. It costs $147, which is $100 less than you would pay for the same capabilities on Vellum.
  2. It is available on virtually every platform, including PC, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook.

I'll also add that the current version of Atticus is just the beginning. I know that Dave and the Atticus team have future plans for the software that will be even cooler for authors, which I’ll talk about more later in this review.

The Important Atticus Features

Here are the key areas we’ll focus on for this review:

  1. Book formatting
  2. Writing in Atticus
  3. Chapter theme builder
  4. Cloud and offline use
  5. Future features I'm excited about

Let's dive into these one by one.

1. Book Formatting

screenshot of program

Honestly, the formatting is currently Atticus's best feature. It has everything you need to make beautifully designed print and ebooks, including the same features you’d find in a formatting program like Vellum. These include:

  • Full customization: You can customize almost anything, from font face, font size, titles and subtitles, images, and spacing.
  • Ornamental breaks: You can choose from a variety of provided ornamental breaks or you can upload your own.
  • Export options: You can export to EPUB, print-ready PDFs, and DOCX.
  • Import options: You can also import DOCX and RTF files to easily load your book. It would be nice to have more formats supported, but I understand they’re working on this.
  • Device previewer: If you want to see what your book will look when it’s published, there’s a handy previewer that displays your book in various formats, from print to iPhone to Kindle and others.
  • Large print options: If you want to format a large print book (which is more than just changing the font size), Atticus has pre-built settings for this as well.
  • Full bleed images: If you want to have images that extend to the edges of your page, you can set those up as well.

I could go on with some of the smaller features, but those are the big ones.

2. Book Writing

Atticus screenshot of chapter

As a writing program, Atticus boasts an entirely different set of features:

  • Word processor: Atticus has a standard word processor with everything you would expect (i.e. boldface, italics, headings, etc.).
  • Reusable elements: One cool feature with Atticus is that you can create reusable elements such as an author bio page so you can use it again in other books. And you can set it to update all books when you make a change to that element. Huge time-saver for authors of many different books!
  • ProWritingAid integration and spell check: Atticus has its own standard spell check already built in, but if you own ProWritingAid, it integrates, which is great when editing your books. To see our review on ProWritingAid, click here
  • Word count: You can easily see your word count by selection, chapter, or the entire book.
  • Front and back matter: Atticus uses chapter elements to easily understand what goes in the front matter, what goes in the main body of your text, and what goes in the back matter.
  • Goal setting: Atticus has a nifty feature that lets you track your goals and writing habits to gamify the whole process.

3. Chapter Theme Builder

One book formatting feature Atticus includes that I haven’t mentioned is the ability to build beautiful chapter themes. 

Atticus chapter theme example

Not only can you customize every element on your chapter page, including the chapter title, subtitle, number, headers, and page numbers, but you can also add images.

There are two types of images that you can add: image elements and full-bleed images.

Image elements can be placed among your title and subtitle elements, and full-bleed images can extend to the edges of your page, assuming you are formatting it for a print book.

In other words, there are some beautiful possibilities using this thing, and I'm excited to try out all the features they’ve added.

4. Cloud and Offline Use

Atticus is primarily a cloud-based book writing software, which comes with a pro and a con:

  • Pro: you have an instant backup of all your work. 
  • Con: you must have internet access to use it. 

While you can download the software and use it offline, you will need to be online to log in and to export your books.

This also is what allows Atticus to be multi-platform, running on MacOS, Windows, Chrome, and other platforms. Also, some of the upcoming features (collaboration in particular) require an online connection. 

5. Upcoming Features and the Future of Atticus

Atticus is still in the early days of development, and there are other features in the works that will make this book writing program even better for authors. 

  • Collaboration: This is the big one. With Atticus, you will be able to collaborate with other authors, editors, and even book formatters all within the program. No more sending files back and forth to your co-author. Google docs has always been my standard for collaboration, but Atticus will make the process much easier and more effective for authors. 
  • Volumes and parts: This is one feature where Vellum is currently ahead. Volumes and parts allow you to create more complicated books that are divided into parts. This is also important for creating box sets. This feature should be coming soon. 
  • Dark mode: Great news for authors who like writing in dark mode. 
  • Plotting tools: This would allow you to plot and organize your pre-writing work, as well as potentially integrate with other third-party plotting tools.

It will be fun to see how Atticus evolves. Keep an eye on this review as we track the changes and how this software improves. 

Atticus Review: Is Atticus Right for Me?

Atticus is still new to the book writing software scene, but while I still use Vellum and Scrivener for most writing projects, I can see myself more and more relying on Atticus for writing, formatting, and soon collaboration. 

For non-Mac users though, it could become your go-to book formatting tool, which is great news. 

I also know that given Dave Chesson's track record with Publisher Rocket, Atticus will only get better for any writer who wants a single, inexpensive solution to writing and formatting.

Atticus will help you:

  • Format a beautiful book on any platform
  • Write and edit a great book 
  • Give you the creative tools for your book to stand out

As with Publisher Rocket, Atticus has excellent customer support, so if you do run into any problems, or need help, you can easily get the help you need.

And they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you decide it isn't for you, you can get your money back.

Think Atticus is right for you? Download it here or read on for my final review.

All-In-One Tool

Atticus is a complete book writing and formatting tool that merges the capabilities of an online word processor with plug-and-play book formatting features. It can function as a one-stop solution for authors, with collaboration tools between authors, editors, and book designers, to take your book from idea to finished, publishable product.

  • All-in-One Solution: Combines writing and formatting capabilities seamlessly.
  • Multi-Platform Availability: Available on PC, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook.
  • Cost-Effective: Priced lower than some competitors like Vellum while offering similar capabilities
  • Learning Curve: While intuitive, mastering advanced features may require some time.
  • New Software: Being relatively new, it might have fewer features compared to established software, with some desired features planned for future updates.
  • Crude Formatting: Out of the box formatting options aren't as refined as Vellum and will require more tweaking.

My Final Atticus Review

Yes, I recommend Atticus, especially for PC users. 

Vellum was a huge advancement in self-publishing, making the process of formatting so much easier. But it was for Mac only and fairly expensive. 

Atticus promises to make the process just as easy, cheaper, and available on any platform. 

Even better, given Atticus’s writing and (soon) collaboration features, it could soon be a go-to word processor as well. Not bad!

Long story short, my friend’s book would have definitely benefited from this software, and she could have avoided paying an interior designer to fix the text. 

Ready to give Atticus a try? Want an all-in-one software solution for writing, formatting, and collaborating on your book?

Get Atticus

If you decide Atticus isn't right for you, you can get a full refund with their 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're looking to publish a beautiful book, though, this could be just the tool you need.

Have you tried Atticus? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Demi LeJeune - Author

    I bought Atticus for my novel Path of Relics and I’m very satisfied with the results. I use scrivener for writing and tried to format using that program and hoo boy! That was a fiasco.

    So when I got Atticus and everything was so simple to format it was great. I think the program still has some quirks here and there and unfortunately I’m seeing a few issues from my document that I transferred over from Scrivner, but overall definitely worth it. Plus when I contacted support about the issues they were very responsive.

  2. Mike McGinty

    I’ve persisted with Atticus and have the ePub formatting close to what I want.
    The benefits of Atticus over Scrivener as I see them:
    1. I can easily set a beginning page whereas Scrivener can’t
    2. The Custom Themes are an easier way to set the eBook layout
    Scrivener is better as follows:
    1. The final ePub file including all internal images and cover is compiled at 870kb whereas Atticus is 1.5Mb (which is important when Amazon charges 0.15c per Mb for download)
    Also, I’ve encountered the following problems with Atticus:
    1. Blank lines and leading spaces were removed when importing my manuscript from a .docx. This meant I had to manually re-insert them in Atticus. Time consuming.
    2. The on-line app seems to want to save continuously to the point where it constantly freezes for up to 2 minutes when editing (I’m on 42/19Mbps internet speed). At present I can’t effectively use Atticus as an editor, only an ePub compiler.
    3. Would be nice if there was an option to remove item numbers in the TOC
    4. Would be nice if Front Matter items could be flagged to include/exclude from TOC. (ie Dedication is currently included as .Chapter unless I change it to Custom)
    5. I’ve minimized the size of all images. Even removing them all only reduces the file size from 1.5Mb to 1.2Mb. Is there anything else that will reduce the .ePub file size similar to Scrivener?
    6. I use Calibre to insert missing metadata (Rating, Tags (eg Science Fiction), IDs (ie ISBNs)). Would be nice if Atticus could add this metadata to the ePub file
    7. I’m still using Scrivener -> Word to set up the printed book due to compiling anomalies in Atticus. Also my hardback formatting is different to paperback formatting.
    Hyphenation – not across page breaks or proper nouns etc, Unexplained hyphenations



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