These days, there are endless options for writing your book. New software is constantly popping up. If you need a simple writing tool that helps you meet your writing goals, Novlr is an excellent option. Novlr is built to provide a clean writing experience and help you track your writing progress.
In this review, we’ll examine how to use Novlr’s writing program to build and grow your writing habits. That includes the writing itself, tracking progress, and exporting your files. We’ll also compare Novlr to Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener.
What Is Novlr?
Novlr is an online writing software that couples a word processor with a writing analytics dashboard. There are a few other features, but those two are the primary reasons you might choose Novlr.
The goal of Novlr is to foster a consistent, distraction-free writing habit. While Novlr leaves a few things to be desired, it’s a terrific way to simplify your daily writing while tracking progress.
Novlr is designed for authors and caters to novel writing. Most general-purpose formatting and design tools are excluded. This is not a word processor like Microsoft Word and Google Docs. This makes Novlr’s minimalistic interface clean and easy to use. The writing process is distraction-free, includes light and dark modes, and encourages meeting your writing goals.
Using The Novlr Word Processor
Novlr’s book writing software is cloud-based, making it easy to write from any device through a web browser. The application is very easy to navigate, with a simple dashboard as your home base.
The Novlr Dashboard
As you can see, Novlr wants you to check out their Discord community. The forum there is well-moderated and full of other users willing to answer questions. It’s not a huge community, but the people I interacted with were helpful and enthusiastic about writing.
Below that, you’ll see my single novel project. The free version of Novlr only allows for one project at a time. Upgrading to their pro plan enables unlimited projects and some extra features. I discuss pricing for Novlr below.
The dashboard includes a sidebar with useful quick links:
The Academy features free and paid learning opportunities and blog posts about using Novlr. Publishing allows you to export an EPUB file. From my testing, it’s a serviceable file and met the upload requirements for Lulu, KDP, and other ebook retailers.
You’ll also be able to export your work to DOCX, PDF, and ODT as well. To do so, you’ll need to navigate to your individual story and export from that screen.
The interesting pages are the Goals and Analytics. On the Goals page, you’ll tell the Novlr app how many words you want to write each day. When you start writing for the day, Novlr will track it and share your writing streak.
The Analytics page shows a graph view of your writing progress. You can use this data to see trends and pinpoint days you missed your goals.
As you can see from my tracking, I rarely wrote without hitting my daily goal, but I struggled to write every day. Valuable information as I work to improve my writing habits.
Writing & Editing Your Manuscript
Primarily, Novlr is a writing tool. The Goal and Analytics tracking make it the perfect book-writing tool if you need help to hit your goals. The writing experience is pretty good too, with eye-pleasing light and dark modes.
Novlr doesn’t seem to have a built-in spelling or grammar checker, but both ProWritingAid and Grammarly worked without a problem.
The writing screen is simple, offering only the most basic formatting options.
You can adjust a few more settings, such as the quote formatting. But Novlr’s purpose is to foster your writing process, not to design or layout your book. The default is a focus mode, with only the navigation sidebar on the left.
As you can see in my example above, you can create quotes, and bullet lists, and do simple inline formatting. Novlr also provides comments, which are helpful for review. Note that your editor will need to create a Novlr account to add their comments.
Otherwise, writing in Novlr is very comparable to using a Google Doc. You’ll get automatic saves often and the documents sync across different browsers and devices.
Formatting And Exporting For Print
Novlr is not a page layout program. The DOCX export kept the formatting I’d included while writing. Getting a clean file export makes Novlr a superb choice for writing your book. But once it’s written, you will want to take the DOCX file and use that to format it.
The one exception is for ebook—I found the EPUB output worked fine. Note that EPUB exporting is a premium feature.
But I would hesitate to use their PDF export as a print-ready file. You won’t have control over your margins and the fonts are limited. The one exception is an editing edition. That’s an early version of your book for editing by hand. The formatting won’t matter much at that point.
Otherwise, you’ll need to design your print files yourself. Or you can hire a designer to achieve a professional book design ready for publishing.
Novlr Vs. Scrivener
Scrivener is a long-form writing program for creating novels, screenwriting, and academic essays. Produced by Literature & Latte, Scrivener is one of the earliest ‘advanced’ writing software. They pioneered digital features like outlining, storyboarding, notes, and word count tracking.
While Scrivener includes all the features you get in Novlr, it also adds a lot more. For some users, the interface alone can be overwhelming.
There isn’t a fair comparison between Novlr and Scrivener. If you need a clean slate to write on and to help promote you to keep writing, Novlr is perfect. If you need a database for your research, a plot outline, a timeline, notes, section briefs, and a writing tool, Scrivener is going to fulfill your needs.
Novlr Vs. Google Docs
Like Novlr, Google Docs is a cloud-based writing tool. Using Docs is free and you’ll be able to write from any web-connected device.
The primary difference between these two word processors is in tracking and analytics. Google Docs features a word count tracker, but that’s it. If you want to track your words per day, you’ll need to do so manually.
Google Docs isn’t great for a full novel. Once you get over about 30,000 words, the Doc will load slower. The sorting isn’t great either, making it difficult to find sections or passages when you need them.
There’s no doubt that Google Docs is a handy writing tool for blog posts, emails, and everyday note-taking. For a novelist, Docs is more useful for editing your manuscript than it is for writing it.
Novlr Vs. Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is the most well-known word processor in the world. It’s also one of the oldest still in use.
Word has come a long way and the current iteration is one of the best for writers. You can make use of the desktop app and browser versions to write and format your book. I’ve never been a fan of using Word to lay out your book’s print files, but it works if you’re willing to work with the software.
Much like Google Docs, Word is better for editing your draft or preparing a file for printing. You can write your book in Word (and a lot of authors do), but the tracking and analytics will be harder to find.
What Does Novlr Cost?
You can go free forever (no free trial required) to create a single novel and track your writing. The Premium version of Novlr has a few pricing tiers to choose from.
Lifetime is a good deal if you like the writing software and have many books you intend to write. Novlr is not a cheap writing program, but the benefits they offer make up for that increased cost. The writing analytics, access to premium proofreaders, and writing Academy section all offset the premium cost.
Here’s a look at the unique benefits only premium users enjoy:
Proofreader is an AI writing assistant comparable to Grammarly and ProWritingAid. If you intend to use Novlr for many books, the cost may be worth it to give you daily analytics, backup to your Google Drive, access to proofreaders, and their learning community.
Final Thoughts On Novlr
Sometimes, our software and creative tools try to be too many things at once. Novlr embraces simplicity and couples it with data to give you nearly perfect book-writing software.
If you enjoy tracking your writing or need help fostering a writing habit, the data, and analytics are awesome. And the extras are nice, making Novlr a terrific choice to help you write more.
And that’s my Novlr review! Let me know what you’re using to write your book in the comments.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.