What’s up, Arrowheads? Today I’ve got another writing productivity software review for you! This one is for Dave Chesson’s recently released writing and book formatting software, Atticus.
Back in January, as a reward for myself for finishing the first draft of the final book in The Ballad of Emery Brooks trilogy, The Dream, I purchased Dave Chesson’s new book formatting and writing software, called “Atticus – An Author’s Best Friend”. Today, I’d like to do an in-depth review of the software, and whether or not I think it’s a good purchase for indie authors.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty details, I will say that I first drafted this post in May 2022 after experiencing terrible formatting issues with Atticus. Since then, this issue has been resolved, but the screenshots of the software I have included are still from May 2022, when I originally wrote the post draft. Therefore, some features may look differently now, in September 2022, when this post will go live.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post from Kindlepreneur, or any of his affiliated products. I am just an indie author who purchased the software, and I am giving my 100% honest thoughts on the product in this review.
What is Atticus?
Atticus is a web-based software that is marketed as a combination writing and formatting software for both eBooks and paperback. It is fairly new to the world of writing and formatting software, having just released within the last year (as of the time of writing this, in September 2022).
Marketed as being both less expensive (at $147) and inclusive of more features than its popular iOS counterpart, Vellum, Atticus works on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems according to its information page. This was my main reason for purchasing Atticus, as I do not own a Mac computer, and did not want to go out and buy one just to use the Vellum software. I also previously purchased Chesson’s other software, KDP Rocket.
My Thoughts on Atticus as a Writing Software
Though I originally purchased the software on January 1st, 2022, I didn’t actually get in to using Atticus as a writing software until I began the first draft of my current WIP, On the Flip Side, in March 2022. At the time of writing this post, I have been writing via Atticus for six months, and have mixed feelings about the software as a writing tool.
As far as writing features goes, Atticus is still pretty limited compared to other word processors such as Microsoft Word, or the popular tool, Scrivener. The toolbar consists of the same, basic font features that a blogging platform, such as WordPress would use, and it provides you with a few other formatting features, such as paragraph alignment (with the exclusion of the justification style), and the addition of ordered lists, unordered lists, and ornamental breaks.
However, my biggest beef with the writing portion of Atticus is that you cannot see the full effect of your formatting changes, nor change the font you are writing in, within the “Writing” tab. The way the software is set up, all formatting settings, including the font, have to be made on the “Formatting” tab, which you cannot see via the “Writing” tab.
However, Atticus does have a few cool features that my go-to word processing programs (Word and Google Docs) do not have. On the right side of Atticus, under the “Writing” tab, there is a dropdown called “More Tools”.
When the “More Tools” button is clicked, the following features appear: a Book Goal tracker, and a Writing Habit tracker.
First, let’s cover the “Book Goal” section. This section allows you to set an overall wordcount goal for your project, as well as the desired deadline date. Based on the data you enter, Atticus will project, what I’m assuming is, the daily word count you will need to reach that goal. Above, you can see in this screenshot from earlier this year, that for my current WIP, On the Flip Side, Atticus suggested I should write 453 words a day to reach my goal of 80,000 words by my deadline.
The Book Goal Section
According to my separate methods of tracking my word count (i.e. via my own spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and via the WordTracker iOS app I previously reviewed here), I have noticed that the overall word count counters Atticus shows, and the formula I have set up in Google Sheets, often does not calculate the same word count. This isn’t really that big of a deal, but it’s kind of annoying trying to figure out which one is correct.
Earlier this year, I also saw very inconsistent tracking in the Monthly tracker section. There were many times when I would meet my daily goal count for this section, and it would not turn the day on the calendar green when the count was met, like it was supposed to. Other days, it would count it just fine. I believe the Atticus team has improved this feature recently though, as I haven’t noticed any glaring discrepancies during writing sessions.
The Writing Timer
Alongside the writing toolbar, Atticus features a Timer feature that allows you to set a desired time for writing sprints without having to use your phone.
During my first few months of writing in Atticus, I found this one feature was among the only ones that was not constantly buggy. If you like to be phone-free when you’re writing, the timer in Atticus could be a plus.
How do I like writing in Atticus?
Honestly, when I was experiencing all the bugs and glitches, I had extremely mixed feelings about writing in Atticus. While yes, this is a brand-new software, and there are bound to be bugs for the new adopters of the software, I found there were far too many bugs and glitches for me to be happy with the product for the sake of writing purposes. The software should have been beta-tested more thoroughly before being released for customers. In recent weeks, however, it has improved and I’ve began to like it better.
One of my favorite parts is that you can add different chapters easily, adding the title and subtitle for the chapters separately.
On the flip side, the most irritating part of the writing software, to me, is if you misspell a word, and right-click on it to view the suggested words, if you click to change it to one of the suggested words, and continue writing, the software will glitch halfway down the line, and turn the word right back into the original misspelled word. My suggestion for the Atticus team is to add a more intuitive spellcheck or editing feature without having to add a third-party editing tool like ProWritingAid.
My Thoughts on Atticus as a Formatting Software
The first couple times I tried to use Atticus for formatting were a nightmare. In February and May 2022, when I was working on Writing by Faith‘s eBook and paperback editions, I experienced the following issues with Atticus:
First, I tried to format an EPUB file for Writing by Faith in February using Atticus. It allowed me to export, but Draft2Digital couldn’t use the file. Not sure if this was Atticus’s issue or D2D’s, but I ended up just formatting the eBook using D2D. But then…
Later on in May, I tried to format a paperback file for Writing by Faith, and it allowed me to export once. I realized a good portion of the file was messed up when I opened the PDF, but after I played around with the formatting in Atticus and tried to export again, I couldn’t get it to export after several tries, and several days. It would just sit there are not respond, showing the message below:
When all this was going on, I tried to export an EPUB of the same file, just out of curiosity, and got this response:
Suffice it to say I was not a happy camper. So, I went and complained to the customer support for Atticus, and after getting past a lady who was kind of rude, I was directed to a tech support agent who was more than happy to help me with the issue. The issue, he found out, was due to the file text for my Writing by Faith being first copied over from WordPress (it was originally a 12-part blog series I adapted into a book), which caused formatting issues. He resolved those for me, which took about a week, and from then on, I’ve had no formatting issues. I was able to export the final paperback file for Writing by Faith using Atticus, and it looks amazing.
I will not be formatting my next two upcoming books in Atticus, only because they are sequels, and book one was formatted using Draft2Digital’s free tool, but I plan on using the formatting portion of Atticus on all my future releases after The Dream (The Ballad of Emery Brooks, #3).
My Overall Thoughts on Atticus
Truth be told, back in May when I originally wrote this post draft, I was ready to give Atticus one star. However, in the past several weeks, things have improved on the Writing side, and the tech support I received from Atticus was very courteous and knowledgeable. While, yes, there are still some areas where the software could improve, it gets the job done and I feel it will only get better in time when more features are added.
My Rating for Atticus:
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
Do you use Atticus for writing or formatting? How has your experience with the program been thus far?
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.