How to Write a Book in Google Docs

Before your fingertips hit the keyboard, finding the right platform for your manuscript is important. It's the foundation for your work, and the right program can help make the book-creation process go as smoothly as possible. 

This is where the Google Docs tool comes in handy. 

Google Docs is a cloud-computing platform – and one of the most user-friendly available. And as a writer, you can use it to your advantage. Simply create a Google account, explore some of the helpful features, write your manuscript, insert images, collaborate with your editorial team, and convert the file to suit your self-publishing partner's requirements.  

To help you get started, Book1One goes through each of these steps and highlights some of the perks of using Google Docs along the way. 


Create Your Google Account

If you don't have one already, you'll need to create an account with Google. They offer a business Google account, but a personal account should work just fine for most authors. Here are the steps to create an account:  

  1. Go to the Google sign-in page.
  2. Click "Create Account" and select the appropriate option from the menu.
  3. Enter your first and last name.
  4. Create a username.
    1. Please note: This will also be your Gmail address. If you plan on using this email for book-related correspondence, selecting a professional username is important (ex. instead of a nickname).
  5. Create a secure account password.

There may be additional prompts, such as adding a phone number, reviewing Google’s Terms of Service, and providing additional information for your profile, but some of these steps are optional. At this point, your Google account is ready to go.


Find Google Docs Features That Will Streamline Your Workflow

A Google account brings with it a host of helpful tools and functions. When you open your browser and sign in, you'll see your profile icon and a dotted menu at the top right corner of the page. Clicking on the menu reveals a selection of apps, including Google Docs.  

Upon opening the platform, you'll see that it offers several built-in templates. Depending on the type of book you're creating, you may find one of the layout options helpful – or at least a solid starting point for your book. For example, you can use a recipe template for cookbook printing or browse the options and use some of their most helpful features to create a custom template.  

You can also open a new document and start from scratch. For most novelists, this is the best place to begin. Here are a few features to consider: 


Using the headings, it's easy to create and navigate different areas of your book. Each heading adds to an outline on the left-hand side of the screen. For example, you can use "Heading 1" for each chapter title. This feature not only helps ensure your chapter titles are formatted the same way throughout your book but also makes it easy to jump to any chapter at any time.

Page Formatting

If you're partnering with a printing company like Book1One, documents need to be formatted a certain way to accommodate specific binding styles. If you already know the formatting requirements for your printer, it's typically best to take care of this step before writing. To format your manuscript, simply go "Page Setup" under the File menu and adjust the page orientation, margins, and overall size.

Headers and Footers

You can also set up the headers (running heads) and footers (running feet) throughout your book. These can contain the book's title, author's name, chapter title, page number, and other navigational aids. Under the Insert menu, headers and footers are easy to set and update as needed. If they contain the same information from the first page to the last, you can take care of this step ahead of time. If the information will change based on the chapter or section, it may be easier to make this one of the last steps you do when your manuscript is done.

Table of Contents

If the thought of creating a table of contents by hand sounds time-consuming, you’re right – it is. However, Google Docs can automatically create a table of contents page for you. This function is found under the Insert menu, as well. 

Now that your manuscript's file is established, you can access it in any location on just about any device. This means you can quickly add to your story while on your home computer, your office laptop, or while using your mobile device on the go.


Create Your Manuscript

When the framework for your book is set, write! You can start by creating an outline in a separate document and go from there. Or, you can work directly in your manuscript file. If you preset your document with chapter headings, you’ll be able to jot down notes on each one. 

One feature some writers find helpful is the voice typing function. With Google Docs open, you can speak your mind and watch your thoughts automatically appear on the page. Here's how you can activate this feature: 

  • Go to the Tools menu.
  • Select "voice typing" to view the microphone icon. 
  • When you're ready to dictate, simply click on the mic. 
  • Click the mic again to deactivate this feature when you're done. 

This function might not work as well if you're in a public place with heavy background noise or using a device with a faulty microphone. But many writers enjoy using this feature, especially if they have a big idea they need to put on paper quickly or if they want to work on their book while multitasking. 


Insert Photographs, Graphics, and Illustrations

If you plan on incorporating visual elements, Google makes it easy. Do you remember the dotted menu at the top of your browser where you found Google Docs? You also have access to Google Photos and Google Drive. These apps are helpful storage tools for authors, professionals, and other users. Here is how they can help you: 

  • Google Photos: This app is specifically used to store photos and videos. Everything is set up for simple organization and sharing. If you want to include photos you've taken on your phone into your book, downloading the app to your device can help ensure they're easy to access when it's time to add them. 
  • Google Drive: This is a cloud storage app. You can use it to house and share all sorts of files, including photos, charts, maps, graphics, and illustrations for your manuscript. 

Because it's all part of the same platform, you can insert these storytelling elements with ease: 

  • Place your cursor where you want to add the image.
  • Go to the Insert menu. 
  • Click "Image." 
  • Select the appropriate location in the dropdown.

Along with Google Photos and Google Drive, you'll also be able to pull images that are stored on your computer's hard drive and other locations, or use the camera to take one on the spot. 


Collaborate with Editors and Proofreaders

Another great feature of Google Docs is that finalizing your work is easy, even among multiple creators. You can share your document with your partners, and they can edit/proofread the piece. You and your team can also use the comment feature to offer additional ideas for certain sections and make precise revision comments.   

What's more, Google Docs supports multiple creators simultaneously. This means you'll never have to take turns working on the document. This can help boost your book's timeline, and make it easier for everyone to fit the work into their schedule.  

Under the File menu, click "Share," and add your team's email addresses. Or create a link from the same window and send that to your team. Whoever has the link can access the document. Google Docs also offers permission settings for individual collaborators. They can view, comment, or edit your work – the accessibility is entirely up to you. 


Save the File for Your Book-Printing Company

Just like traditional word processing programs, like Microsoft Word, you can convert your document into any file you need. Our process for book printing requires a PDF file from the author, but other self-publishing companies may have different requirements. Under the File menu, click "Download" and select the appropriate file type. 



Are you ready to get started? To write your book in Google Docs, all you have to do is create an account, take advantage of the helpful features, write your manuscript, add images, collaborate with contributors, and save the final document in your printing company's preferred format.