However you intend to present your novel to the publisher, with modern word processors you can see it as it will appear in print. That is a great incentive. And the Open Source program Writer from OpenOffice.org is ideal. And free.
One of the presentation methods is especially designed for a book format. Two pages are shown, side by side, odd numbered page on the right, touching in the middle like the seam of a book. On today’s wide screens this gives you room on the left for chapter names, if they have a heading style, so that you can double click a chapter and go straight there. On the left you can display styles and formatting so that any page or paragraph can easily be correctly styled. Yes – you can do this sort of thing with Word etc – but not so simply, and you have to pay for it.
If you will be designing your book cover, I cannot recommend enough Paint.net. Excellent tools and an easy and intuitive interface. Also free even though it comes from Microsoft – can’t imagine why. BTW do not confuse this with the freebie Paint which came with Windows – quite a different kettle of fish.
You will want to save your work frequently, and no doubt have your own favourite. If not, I recommend SyncBack – easy to set up for periodic backup and thoroughly reliable. Also free of course.
You can use SyncBack to back up onto your space on the internet too, but I find it easier to manage that myself. To do that I use FileZilla – fast and intuitive and easy to set up initially. Need I mention that it is free?
If you have a website, and write the code yourself, a good editor is JEdit, and to run your website on your local machine, WampServer is hard to beat. Free of course.
Well that’s it folks. I use other software – Chrome and Sketchup and AceMoney spring to mind – but the software packages above are those I consider essential for an author. Do you know of better ones?