I've been accused of being pretentious for using LaTeX for writing my novels - and I can sort of see why. After all, LaTeX makes perfect sense from the word 'go' if you're writing a thesis with complex equations (or even just loads of references), but it's a much less obvious decision to use it for fiction. I can't remember why I started doing it, but the more I look at submission guidelines for publishers, the more I'm so glad I did.
Firstly, a quick introduction for anyone who's unfamiliar with the concept. LaTeX is designed for typesetting - it's a markup language (like HTML), so you type mostly what you mean, but with little bits and pieces of extra information. For example, in HTML you type
<i>text</i>to italicise, but in LaTeX you'd type
I write in Celtx which allows me to have one tab for each chapter - but I ignore most of its wordprocessing powers and treat it like a text editor, into which I type my novel with LaTeX markup. To make a PDF, I can then just process the LaTeX.
So why am I telling you this? Why should you care about my strange, geeky habits?
Well, the more submissions guidelines I read, the more glad I become that I've chosen to do it this way. Seems that every publisher wants things their own way; gone are the days of 'double spaced, single sided' being the simple requirement. Oh no. Some specify 1" margins, some specify 1.5". Some specify how far you have to indent your paragraphs. Not to mention all the standard things like typeface, font size, etc.
This is where LaTeX comes into its own. You can set up a "stylesheet" which controls all these attributes and more. For academic journals and conferences (at least in the sciences) it's common for contributors to be supplied with the appropriate stylesheet so that all the articles look the same. You write your text just once, and change the styling with a stylesheet depending on where you want to submit it.
So I'm creating a set of stylesheets to meet publisher guidelines, meaning I don't have to completely reformat my document every time I want to send it to someone new. The text file stays constant, I'll just create a new PDF for each submission. And any time I want to submit a new manuscript to a given publisher in future, I'll be able to reuse the same stylesheet. Once I've got some good ones and made sure they're working properly, I'll also make them available for other writers to download, should anyone wish to make use of this for themselves.
In the meantime, at least I feel I have an answer to anyone who wonders why I write my novels in LaTeX.