Vellum for Mac is quite possibly one of the greatest and most user friendly pieces of software I have ever laid hands on. It makes formatting and outputting perfectly formatted digital versions of your books a breeze. Even a child could use the software to create a beautiful looking Kindle or ePub ready read.
Anyone who knows me will remember that I am a big fan of Scrivener. Scrivener is my go to software for any writing project, and there is nothing on the market that can compare to it as an all-in-one solution for indie authors and publishers. I am in fact writing this article using the newly released Scrivener iOS app (yay! so worth the wait). Totally recommend it, it is as slick and as wonderful as it’s desktop counterpart.
But, as anyone who has climbed the Scrivener learning curve will know, compiling your documents for the different platforms and getting them to behave and look the way you want them to can be somewhat challenging.
Where Scrivener excels in writing, Vellum knocks it out of the ball park when it comes to formatting for digital editions.
So now I write in Scrivener. Love it! Love it! Love it!
But now, instead of churning out my mobi and ePub files from there, I get Scrivener to create me a regular MS Word docx.
Then, it’s over to Vellum.
Yes, it adds an extra step into my process. I honestly prefer to remove the steps that are required from conception to published, but the payoff here makes it so worth my while.
Importing Content Into Vellum – Simple Drag & Drop
I was always impressed by some of the cool features in Scrivener that speed my publishing process. The ability to import and auto split a document into its respective chapters is amazing. But Vellum takes that the next level, and does so with style.
All I need to do is drag and drop my docx into Vellum and it recognises immediately and intuitively where chapters are supposed to be. The software splits them there and then into the respective chapters, without any intervention from me whatsoever.
It takes just seconds to do.
Admittedly, there is sometimes a little clean up required, but generally this takes no more than a few minutes to do.
So I now have my manuscript in place. Because I have already created a template that I use with front and back matter for different genres in place, nothing more needs to be done on that count.
Content wise, Vellum than allows me to place my title, subtitle, publisher and author info in – and populates the pages of my book where these need to appear. Copyrights, Other Books by the Author – all are pre-populated by your chosen author name. Again, this happens in the background without me needing to head over to specific pages and make changes. I then drag and drop my cover jpeg in place, and the content side of book creation is done.
Then comes the Styling.
This, above all, is the jewel in Vellum’s crown for me.
Admittedly, there are a limited palette of styles available. By limited, I do not mean just one or two different looks. There are eight main styles, with palettes of choice within each one of them for different elements of your books. I would say that there are literally hundreds of potential variations you can experiment with.
Some may not like the fact that you are bound to certain styles, and I can understand that. They may even perceived it as a weakness of the software.
However, for me and my publishing workflow it is an absolute strength.
It means that each of my author pen names has their own specific palette of predetermined styles, to suit their genre and audience. In under a minute (in fact it takes less than that because the template I created already remembers my settings) I check a few buttons and the whole book is styled beautifully and consistently throughout.
I put together some style sheets that I could use to quickly view my options, and also that I can annotate to give to my assistants. Here are examples of the broad range of styles within just one of the master styles you will find in Vellum. These are the options within the Kindred master style:
Perfect Mobis and ePubs Ready To Upload
Once this is done, one more click spits out a perfect Amazon-ready .mobi file, and an ePub for other publishing platforms.
It takes just a few minutes.
Beautiful Boxsets in Minutes
Beyond this, pulling together box sets is now a breeze as well.
All you need to do is drag the previous Vellum files for the individual books into a new Vellum document, and they automatically become individual volumes in the newly collated bundle.
Again, the process takes seconds and minutes, not hours and days.
For someone wanting to ensure a professional look to their books, and who value their time, Vellum gets my utmost recommendation.
Please note, and this really is a shame,Vellum is a Mac only application (sorry PC users). There are ways around this, such as Mac in the cloud, which allow you to virtually install and use Mac apps, but there is a cost involved. I do know some publishers who use MacInTheCloud just for Vellum, or who have invested in a small Mac to enjoy this superlative software’s benefits.
Vellum is available at vellum.pub and costs $199 for an unlimited license, or you can pay per book. For my money, the unlimited license is the way to go. Once you have used it once, you will certainly want to use it again.
PS: If you contact Vellum support and tell them you are thinking of buying but want to see how the software works and what the generated files look like, the likelihood is that they will give you the opportunity to try the software and generate a book for free. That’s what they offered me, and I’m totally sold. Vellum is a great investment for your indie publishing endeavors, and sits right up there with Scrivener as essential apps in my self-publishing arsenal.