Vellum is a relatively new software that converts manuscripts into beautifully formatted digital and print books. As an author, I’m a huge fan of its user-friendly capabilities. However, as an editor and proofreader also providing a formatting service, I want the authors I work with to know what is possible within Vellum. Therefore, this blog answers the question: what are the pros and cons of Vellum formatting?
In my opinion, Vellum has many pros and here are the five major ones:
One of the best features of Vellum is how fast it is! Personalised interiors can be formatted relatively quickly according to the author’s preferences. Once formatted, both digital and print files are generated in seconds. Changes, such as adding/deleting/moving pages, adding headers and changing print book size etc. are easy to make. Both digital and print files can be tweaked and regenerated as many times as necessary (within Vellum Press, which produces unlimited ebooks and paperbacks).
Book interiors are completely customisable within Vellum. Front and back matter can be personalised according to the author’s preferences. Options include:
- Dedication page
- Copyright page
- About the author page
- Foreword or preface or epigraph
- List of other books
- First chapter of another book
The order/inclusion of these pages could mirror traditionally published books, or be completely unique to an indie author’s requirements.
Another personalisation option is to include images, or even logos, above chapter headings. Adding logos to chapter headings would be especially beneficial for nonfiction authors, for example. Within the software itself there are a range of paragraph, chapter heading and ornamental break styles to choose from, to ensure a truly individual book interior.
Another excellent feature of Vellum is its automatic generation of hyperlinks for contents pages, and for any web addresses throughout the digital EPUB version of the manuscript. This makes it easy for the reader to jump to any chapter or section within the book, or visit external websites, including social media profiles, with the click of a link. Hyperlinks can also be shortened to single words or short phrases to neaten up the body text.
Digital and print differentiation
Vellum offers the option to include pages in:
- all editions
- ebook only
- print only
As stated above, the contents page is automatically generated with hyperlinks, so this page would be best included in an ebook only. Therefore, including a separate contents page, with page numbers listed, would be ideal for the print version only. The software then automatically generates two separate files according to the options chosen by the author/input by the formatter.
Vellum is an affordable software to buy, especially Vellum Press which allows the user unlimited production of ebook and paperbacks, as mentioned previously. As a consequence, this means that formatters can also offer their formatting services for a reasonable price. Once the formatter is skilled in using the software, the book production process is relatively straightforward and time efficient. As this makes the turnaround time days as opposed to weeks, costs are lower than other book production services. Therefore, formatting is an affordable option for indie authors too.
Although I personally love Vellum, I am aware of its limitations. Based on feedback from the authors I work with, the two main cons are:
At the time of publishing this blog, the font choices in Vellum are limited to nine fonts:
Baskerville and Times New Roman are common choices for manuscripts as serif fonts are apparently easier to read. The other serif fonts from the nine available are: Hoefler Text, Iowan Old Style and Palatino. However, it is still the author’s choice which font to opt for. Personally, as someone who often feels overwhelmed with too many options, nine seems plenty!
Word Image Transfer
Vellum imports Word manuscripts and converts them to EPUB and PDF files. (EPUB files are fully compatible with Amazon.) However, not all images are automatically transferred into the software. If an author has created a diagram using SmartArt, for example, it will not be recognised by Vellum. Some images can be saved from the Word document and then imported into Vellum, but not all. Therefore, there is no guarantee that a flow chart or an infographic created within Word can be formatted.
One solution to this is creating diagrams etc. using Canva. Images can then be saved as JPEG or PDF files, which are more likely to be accepted by Vellum, as well as satisfy their image requirements.
Based on these pros and cons, Vellum formatting is perfect for authors who:
- Have a text only fiction or nonfiction book
- Have JPEG, PNG or PDF images within their manuscript
- Are happy to choose from the nine text fonts available
- Want the option of header images in their book
- Need their book to be formatted quickly, efficiently, and within a smaller budget
- Want control over the interior of their book (within the software’s limitations)
- Want the option to make changes post-publication if necessary (e.g. to update information or make amendments based on reader feedback)
If you have any questions about Vellum or the formatting process in general, please get in touch and I will be happy to answer them!
A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors is available to buy or borrow now! Get it here.
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