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 exactly what is possible within Vellum. Therefore, this blog answers the question: what are the pros and cons of Vellum formatting?
Pros of Vellum formatting
In my opinion, Vellum has many pros and here are the four 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 and changing fonts 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 contents are completely customisable within Vellum. Front and back matter can be personalised according to the author’s preferences.
- Dedication page
- Copyright page
- About the author page
- Foreword or preface or epigraph
- List of other books
- First chapter of another book
- Link to an email sign up page and/or reader magnet
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 personalised book interior.
Another excellent feature of Vellum is its automatic generation of hyperlinks for contents pages, and for any web addresses and other links 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.
Vellum is an affordable software to buy, especially Vellum Press, as mentioned previously. As a consequence, this means that formatters can also offer their formatting services for a reasonable price. The book production process is relatively straightforward and time efficient once the formatter is skilled in using the software. As this makes the turnaround time days as opposed to weeks, costs are lower than other book production services. Therefore, Vellum formatting is such an affordable option for indie authors.
Cons of Vellum formatting
Although I personally love Vellum, I am aware of its limitations. Based on feedback from the authors I work with, the three main cons are:
Limited choice of fonts
Currently, Vellum has nine font options:
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!
Limited choice of book styles
Currently, Vellum has eight different book styles to choose from. This post shows examples of them all: What book styles does Vellum offer?
Word image compatibility
Vellum imports Word manuscripts and converts them to EPUB and PDF files. (EPUB files are fully compatible with Amazon.) However, not all images can be automatically uploaded into the software. Vellum will not recognise a diagram created using SmartArt, for example. 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, columned lists and infographics, for example, using Canva and saving them as .png, .pdf or .jpeg files. These file types are all compatible with Vellum software.
Based on these pros and cons, Vellum formatting is perfect for indie authors who:
- Are on a tight timeframe and budget
- Have a text only fiction or nonfiction book
- Want the option of header images in their book
- Have JPEG, PNG or PDF images within their manuscript
- Are happy to choose from the nine text fonts and eight book styles available
- Want control over the interior of their book (within the software’s limitations)
- Want the option to make changes post-publication if necessary (to update information or make amendments based on reader feedback, for example)
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!
If you have found this blog ‘What are the pros and cons of Vellum formatting?’ useful, these other related posts might be helpful too:
5 Ways to Customise Your Book’s Interior
Is Vellum Formatting Suitable For My Book?
14 thoughts on “What are the pros and cons of Vellum formatting?”
I largely agree with your list of pros, except the “complete control over the interior of the book.” That you don’t have. There are many formatting choices that you have no say over. Here’s one example: If you have a piece of text centered on the line, you are going to get a blank line space above and below, whether you want it or not.
A big con is that Vellum offers no control over kerning/character spacing. So you can wind up with gaps between words that look sort of unprofessional. (In this respect, you can do a better job of typesetting with Microsoft Word, though at the cost of time and effort.)
All that said, Vellum is fast and easy, and for many purposes does a pretty slick job. Whether it works well for any given book depends a lot on the book.
Thanks so much for commenting Jeffrey. I think you’ve summed it up by saying ‘at the cost of time and effort’ because the main pro of Vellum is its speed of use. I’m really pleased with the way I’ve been able to format my own books with it!
Thanks for this post. You mention there are nine fonts, but am I right in assuming that once you choose a book style, then the fonts are set? Do you have the option of using more than two fonts in the book? Thank you.
You’re welcome – thank you for your question! You can choose any combination of body text font and book style and change either at any time (although changes can have knock on effects to page layouts once the book has been formatted so it’s best to decide them both at the start!). Currently, there isn’t an option to use more than one body text font in a book but the heading fonts are set within the book styles, therefore there are two different fonts within the book in total. I hope that helps but please ask if you need more clarification. 🙂
Thank you for that. Unfortunately that won’t suit my needs. I’m working on a poetry collection at the moment and will need more than two fonts. Just one other question. If I did go with Vellum, are there any problems with putting some things in bold or italics, or does that count as a different font?
You’re welcome. Vellum doesn’t suit every book’s needs, although there are often software updates so it may offer different fonts in the future. 🤞🏼 Putting some things in bold or italics is no problem though!
I have run into the issue of the print book (5 x 8 trim size) having too small a font size. Since Vellum automatically takes care of font size, I’ve had readers complain that they would like a larger size to read. The only thing I found is if a person did a larger trim size and went to large books, which I believe goes to a 16 point size and that’s too big.
You can change the font size Janis – go to generate and then in print settings there’s a sliding scale to adjust font size and line spacing. It doesn’t show point sizes but you can play around with it to get it as you want it.
I am want to publish my paperback book with amazon KDP.
I am using Vellum. I have a query related to the Trim size.
The maximum Trim size available in Vellum is 6.14 × 9.21 in
(15.6 × 23.4 cm), but I am looking for the Trim size of 7.44″ x 9.69″ (18.9 x 24.61 cm) because I have diagrams and source code in the content and I want my book to be in a bigger size.
Is it possible to print/publish the paperback book with my desired size of 7.44″ x 9.69″ after generating it with the available limited maximum Trim size(6.14″ × 9.21″) in Vellum?
Also, is there any option to change the Trim size to my custom size in Vellum?
Please help me, thank you.
Hi, thank you for your question! Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to change the trim size to a custom size in Vellum. Also, the trim size of 6.14 x 9.21 is for large print books only so the maximum trim size available for standard print books is 6 x 9. I hope that makes sense! There is going to be a Vellum update at the end of the month, I believe, which may give more options (I don’t know exactly what the options are yet though!), but for now it’s not possible to customise trim sizes. You can also contact Vellum directly for any other specific queries you have. Good luck with your book!