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!
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