Using Vellum To Create eBooks And Paperbacks (Tools of the Writing Trade No. 3)

If you self-publish your work or plan to, Vellum is a valuable tool that can make your life easier.

I used to pay services to convert my Word files to ebook and print formats, but now I do it myself. (For more on using a conversion service, see Using An eBook Formatting Service .) Doing it yourself is less expensive and it takes only a little more time than it used to take me to send in edits to files the services created for me.

It’s also is far less expensive (considering both time and money) to do updates, such as when I want to add a book to About the Author and Also By pages.

Right now, Vellum works on Mac, which is how I use it, and not for PCs.

I have heard, though, that you can use Mac in Cloud to run Vellum. (I have not tried that myself.)

Create Publishing Files Easily

Originally, Vellum created ebook files (including mobi for Kindle and epub files for other platforms like Kobo and iBooks) from your word processing files, but not print books.

Now you can create paperback editions with Vellum as well.

Here’s a screen shot of the page where I added title information yesterday for my latest book The One-Year Novelist.

Screen Shot from The One-Year Novelist Title Section on Vellum
Favorite Features

Vellum creates that column on the left automatically, listing your chapters. (For this book, I used Weeks instead.)

It also creates a Table of Contents for you.

One of Vellum’s many  wonderful features is that you can drag your word processing file into Vellum, format it quickly, and generate all the types of files you need in one step.

For print, Vellum generates a PDF you can upload to whatever print platform you’re using (such as CreateSpace). It automatically inserts headers with the book title and author, allows you to choose trim size, and sets the pages with the correct gutters.

How It Looks

There are different options for how your chapter headers look.

Below is what I used in The One-Year Novelist, where I titled each section by Week rather than Chapter. I’m hoping to finalize the print edition over the weekend and have the paperback available by the end of next week.

If you want to customize your print edition, you can use the Duplicate feature to create a new copy of your book and edit that version for print.

Cost And Ease Of Use

You can download Vellum for free and see how you like using it, which is what I did at first.

If you want to generate files to publish, then you need to purchase. You can buy a license to publish only ebooks, ebooks and print, to publish a limited number of books, or to publish an unlimited number.

Buying the unlimited license with print and ebook cost me under $300, which is about the same as I paid to have a service convert two novels to ebook formats only, so for me that was the best deal.

If you are pretty comfortable using word processing programs, I think you’ll find Vellum user-friendly. Most features are easily findable and, if not, a quick Internet or Help search usually reveals the answers.

Until Sunday–

L.M. Lilly

P.S. For more on tools of the writing trade see Scrivener (Tools of the Writing Trade No. 1) for writing software and Canva (Tools of the Writing Trade No. 2) for creating graphics.