Vellum: Making Ebook Creation Intuitive

Books Featured Software Technology

vellum-on-mba-2xNew opportunities in self-publishing offer authors of all genres a chance to bypass the middleman and put their book in front of potential readers as soon as final edits are finished.

But self-publishing also requires skills other than writing a great book. It requires overall knowledge of marketing, social media savvy, and awareness of the various vendors that will sell the book.

It also requires tech skills for the creation of the various ebook formats for the numerous vendors in the ebook market: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Google Play.

Vellum aims to be the answer to that for Mac users, and especially for those whose main tech knowledge is limited to use of MS Office. (Note: the program is not available for non-Mac users.) It’s also valuable for those who are more tech proficient, as it’s intuitive and easy to use and thus saves time.

Aside from producing ebooks to fit all those vendors named above, Vellum also produces a generic ebook option for smaller vendors and updates to keep up with any changes to formatting requirements at the vendors.

This program promises “ebook creation in minutes” and that is an accurate statement.

Here’s how it works:

Download the program. The tutorial immediately offers a sample book to practice with, complete with cover. That tutorial takes about 20 minutes and guides the author through the choices of fonts, styles, and front and back matter. It also gives a chance for those who want to experiment to do so, as it’s free to use up until the moment of ebook creation.

As I tend to learn only by doing, I found the tutorial easy to follow and a piece of cake to use.

-vellum-previewOnce the book file is uploaded and the proper formats have been applied, the program will also offer previews of how the book will look on various devices: computers, iPads, other tablets, Kindles. And it will also sound a warning if the cover you choose for the book is improperly formatted.

That done, it’s as easy as pressing a button to create the ebook files–though you have to pay first to press that button.

I created their sample book and my own ebook with a completed (though unpublished) manuscript of my own. Total time elapsed: 40 minutes.

Vellum costs $29.99 per title, $99 for ten titles, and $199 for an unlimited license.

I found this one so easy to use and the cost so reasonable that I might recommend to non-MacBook users that they look for low-cost used Macs solely to use this program, especially if tech isn’t your field and you’ve been intimidated so far about the technical process of ebook creation.

When I spoke to Brad Alderman and Brad West, the creators of Vellum, at the Romance Writers of America trade show in July, they said writing the coding was relatively simply but deciding what elements to include, how many formatting choices to provide, and how many different styles of ebook to create took some time.

In all, it was 18 months from original idea to putting Vellum on the market. It’s the only program so far from their small company, formed after the two of them worked together for years at Pixar.  They currently have no plans, they said, to create a non-Mac version.

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