Many authors find themselves ready to format books, and then cross-eyed. If our blog series on Scrivener and Word doesn’t help, you might try a more all-in-one solution, one that will help with version control and pretty-pretties. That solution might be Vellum. Many of our fellow authors swear by the solution. For our money, we’re not impressed with the program’s lack of customization. See below to decide for yourself!

Vellum: The Good

What most authors love about Vellum is the user-friendly interface. You import your book and Vellum will automatically break up chapters and scenes. You then format with a series of pre-selected templates, generate a print book and an eBook, and poof! Formatted book.

Vellum exports to ePub, mobi, and PDF. They also have pre-set sizing for the most common book sizes and provide a preview of how the book will look formatted.

What’s not to love? Well, a lot.

Where’s the Customization?

When we first heard about Vellum, it was “shut up and take our money.” But as formatters for others, we quickly ran into major issues. For one, there’s no way to re-size the font on the interior of the book in one section. For example, if you’ve got a lot of text for the copyright page (as we sometimes do with our clients), you can’t set the size small enough to fit on one page.

For another, although there are many different formatting options, you can’t add your own images as scene breaks–or your own fonts. So if you’ve got a particular font in mind to match your cover, you’re out of luck. Same goes for creating a custom title page.

While some of the “auto-formatted” sections are great, sometimes they can be a little to clunky.

Should You Invest?

Vellum starts at $200 for the eBook version, and $250 for the eBook and print version. That’s pretty pricy for a lot of authors, especially considering that the going rate for formatters is less than that. (Might we suggest using our services instead and save yourself a hundred dollars?)

If you’re publishing several books, then you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons. The pros are that, if you’re happy with Vellum’s formatting, you can easily recreate it for subsequent books in the series. We also hear that authors are able to add multiple books into a single file (much as you can with Scrivener), to help with keeping your information together.

The biggest con that we see is that with the lack of customization for images and fonts, it’s pretty easy to tell when a book has been formatted with Vellum. They all look the same. For some folks, that’s not a big deal. But at SGR-Pub, we like our books to be as unique as the stories they tell.

We still have high hopes for Vellum, and will be watching for some of our concerns to be mitigated in future iterations.

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