Updated: Dec 21, 2019
NOTE: At this time, Vellum is only available for Mac!
I tried to avoid spending the $249 to buy Vellum; I really did. I worshipped at the feet of Kindle Create (it's a foot fetishist, you know!). I bowed down to the God of Apple Pages (I'm old enough that I accidentally wrote that "Macintosh Pages," FYI). I even tried using a free formatting file and getting all up in Callibre's junk (I personally found it a bit smelly in there, but I'm biased). What did I decide in the end?
Glass eyes are more expensive than Vellum, and every other formatting option makes me want to stab my eyes out. Translation? Vellum is definitely worth it in the end.
Sure, I'll probably have to stand on the streetcorner of my one gas station town for a few years to pay it off (I can't even call it a one Starbucks or a one Walmart town since we don't even have a freaking bar, much less a coffee shop that charges eight bucks a shot). But, hey, better than having my insurance double after my trip to the ER. Plus, most writers really need their eyeballs to work. Speech-to-text just ain't that great yet. My soon-to-be-published romantic suspense novel, Heart Thief, looks amazing, and I've got Vellum to thank!
WHAT IS VELLUM?
Vellum is a program for Macs that formats books with fairy magic and unicorn dust. Click here to check it out!
So what can Vellum do, you ask? Well, besides saving your eyeballs from an early decomposition, it is a champ at formatting novels. I can't say I have experience with non-fiction books (just based on my limited experience with adding images to fiction books, I'm not sure it would be great for an image-heavy book), but with your average novel, it's perfection.
It has several "styles" for your book that you can implement, and Vellum allows you a fair amount of customization. I would prefer that it allowed for complete customization of things like fonts for titles/subtitles/headings, but it's really pretty damn good. You can check out all those styles (on your own content, for that matter) using the trial version. (It can do pretty much everything except save the files).
You can add images to your chapter headings and content (though sizing is VERY limited on all images); customize your section breaks with a small image; add, remove, and combine chapters; and add things like epilogues, dedications, and author notes. I do wish it allowed you more freedom in adding additional content, but if you play around a bit, you can manage.
My favorite part is the ability to edit with the preview mode opening, showing you what your book will look like when it's published in real-time. For preview mode, you can choose any format (Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, print, etc), and it will reveal exactly what it will look like when it's finished! I find it is much easier to catch grammatical and spelling errors in the preview mode than edit mode, so it's awesome to have them side by side.
There are only two downers that I've found: 1) When using "Edit > Undo," it literally backs up character by character as opposed to most editing programs, which will back up an entire word if you wrote it quickly 2) There is no way to get a word count (though, obviously, you can get a page count and estimate.
The program automatically saves for you as you write, and (best of all), when you "Generate Books" (it allows you to choose from several modes including Kindle, Kobo, and ePub (also Print if you have that version), you can set it up to automatically save over the last publication so you don't accidentally end up sending an older version to someone! (It doesn't have to do that, however, if you want to keep older versions.)
My scientific (yeah, right) findings? Vellum is absolutely worth it.
I recommend buying the version that has both electronic books and print. It is $249, as opposed to ebooks being $199 and print being $99. If you buy them separately, you don't get that $50 discount! I almost never tell people to use credit cards (I am a Dave Ramsey fanatic and don't use credit cards myself), but if necessary, it's worth it. Vellum will make your indie book look professional, and that can be the difference between success and mediocrity!
Want to see Vellum's formatting in action? Order my romantic suspense novel, Heart Thief!