Tutorial Tuesday

My Love Affair With Vellum

Creating the Perfect eBook

With screengrabs from my own book , The Haunted Sultan.

Vellum eBook Creation Software

My new favorite way to publish ebooks.

Since publishing my first book I’ve been looking for a better way to format and publish. I’ve downloaded a lot of software, I’ve battled with KindleGen, I’ve uploaded books and encountered kickback after kickback because of formatting issues, links to Amazon kicking back books in iTunes, etc. When I decided to self-publish I knew there would be issues, but I thought formatting would not be one of them. I’m a graphic designer. I can typeset. That’s what I did as an intern, baby designer stuff. Easy-peasy. But, then I did it. Or tried to do it. And I realized each online retailer has different rules and regulations, not one is on the same page. And I broke every single one as I tried to shove my file up their online pipeline.

The majority of the apps I’ve used focused on the writing and the building of your book. Apps like Scrivnr and Word-esque apps were good and helped me within the writing process, but none of them had the functionality in those crucial final steps to take my pretty, finished book and turn it into a pretty eBook.

After a year of trial and error, I now write in a word processor app and then I take it into Vellum and finish it, to create the PERFECT eBook. Don’t get me started on putting it into print…

Let me introduce you to Vellum...

Vellum takes your completed manuscript and turns it into a cohesive and well-crafted eBook.

You choose a “style” and Vellum applies that look to your entire book. Vellum allows you to customize your style and it changes it throughout the entire eBook with just a click. Set the look of dropcaps, subheaders, ornamental breaks, & paragraph breaks.

Vellum allows you to drag and drop images (for chapter headers or internal images), align them and add captions. Vellum lets you  copy and paste your text right into a chapter/element (it even keeps italics, bold, etc.) or you can import your entire MS, but make sure to have page breaks set up in your MS so it knows where to set chapters.

Drop and Drag Images

Customize The Look of Your Image Easily

Add an Element with one click

Add and remove web links and store links

Customize store links for easy export

Diving into Vellum was easy and has extremely user friendly controls. There was very little I couldn’t figure out on my own. But, it does get a little frustrating if I wanted to do something specific when it comes to formatting. I find when I want to add specialized text, like say…


conversations, or other text that needs to be “really” different, it doesn’t allow for those kind of custimzations, indents, change of font, etc. which I would love to utilize. But, for the everday consumer most of the time you will not need this.

There are the styles that Vellum offers and that is it. And once you set them up for your eBook, you can’t change them in different sections.

But, I’ll put up with all of that for the Pros of this powerful little app. The fact that it exports for each online store and changes each link to that stores link is a big plus. Just place your book’s ID for each online store you will be selling  and Vellum exports for each format. Only exporting for Kindle? No problem, setup in advance what platforms you’ll need and it will only export and set up links for that store. Selling at all the online stores? Vellum will export a specific eBook just for that store in it’s desired format. Mobi for Amazon, ePub for iTunes etc.


The one odd thing about Vellum is that the app is free, but they charge you to export. One exported book is only $29.99, or 10 at $99. They offer an unlimited package for $199. I did think it was a high price to pay, so I downloaded the app for free and played around with it. I knew, once I put my book together that I needed the app, so I bought the unlimited plan. I’ve exported twelve books now, and haven’t looked back. Everytime I add to my library I update the “Books by” section easily. I really love this app. This is NOT a compensated post from Vellum, I wasn’t even given a  free license of the app. I’m just posting because I plan to post How-To’s in Vellum in the future and I really find the app works for me. I’ve begun using the app to layout clients books as well because they come out that professional. I hope this quick gushing post helps you with a decision over the app. Let me know how it works out for you.

Another big plus is the preview feature. It cuts out the guessing game. You know what your eBook is going to look like with just a click.


Looking to format your book, or need more information on publishing? Get in touch:

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1 Comment

  1. Alyssa

    I’ve heard of the headaches of publishing through e-readers, especially without a large publisher to help design all that typesetting stuff for you. I’m often a go-to resource for people looking for writing/publishing/reading advice, so knowing about this app is incredibly helpful! Thanks for sharing — I can’t wait to read your how-tos about it in the future.

About The Author


Rachel, whom you might know as Parajunkee, is the blog owner of parajunkee.com and the design blog parajunkee.net. To make matters even more confusing she is now a published author under the pen name of Gillian Zane. Rachel has been blogging for over eight years, designing / web programming for over fifteen, but her real love, reading, has been her favorite hobby since childhood. Rachel has won numerous awards for her writing, the blogs she has created and her design work. If you want to check out more about her books click "The Books" on the navigation bar at the top of the page.