Using Vellum Software for Typesetting
Using Vellum Software for Typesetting

Using Vellum Software for Typesetting

Because I am self-publishing The Other Times of Caroline Tangent, I needed to get it typeset for my ebook and paperback versions. I did investigate using professional typesetters, but I decided to use Vellum instead. Why? Three primary reasons:

  • First, it was really useful to use Vellum’s different formats to understand which was best for the ebook and paperback versions (e.g. font, chapter headings etc);
  • Secondly, although the core of my text was finished, I knew I might play around with the various “appendices” at the end of the book (acknowledgements, about the author etc) and therefore I could experiment and keep adjusting the format;
  • And third, yes, it was more cost-effective than paying someone else – it does cost $250, but that is a one-off cost and I can use it forever now for future books.

Fundamentally, it means that after I pay for the software, if I find any typos etc, I can update it instantly and without paying anything more.

How Did I Find Using It?

I loved it! The first thing to say is that when I imported my unformatted, left-aligned Word document into Vellum, it formatted it so beautifully I could almost have accepted the defaults! So impressive. I think it helped that, being a novel, there are no complex aspects such as images, diagrams and different formatting which you might find in a non-fiction book.

Thereafter, learning how to adjust and tweak the styles, add elements such as an ebook photo and so on are simple, and you can see how the changes look immediately in their preview.

And you can do all the above without paying a cent to make sure it is what you want. It’s only when you want to generate the outputs for the book that you have to pay. Clever business model. And to generate the outputs is again, a two-click affair, and it provides multiple outputs for Kindle, ePub, Google Play, PDF and more.

But It’s Only for Macs and I’m a Windows User

Yes, me too! I discovered MacInCloud – a website where you ‘rent’ a virtual Mac through a browser on your Windows PC, and which even comes pre-loaded with Vellum! Very easy to use and my pay-as-you-go tariff costs $1 an hour! The only trick is that your Mac in MacInCloud can’t see your own Windows PC, so you need to upload/download documents and photos via something like OneDrive, Dropbox etc. But that’s minimal hassle for all the benefits.

Anything to Be Aware of?

The obvious thing, of course, is that if I make any mistakes with the typesetting, that’s my responsibility. Not such an issue for the ebook, I can update that at any time. But if I mess up the formatting of my paperback and get hundreds or thousands printed then that’s that! So you need to be very careful for printed versions.

The one key thing missing from Vellum which I wish it had, is functionality to add printers’ crop marks to the PDF for the printed version. I had to use Adobe Acrobat DS for that, which I’ll explain in another post.

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