How to Use Vellum

 

by Guest Blogger Stacey Osvett

Technically, Vellum is a fully functioning Word Processor, so you
could write your story from beginning to end right in the software. However,
there are much better options designed specifically for writing. So, if you
write in another program, you will have to export or save your file in a
Microsoft Word (.docx) format.

To make it easier, there should be some kind of delineations
between chapters and scenes. Vellum can automatically detect chapters based on
a new heading or page break. It will also detect additional blank lines as
scene breaks, so make sure you don’t have a lot of white space or extra returns
in your writing if you don’t want to have a scene break there. You can always
edit or correct the chapter and scene breaks manually, but it will take a
little extra time (and who has any of that lying around?).

On the main screen of Vellum, simply click “Import Word File,”
and Vellum will start to work its magic. It will automatically create a table
of contents and title page, so there’s no need to include those in your
manuscript. By default, the table of contents will only export in electronic
editions. However, on the contents page, you can edit the settings to include
it in print formatting as well. Personally, I normally don’t include a TOC for
my fiction, but I will for a short story collection or non-fiction.

Here is where you can make some other customizations as well.
Under the title of the project (in the upper left corner), you can upload your
cover so it will be the first page of the ebook. In the right panel, you can
preview how the current page will look on a variety of devices, including a
Kindle Fire and Paperwhite, Apple iPad or iPhone, Nook Touch, Kobo Clara, and
Google Android Tablet. 

Clicking into any one of the chapters lets you edit the name,
subtitle, the chapter author in the case of a multi-author anthology or add
images to the header. From the settings, it is also possible to change the type
of chapter. For instance, if you have an Introduction, you can change the label
and all the following chapters will automatically renumber. You can also add
copyright pages, a foreward, acknowledgements, an about the author page, and
also by the author page. 

Finally, above the title of the project, we’ve been working
through the “Contents” of the book. Now we have a change to click over to
“Styles” and choose a few stylistic choices for your book. There are different
options for how you want the heading to look with different layouts, the look
of the first paragraph, and even ornamental designs for scene breaks. For most
of these options, you can also upload your own image. Do you have a stylistic
heart on your cover? Why not make that symbol the break between different
scenes!

My favorite feature in Vellum, though, has to be the ability to
customize links. If a reader buys book 1 on Amazon, you can insert a link for
book 2 that sends them to that page on Amazon. If they buy on Kobo, send them
to book 2 on Kobo, etc. You can also create a generic link for all the other
smaller distributors. Simply right click on any store link, and you can create
customized hyperlinks for every major retailer.

Once you’ve previewed your book on the different reading devices
and everything looks good, it’s time to generate your files. In the upper right
corner of the screen is an open-book icon that says “Generate.” In the menu,
you can choose where you want to save the files and the trim size for print
(5”x8”, 5.25”x8”, 5.5”x8.5”, or 6”x9”).

Vellum will create a folder for your book that includes interior
files for Apple Books, Google Play, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Print, and Generic epub
files. Plus, their development team is really responsive. Within a day of
receiving an email from Amazon that they were changing some file formats from
.mobi to .epub, Vellum announced an update that incorporated all the changes in
their software. 

But what if I don’t have a Mac?

I get it. I’m a Windows girl myself. In my case, my husband is a
tech guy and wasn’t opposed to having an Apple in the house for some programs
he wanted as well. So we bought an inexpensive used Mac mini for those few
programs.

Yeah, people love Vellum enough to buy a new computer just to run
it.

But it’s completely understandable if you don’t want to add
another cost on top of Vellum. 

For everyone else who’d rather have a lower-key solution, there’s
always Mac-in-Cloud (www.MacInCloud.com). 

Mac-in-Cloud is a web-based program where you would access your
own virtual Mac on any web browser. Essentially, you’d log in to Mac-in-Cloud
online, and you’d see the desktop of your very own Mac. You’d have to save and
transfer files between your computer and your virtual Mac using a cloud storage
service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Costs will range from $1 per hour (I
can upload and create my ebook files from a clean manuscript in about 15-20
minutes) to a flat fee of $25 per month.

Your files and software would be as secure on Mac-in-Cloud as
they would be on a computer in your living room. Simply save your MS Word
manuscript in Dropbox or your cloud storage of choice, upload it to Vellum
using Mac-in-Cloud exactly as someone with a physical computer would do, then
save the files back onto Dropbox. From there, everything’s ready to upload to
all the retailers and aggregators. Or if you’re giving a story away for free to
your newsletter subscribers, the print formatting is a simple pdf and easy to
host on your website or a distribution partner like BookFunnel.

 

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