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Production: Vellum as a Formatting Tool for Print – a Review by Beta Tester Giacomo Giammatteo

Headshot of Jim with a pet dog

Giacomo Giammatteo, test-pilot for Vellum for Print

MAC users have long advocated Vellum as a formatting tool for ebooks, so there has been much excited anticipation in the author community about the planned launch of a print equivalent. ALLi advisor Giacomo Giammatteo, who has been a pre-launch tester for the new product, has with characteristic thoroughness reviewed the new product for ALLi as it launches.

 

 

Vellum and Formatting for Print

I’ve heard for years about the problems associated with submitting print books to IngramSpark. Formatting for print has never been easy.

They don’t work.
The file was rejected.
I had to resubmit, and
That cost me money.

These statements, and ones like them, have been circulating around the indie community for a long time. It’s not that I don’t believe them, I’ve experienced it a few times myself when formatting for print. But the wait for a solution is over thanks to Vellum.

Who Is Vellum?

Vellum is the best thing that’s happened to formatting since…well, since anything.

I’ve never seen any formatting software that can do what Vellum does. And Vellum does it so easily. I know what you’re probably thinking. Who is this guy to tell me about formatting for print?

I started using Vellum to format my eBooks late last year because I was tired of paying to have them done, but more so because I was tired of waiting to have them done. I decided to buy Vellum and give it a try. I was so impressed with what Vellum could do and how easy it was to do it, that I bought their unlimited package.

After formatting a few books, I was even more impressed, so impressed that I even wrote a book about it—How to Format an eBook.

After writing the book, I realized Vellum was even easier to use than I previously thought. Based on that, I started offering formatting services for those unfortunate enough not to own a MAC. (Yes, I had to throw that taunt in there.)

You Mean Vellum Is Only for Macs?

Yes and no. The software runs natively on Macs and PCs can’t run it. However (There’s always a however.) there are ways around it. If you don’t own a Mac, you can use a service called Mac in the Cloud. which allows you to use Vellum by simulating a Mac. If you have Mac simulation software, you could also do it.

Why Go to the Trouble?

Because using Vellum is worth it. Every formatter I’ve ever worked with gives you the option of inserting a few images. But when I say a few, I mean a few. They charge more for anything over five usually.

Vellum makes it so easy to insert images that I went hog wild with it. I’m writing a new book, called Visual Grammar, and I have more than two hundred images in it.

I know what you’re thinking—or should be—Amazon will charge a fortune for that. And ordinarily you’d be right, but there’s a way around that, and you can read about it on a future post. But without delaying any further, let’s look at how Vellum can add spice to your books. I have even started using pictures in my mystery books.

I know it’s arguable whether pictures do any good, but I’ve already heard from dozens of readers that they like it. And I think it will be even more valuable in my upcoming series geared toward children.

Below are screenshots from an upcoming fantasy book.

screenshot

screenshot

Now let’s get back to what we were talking about…

Vellum, and Formatting for Print

For the first time, authors are free to create beautiful print books for CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and to do it with ease and by expending little effort. Even better, you don’t have to spend much money. I put out a book last month on how to use Vellum to format an ebook, and it has met with resounding success. Now, I’m telling you that the formatting for print version is even easier. (Below is the cover of How to Format an eBook.)

cover of how to format an ebook

How to Format an eBook

If you’ve been in the business for any length of time, you know how difficult it is to find a professional formatter who knows, really knows how to format a book for IngramSpark. In the past, the result was you would often get rejected by IngramSpark’s strict screening process, and you would be required to upload a new file.

That doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that uploading a new file meant paying more money. So not only did the mistake cost you time, but it cost additional money as well.

Vellum can create beautiful books for print services like CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and Nook Press.

When creating the Print Edition of your book, Vellum automatically:

  • Selects appropriate margins and font size for your chosen trim size.
  • Numbers the pages of your book, starting after front matter.
  • Adds configurable headers and footers to pages that need them.
  • Creates a Table of Contents with page numbers.
  • Ensures your first chapter starts on the right-hand page (or every chapter).
  • Adjusts the layout of text to avoid unsightly widows.
  • Balances every page spread to be even at the bottom.
  • Converts any color images to black and white for print.

All of which means all you have to do is press Generate! Within thirty seconds, you’ll have a PDF file you can send to CreateSpace or IngramSpark with no fear of rejection.

What Else Can Vellum Do?

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Vellum does all of the things it does for eBooks, including drop caps, chapter headings, spacing options, etc. Below is a screenshot from my upcoming fantasy book which shows the chapter heading, the drop cap I selected (one of many), and the Alignment Block option. It does not show the ornamental scene break, which is fantastic. Here’s a screenshot from my new fantasy book.

screenshot

The one thing that’s different from that screenshot and the print version involves my only gripe: when files are converted to PDF for print, the images are all converted to black and white. I felt it should be an option in the preferences to leave them color or convert them.

I don’t see this as a big deal, as a black & white picture is better than no picture, but if you’re writing books for children, or cookbooks, color would be a nice option.

Below is a screenshot of the print settings, and as you can see, there’s not much to configure.

screenshot

  1. Trim size is the first decision you’ll need to make. Vellum offers five. I’m guessing in the future, they will broaden that offering.
  2. Inside margin width is next. It will be calculated and set automatically, but if you want to manually change it, you can.
  3. You have the option of beginning chapter one, or all chapters on the right side (as most major publishing houses do).
  4. At the bottom it displays how many pages are in the book. It shows this in several other places also.

Pricing

I wrote this prior to the formal release of the print version, so I don’t know what the pricing will be. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be fair, as it is with the pricing for eBook formatting. In any case, I’m sure it will be worth it.

If you’re smart, you’ll go and buy Vellum now. Trust me, it’s worth it.

OVER TO YOU If you’ve also been lucky enough to have a pre-launch trial of Vellum for Print, please feel free to add your comments – and if anyone has questions for Jim, he’ll be happy to answer them.

Testdriving #Vellum 2.0, launching today- by @JimGiammatteo @Vellum180G Click To Tweet

ANOTHER GREAT POST ABOUT VELLUM FROM OUR ARCHIVE 

Production: How to Format Illustrated Ebooks with Vellum

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13 Responses to Production: Vellum as a Formatting Tool for Print – a Review by Beta Tester Giacomo Giammatteo

  1. Deborah Burst September 5, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

    I was ecstatic when Vellum hit the market and bought it earlier this year and then bought the print version. I was spending thousands of dollars to format my book because it includes color photos of historic churches and cemeteries.

    Before I submitted my fifth book I did a courtesy copy test with only 20,000 words and about 10-15 photos. It was a complete disaster. Just the ebook file size for Amazon was 26mb. I even tried to bring down the jpeg size and it still was too large. I had to then take out all the photos to bring it to a 8mb size.

    The reason I bring this up is because I use Book Funnel to send links for the courtesy copies and Book Funnel doesn’t accept anything larger than 10mb.

    I did send emails to Vellum and they were very understanding but admitted the only option was to include photos with very small resolutions. But small resolution won’t work with print copies.

    I’m very close to importing my fifth book to Vellum and will try just black & white photos. Not sure what will happen, but it looks like I’ll have to take a break from my author career until Vellum finds a solution for color print photos.

    I noticed you showed an example of photos in a fantasy book of yours, but will those work in a print version?

    Look forward to your reply.

    • Giacomo Giammatteo September 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      Sorry for the late reply. Yes, there are solutions. You can do your ebooks using color photos with resolutions of 96 instead of 300, then, if you want a color book, do a separate file and using Vellum’s new color print option, produce another file. email me if you have any questions.

  2. Maggie Lynch August 14, 2017 at 11:45 pm #

    I bought Vellum in Fall 2016 and fell in love immediately. When I heard they were going to also offer Print I was counting the days until the release. I am one of those who tried going to Ingram. I’m pretty technically savvy, but I could not get my print book to meet their specs without buying expensive Adobe software. Or paying $150+ for a formatter to do it for me.

    The minute they announced the Print upgrade I purchased it. It was AMAZING! The books I had already put in Vellum for ebook could now be generated in Print with one click. I went to Ingram and loaded it with fingers crossed. Accepted on the first try! It is really worth it. At $249 for both ebook and print, it paid for itself by my second load to Ingram.

  3. Lorilyn Roberts July 21, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    Where do I buy the software?

  4. Lorilyn Roberts July 21, 2017 at 6:06 am #

    Where do I buy the software for my MAC?

  5. Makkte June 7, 2017 at 2:08 am #

    A massive issue I have with Vellum is that it is not possible to format poetry in a standard way — the ‘verse’ formatting option is forced to italics! There is no internal workaround that I have ever discovered, and all Vellum support will say is that it’s on their list of suggestions for the future. I had hoped this would be fixed for the Print version. But it Is still not fixed. Very, very disappointing for those of us with poems and songs that we wish to see centred and left justified in regular typeface. Why is this not possible? A premium priced product with decidedly non premium features!

    • giacomo June 8, 2017 at 11:05 am #

      Makkte: I don’t know much about formatting for verse. I don’t even know the proper way to do it, but I’ll take your word for it that it isn’t possible in Vellum. As a temporary fix, how about formatting it in in another program, then taking a screenshot of it and inserting that image? That would be a convoluted way around the issue, but if it’s not many items, it might work. Just a suggestion.

  6. Giacomo Giammatteo June 3, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    Alex, I’m with you on that. I have just started a series for children and color is mandatory. I have submitted a request to Vellum.

  7. Alex Hallatt June 3, 2017 at 10:37 am #

    From your screenshot, it looks like they don’t offer all the trim sizes either. My book is square and I’m planning on going 8 x 8 inches in Createspace.

    Maybe more options will be added in future versions.

    Back to InDesign…. ugh.

    • Giacomo Giammatteo June 3, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

      Alex, I’m presuming they will add more trim sizes, but you’re right, for now 8×8 is not supported.

    • Giacomo Giammatteo June 16, 2017 at 1:37 am #

      Alex: I’ve figured out how to resolve the problem. It’s not ideal, but it works. email me if you want. gg@giacomog.com

  8. Alex Hallatt June 3, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    Thank goodness I read this. I can’t believe they have no option for colour! I’m a cartoonist and have published an ebook via Vellum with about 40 colour pictures. I’ve done a print edition via Ingram, but was hoping to use Vellum to do the print edition for Createspace. You have just saved me from upgrading for nothing!

    I hope they do make colour an option in the future.

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