Chuck Heintzelman.2017. The Author’s Guide to Vellum: Creating Beautiful Books with Vellum 2.0. Mead, WA: Kydala Publishing Inc.
Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
In 2018, I became the proud owner of a MacBook Pro laptop to aid me in my writing and publishing. A number of computer programs focusing on creative activities like writing are available primarily in the Apple world. One of the first that I purchased was Vellum, which has a small cult following among fiction writers. On the back-cover of his book, The Author’s Guide to Vellum, Chuck Heintzelman writes: “Whether you’re new to Vellum or an advanced user, you’ll learn something with this [How-To] book.”In my case, I published my first compendium of three books (a box set) in early 2018, which makes me a user, but certainly not an advanced user—I was tickled pink to find this book and found the author’s claim credible.
Chuck Heintzelman describes himself as a software developer and an EBook bundler, having his own company—BundleRabbit.com. Having created more than 900 EBooks and more than 80 box sets in Vellum, he is certainly an advanced user with the experience necessary to offer advice on using Vellum.
For those new to Vellum, start by downloading and installing Vellum on your Mac. Vellum is not available for Windows or Linux, which was initially a sore point in my case. It is possible to rent a mac online, but that is expensive ($1 per hour).The trial version of Vellum does everything but create your EBook file, which you can do on a pay-as-you-go basis, or you can simply buy the program.
Your starting point in EBook creation is to create a Word document (*.docx file) with your book. For those who compose their books in other programs, such as Scrivener, this requires a conversion to the Word format taking care to follow the guidelines to make sure Vellum properly converts the Word document into a Vellum file.
Heintzelman recommends that authors download a template from the Vellum websitethat allows 17 Vellum styles to be applied directly to your Word file before making the conversion (16). These styles assure a clean conversion. The availability of this template and style book is a great tip that does not seem to appear in the Vellum documentation.
The Vellum selling points arise because most EBooks are fairly bland electronic books and it is not obvious how to assemble a compendium or box set of electronic books. Vellum is popular because it permits the creation of customized EBooks in multiple formats (*.mobi, *.ePub, and *.rtf) sporting features like drop-case letters, graphics, and wing-dings not available elsewhere. What I did not know until reading Heintzelman is that Vellum can also be used to publish print books.
Why Not Vellum?
Heintzelman wrote a short, but important chapter on what Vellum cannot do. Vellum cannot:
- Insert a table
- Internal hyperlinks
- Fine tuning (128-129)
Vellum support says that since this book was published an endnotes option has been added. In general, Vellum makes publishing easy, provided that you like the default settings.
Chuck Heintzelman’s The Author’s Guide to Vellum is a short, helpful guide to publishing with Vellum. Because the Vellum help system is very brief, this guide fills an important niche.
Heintzelman(136-139) mentioned a service called MacInCloud (www.MacInCloud.com).
Scrivener is a popular writing program for authors available for download at:https://www.LiteratureAndLatte.com. Scrivener is optimized for writing and is cheaper than Word, but can create a Word (*.docx) document.
Heintzelman Simplifies Vellum Publishing
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.