In this tutorial you will use Vellum to create a great-looking eBook. You will start with a prepared manuscript and finish ready to generate eBook files for each major book platform. We’ve provided starting materials and will guide you through each step. By the end, you should have an understanding of Vellum and how it can be used to easily create beautiful eBooks.
- Download Vellum
- Download the Sample Material
- Import the Manuscript
- Browse the Book
- Save the Vellum File
- Edit the Text
- Choose a Book Style
- Preview the Book
- Add a Cover Image
- What’s Next
If you haven’t already done so, download Vellum.
Download the Sample Material
You’ll be creating an eBook from the classic H. G. Wells novella, The Invisible Man. We’ve prepared a Microsoft Word version of the text and an image to use for the cover. Click the link below to download these sample materials:
The downloaded package should appear in your Downloads folder. Find the downloaded folder, which you’ll need for the next step.
Import the Manuscript
Vellum can import Microsoft Word documents simply by opening them. To bring the text from The Invisible Man into Vellum:
- Make sure Vellum is running (or is in the dock).
- Find the file The Invisible Man.docx in the Vellum Sample Documents folder
- Drag the file and drop it on top of Vellum to open it.
Vellum will open the Word document, analyze it to find title information and chapters, and then convert it into Vellum’s native format.
You can also open this or any Microsoft Word document (with a .docx extension) directly from Vellum (using File ▸ Open…).
Note: If you are interested in using your own manuscript, we suggest reading Importing into Vellum for tips about how best to format for Vellum.
Browse the Book
After successfully importing the text, you should see the book in Vellum:
Vellum divides your book into chapters, which are listed in the Navigator.
Click through the chapters in the Navigator. When you select a chapter in the Navigator, its content is shown in the Text Editor.
The Navigator also serves as a preview of your book’s Table of Contents, which is automatically generated by Vellum.
Save the Vellum File
Even though you’ve just imported your manuscript from Word, it’s good to get into the habit of saving your Vellum document. The first time you choose File > Save, you’ll be asked to choose a name and destination for your Vellum document.
Whenever you use Save, Vellum will save the changes you’ve made to your book’s content, as well as the style choices you have made.
When you locate your Vellum document in the Finder, it will have the following icon:
In the future, if you’d like to update one of your published eBooks, you can re-open your Vellum document by double-clicking on its icon, making any necessary changes, and then re-generating your eBooks.
Edit the Text
Whether you use it to write a book from scratch, or just to make some changes, Vellum’s text editor gives you full control over the content of your book. Use the text editor to insert an ornamental break — a scene break with a bit of a flourish.
To edit chapter four, click on the chapter (“Mr. Cuss Interviews the Stranger”) in the Navigator:
In the Text Editor, place the cursor at the beginning of the second paragraph. This is where you’ll insert the break.
Now, add the ornamental break using Add Text Feature menu of the toolbar:
You should see an ornamental break in your text:
Note: though it appears as three asterisks, an ornamental break is actually a single item, and is a special cue Vellum will use when formatting your eBook. Later you will customize how this will appear in the eBook. Read Adding Text Features to learn more about adding these items to your eBook.
You can use Vellum to create front- and back-matter such as a Dedication or an About the Author page:
- At the bottom of the Navigator, find the gear menu:
- Use Add Element or Add Multiple Elements… to add a short biography of H. G. Wells. Be sure to include a link to his Twitter account!
Vellum allows you to add a variety of element types. See our Element Types document for detailed descriptions.
Choose a Book Style
With the Contents of your book in place, you’ll now take a look at the Styles and see how Vellum combines quality typography and custom fonts and flourishes to create an attractive eBook.
At the top of the Navigator, click the Styles button:
Vellum will display possible styles for your book:
The Navigator now displays the kinds of styles that will be applied to the eBook. The Book Style — a coordinated set of style attributes — is currently selected.
The Style Carousel displays options for each kind of style. Here, the Meridian book style is selected.
Click on the pages of the Style Carousel to see the possible styles:
You can also move through the carousel by swiping on a multitouch trackpad or by using the left- and right-arrow keys.
Select the Oxford book style:
The Oxford book style combines historic fonts and ornaments to give an eBook the look of a classic. A book style affects the title page, chapter headings, and important sections of your book. You can view these details and customize them by clicking on the other entries in the Navigator.
In the Navigator, select Heading to change the carousel to show styles for chapter headings.
Now as you navigate through the carousel, you’ll see variants on the Oxford theme. Select the heading variant you like best.
Now select Ornamental Break in the Navigator.
You should recognize where you created the ornamental break earlier. Click through the carousel to decide how that break (and any others you create) should be rendered in the eBook.
You can experiment with styles as you are writing, or come back and change your mind after you’ve seen your eBook on a device. Styles are instantly and uniformly applied to all aspects of your book.
Maybe 17th century typefaces aren’t your thing. Return to Book Style and select something more modern. See how that affects options for Heading and Ornamental Break.
Preview the Book
Vellum’s live preview allows you to immediately see how your book will appear on a range of devices:
Use the navigation buttons (upper right) to move through the chapters of your book. Use the page turn buttons (that will appear above the device) to change pages.
Want to see how it will look on a small screen like an iPhone? Or how your cover will read on eInk screen? Press the Device button to select a different device:
The Preview also features a settings menu for each device. On an iPad or iPhone, use the device settings to see how the book appears if the user changes the font size or switches to night mode:
Note: The settings you change here only guide the Preview. They do not at all affect the eBook you create.
Extra Credit 1
Browse through the styles in the Book Styles carousel to see how Vellum instantly applies Book Styles to the entire book.
Extra Credit 2
Use the Chapter buttons to find the ornamental break you added in Chapter 4. Note how it is displayed. Experiment with different styles and note how the ornamental break changes.
Add a Cover Image
Before generating eBook files, we will need to assign an image to use for the cover. Vellum manages your book cover and will let you know how well it meets the requirements for eBook platforms. To add a cover to your book:
- Switch the Navigator back to Contents.
- Select the book title — The Invisible Man — from the Contents Navigator. This will show you the title and author information for the book.
- Now click on the Cover button to inspect the cover:
Use the sample cover image that you downloaded at the beginning of the tutorial:
- Click on the plus that appears when your mouse is over the cover.
- Find the cover image that you downloaded above and select it. You should now see the cover image in Vellum:
You can also drag an image file and drop it right on the cover.
Vellum assigns the cover image to your book and shows you if it satisfies size criteria for eBook stores. In this case, you will see that the image is large enough for all book platforms.
Note: If you’ve created eBooks before, you might have expected the image to be in the JPEG format. Don’t worry: when Vellum creates eBooks, it automatically converts the cover image to the best format for each platform. You can learn more about Using Cover Images in Vellum.
Extra Credit 1
In the Preview, you’ll see how the cover image will be presented to your reader. Switch to an eInk device (like Kindle Paperwhite) to see how the cover image will appear on an eInk screen.
Extra Credit 2
Try using other images for the cover to see how Vellum analyzes them for meeting requirements of eBook platforms.
You’ve finished the tutorial. If your name is H. G. Wells, you are poised to become a self-publishing sensation!
If you are ready to import your own manuscript, we suggest reading Importing Your Manuscript, which details how Vellum imports a file from Word, and how you can make adjustments to your book afterwards.
Ready to purchase? The Purchasing FAQ answers questions about activating eBook Generation.
The Vellum Help Overview lists help pages on other topics, including:
Enjoy using Vellum!