Installing Vellum on a Mac

Vellum is an eBook (electronic book) creation application you’ll use to convert your manuscript into an eBook file that you’ll publish. It’s one of several alternatives for creating eBooks, and the one I’ve used for Linda Needham’s book, The Legend of Nimway Hall: 1940 – Josie.

This page contains step-by-step instructions for installing Vellum and the other tools you’ll use to produce eBooks using a Mac.

The process of creating an eBook using Vellum is simple:

  1. Write your manuscript using LibreOffice, Microsoft Word, or another Word Processing application that can produce a .docx file. If you like you can even use Vellum to write your eBook (although Vellum doesn’t have all the features of a full-fledged word processor).
  2. Import your .docx manuscript into Vellum, and edit the resulting Vellum file to make the resulting eBook look good to you. This step is similar to the typesetting process a print publisher performs to produce printed Galleys.
  3. Use Vellum to generate an eBook file for each format you want to publish (Mobi, ePub, etc.). In this step, you preview your eBook files with Amazon’s Kindle Previewer and iBooks, then go back and adjust the Vellum project until you’re happy with the look and behavior of the eBook file in each format.
  4. Publish your eBook files to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, Apple’s iBook Authors, and other electronic and print distributors.

The tools you’ll install are:

  • I assume you’ve already installed a popular manuscript editing application, such as LibreOffice or Microsoft Word.
  • Vellum
  • The Kindle App, Amazon’s eBook reader. You’ll use this app to preview your Kindle-format eBooks.
  • KindleGen, Amazon’s tool for creating a Kindle-compatible eBook. Vellum uses KindleGen to create Kindle eBooks. NOTE: you’ll install KindleGen via Vellum rather than downloading it as a separate application.
  • Kindle Previewer, Amazon’s eBook testing application. You’ll use this app to see what your Kindle-format (.mobi) eBooks will look like on various types of Kindle devices.
  • iBooks, which I believe comes pre-installed on your Mac. You’ll use iBooks to preview your Apple-format (.epub) eBooks.

Let’s get started!

Install Vellum

  1. Browse to https://vellum.pub
  2. Click the dark Download button (this button appears on the page only if you’re on a Mac).
  3. Follow the instructions to download and install the application.

Purchase a Vellum Package

You can use Vellum for free until you get to the point of generating eBook files. At that point, you need to purchase a Vellum Package.

As of this writing, Vellum offers two possible packages. Because Vellum is fairly new, these options may change:

  • Vellum EBooks, currently about $200, a one-time fee that will enable you to create as many eBook files as you like. It will not enable you to create print (.pdf) files.
  • Vellum Press, currently about $250, a one-time fee that will enable you to create as many eBook and print files as you like. This package is a good choice if you plan to create paperback versions of your eBooks, for example through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

To purchase a Vellum Package:

  1. If you haven’t already, install Vellum (see instructions above).
  2. Start Vellum
  3. In the upper-right of the Vellum screen, there will be a small Icon labeled “Purchase“. Click that button.
  4. Follow the resulting instructions to choose a package and pay for it.
  5. Once you’ve successfully purchased a package, your Vellum screen will show, instead of the “Purchase” icon, an icon labeled “Generate”.

Install Kindle on your Mac

Kindle is in the App Store, titled “Kindle” and sold by AMZN Mobile LLC. You install it just as you do any other App Store app.

Install KindleGen on your Mac

KindleGen is Amazon’s application that generates a Kindle .mobi file. Vellum will automatically use KindleGen when it wants to create a Kindle (.mobi) file of your book.

To Install KindleGen:

  1. Start Vellum
  2. Create either an example book (such as Vellum’s tutorial example, “The Invisible Man”), or a dummy of your book. The content doesn’t matter, because we won’t be using the generated file(s) at this point.
  3. Click the button in the upper-right of the screen labeled “Generate“. If you don’t see the “Generate” button, you likely need to purchase a Vellum Package, as I described above.
  4. In the resulting dialog, Click the “…” icon labeled “Generate for:
  5. In the resulting dialog, select “Kindle” (and any others you wish), then click Continue.
  6. Now in the Generate dialog, click the folder icon labeled “In Folder:” to select a destination.
  7. Once you’ve selected a destination folder and are back in the Generate dialog, click “Generate“.
  8. Follow the instructions that appear, to install KindleGen from within Vellum.
  9. When complete, there should be a new .mobi file on your computer.

Install Kindle Previewer

There are several ways you can preview your Kindle-format eBook: From within Vellum; From the Kindle App; From the Kindle Previewer. I recommend the Kindle Previewer, because that program will give you the best simulation of what your Kindle eBook will look like on phones, tablets, and various Kindle Reader devices.

To install the Kindle Previewer:

  1. Browse to the KDP Tools and Resources page.
  2. On that page, click on the section titled “Kindle Previewer“, to expand it.
  3. Click the download button labeled MacOS.
  4. Follow the instructions to download and install it just as you would any other downloaded Mac application.

Next Steps

Writing your manuscript with Vellum in mind will save you a lot of trouble later. My next page shows a set of tips for Writing a Vellum-Friendly manuscript.