Author Archives: Brad West

3 Tips for Using the new Startup Window

The Startup Window. It’s the easiest way to begin working on a project, and it received an overhaul with Vellum 3.5.

Here are 3 tips to get the most out what’s new:

1. Keep Scrolling

The new Startup Window lists up to 100 files you’ve recently opened. Don’t see your file on the first page? Keep going! The Startup Window now shows bigger covers and titles so it’s easier to spot the one you’re looking for.

2. Find Your File

Need to access your file in the Finder? Use the  button shown when the file is selected. In the Finder, you can move your file, rename it, or send it to a colleague. You can even delete your file by moving it to the Trash (but only if you mean it!).

3. Play Favorites

Have a file that you keep coming back to, like one with your common front- and back-matter? Keep it pinned to the top by marking it as a Favorite. Your favorite files are always listed first in the Startup Window and in the Open Recent menu.

The new Startup Window is part of Vellum 3.5, released in May. Don’t have it yet? Make sure you’re up-to-date.

Vellum 3.5

Vellum 3.5: What You’ve Been Searching For

Vellum 3.5 is now available! Here’s what you’ll find in this latest release:

Find’s Your Friend

Vellum’s all-new Find Bar is easier to use and smarter about finding words with apostrophes, quotes, or ellipses. Ever wanted to search for Text Features like Images or Ornamental Breaks — or just where you’ve used italics? Now you can with Find Special.

A Fresh Start

Vellum’s revamped Startup Window now lists up to 100 of your most recent files. Have a file that you always return to? Pin it to the top by making it a Favorite. Accidentally move files to the Trash? The Startup Window will warn you.

Also in Vellum 3.5

  • Control whether Vellum clarifies scene breaks at the top/bottom of the page
  • When typing, Undo now changes whole words (rather than single letters)
  • The Text Editor offers more room for editing at the end of each chapter
  • Custom Heading Background Presence is now shown as a number
  • Subheads displayed in Contents are included in the Logical TOC (or “NCX”)
  • Keep with Next works better when preceding Text Features

Vellum 3.5 is a free update and requires macOS Catalina or newer.

To get Vellum 3.5, use Check for Updates, or download Vellum from

Kindle Delivery Costs: Fact vs. Fiction

Kindle Delivery Costs: Fact vs. Fiction

As you may know, when you choose the 70% royalty option at KDP, Amazon will charge a “delivery cost” for each book sold, computed at $0.15 per MB.

We’ve been getting new questions about this fee from authors, many who have recently read misleading information about how these costs are calculated.

To clear up this confusion, here are four facts (and, later, three pieces of fiction) about Kindle Delivery Costs:

FACT: To determine delivery cost, upload to KDP

Don’t waste time doing math for the file you generate: Kindle Delivery Cost is computed using a (smaller) converted file created by Amazon. You’ll learn the size and resulting cost after you upload to KDP:

FACT: Images are often the biggest contributor to delivery costs

Detailed images can take up a lot of space, even compressed. In a book with many images, the fastest way to decrease costs is to simply reduce the number. To exclude an image from your ebook (but keep it in print), you can use Vellum’s Include In option:

FACT: Vellum automatically optimizes images for Kindle

Images that remain in your ebook will be resized by Vellum based on Kindle’s guidelines and how each image is used. Still have a lot of images? You can adjust Vellum’s Image Sizing for Kindle in Generation Preferences:

FACT: Reusing an image is free!

Adding the same illustration to every chapter? Vellum will make sure that image is reused, and only counted once in your book. Vellum also optimizes small, common images like ornamental breaks so that they barely take up any space.

And now, here are some pieces of fiction that you may have read:

FICTION: Fonts increase delivery costs

Though embedded fonts increase the size of the ebook you upload, these are excluded from the converted file Amazon creates. That means they don’t affect delivery costs. At all.

FICTION: Eliminating “XML Bloat” can reduce costs

While Vellum’s output is concise and clean, the truth is this doesn’t have any effect on delivery costs. Those are computed on a file converted by Amazon (that doesn’t use this XML).

FICTION: Use an EPUB compression tool before uploading

Most online EPUB compression tools are designed for readers who want to fit more ebooks on their devices. For authors, they can produce invalid EPUB files that could prevent your book from being published. We don’t recommend them.

Want more facts (and less fiction)? You‘ll find them in our updated guide to Kindle Delivery Costs.

Still have questions? Let us know!

A Look Back at 2022

Happy 2023! A new year is always a chance for reflection, so we thought we’d look back at the updates we made in 2022. In case you missed them, here are some of the new features we added to Vellum last year:

Multiple Heading Backgrounds

Inspired by the popularity of Heading Backgrounds in Vellum 3.0, we added the option for multiple heading backgrounds in Vellum 3.1. With this change, you can include backgrounds in elements like a Title Page, or create alternating backgrounds for Chapters.

Easier Box Set Construction

In Vellum 3.1, we also introduced the New Box Set command, which makes it even easier to create these collections. Add files, reorder, then create a box set or a multiple-author bundle with just one click.

New File Format

With Vellum 3.2, the files you create are saved in an all-new format. Vellum documents are now just a single file, making them better suited for cloud services like iCloud and Dropbox, and easier to share with colleagues.

Custom Headers & Footers

Want to add an extra touch to your print edition? With Vellum 3.3, we added a new option for Custom Headers and Footers. Control content, alignment, and position, and even use your own themed ornament!

Text Messages & Written Notes

With Vellum 3.4, we introduced our most talked-about features of 2022: Text Conversations and Written Notes provide new, fun ways to format messages between characters. They’re designed to work in both ebooks and in print, and include multiple options for how they appear in your book.

Export to Word

In Vellum 3.4, we also added the new Export Content command, found in the File menu. If you’ve written your book in Vellum (or just made changes), you can now create a Word file ready to send to your editor.

Also in 2022

In addition to these major features, we also introduced:

  • New styles designed for accessibility
  • Series Title (and Book Number) in Title Info
  • A dedicated Bibliography element
  • A Special Characters menu for quick access to tools like Soft Hyphen
  • New hyphenation options in Body Style

More to Come

All of these features were released in 2022 as free updates. You can make sure you have access to them using Check for Updates. (Current versions of Vellum require macOS Catalina or newer.)

We have more to come in 2023. As always, the features we add are inspired by your feedback, so if you have an idea for something that will make it even easier to create beautiful books, let us know!

FAQ: Conversations and Written Notes

FAQ: Text Conversations and Written Notes

We’re thrilled with the response to Vellum 3.4, which introduced new features for Text Conversations and Written Notes. With all of the excitement, we’ve also received some questions. Here are answers to the most common ones:

Q & A

Questions & Answers

In ebooks, will Text Conversations and Written Notes resize as a reader changes font size?
Yes. The sizing is based on a reader’s font size and will change with their preferences.

Will the text within notes and conversations be accessible to screen reading systems?
Yes! All of the text is still included in your ebook. The appearance is just altered using styling and fonts.

Will using a Text Conversation or Written Note increase delivery costs?
Not at all. No images are used to create these, so you won’t see any increase in Amazon delivery costs. 

Will Text Conversation bubbles appear on all ebook readers?
In purchased ebooks, yes. As usual, formatting is limited in ebooks sideloaded into Kindle for iPhone.

Will Text Conversation bubbles work in dark mode?
Yes! The text and bubble colors will change to adapt to dark mode and other color schemes. You can see how this works in Vellum’s Preview.

Will Written Note fonts still be visible when readers change their preferred font?
In purchased ebooks, yes. In Kindle ebooks that are sideloaded, there are some limitations.

Vellum 3.4

Vellum 3.4

Vellum 3.4 is now available! Here’s what you’ll find in this newest release:

Text message bubbles shown within a book on an ebook reader

Text Messages

Writing a story set in the digital world? Use a Text Conversation to format texts between characters. Configure sent and received messages, and choose from six different style options for how they appear in your book.

Written Notes

You can go analog, too! With a Written Note, you can include a letter, note, or any other dispatch from a character. Set up the different parts of a letter and select from handwritten typefaces or options that match the primary font.

Export to Word

You use Import Word File to bring your manuscript into Vellum. Now you can go the other way, too! The Export Content command — found in the File menu — takes text you’ve written in Vellum and creates a Word file you can send to your editor.

Also in Vellum 3.4

  • In Body Style, you can disable hyphenation for Capitalized Words
  • You can also disable hyphenation for a specific word in your book
  • In situations when you can’t provide a Kindle-specific file, you can safely use Generic EPUB with Send to Kindle
  • You can now use SVG vector images in print (macOS Ventura only)

Vellum 3.4 is a free update. This version requires macOS Catalina or newer, and is compatible with macOS Ventura.

To get Vellum 3.4, use Check for Updates. Or download Vellum from

Vellum 3.3

Vellum 3.3 is now available! Here’s what you’ll find in this latest release:

Custom Headers & Footers

Go beyond Vellum’s presets with the new Custom option for Headers and Footers. Select information you want to include, control alignment, and — for an extra touch — even use your own themed ornament!

Series Title

Is your book a part of a series? You can now include the name of the series and the number of the book in Title Info. Vellum will include this on your book’s title page and in your ebook metadata.


For non-fiction works, you can list all of your references in Vellum’s new Bibliography element. Vellum automatically formats each citation using a standard hanging indent, and uses a smaller font size to fit more on the page.

Also in Vellum 3.3

  • New Special Characters menu offers quick access to tools like Soft Hyphen
  • Non-Breaking Space and other special characters are now always visible in the Text Editor
  • Vellum’s ebook preview now avoids widows and orphans for supported devices
  • Ukrainian 🇺🇦 is now an option for book Language

Version 3.3 is a free update. Get it using Check for Updates, or download from

Your Mac will need macOS Catalina or newer for this version.

Send to Kindle Now Accepts EPUB Files

Recently, Amazon announced that their Send to Kindle tools are transitioning from accepting MOBI files to EPUB files:

  • When using Send to Kindle by Email, you can now provide an EPUB file instead of a MOBI file
  • Amazon’s Send to Kindle apps will support EPUB files in the future
  • In August late 2022, Send to Kindle will stop accepting MOBI files 
Q & A

Questions & Answers

What file should I use with Send to Kindle?
If you use Send to Kindle by Email, you can now attach your Kindle.epub file instead of a converted MOBI file. (Amazon’s Send to Kindle app still requires a MOBI file.)

Can I attach Vellum’s Generic EPUB file?
We don’t recommend it. For best results, you’ll need to provide the same Kindle.epub file that you use when uploading to KDP.

Can Kindles now read EPUB files then?
No. Send to Kindle will convert your EPUB file to a proprietary format (AZW3) that can be read on Kindles.

Does this mean Send to Kindle now matches what readers see?
Unfortunately, no. Send to Kindle converts to an older format that doesn’t support Amazon’s Enhanced Typesetting. To see your book with Enhanced Typesetting, you’ll still need to use Kindle Previewer.

What if I load files via USB instead of using Send to Kindle?
Since Kindles can’t read EPUB files, you’ll need to use a MOBI file when you sideload via USB. Vellum can generate MOBI files for Kindle by adjusting Generation Preferences.

Will Vellum continue support for MOBI files?
Vellum relies on tools supplied by Amazon to convert your Kindle.epub file to a file. As long as Amazon maintains these tools, we’ll continue to offer this option in Vellum.

Update 6/2/22: After this was posted, Amazon changed requirements for EPUB files sent using Send to Kindle, which caused Kindle.epub files to be rejected. To address this, we‘ve updated the Kindle.epub format with Vellum 3.2.2.

Update 6/23/22: Amazon has made additional changes, and will again accept Kindle.epub files created with earlier versions of Vellum.

Vellum 3.2

Vellum 3.2 is now available, with a big change under the hood:

New File Format

Vellum 3.2 saves documents in an all-new format. Vellum documents are now just a single file (and no longer use the Mac’s package format).

With this simpler format, it’s easier to share your work with colleagues — via email or using cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Converting to the new format is automatic, and will happen the next time you save your work in Vellum. And when you save your file, your Mac will now show the cover as its icon!

Questions & Answers

How do I save documents in the new format?
Any document you save with Vellum 3.2 will use this new format.

Will I be able to open my existing documents?
Yes! Vellum 3.2 can still open older files, and will convert to the new format when you save.

Can older versions of Vellum open files saved in the new format?
No. If you send someone a file saved with this version, they’ll need Vellum 3.2 to open it.

Will files in the new format have a different name?
No. File names will stay the same, and continue to end with the .vellum extension.

Version 3.2 is a free update. Get it using Check for Updates, or download from

Your Mac will need macOS Catalina or newer for this version.

Vellum 3.1

Vellum 3.1 is now available! Here’s everything in this new release:

Multiple Heading Backgrounds

Authors have used Heading Backgrounds to create some amazing paperbacks and hardcovers. With Vellum 3.1, you have new options for using Heading Backgrounds in your books.

You can now apply Heading Backgrounds to elements like Parts, Volumes, or even a Title Page. Or create alternate backgrounds for Chapters, and change the background to match each Chapter’s point-of-view.

Accessible Styles

Vellum 3.1 adds an Accessible section to Styles, with two new options designed for reading and visual impairments: 

  • Dyslexic incorporates the OpenDyslexic font, considered easier to read by many with dyslexia.
  • Legible uses Atkinson Hyperlegible, a sans serif font designed with readability in mind.

Accessible Styles adopt guidelines such as left-aligned text, space between paragraphs, and limited hyphenation and indentation. You can use them in any trim size, including Large Print.

Easier Box Set Construction

For years, Vellum has been the best way to combine books into a single release. Vellum 3.1 makes it even easier. 

With the New Box Set command you can add files, reorder, and then create your box set with one click. Make a box set that combines the books in your series, or collaborate with others to build a multiple-author bundle.

Also in Vellum 3.1

Version 3.1 is a free update. Get it using Check for Updates, or download from

Your Mac will need macOS Catalina or newer for this version.