A new self-publishing app for Mac by software veterans Brad Andalman and Brad West, both of whom are former Pixar designers, is trying to make the self-publishing process for ebooks even easier and more streamlined than it already is, at least on the surface. The app, Vellum, is supposed to make the entire formatting and distributing process even easier and more professional-looking, with real time live previews, then allow authors to distribute that same file (re: the same work they did once) to all of the ebook retailers.
Right off the bat, one of the key problems with Vellum is its price. As a free Mac app, it’s open to Apple users, but comes with a $50 per book price tag. There are bundling options if the author is willing to shell out the money to buy three-book or five-book licenses. As if the pricing wasn’t already out of reach for some authors, it also requires Mac OS X 10.8 or better, which is yet another deal breaker for some users.
As for the compatibility, the app allows authors to import their book from Microsoft Word or some other word processing options, but there are no specifics on a complete list of these platforms or whether additional software purchases are required.
While Vellum’s price tag is supposed to let authors make one version of their ebooks that look streamlined and professional then upload it to all retail platforms, the price of the service is fairly close to what some formatters would charge to produce the different file versions of the books, and all the author has to do there is email the original document of the book without going through the laborious process of formatting it within the app.
While cross-platform publishing has been limited, part of the limitation is because the process really is not as difficult as some people would have authors believe. Is it time consuming, especially the first time an author tries to create an ebook for distribution? Yes. Does it require a degree in computer science? No. And for authors who simply cannot figure the process out, Smashwords is happy to take your step-by-step formatted file and distribute it everywhere for you…with no up front investment.