I felt like I needed to write a post that could end the Vellum Vs Scrivener argument.
Writers can discuss or argue about anything; it’s true, we talk about the silliest of things.
If you haven’t seen writers arguing about what the best toothbrush is ideal for writers, then you haven’t been among writers.
Back to the issue at hand (which isn’t another one of those silly issues); between Vellum and Scrivener, which is better for writing and formatting your book?
Let’s start with brief descriptions of these tools.
What Is Vellum?
Vellum is a book formatting software tool for Mac.
Vellum prides itself on “creating beautiful books.”
And that’s not far from the truth. With Vellum, you can get your book from a simple Word document to a nicely formatted eBook, ready for publishing, or to a file ready to be turned into a professionally finished paperback or hardcover.
Creating an eBook is a bit different from creating book files for printing; when creating an eBook, you can add an already-made book cover directly to your eBook inside Vellum.
But if you want to get your book printed, you have to design the cover separately and add it outside the app, as Vellum can only be used to create your book’s interior file.
Pros and Cons
- Convenient and time-saving since a lot of things are pre-set, unlike ordinary word processors.
- Intuitive formatting and style options
- It’s easy to create Print interior files
- Easy creation of metadata
- Only available for Mac (The Vellum are even adamant no Windows version is ever going to see the light of day.)
- Separate pricing for eBooks and paperbacks. They already have a package for both, but they offer a separate package for eBooks only (which is only $50 cheaper).
What Is Scrivener?
This is a book writing app that takes your writing project from the first thought to the last page. Scrivener combines a typewriter, ring-binder, and scrapbook, with other essential tools that you need to craft an excellent manuscript.
Scrivener is best used for long writing projects. It neatly organizes your writing into sections and chapters, which can be rearranged by dragging and dropping.
It comes packed with features for almost every stage of book writing; from adding your first notes, referencing, to adding metadata. It has tools like the inspector, corkboard, outliner, snapshots, and many more.
Just like Vellum, Scrivener does “own its space,” and for most of us who know it, it’s quite a sufficient book writing tool.
- Offers a Generous 30-day free trial.
- Configurable setup and interfaces: Scrivener’s features are customizable. This means you get to have a personalized experience.
- Scrivener comes with different already set templates. It has templates for Novel, Short Story, Screenplay, Stage Play, Screenplay, Stage Play, Recipe collection.
- Works offline: You don’t need a working internet connection to work on Scrivener.
- The tool has tutorials meant to help you understand and master its features (handy considering how hard it is to master the tool).
- Scrivener doesn’t have a single pricing plan for all supported systems. Instead, you have to purchase separate licenses for Mac, iOS, and Windows.
- Scrivener is hard to master. It is a multifunctional tool that comes with a deep learning curve. Many people have abandoned this app because of this steep learning curve, their loss!
Vellum vs Scrivener: Pricing
Vellum comes with a respectable price tag, so it’s understandable if one is reluctant to purchase it. Vellum has separate pricing plans for eBooks and books for printing.
That only means forking out more money if you want to do both.
But it’s the best at what it does. They (Vellum) know that they’re the best, we know that they’re the best, and they know that we know that they’re the best.
What do we expect? Just treat it as an investment, not as consumption expenditure.
Anyway, their pricing plans are as follows:
- Free. Vellum’s free version is just there for you to test its formatting capabilities; you can’t generate copies of your book using a non-paid version.
- Vellum eBooks. Vellum’s unlimited package for creating eBooks only costs $199.99.
- Vellum Press. The vellum version for creating both books for printing and eBooks costs $249.99.
Scrivener has 6 payment plans, one for iOS, two for each of its supported computer platforms (macOS and Windows), and a bundled plan for both macOS and Windows.
Scrivener for macOS
- Standard License for macOS—A license for the full version of Scrivener for macOS. It costs $49.
- Educational License for macOS—a plan for students & academics only. It costs $41.65.
Scrivener for Windows
- Standard License for Windows—A plan for the full version of Scrivener 3 for Windows. It costs $49.
- Educational License for Windows—This license is only available to students & academics and costs $41.65.
Bundle for macOS & Windows
This is a discounted bundle for both macOS and Windows. When you purchase this bundle, you get separate licenses for the platforms.
Scrivener for iOS
Scrivener for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch costs $19.99.
Let’s Compare Vellum to Scrivener
Book Styles Presets
If you’re going to create “beautiful books,” then your layout design needs to be on point.
In Vellum’s introductory paragraph, I mentioned something about the tool being a time-saving app, and this is one of its features that turns that assertion into a fact.
Vellum comes with an assortment of book style presets which make the process of applying book styles a few clicks easy.
When you change a book style, you are changing Headings, First Paragraphs, Block Quotation, Ornamental Breaks, Paragraphs After Breaks, Captions, Headers and Footers, and Body.
The book styles provided by Vellum include Artisanal, Chroma, Kindred, Meridian, Trace, Sudo, Oxford, and Parcel.
With all these styles, Vellum still allows you to customize a lot of the elements of your book’s style to meet your preferences.
Creating Box Sets
You create box sets when you want to combine multiple books into one. It’s a useful instrument when creating literary bundles; whether you’re offering an omnibus for an entire series or putting together books by a couple of different authors.
Vellum helps you create box sets using a feature called “volume.” This special element contains chapters and other elements of a book.
Your books in the box set are arranged in a hierarchical order in the Navigator. When you click on each Volume, the chapters within it are displayed.
You can either add Vellum files into the box set or import already made books (created using another app/tool).
If the box set contains books by other authors, Vellums lets you enter their names in the Volume Author field. The names automatically get added to the book’s Table of Contents.
Import and Export Functionality
Well, when you format a book you expect the app you’re using to be capable of exporting the files to popular formats.
But, Vellum is way too excellent as far as import capabilities are concerned.
While you can only import Word .docx files, the files are seamlessly converted, and your book maintains excellent formatting elements.
If there’s any formatting issue with the imported files, no problem, you’re in Vellum! That’s the best app for correcting such inconsistencies.
The export option is only available on paid plans. Vellum exports the books to several file types for eBooks and various trim sizes print books.
Vellum helps you format your eBook and make it ready for uploading to publishing sites, including Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, and others.
Contributor Information and Metadata
Metadata contains information about your book. It includes the author’s name, title, ISBN, the publisher, and data that tells the reader more about the book.
Metadata helps your readers find your book on online publishing and distribution sites like Amazon Kindle or Kobo, and it’s the same metadata that determines how your book appears in an eBook reader.
You can enter this information in Vellum; you enter the data in one place, and the tool arranges it the way it ought to be.
Scrivener’s Corkboard enables you to compile your notes on digital note cards. The digital cards are more like sticky notes and they help you organize details about your writing project that you want to record.
Outliner (the Binder)
This is an intuitive sidebar that is used to arrange important elements of your project (chapters, notes, etc.). Using the outliner, you can arrange these elements into an organized flow of documents, folders, etc.
To make it easier for you to get started with your writing, Scrivener provides various templates based on genre, any style, and other details.
The templates include novel, short story, or screenplay, and other useful templates. You can also get customized scrivener templates from other writers.
The Inspector Tool
Apart from the Binder, Scrivener has another sidebar called the inspector.
It’s used to store and reference important information about your document. You can use it to create a synopsis for a section and continue to create general document notes. You can also use it to enter keywords, create snapshots, among other things.
Goals and Targets
With Scrivener, tracking your progress is an automated process.
Scrivener allows you to set targets for the entire manuscript, sections, or a single writing session.
Once the targets are set, you’re provided with statistics that help you keep track of your progress. These include words, characters, and pages.
When you take a “snapshot” of a section, you give yourself the ability to return to the earlier version before a rewrite.
This way, you can always go back and compare rewrites to original notes using the “Compare” feature.
Linguistic Focus (MacOS) / Dialogue Focus
This feature checks the flow of the manuscript’s dialogue and determines that the characters have a unique voice.
Scrivener is hard to master. Most of us needed help to get the hang of it. Conveniently, the Scrivener website offers video tutorials
which explain a variety of basic and advanced elements of the tool to help users master the tool.
Major Differences Between Vellum and Scrivener
Although I have used Vellum and Scrivener to accomplish the same tasks, these two tools were designed to efficiently help you handle different aspects of book writing.
I’m going to serve a few words on some of the differences in this section. Then, in the following two sections, I will discuss the biggest differences that make each tool unique.
1. Supported OS Platforms
This is an obvious difference for people who have used both tools. While Vellum is only available on Mac, Scrivener is available as an app for macOS, iOS, and Windows.
Both tools practice some sort of price discrimination. However, it’s their basis for that price discrimination that differs. While Vellum categorizes its pricing according to the final output (eBook or print), Scrivener uses the type of operating system (macOS, Windows, or iOS).
3. Learning Curve
If you have used it, you know that Scrivener is hard to master. But the learning curve for Vellum isn’t that steep.
One thing I like about Scrivener is that it lets you get a preview during conversion. This saves you a lot of time because you quickly know if they’re errors that you should correct.
On the other hand, Scrivener does not have the option of getting a preview before the final conversion finishes.
What Makes Vellum Stand Out?
Book formatting is what Vellum does best. I’ve seen a lot of writers asking which tool, between Vellum and Scrivener, is the best for book formatting.
There shouldn’t be a direct comparison between the two tools. Vellum is excellent at handling the final output for eBook and print files. It gives the finished book a legit look and formatting elements (addresses issues like chapter styles, running headers, et cetera) that a book needs to have.
Vellum might only be available on mac and be a bit pricey, but that’s because they know they lack competition in this field.
It’s kinda lonely at the top for them
What Makes Scrivener Stand Out?
While Vellum focuses mostly on presentation, Scrivener has its focus placed on content—story building for professionals like novelists.
I’m not saying that Scrivener does a bad formatting job or fails at the composition side of things (it comes loaded with templates for novels, screenplays, and many others); it’s just way more awesome handling the writing process.
It’s the perfect tool to take you from conception to a finished story. Its features such as the corkboard, inspector tool, and the outliner, were designed to help you keep everything about your book in one place, adding the important bits to the final product whilst still holding on to the secondary bits.
Is Scrivener the Best Book Writing Software?
Yes, Scrivener is the best book writing app there is.
With features like binder, corkboard, and outliner, you can easily sort your book into chapters, sections, and scenes and set it the way you want simply by dragging and dropping these sections.
Then, you can set targets to help you track your progress, whether daily or overall.
The awesomeness doesn’t end there; you can put your monstrous game face on and turn on the focus mode and experience the efficiency of distraction-free writing.
Can I use Vellum on PC?
Yes, and no.
Vellum isn’t available natively for PC. Although if you really must, you can still use it on pc with a virtual mac setup.
Morden times, indeed.
Verdict: Which One Should I use? Vellum or Scrivener?
You should use both Vellum and Scrivener. If you can afford both, that is.
As I’ve already said: these tools are different, and they both are excellent at what they do.
I recommend composing your work/story in Scrivener and moving it to Vellum for final formatting touches.
I think a lot of writers already know that that arrangement produces a complete, beautiful, and finer work of art.