Vellum is a powerful formatting software, and until recently was the unquestioned champion of the book formatting world. However, it comes with a few major downsides:
- It's extremely expensive at $199.99 for ebook formatting, and $249.99 for the full print package
- It is only available on Mac
- It is exclusive to formatting, and doesn't feature any other useful writing tools
So naturally, many authors may be wondering what are some good alternatives to Vellum, especially if you own a PC and don't want to buy a Mac just so you can use one program.
So what is the best alternative to Vellum? The best alternative is Atticus, an all-in-one tool for authors to write and format their books.
But even that might not be for everybody, so I've made a list of the best alternatives to Vellum here.
- What the best Vellum alternative is, and why
- The best paid alternatives
- The best free alternatives
Note: some of these links are affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you choose to buy the tools listed here, but it costs you nothing extra and everything goes to the communal Kindlepreneur coffee fund.
So let's dive in…
Vellum Alternatives Comparison Table
If you're looking for the long and short of it, here are my top recommended alternatives to Vellum with a little info on each:
|Feature||Vellum||Microsoft Word||Adobe InDesign||Scrivener||Atticus|
|Platforms||Mac||Mac (with poor performance), Windows, Chromebook, Linux||Mac, Windows||Mac, Windows, iOS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook|
|Number of Chapter Themes||24|| ||17+|
|Ease of Use|
|Custom Chapter Theme Builder|
|Cloud Storage and Backups|
|Cost||$249.99 USD||$7.99 USD/Month||$20.99 USD/Month||$49 USD for current version only||$147 USD|
|Check it Out||Check it Out||Check it Out||Check it Out||Check it Out|
The Best Vellum Alternative: Atticus
Atticus is, by far, the best formatting software, and the best Vellum alternative. Not only does it have all of the features that Vellum has, but it is also available for PC, it costs less, and it can do a lot more than just formatting. While there are some ways to use Vellum on a PC, those ways cost extra money by paying for a cloud service.
In fact, it is built as an all-in-one writing tool, meaning you can write your book, edit it, and then format it all in one place. See our full overview here as well as a breakdown of why Atticus is better than Vellum.
How Much Does Atticus Cost?
Atticus has a lifetime price of $147. That's it, no strings attached. After all, who wants to pay a monthly fee to write all of your books, only to potentially lose them if you quit paying that fee?
Atticus's lifetime price means that you get all future updates at no extra cost, and believe me, there are a lot of updates coming.
Atticus comes equipped with the following:
- Available for PC, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook
- Customizable chapter themes
- E-book and print formatting
- ProWritingAid integration
- Gamified word count goal tracking
- Autosave, cloud storage, and backups
- Offline use
- An advanced device previewer
- Full bleed images
- Large print options
- Reusable elements
Pros to Using Atticus
- You can use it on any platform
- It is completely customizable
- Easy to use
- Far more affordable than Vellum
- A dynamic theme builder
- Works as a formatting software and as a word processor
Cons to Using Atticus
- Not all features are available at launch
The bottom line: Atticus is not only the best Vellum alternative, but it is shaping up to be the best writing software, period. I highly recommend that anyone searching for an alternative to Vellum look at Atticus.
All that said, if Atticus doesn't work for you for any reason, let's discuss a few of the other Vellum alternatives…
Paid Alternatives to Vellum
In addition to Atticus, there are a few other paid Vellum alternatives that are worth a look.
Technically, Microsoft Word can be used as a formatting software, even though this is not the purpose for which it was built. Additionally, formatting with Microsoft Word can be complicated, and involves a lot of small steps (all of which would be automated in programs like Atticus or Vellum).
Thankfully, we've put together a comprehensive guide on how to format a book with Word, which you can check out here.
How Much Does Microsoft Word Cost?
To get a license for one computer, and just for Microsoft Word, it costs $159.99. Usually, the better option is to get Microsoft 365, which has all of Microsoft's office software products in a monthly subscription of $6.99 per month.
Pros of Using Microsoft Word
- It's a common program
- You have a high degree of control
- A lot of people have access to Microsoft Word
Cons of Using Microsoft Word
- It takes forever to format a book properly
- It is easy to make mistakes
- You could easily use the wrong font
- There is a strong learning curve for formatting
The bottom line: Microsoft Word is not nearly as intuitive as Vellum, but can make a decent alternative for those who are well versed in Microsoft Word and happen to have it available.
In terms of capability, Adobe Indesign is unmatched. It can do literally anything you want to do when it comes to formatting. Do you want a complex magazine layout? Done. Formatting a phone directory? Done.
However, it comes with an insane learning curve, and for most authors will be like trying to slice bread with a chainsaw. It's simply too much for what most of us need.
How Much Does Adobe Indesign Cost?
Adobe has their products on the subscription service. If you just want to subscribe to Adobe InDesign, it will cost $20.99/month. If you use more than one Adobe product, it is more economical to get the entire design suite, which comes in at $52.99/month.
Pros of Using Adobe InDesign
- It can do virtually anything you can imagine with book formatting
- It creates beautiful, well designed books
Cons of Using Adobe InDesign
- The learning curve is extremely high
- Most features are unnecessary for most authors
- It is very expensive
The bottom line: Adobe InDesign is technically even more advanced than Vellum, but is much harder to use. Vellum is a much better program for ease-of-use and simple design, unless you are doing something more complicated like a magazine.
Many authors own Scrivener as their primary writing software. If this is you, you may be pleased to know that Scrivener has basic formatting capabilities.
However, like Microsoft Word, it can be difficult to get every tiny detail right, and the learning curve is rather high. Thankfully we have a full overview of how to format a book using Scrivener, that I recommend you check out.
How Much Does Scrivener Cost?
Scrivener costs $49 for the Windows package, $80 if you want Windows and Mac, and $19.99 for the iOS mobile version.
Additionally, Scrivener makes you pay for every major update. Meaning if you had Scrivener 2, and want to upgrade to Scrivener 3, you will have to pay again.
Pros of Using Scrivener
- Convenient for authors that already own Scrivener
Cons of Using Scrivener
- It comes with a sharp learning curve
- Formatting capabilities are not as customizable as Vellum or Atticus, or even Microsoft Word
- No chapter theme builder
The bottom line: Scrivener does not have the intuitive formatting capabilities of Vellum, nor is it as customizable, but can still be useful for those who already own it and don’t want to spend extra money.
Free Alternatives to Vellum
If you can't afford Atticus, or any of the paid options, there are a few free options that you can look at. Obviously, you won't get the same results as a paid program, but some of these can be useful for basic formatting.
Kindle Create is a free software created by Amazon themselves, so authors have at least one free option to format a book.
The best thing about Kindle Create is that, since it was created by Amazon, you don't have to worry about the file types being incompatible with Amazon KDP. You can rest assured that your ebook will work when you upload it to their platform.
That said, it has very few templates to choose from, and its customization options are extremely limited (as one might expect from a free software)
How Much Does Kindle Create Cost?
Kindle Create is completely free for all users. Simply visit the website, download it, and you can get started.
Pros of Using Kindle Create
- It's free
- It produces Amazon-compatible ebooks
Cons of Using Kindle Create
- It doesn't export to EPUB or MOBI, making it difficult to upload to other services
- It isn't as customizable as Atticus or Vellum
- Ease-of-use could be better
The bottom line: Kindle Create is a great free alternative to Vellum. However, its basic features leave much to be desired if you want more control over your formatting.
A second free option is the Reedsy Book Editor, which is an online service that lets you format your book in a simple, easy way.
Now, it's worth noting that Reedsy has a lot of book formatters that you can hire to format your book for you, and their main purpose with this free tool is to drive you to hire someone. That said, it is a useful tool for anyone who wants a free option, as it is very easy to use.
How Much Does Reedsy Cost?
The Reedsy Book Editor is free for all users. However it is only cloud-based, so you cannot download it onto your computer.
Pros of Using Reedsy
- It's free
- Very easy to use
- Does most of what a fiction author would need
Cons of Using Reedsy
- It's overly simple
- It doesn't have the level of customization or themes that Atticus or Vellum have
- Reedsy's strategy is to get you to hire someone
- No offline option
The bottom line: Reedsy’s Book Editor is another great free alternative to Vellum. However, if you want something with more capability, you will have to look at Atticus or another of the paid options.
Draft2Digital is known as a book distribution platform that will get your book into any online bookstore, without the hassle of having to go in and do it yourself.
However, you might not have known that they also have a book formatting service. To use this, you have to upload your word document or an EPUB file, and it will walk you through the process of formatting your manuscript.
Draft2Digital has a lot of themes, but the formatting process is not very intuitive and hard to customize. That is why I recommend formatting your book before you upload it to Draft2Digital, using a different program.
That said, it is a free service, and you can still do a lot with it.
How Much Does Draft2Digital Cost?
For formatting, Draft2Digital does not cost anything. However, if you are selling your books through Draft2Digital, they take a 10% cut of your revenue.
Pros of Using Draft2Digital
- It's free
- They have a lot of custom templates
Cons of Using Draft2Digital
- The customization tools are a bit clunky
- You can't make edits to the text after you've uploaded to Draft2Digital. If you need to change the text, you have to upload again and format again.
The bottom line: Draft2Digital can format a book and has a lot of custom themes, but its capabilities pale in comparison to Vellum, and its ability to tweak the small things leave much to be desired.
Which Is the Best Vellum Alternative for You?
The best Vellum alternative for most authors will be Atticus, since it has all of the same capability (and more), is available on PC and other platforms, and costs less.
However, if you are looking for a free alternative, my recommendation would be Kindle Create.
But not every software is perfect for every person, which is why we have several more tools listed on this page. Let us know which one is best for you, and which alternative to Vellum you have found to be most helpful.
FAQ About Vellum Equivalents
Is there a program like Vellum for PC?
Yes, Atticus is a program like Vellum that is available for PC, Mac, Chromebook, and Linux. It has all of the capability of Vellum, costs less, and is available on more platforms. It is our #1 recommendation for the best formatting software, and the best alternative to Vellum.
What is equivalent to Vellum?
The best equivalent to Vellum is Atticus, since it is $100 cheaper, has the same features, and is available on more platforms. The best free equivalent to Vellum is Kindle Create, a formatting software developed by Amazon to format books. We recommend both for most authors.
Is there a free version of Vellum?
You can download Vellum for free, just to try it out, but you cannot use it to format a book for free. If you want to format your books using Vellum, you will have to pay $199.99 for the ebook version, or $249.99 for the full ebook and print package.
Is Vellum better than Scrivener?
As a writing software, Vellum is not better than Scrivener. However, as a formatting software, Vellum is definitely better than Scrivener. If you want an all-in-one package that is good for both writing and formatting, we recommend Atticus. It is cheaper than Vellum, and works on Windows as well.