[Last updated July 2020]
If you're a self-published author, you've probably heard of Vellum by now.
It's the wonderful formatting software that Mac users gloat about when they inform you that it can't be used on a PC.
Up until now, the bad news was that the creators of Vellum have no intention of releasing a PC version.
Listen: Beautiful Ebook Formatting with Brad Andalman from Vellum on Joanna Penn's podcast here
But now there is a simple way around that problem – and it doesn't involve hacks, scams or geekery.
By the way, this blog post is available as a FREE PDF download for easy printing, annotation and note-taking: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/sovkf0e1ah
You can now use pay-as-you-go services which give you access to a virtual Mac.
This allows you to have a personal, private space on a Mac which you don't own, giving you direct access to Vellum on a PC.
The service that I use is called MacInCloud: https://www.macincloud.com/
Other services are available, but this is my personal preference for ease of use and pricing.
I've never tried any other MacInCloud type services, that one just worked for me straight away and I'm very happy with what they provide.
Vellum comes ready downloaded in MacInCloud, which also helps make the process even simpler if you're not keen on tech-wrangling.
If, for some reason you don't have access to Vellum when you login, get in touch with MacInCloud support at https://support.macincloud.com/support/home or download it directly from the Vellum website.
You can spot Vellum on your virtual Mac by looking for the distinctive icon in the main menu:
The great thing about Vellum is that you can set up a first test book for free and you only start to pay for it when you need to output the finished files in EPUB, MOBI or PDF format.
Using Vellum Software For Windows Devices
To get started with using Vellum for Windows devices, click on the menus at the top of the MacInCloud website.
Select Pricing  and then Pay-As-You-Go Plans :
My recommendation is to go for the Pay-As-You-Go option, it's only $30 for 30 hours of use … that's a lot cheaper than having to fork out for a Mac!
To get started, click on that green Sign Up button.
At this stage, you may find yourself overwhelmed with possibilities and options.
Ignore all the tech speak, geekery and power-ups and just opt for the default selections, with just one possible change which I'll mention below.
Sure, you can turbocharge everything if you really want to, but I've been doing just fine for several years using just the basics.
Here's what I'm using:
This is what the page looks like after you click on the green Sign Up button – if you want to, you can just go ahead and pay if you want to, but there is one setting I might change from the default.
The setting I might tweak is the server location, you can see how I switched it to London in the image below because I'm based in the UK – just select the closest location to wherever you're based in the world:
Before you commit to paying, just make sure you have the PAYG button selected at the bottom of the page , I recommend paying $30 at one time because the credit lasts a long time and then confirm everything by clicking the blue Next button to proceed:
That's it, just payment to go and you're on your way to using Vellum on a PC:
Once you have paid, you will be sent a confirmation email, complete with your login details:
Connecting Your Virtual Mac
Now you've set up your account, head back to https://www.macincloud.com/ and click on the Login link:
This is the sign-in console:
You will be taken to a web page which looks something like this – I have obscured personal information for obvious reasons:
To proceed, click on the link on the left-hand side of the page in the PAYG area (highlighted in the image above):
Click on the Actions button (highlighted in the images above and below):
Click on the Connect Now link and complete the second sign-in form with the details from your account email:
I know that seems like a lot of steps when you see it written down on the page like that, but it really is very simple once set up is completed, when I'm refreshing Vellum files I log in and log out several times and it's no problem at all.
Remember, this blog post is available as a FREE PDF download for easy printing, annotation and note-taking: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/sovkf0e1ah
PC Users Beware!
You will now be able to access your virtual Mac – hurrah!
Not so fast … there are some peculiarities of a Mac which you need to know.
1: Your Windows keyboard won't work quite the same as it does with your PC.
The biggest problem is that you'll need to use the ” key to write a @ … which you'll do every time you enter an email address.
2: The other really annoying thing about Macs is that you can't CTRL A/CTRL C/CTRL V to cut and paste.
On a Mac you use the CMD key instead of CTRL … and we don't usually have one of those (grrrrrrrrrrr).
As we're not using a Mac all of the time, it'll just mean that you have to type in passwords and the like manually.
Preparing To Use Vellum On A PC
This might take a little getting your head around.
When you're logged into MacInCloud, you have simultaneous access to two computers; your own PC and this virtual Mac.
I find it much easier to flick between the two using a two-screen set-up, but if you just use the one screen on a PC or laptop, you'll have to manage as best you can.
Before we use Vellum, we have to link the computers in some way, to enable us to move files easily between our virtual Mac and our own PC.
When you save files on your virtual Mac, it may appear like you're saving them onto your own PC, but your not, they're on a virtual drive.
Now, the cheap and cheerful way to manage this is to create your EPUB, MOBI and PDF files on the virtual Mac, then email them back to yourself.
You can do this, there's no reason at all why not, and it may be a lot simpler if you only have one or two books.
All you need to do is to open up a browser on your virtual Mac, sign in to your email account, and send yourself emails to enable you to move files between your PC and virtual Mac account.
I have more than twenty books, so that doesn't work for me.
To get around this problem, you need to use a free cloud storage solution, so that you can save files on your virtual Mac which will immediately synch-up on your main PC.
The most commonly used are Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
All three options have a free, basic account.
Here are the web links to register for free accounts:
Google Drive: https://www.google.co.uk/drive/
I don't have space in this article to explain the ins and outs of how to use cloud storage, but I can set out the basic principles.
I'm hoping that you already have at least one of these cloud-based back-up systems – if not, how are you making sure that you never lose your valuable work?
When you log in to Dropbox on your virtual machine, you will be able to ‘selective sync' files – that means you choose what's copied between your own PC and your virtual Mac.
Please note that I do not provide support for any of the content on this website, so please use YouTube videos or the guides for each service to figure out any issues you run into.
Remember, you can always email files from your virtual Mac to your PC, so that's always your fallback position if the tech proves too much for you.
Whichever cloud storage solution you use, you need to download the software onto your own PC and also onto your virtual Mack.
You then need to synch the folder where you save your Vellum files.
That way, when you create your EPUB, MOBI and PDF files in Vellum on your virtual Mac, save them to your OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox area, they will magically synch up on your own PC.
OneDrive Sync Guidance
The guide to synching folders with OneDrive is here
This is where you folder sync between your PC and your virtual Mac in OneDrive settings:
OneDrive support: https://support.office.com/en-gb/onedrive
DropBox Sync Guidance
The guide to synching folders with DropBox is here
This is where you folder sync between your PC and your virtual Mac in Dropbox settings:
Dropbox support: https://www.dropbox.com/support
Google Drive Sync Guidance
The guide to synching folders with Google Drive is here
This is where you folder sync between your PC and your virtual Mac in Google Drive settings:
Google Drive support: https://support.google.com/drive/?hl=en-GB#top
Having this cross computer synchronisation set up enables you to easily move a file from your PC over to your virtual Mac, and once you export your files from Vellum, so long as you save them to a folder on your Virtual Mac, they'll immediately appear on your PC.
You're now good to go – you really can use Vellum on a PC and it's very easy to do.
Vellum will output your beautifully formatted files into your designated MacInCloud folder, magically transferring them over to your PC via Dropbox, and they'll be all ready to upload to Kindle, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Publishdrive or wherever it is you intend to list them.
And next time somebody says to you that you can't use Vellum on a PC, you can smugly smile and congratulate yourself that you were clever enough to figure out a workaround without having to go through the ridiculous expense of buying a Mac 🙂
Actually Using Vellum Software For Widows Devices
This is what it looks like on your PC – remember, what you're seeing here is a ‘portal' which allows you to work on a virtual Mac.
I have indicated the Vellum icon so you know what you're looking for:
Using Vellum On A PC FAQ
Q: I can't figure something out, can I email you?
A: No. I don't provide any support for this free page, the information is shared as a favour to fellow authors.
I'm far too busy writing books and processing them in Vellum to deal with individual queries.
Q: I don't know how to use Vellum – help!
Q: The information provided on this page is brilliant! How can I ever thank you for saving me hours of time and headaches?
A: That's so nice of you to say so 🙂
You can thank me by buying Vellum via my affiliate link, at no extra cost to you: https://self-publishing-journeys.com/Vellum
Alternatively, you can support this website via Buy Me A Coffee: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/paulteague
Whilst I'll be very grateful, I still won't provide any one-to-one support.
Q: Is Vellum really as good as people say it is?
A: Yes, without a doubt. It has revolutionised my life as an indie author. It saves me hours messing around with files. I love it and I'm sure you will too.
Q: Didn't there used to be a video guide on this page?
A: Yes, but it was out-of-date and I'm too busy writing books to bring it all up-to-date.
However, you can still watch it on YouTube.
Remember, it's out of date, so some things will have changed since I originally recorded it.
It will, however, still give you a sense of how it all works even though some things have changed.
This blog post is available as a FREE PDF download for easy printing, annotation and note-taking: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/sovkf0e1ah
Q: Do you have a tutorial on how to use Vellum?
A: Not yet, but let me refer you to this YouTube video which was recorded by Joanna Penn: https://youtu.be/idBXslpSemQ
Also, this article from the Reedsy blog is useful: https://blog.reedsy.com/vellum-software/
Last updated June 2020
Please note that I do not provide any support for the information on this page. This page includes affiliate links for Vellum, because I use and love the software.
The 5-Figure Fiction Formula by P. Teague. Buy it HERE
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