Challenge,  publishing

Another Go At A Myth…

The Myth: Indie Publishing Costs a Lot to Do…

Silly myth, but it is pushed hard by traditional publishing and by those who want to sell all their rights and let traditional publishing keep all their money.

And it is pushed by just not knowing or getting information from the wrong sources. Remember, there are always people trying to stop you.

So let me detail out the costs here as clear as I can.

Let me make a couple of assumptions clear first.

Assumption #1… For novels you must have copyeditor, someone who finds typos in your work. This can be a good friend, someone you hired at your library or local college, or someone you hire online who won’t rewrite you.

Assumption #2… You do not need a book or content editor. Those have gone the way of the Dodo Bird, are nw mostly scams, and besides, you should grow a backbone and believe in your own work.

Assumption #3… You are going to write three or four books a year and a number of short stories AT LEAST and thus pay for Adobe InDesign at $20.99 per month to make the fee worthwhile.

Assumption #4… You have spent a one-time fee of $249 to buy Vellum to format your books.

So What Are The Real Costs of Indie Publishing a Book?

You have finished a book. (You do not need beta readers, just one trusted first reader to find typos.)

So you are ready to go:

Step One: Get your novel to a copyeditor. The price can range from free (a friend) to $200. (Above that caution!) You pay this person with a business check from your business account only after they send back the book. (Short stories just stay with a friend or read it aloud to yourself to find the mistakes.)

Step Two: You get your book back and put in the corrections you agree with from the copyeditor.

Step Three: Flow your book into Vellum. You have looked at other books to know what look you like for title, headers, and so on, so you can pick the right options in Vellum to make your book look good. This creates an ePub that is ready, among other files.

Step Four: Find some covers you really like on bestsellers in your genre and then using InDesign, imitate them. Get the cover art from a royalty free site for $5 or less. (Never commission an artist to do it for you, or use your neighbor’s kid’s art. Contract and copyright issues.)

Step Five: Get accounts set up on Amazon, Kobo, and Draft to Digital. Then load your book from Vellum into the three places. OnD2D you also send your book to iBooks, B&N, and a bunch of other places around the world.

You now have an ebook selling around the world.

Step Six: Tell your friends on social media and your family and your email list you have a new book out, promote it on your own web site, and get back to writing the next book.

Paperbacks you have to do a different cover shape using the same art and such, and you can either send it to AmazonPrint which is free, or IngramSparks (which is also free if you are a member of a writer’s group (can’t remember the name)). IngramSparks gets you better distribution and into bookstores.

So What Are the Real Costs of Indie Publishing a Book?

One time cost of Vellum spread out over years.

Monthly cost of InDesign. ($20.99)

Book costs of $200 for copyediting and $5 for art. (Only $5 for short stories, no copyediting costs.)

That’s it.

How freeing is that?

Go have fun and stop listening to the people trying to scare you or stop you.

And if you want a ton of details on all of this, we do a monthly Covers 101 and Publishing 101 workshop at






  • Teri Babcock

    A comment on InDesign versus opensource/free options: they exist, but educational support for them is weak. InDesign is extremely well supported with professional tutorials – eg When you want to create a special effect, or just figure out how to do a particular thing, it is easy to find clear help online or in book form at the library.
    The other options, there are videos for some things but not all and quality varies hugely. Unless you already know these programs, the massive time suck of learning to use them without manuals or proper instruction will easily negate any $ savings on Adobe. And the large Adobe font library that is included keeps you out of trouble with font copyright.

    • dwsmith

      The font library is the critical part for licensing. Critical. But being able to do so many nifty design things at a touch is amazingly cool and the learning curve isn’t that bad.

      • Julie

        The whole subscription model with Adobe confuses me. If you make a cover while subscribing to InDesign, are you still covered by the font license if you later end your subscription?

        I must admit that the subscription model also annoys me. I’ve read interviews with book designers who say that they tend to stick to a small number of preferred fonts (this was some years ago, when you could still buy Adobe products for a one-off payment). Isn’t Adobe just forcing people to keep shelling out, month after month, for ten fonts they do want and ten thousand that they don’t, in order to access their graphic design programme?

        • dwsmith

          Julie, yes you are still covered. And I supposed if you are only doing a couple covers a year, spending 240 a year ($20 per month) is too much for the tool. But I don’t know of many indie writers only doing two covers. Heck, I often will do two or three covers in an hour just as experiments to test a look. And yes, we tend to use a set number of fonts as well. Branding, you know. But we do that right up to the moment we don’t. And the other fonts are there when we need them and licensed correctly. But I honestly don’t mind paying a copyright holder of ten or so fonts for the rights to use their work because it makes our sales and life better and easier.

  • Julie

    That’s a good idea about just reading short stories aloud. I heard Jeffrey Deaver speaking at the Bloody Scotland crime-writing festival last week and he said that he’d found out that Word for Windows has a read-aloud function and that it had changed his life! He can now listen to his books being read aloud and sit there with the m/s in his hand and note the typos as he goes.

    I have Word 2007, which doesn’t seem to have this feature, but I was dictating some text for a story last week using Dragon Speaking Naturally (while doing a story about a dragon who was speaking naturally, oddly enough) and all of a sudden, there was a woman’s voice in my ear reading some of the text back to me through the headphone. Scared me to death! I think I had said ‘read it’ (past tense, so like ‘red it’), and I wonder if that’s what did it. So two possible avenues there, Dean. (And might save your eye a bit.)

  • David Ai

    Instead of InDesign’s monthly fee you can try Affinity Publisher –

    It’s a one-off purchase of around USD50. Affinity Publisher is designed as a direct alternative to InDesign.

    Here’s a comparison – – and it’s out of beta now and in production.

    So Dean’s costs are reduced even further.

    I also use their Designer and Photo applications (alternatives to Illustrator & Photoshop) – a bit of a learning curve to transition from Adobe – but good applications and worthy replacements.

    I also use Scrivener – it will export many formats for later tweaking – and you could bypass the layout tools altogether. This is what I generally do TBH.

    • dwsmith

      David, we disagree on all of those, including Scrivener. Why not use a tool that is designed exactly for what you want and has a massive font license library. No fonts licensed in all the cheap models, so you have to also buy font licenses and that gets to be a problem and can cause scary lawsuits down the road if you are not super careful. Learn and use InDesign, my opinion. $20 per month for the right tool.

      • David Ai

        Dean – those are great points and worthy of a separate post as most people don’t understand licensing – so you’re right. InDesign is probably safer for that reason.

        But I have one book design that I replicate across all my books – including covers pretty much. So instead of renting my fonts & apps I just buy a license – or use Googles Open Font Library.

        For print I use My Fonts – one time purchase of the font for all my books KDP and Ingram Lightning Source.

        For ebooks – you’re right. It’s tricky. But the solution is to use Google Fonts.

        A good Google font is Literati – free to download and use without a fee for ebooks and applications etc… It’s designed for ebooks and a good choice for body text.

        The Open Font License here –

        Your comment is a great reminder for people to understand licensing of the third party content in your own works – especially covers… but fonts are often over looked. Thanks for that.

  • James Palmer

    Great advice as always, Dean. I hear from indie published authors who say they spend $2,000 just on editing. That’s crazy. I have a friend who is a copyeditor who goes over my stuff for free. I’ve never had an editor who can catch everything, even when they’re paid. I always find stuff they missed when I’m going through and fixing the stuff they found. Don’t even get me started on the money those guys spend on advertising.

    I paid for Vellum, but I had to upload it on a Mac server because I can’t afford a Mac. It charges once you’re over so many hours, but if I’ve done the preliminary layout right I can lay out a book in five or ten minutes. Vellum doesn’t know how to handle short stories, so collections and anthologies can be a challenge, but Vellum gets it done.

    I pay an artist when I can, and use stock photos and a free image site called Canva when I can’t, usually for short story ebooks. Image software makes me crazy, and I can’t make it work even when I follow the instructions. I might give InDesign a try though. I just need to up my output (and my royalties) so it makes financial sense.

    Anyway, good stuff. And much needed at this time.

    • Kate Pavelle

      I hadn’t made the jump to Vellum yet because Jutoh had a big upgrade recently, and it can now do a lot more. It’s designed to work with Word users, so if you set up your Word document right, Jutoh will adopt all that. And the fee is a one-time, I think it’s still under $50. Great people, good online support when needed.

  • Thorn Coyle

    For editing short stories, I run them through ProWritingAid. You just need to know what to ignore (it’ll want to “fix” more grammar than you want it to. But it catches a lot of helpful stuff, too.)

    There’s a free version and a paid version. Paid is $60 per year.

  • Kate Pavelle

    I’d add that aside from the distributors named above, I also get good results from Smashwords. People used to hate SW, but they updated their interface and now run perodic sales, where you can opt your books in at various discount rates and I picked up a number of new readers that way. I make as much on SW as I do on D2D. It’s easy to set up a publisher account for multiple pen names. (As an Apple user, I just save my word as .doc and it goes through beautifully, even files with images.)

    For “where to send your reader next,” Amazon and Apple won’t distribute anything with competitor hyperlinks in the back. I make 4 different ebook master files, and I add the next book to read in the back of it using that platform’s URL. That improved my series read-through a lot. Once I set up a system, it takes about half an hour to cut, paste, and save the new version. Well worth the effort.

    As for proof-reading, I space out when I read my own stuff (and I’d rather save my voice for dictating.) I’d rather have my computer read the document to me, going section by section, selecting about 2 pages at a time. I set the voice on slow so I have time to both absorb and correct as you go along. I used 2 machines to do this, but with practice I can now use just one. Shorter works are fast, a novel takes 2 days of shorter stints between other tasks. I like to break it up to maintain focus. YMMV.

    • Sheila

      Kate, Smashwords has always done those sales, since before I started publishing, about eleven years ago. The new interface is nice, though. Took them a while to get going on that. 🙂

  • Stacey

    I have a question about ISBNs – do you consider them a necessary cost? On most platforms you can publish without them, but IngramSpark you can’t combine the free code with a free ISBN (so either pay $50 setup fee or pay for an ISBN). Still worth it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • dwsmith

      Yes, annoyingly so, I do consider than a necessary cost for some books. We use them on all major trade paper and hardback novels. On short stories and such, we don’t bother, just use the free options at AmazonPrint.

      For most people around the world, ISBNs are free or cheap. Only in the United States, with Bowker monopoly, do we have to spend far, far too much money. Not big enough for anyone to worry about in the big world, so they keep getting away with it.

      Never need to use them on any electronic book.

      • Kate Pavelle

        I got an email that Ingram Sparks will now provide ISBN’s just like other online distributors, as per popular demand. So it will have IS as a publisher – and I wonder how that will affect the perceived value of the book by libraries and stores.

          • Kate Pavelle

            Dean, I’m referring to libraries and bookstores not wanting to buy through Amazon, or other non-IngramSparks sources. Maybe I used the wrong term.

            So, do you think a free IS ISBN, with IS listed as publisher, will count the same for libraries as one of the ones I did buy from Bowker way back, which I use for “big projects” only, and that’s listed under my own Mugen Press? My imprint is so little, I don’t see how it would make a difference to them, but institutions have their inertia.

          • Kevin McLaughlin

            A big and super common myth.

            BTW, the down side of using a free Ingram ISBN is that you cannot use any of the codes out there to remove the $50 setup fee (there are a bunch, but the easiest to get is the one all members of 20Books get for being part of that FB group).

            Since ISBNs are usually bought in bulk, the $6 charge for one (bought in a pack of 100, the smallest block I’d recommend to serious writers) is way less than the $50 setup fee for Ingram Spark.

  • Julie

    If you have InDesign, do you also need Vellum for interior layout? Or does InDesign do a quick and easy and high-quality interior layout too?

    • dwsmith

      Julie, InDesign does great interior layouts, and more detailed. Vellum is just a decent shortcut to make it easier. But anything complicated, like Pulphouse Magazine or Smith’s Monthly Magazine is laid out in InDesign.

      You also have a ton more control in InDesign.

  • Vera Soroka

    I just wanted to comment on the wide publishing I think it’s very important for your books to be available everywhere so your readers always have access, including your own website.
    One well known KU author is having publishing problems right now. Her publishing schedule came to an abrupt halt. Her readers now can’t read any of her future works. They are not happy. She published 2 to 3 books a month. She trained those readers-reader expectations. They can’t even go to the library to ask for her books because she is wrapped up in their eco system.
    I was thinking of putting a serial in there but when this happened it made me think otherwise. I won’t be going near KU anytime soon.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Vera. No one ever listens to me about how truly evil KU is and how bad in the long run it is for writers. So thanks for pointing out another reason.

  • Leah Cutter

    Dean-one note about ISBNs and ebooks. Italy has passed a law that if you sell an ebook with an ISBN they’ll charge 4% VAT. If you sell an ebook without an ISBN they’ll charge 20% VAT.

    This is only one EU country. Will the others in the EU pass similar laws? I don’t know. But we are preparing in case they do, so all novel length ebooks get ISBNs. I don’t bother with short fiction though.

  • C.E. Petit

    A couple of side comments:

    (1) Remember, Our Gracious Host is talking about one of the thirteen publishing industries, and not all of that. What he describes works for pure-text novels. It may, or may not, work for other categories like, say, books advising writers on legal and related issues that necessarily include footnotes and strictly formatted references and bibliographies and such. And probably 8×10 glossy photographs with numbers and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one…

    Our Gracious Host knows this. I’m saying it here because too much “writing” and “publishing” advice gets later mistaken as “applies universally.” For example, if you’re writing a detailed biography about a controversial living person, you’d better have a fact-checker… who, ideally, should have experience with libel law and know the differences between a “statement of fact,” a “statement of opinion that necessarily implies one or more facts,” and a “statement of opinion.” Many years ago, I had a client who didn’t, because the then-current POD-self-publishing-fad gurus said you didn’t need one… but they were familiar only with romance. But such a fact-checker would obviously be overkill for a YA fantasy novel! The key is to know your category and your market.

    (2) Our Gracious Host prefers certain software. There are alternatives. It all depends upon your needs. There are technical areas that InDesign founders upon (such as transitioning between left-to-right and right-to-left text on the same page); and the less said about InDesign’s frequent errors with cross-references (“See notes 117-34 and accompanying text”) the better.

    (3) The “copyeditor” Our Gracious Host referred to is a proofreader, not a copyeditor, at the rates he suggested. And for many novels — especially from experienced writers — that may well be fine. Just don’t confuse the two… or their rates. Especially if you’re dealing with previously published material that is now available only in printed form incorporating all of the original publisher’s errors (because it was first published in 1979)… and that previously published material isn’t very enlightened on current usage issues (“singular they” is probably the least-controversial example)…

    • dwsmith

      We do books in InDesign layout that have footnotes more often than the gang wants to have happen. They are a pain, completely. But InDesign in layout is made for that kind of stuff. Vellum is only for the basics.

      I admit there are alternatives to InDesign. And yes, no program is perfect, but for $20 a month, it beats the hell out of all the free stuff out there.

      And copyeditor and proofreader in this modern world have become interchangeable and I am fed up with trying to explain myself every time I say “proofreader.” The two terms are the same these days, C.E. Our world, like two spaces after a period, has left us behind at times. But editors, meaning book doctors (or content doctors or editors), are still scams no matter how you look at them. They are for the writer without any courage and too much fear to trust in their own voice.

      • C.E. Petit

        Again, in trade (and specifically category) fiction “proofreader” and “copyeditor” are TOO OFTEN synonymous… and misused, and underpaid… and the terms are even more thoroughly corrupted by advertising usage. Outside of fiction, though, I disagree that they’re so close in function that they should be treated the same. It’s about context (which is precisely where a true copyeditor will help and a proofreader can’t).

        I don’t agree that InDesign is better than all of the free alternatives… for the range of materials I work with. I’ve got soldering scars from building an Altair 5000 (that had both magnetic casette AND paper-tape readers), I’ve been hacking since vi versus emacs really could result in fisticuffs, and I’ve actually compiled a government work including photographs using TeX. So mileage differs <vbeg> as does comfort level with getting under the code to fix things. I personally prefer Scribus to InDesign, if only because Scribus doesn’t descend from the Mac and drag in a lot of Mac-oriented artifacts to its interface. Scribus does not, however, come with a raft of fonts… because it’s free. (OTOH, I’d never use the non-Roman-character extended parts of A LOT of the fonts that come along with InDesign anyway — because I read some of those languages, and I cringe at the way they’ve been munged.) But this is one of those “disagreements” that can actually educate people to choose for themselves. I hope.

        I think one thing we do agree upon is Vellum and other oversimplified layout programs. If I need a quick-and-dirty ebook (or even limited-run, special-edition POD like a one-time course handout), the free LibreOffice — with carefully tuned settings and templates — is almost certainly a better choice… and actually has a functional spellchecker that won’t choke on proper names. Again, though, there’s room to disagree.

        • dwsmith

          I never talk about anything but fiction on this blog or anywhere else for that matter. I know nothing about anything else. And honestly don’t care about anything outside of fiction. It’s a big enough world for my old mind to deal with as it is. (grin)

          And for the very few people on the planet that can do what you do with computers, great. The rest of us need plug and play. But from friends I know who are builders of their own computers, they often spend more time getting something put together than if they had just bought a Mac and used plug and play programs. I am a believer of the WIBBOW test in these areas. (Would I Be Better Off Writing). Besides, even as a kid I never built models or could see any reason to when someone had already put it together for me. My kind of person is by far the majority, and that’s what I talk to here in fiction.

          When you use something free, my experience from watching people is they often get exactly what they paid for. Just the licenses in InDesign is worth the $20 a month, but some people are just far too cheap to pay licenses to artists and creators, I guess.

  • Sheila

    Dean’s comments assume fiction, I’m assuming (HA). Nonfiction can be trickier to get set up, what with any charts, tables and images. Anyway…

    I think anyone interested in writing and self publishing should first learn their craft before jumping into publishing. There’s so much out there that we didn’t have a decade ago, new programs, new sites to upload, new sites to get promotional work done (I know, Dean, but people do it anyway), and more. That’s an entire job learning all of that!

    Anyway, I have an old version of InDesign I need to get back to learning, won’t bother with Vellum as I have no interest in dealing with anything Mac (I’m wearing my fire retardant suit guys), and Scrivener that works well enough for me for ebooks. I’m a firm believer in writing into the dark, not getting edited to death, and publishing our stories. Go, Dean!

    • dwsmith

      Sheila, I flat disagree and think that is horrid advice about telling someone to learn the craft first. HORRID ADVICE. That alone will stop a person from ever publishing anything and by simply saying that you have hurt hundreds of writers who will buy into that myth.

      So maybe you should still be waiting as well, right? You haven’t learned as much craft as I have. And I don’t know as much as Stephen King. Who is the judge??? Are you? Am I??? Nope. No one but people who buy books are the judge.

      So folks, publish the first thing you finish and everything after that. Period. Stop letting people like Sheila judge your work with some arbitrary line in the sand that you are only good enough to go over the line when she says you are.

      Sorry, stupid advice, just beyond stupid. And angry making.

      And yes, it is a job to learn how to publish. A fun one, but still takes time and a writer should be learning it from moment #1. Promotion crap can be done after twenty or thirty books.

    • Kate Pavelle

      Regarding non-fiction, it ain’t brain surgery. My husband and I wrote a cookie cookbook. Our biggest expense was photography, I worked with a professional food photographer and she did a lot pro bono, but then she got busy and I learned to style the food and take almost half of the photos myself.
      Formatting kicked our butt. We did the ebooks in the new version of Jutoh, which worked well. We had to reduce the size, number, and resolution of photos to squeeze the file into a size Amazon would accept, AND even then I ended up uploading it as an EPUB. Scott is a whiz with Word and it turns out that the new Jutoh works quite nicely with a properly formatted Word document – including footnotes, indexing, TOC and so on.
      We outsourced the paper layout to a guy in the Philippines. He was well worth the money. Learning InDesign at that level, and *that fast,* was just not happening between Scott’s law practice, my writing and, our family life-rolls.
      This is our FIRST non-fiction. I’m working on another one right now but the whole “learn your craft” first is misleading. We wrote a kickass cookbook, which is now a go-to resource for a lot of people interested in heritage cookies, and we will be running a kickstarter to finance a run with an indie printer so it doesn’t have to be POD. We want to pay less per volume so we can sell it on Shopify using FB ads. Yet another new thing for us, but we are capable of learning, and we know people who are good at it and happy to offer advice.
      Had we waited to “learn craft” first, I wouldn’t be holding a door-stopper of a cookbook in full color right now ((happy grin)).

  • J.A. Marlow

    The Independent Book Publisher’s Association is one of the organizations that provide various discount to members. The three big benefits readers of this post might be interested in are:

    Bowker Identifier Services — 15% off ISBNs
    IngramSpark — Free POD set-up, free revisions, no Market Access Fee
    Lightning Source — Free POD set-up and free revisions

    Full list is here:

    My big publishing-related expenditures are:
    * Like Thorne, I use ProWritingAid on finished projects. Instead of subscription, I purchased the lifetime license. Keep an eye out. They sometimes run sales on the lifetime license during Cyber Monday and other holidays. That made it a one-time purchase (I abhor the subscription model for software).
    * Affinity suite of Photo, Designer, and Publisher. This was a one time purchase.
    * Vellum for formatting ebooks and print books. I waited for a sale. For Vellum, these tend to be few and far between. Again, one time purchase.
    * I write the actual book in Scrivener. Love the organizational abilities and the simple writing interface. I then export out to Vellum for publishing. Purchased with a discount. And again, one time purchase.
    * Fonts. Don’t need to purchase these much, as I have a good core and keeping to that core is good for branding. Found through Font Squirrel, or purchased from the designers through places like DesignCuts. Yeah, once again, no subscription here.
    * I saved and bought a 1000-pack of ISBN’s using the discount I mentioned above. I view this as a one-time expense for the rest of my writing career that I won’t need to worry about again. But, if I do, wow! That means a bunch of writing out there. What a life-goal that would be: Use up a 1000 ISBN pack!

  • Kevin McLaughlin

    What Dean described above is pretty much precisely what I do. The only real differences are that I use Photoshop for covers instead of InDesign and I sometimes hire an artist to do covers.

    Photoshop is my go-to because I like doing my own spaceship covers with cool 3D models of ships. I get a royalty free license to ship models (same as Dean and I both do for other cover images) and then use Photoshop to position and render those.

    Totally unnecessary, but I *enjoy* making cool spaceship art. It’s fun for me. 🙂

    Photoshop IS a great cover tool in general, though, and only costs $9.99 a month, so for the author working on the cheap it’s got the same font licenses as InDesign for half the price. There are a lot more tutorials out there for PS than for IS, too.

    As for hiring artists – I do this mostly on urban fantasy books and I didn’t always pay for covers even on those books. Used to do my own. These days I know that everything I publish will make a solid return, so I can afford to hire that work out. But it’s not a requirement.

  • Susan D

    Dean – I was chuckling when you said (as you have said before) “don’t use your neighbor’s kid’s art.” I would never do that because it sounds so silly!

    But lo and behold, I mentioned to my neighbor I was working on a book cover and guess what she said!
    She came back to me later and said “Hey Susan you should use my neighbor’s grandchild’s art on your cover. She wouldn’t charge you anything.”

    And I was like “are you KIDDING me?? And I told the grandchild to make their own business and learn copyright law. And I chuckled again. OMG Too funny.

  • Zoe Cannon

    Some things I’ve found useful:

    Affinity Photo is a great option for covers. I’ve never used InDesign, but I used to use a very old version of Photoshop, which I thought gave me everything I needed–until I tried Affinity Photo, which blows it out of the water, and for a $50 one-time payment. I can’t speak to how useful it would be for someone who isn’t already familiar with Photoshop or a program like it. Personally, I adore it. It’s a lot of what convinced me to start doing my own covers again.

    If you want to get more elaborate with your covers, Flame Painter 4 lets you add magicky effects. Especially useful if you write in a genre where most covers use them. Commercial use is allowed. It’s quirky and requires experimentation, but you can do some cool stuff. This is the thing that let me create covers for my upcoming series that should stand up to the others in the genre. And for only a few extra minutes per cover, once I got the hang of it. Also, it’s just plain fun to play with. It’s kind of pricey, but I picked it up at a discount a while back.

    DepositPhotos often has sales where you can pick up 100 stock photo credits (each credit is good for one photo) for $100.

    I don’t trust most free or cheap font sites, since there’s pirated stuff on there. But there are some that serve as good showcases for indie fonts. Most of the free fonts in these places will be free for personal use only; the value is that a lot of font creators will include a link to their website where you can buy a commercial license, often for less money than the fonts you’ll find on the bigger sites. (Read the license! I once found one that seemed to require re-buying the font for every use. It may have been a language-barrier issue, but I didn’t risk it.) There will be some that say they’re free for all use, including commercial, but that seems risky to me; I don’t take a chance on a free font unless there’s an actual license I can read, not just a line on a website that says “free.” I don’t mind investing in fonts, since I’ll generally use the same ones for all the books in a series, or for a bunch of short stories in the same genre. Plus I can support other indie creators.

    Jutoh isn’t as fancy as Vellum, but is almost as quick. I can get a novel formatted in 20 minutes or so (less for a short story), and it would be faster if I weren’t lazy about my styles. Almost all of that is rote work of selecting text and changing the style. I thought about Vellum and decided that even if it would let me format a book in five minutes, the extra 15 minutes per book wouldn’t be worth the hassle of having a separate computer only for formatting. (I don’t like working on a Mac—they just don’t work the way my brain works, I guess. It seems like every time I use an Apple device and need to do something that would be easy for me to figure out on Windows, I beat my head against the wall for half an hour, and in the end find either that the solution is either something I would never have easily thought of, or that the thing can’t be done at all.)