Using Jetpack’s “Related Posts” feature

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that packages a number of features that are provided to people whose sites are hosted on WordPress.com. If you’re hosting your site on WordPress.com, you already have these features; if you’re hosting your site somewhere, you will need to install the Jetpack plugin (which is free).

The Related Posts feature analyzes previous posts you’ve published on your site, then underneath each individual post it displays links to three other posts that are related to your current post.

If you’ve set a featured image for a post, that’s what will display when it’s listed as a related post; otherwise, an image attached to the post will be used. The image will be resized and cropped to be 350x200px.

Note that if the contextual analysis doesn’t come up with at least three good results, no related posts will be displayed.

Activate Related Posts

In the administrative section of your WordPress site:

  • Go to Jetpack / Settings / Traffic
  • Under Related posts, turn on “Show related content after posts”

There are two configuration options listed:

  • Show a “Related” header to more clearly separate the related section from posts
  • Use a large and visually striking layout
    (This will display an image from each related post.)

Note: When I turn ‘Show a “Related” header’ on, that actually turns it off – although it correctly displays in the preview while you’re configuring Jetpack. 🙂

Here are examples of how the different permutations will look.

No header, no images

“Related” header, no images

No header, display images

“Related” header, display images

Customize Related Posts for your site

You can customize what image is displayed, how the image is resized, change the “Related” header text, modify how many related posts are displayed, and a number of other things.

Most of these changes require modifying your WordPress theme, so make sure you’re comfortable with that (and that you’ve backed up your site!) before proceeding. Jetpack provides detailed instructions on how to modify your WordPress theme on their site.

   
 

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Bundle story: “City Shadows” by Chuck Heintzelman

Clara works hard, juggling high school, her waitress job, and eking out time with her friends.

And now, finishing work far too late on a school night, she wants nothing more than to get home and sleep.

But dark and otherworldly things lurk in the shadows of her city.

 
 
 

“City Shadows” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

Chuck writes quirky short stories, usually with some sort of fantastical element. He’s as surprised by this as anyone. Even after dozens of stories he stills stays up too late at night, feverishly working on the next tale.

He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful wife and their three daughters.


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How to create a custom tab for your Facebook page

You can do all kinds of things with a custom tab on a Facebook page. Link to a book landing page, link to a page of cat videos…the sky’s the limit. 🙂

In this image, you can see a custom tab named “Bundles” at the bottom of the left sidebar on a Facebook page. When you click on that tab, the content you specify will be displayed in the middle of the page – to the right of the sidebar, and below your cover photo and the Like, Follow, etc. buttons.

You can add multiple custom tabs to a page. This means you can create a custom tab for a new release, one for your fiction, one for a sale, etc.

Here’s how!

Prerequisites

These instructions assume you’ve already set up:

  • A Facebook profile.
  • A Facebook page.
  • The page you want to display when someone clicks on your custom tab.

Steps to create a custom tab

  • Log in to Facebook as a developer.
     
    Don’t be alarmed by this. You don’t actually need to know anything about software development. 🙂
     
    Go to https://developers.facebook.com/apps, and log in with your normal Facebook credentials.
  • Click the “+ Add a New App” button. A dialog with the title “Create a New App ID” will pop up.

    The ‘Display Name’ is the name that will be used for the tab you’re creating. Set this value, pick your category, then click on “Create App ID.”
     
  • You should now be in your App Dashboard. Click “Settings” in the left sidebar, then click “+ Add Platform,” which appears near the bottom of the main window.
     
  • Select “Page Tab” as your platform.
     
  • For “Secure Page Tab URL,” enter the URL to the web page you want to have displayed inside your Facebook page when a user selects the new tab.
    Make sure to use a secure URL (i.e. the URL must start with https://,
    not http://).
     
  • Save.
     
  • In your browser, substitute the specified parameters, then go to http://www.facebook.com/dialog/pagetab?app_id=YOUR_APP_ID&next=YOUR_URL. Replace YOUR_APP_ID with the app id in your app’s settings, and replace YOUR_URL with the Secure Page Tab URL.
     
    For example:
    http://www.facebook.com/dialog/pagetab?app_id=1234567890&next=https://yourdomain.com/pagename
     

    • If you’re using Chrome, you may find that it attempts to search for this URL, instead of taking you to it. I’m sure there’s a super easy solution for this, but I got annoyed and entered the URL in a different browser. 🙂
       
    • If you find you get an error 191, add the website’s home URL (in my case, this was blackbirdpublishing.com) to the “App Domains” field, which should appear near the top of the page.
       
  • The Add Page Tab dialog should appear, asking you which Facebook page(s) you’d like to add your new tab to. Select the appropriate page.
     
  • Test to verify that this is working and that your custom content looks right. It’s also a good idea to view your content on other devices, like your phone or table.

Now what?

Create another custom tab, of course! 🙂

One note: I originally pointed to my publishing website’s bundle page, which has a header and a sidebar. That looked kind of weird when viewed through Facebook, so I created a special header-less, sidebar-less page on my website. That page looks okay, but I’m going to play with it to make sure the content is optimized for Facebook instead of for my website.

   
 

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Bundle story: “Love Powders & Wicked Witches” by Ron Collins


Alicia was tired of spending nights alone in her empty little house, and was willing to try something weird or something stupid if it would keep Horatio at home.

Her friends told her how to find the house of a witch who lived in a house with a door made from wood stolen from the coffins of newly-risen dead.

All Alicia wanted was to keep Horatio at home…
 
 

“Love Powders & Wicked Witches” is in the Witches’ Brew bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.


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About the Author

Ron Collins is an Amazon best-selling Dark Fantasy author who writes across the spectrum of speculative fiction.

His fantasy series Saga of the God-Touched Mage reached #1 on Amazon’s bestselling dark fantasy list in the UK and #2 in the US. His short fiction has received a Writers of the Future prize and a CompuServe HOMer Award, and his short story “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award.

He has contributed a hundred or so short stories to professional publications such as Analog, Asimov’s, and several other magazines and anthologies (including several editions of the Fiction River Anthology Series).

He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has worked to develop avionics systems, electronics, and information technology before chucking it all to write full-time–which he now does from his home in the shadows of the Santa Catalina Mountains.


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The format and placement of copyright information pages

A copyright information page will generally include more than just copyright information. Publication information, disclaimers, and design accreditation also appear on this page.

Note that I’m not a lawyer, and am not providing legal advice.

Where should the copyright information page go?

For a print book, this page should go in the front matter at the beginning of the book. I put mine after the title page, which is what’s most commonly done, but it doesn’t have to go in that exact spot – and of course what’s in the front matter will vary by book, publisher, and author. Look through print books that you consider well-formatted for examples. Note that the copyright information page always appears on the left page in a print book.

For an ebook, this page can go in the front matter, but it’s more commonly put in the back matter, at the end of the book. If your book is available on a website that allows readers to see a preview, placing the copyright page in the front means there’s one less page available for the preview. And while you can and should care about this page, it’s highly likely that your readers won’t.

NOLO’s The Copyright Handbook lists specific requirements for where in a book the copyright notice may be located.

Basic elements of a copyright information page

Note that the order in which these elements occur can vary. I suggest you look at other ebooks to decide how you’d like your page to look.

  • Book title
  • Author name
    This isn’t required, but some authors list their name under the title. I don’t include this in my books.
  • Edition
    This isn’t required, but it’s good practice to note the edition if it’s not the first edition.
  • Work of fiction disclaimer
    There’s some question as to whether or not this is necessary, but I put one in just to be safe.
  • Copyright notice
    Refer to a resource like NOLO’s The Copyright Handbook for more information on the various format options and legal requirements.
    Here’s an example of what I use in my books:
    Copyright Ⓒ 2017 by Jamie Ferguson
  • All rights reserved statement
    I’ve read that this is not required, but I include this text – partly because almost everyone still uses it, and that way my copyright page looks like a standard page. There is no one right way to word this text – I looked through examples in other books, and based on that came up with something I now use in each of my books.
  • Publisher information
    This is your publishing press name and URL. You can also include a mailing address and/or other contact information. If you don’t have a publishing press, list yourself as the publisher.
  • Credit section
    If you use stock images, or had an artist design your cover or format the interior, this is where you give them credit. Refer to the stock image site or the designer you worked with to determine if there is specific language you’re required to use. Here’s an example of how mine looks:
    Cover design Ⓒ 2017 Blackbird Publishing
    Cover art copyright Ⓒ Artist | Stock Image Company
  • Library of Congress Control Number
    This is only required if you’ve gotten a Library of Congress Control Number. Chances are you have not. 🙂
  • ISBN number
    If you have an ISBN, it should be listed on this page.
  • Country the book is printed in
    This isn’t required, but is often done in print books.

How do you make sure to do this in each book?

I have templates that I use when formatting my books – one for print and one for ebook. On the copyright information page, the pieces I need to update, or at least review (like the copyright year) are highlighted so that I know exactly what I need to look at for each book. I occasionally tweak my template, but even when I do, just having it already set up means I don’t have to remember all of these details every time.

Do you really need a copyright information page?

Not being a lawyer 🙂 I can’t say if you need one or not – but there’s no reason I can think of to not include one. Plus there’s a lot of information on these pages in addition to the copyright notice. For example, if you’re licensing someone else’s artwork for your cover, you’ve probably signed an agreement that requires you to acknowledge the source of the imagery. These pages are also very standard in the industry, and not having one will look odd.

Copyright notices, as opposed to pages, are not required for works published after March 1, 1989, but there are a number of very good reasons to add them anyway.

If you’d like to learn more, or have specific questions about what is/is not technically correct, please refer to NOLO’s The Copyright Handbook, or one of the many other great resources available.

Whale not included.
   
 

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Bundle story: “Dreams of Saffron and Lace” by Leah Cutter

Regina Victoria Edmondson rules as Queen over the nursery she shares with her twin brother Tobias.

Except when she allows him to direct their play as Raj.

However, on the rambling country estate where they live, neither of them control the gardens, where time moves in an unorderly, disquieting fashion.

Secrets hide there.

Deadly secrets.

If you enjoy cozy horror and stories with a gothic atmosphere, you’ll love the creepiness of “Dreams of Saffron and Lace”.

“Dreams of Saffron and Lace” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.


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About the Author

Leah Cutter writes page-turning fiction in exotic locations, such as a magical New Orleans, the ancient Orient, Hungary, the Oregon coast, rural Kentucky, Seattle, Minneapolis, and many others.

She writes literary, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror fiction. Her short fiction has been published in magazines like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Talebones, anthologies like Fiction River, and on the web. Her long fiction has been published both by New York publishers as well as small presses.


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Author website basics

There are a few very easy – and very important – things all authors should do on their websites. How you do them is up to you – but if you’re not doing these things, you should put them on your to do list right now.

That said, there’s only so much time to fit everything into, so my suggestion is that you make a list of non-writing tasks, prioritize them all, and chip away at them as you have time. This is how I handle these types of things, and while it can feel daunting to look at your list, it also means that when you do have a few minutes you know exactly what the next most important thing is.

Published works

Make it easy to see the books and stories you have published, where to buy each one, and what your latest publications are.

If someone looks at your website and has to dig around to find what you’ve published, they might give up and leave. Ditto for buy links. The entire experience should be as simple and easy as possible.

It’s also important to make it clear what your latest publications are. If the reader thinks the last thing you published was five years ago, they might conclude you’re not actively publishing – even if you’ve published another seventeen books since then. Sure, your dedicated readers will stay on your website, but even with them you want to make this as clear as possible.


Debbie Mumford does a great job at making it quick and easy to see what she’s published, how to learn more about and buy each story, and it’s clear what her most recent titles are. The “What’s New?” link in her site’s header that goes to a page where she announces new releases. For each title she includes the cover, information about the story, and buy links. In addition to this, the right sidebar of her site has a section called “Check Out Debbie Mumford’s Newest Titles” that contains cover images for her most recent publications. Clicking on one of these cover images takes you to that title’s page on Amazon.

Website -> social media

Links to your social media accounts should be visible on your main page, your blog (if that differs from your main page), and ideally on every other page on your website unless there’s a compelling reason not to put them there. For example, they might not be appropriate on a landing page – but they definitely fit on a page listing all of your published novels.

This is very easy to do, but a surprising number of authors don’t add these links, or else don’t put them on the main and/or blog pages. The easier it is to find you on social media, the more likely it is that people will start following you there.

All of the main pages on my website have a right sidebar which displays buttons linking to my social media accounts at the very top.

Social media -> website

In addition to having links to your social media accounts on your website, make sure to set up links back the other way. And, of course, your social media accounts should link to each other as well.

Consider adding author information to your personal Facebook profile as well.

About the author

Make sure there’s at least a brief biography/about the author section on your website. Not only will your readers enjoy learning a little more about you, this also should be something that a potential editor, blogger, etc. could pull from for an introduction to you on their site.

If you regularly write in one or more genres, consider adding that information as well.

Alex Brandt’s author bio page is a great example. It includes a photo of Alex – while you don’t have to include a picture of yourself, doing so can help your readers feel a little more connected to you. Alex’s biography gives an overview of what she enjoys writing and why, and her charming personality comes through to the reader.

Contact information

What if someone wants to turn your book into a movie, or wants to ask you to participate in an invitation-only anthology, but but they can’t figure out how to contact you? 🙂

Be careful with what contact information you make publicly available. A lot of authors have contact forms on their sites to keep from getting spammed by programs that search for email addresses. Another option is to list a contact email address, but have it display as an image instead of text. Just make sure you have some way that people can reach you.

Newsetter

If you have a newsletter, make the fact that it exists clear, and make sure it’s super easy to sign up for.

DeAnna Knippling has a link to her newsletter signup form in the right sidebar on the main pages on her site. Not only does this allow the reader a quick and easy path to sign up, DeAnna also shows a bit of her very interesting personality 🙂 in this section with the text “STRANGE AND WONDERFUL FICTION – NEWSLETTER.”

Personality/branding

Your personality is going to come out in your website whether you intend it to or not. Put some thought into who you are and what you want to convey, and over time you can modify your site to reflect that.

Valerie Brook’s website is one of my favorite examples of how to incorporate your personality into your branding. She’s got the basic elements present, but by using a movie-like look she grabs your attention on the home page. The header image and font are used throughout her site, continuing her fun theme.

DeAnna’s personality comes out on her newsletter sign-up page. Not only does she make it easy to get to this page, once you’re there it’s hard not to be intrigued and want to sign up for her newsletter – and read her fiction! Notice that she repeats the text “Strange and Wonderful Fiction” which is listed on the sidebar on the pages that link to the newsletter sign-up page.

Adding some of your personality to your site doesn’t have to involve anything complex. For example, one of the things I do on my site is have this super awesome retro shape displayed at the bottom of the sidebar, and every once in a while I use it in other places as well. This is super simple to do, and the image conveys a little bit about my personality.

Now what?

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t panic! 🙂

Make a list of the things you’d like to do to your site, even if you don’t have the time to do them right now. Prioritize these things, even if it’s just noting that one of them is a higher priority than the others. This way you have a plan for what to do and where to begin.

If you want to do something but aren’t sure how you want it to look, consider starting with something basic. For example, it’s totally fine if you have plain hyperlinks to your social media accounts instead of fancy buttons – the key is to get the links set up. You can change how they look later.

When you look at other authors’ sites, pay attention to what you like/don’t like as a reader. This can help you become more aware of what you can do to improve your own website.

I add/improve things on my site bits at a time because I almost never have huge blocks of time – and if I did, I’d want to use most of that time for writing. I keep a list of tasks so I don’t forget what else I want to do with my website, and I add things to it as I learn new things, or realize I missed something a while back. I’ve been working on my site for years, and I don’t see that ever coming to an end. 🙂 But having a plan helps me know what to work on next.

   
 

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Bundle story: “Aunt Fabulous and the Malevolent Musician” by Valerie Brook

Sixteen-year-old Magnificent Maggie Fontaine is close to giving up on her oh-so-wrecked life. When she accidentally runs away from home, she doesn’t even expect to make it very far before something worse happens.

But running away might actually bring her closer to home, and when all hope is lost, a little bit of forbidden magic can change everything.

 
 
 

“Aunt Fabulous and the Malevolent Musician” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

When Valerie was a little girl her parent’s television blew out one night just as the news broadcast ended. For some mysterious and fateful reason, they never fixed it. Not for five years. And during those five years her mother read to her nearly every night; filling her head with distant lands, magical creatures and heroic courage. This seeded Valerie’s childhood dream to be a writer. Now, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family and well-loved pets. When she’s not writing she can be found painting, riding motorcycles, or dreaming about living on an old-fashioned farm.


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Jutoh and Word, BFFs!

Jutoh is an easy-to-use ebook creation tool that generates ebooks in epub, mobi, and other formats. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is inexpensive.

As with all ebook creation software, there are many, many things that you can use Jutoh for. This post focuses on a simple and straightforward way to convert a Word document and a cover image to both an epub and a mobi in mere minutes.

The key to the BFF approach is to set up styles in Word, and have your Word document formatted before running it through Jutoh. Once your styles are set up, you can create a Word template and use that for each new story.

Here are the Word styles I created, and what each is being used for.

  • E Chapter – All headings that will appear in the Table of Contents.
  • E Start of Chapter – The first paragraph for each chapter or section.
  • E Text – Every paragraph in a chapter or section except for the first paragraph.
  • E Title – The title on the copyright page.
  • E Front/back matter – Some text on the copyright page.
  • E Front centered – first line of multiple lines – Text on the copyright page. Used to keep the spacing correct in a section with lines of non-wrapping text.
  • E Front centered – last line of multiple lines – Text on the copyright page. Used to keep the spacing correct in a section of lines with non-wrapping text.
  • E Front centered italics – Text on the copyright page.
  • E Centered Section – Section breaks, as well as some text on the copyright page.

I typically write my manuscript in one document, then make a copy of this template and paste in the text of the story. I do this for two reasons – I find it distracting to have things like the ‘About the Author’ section in a working draft, and I also prefer to write with double-spacing instead of single-spacing, and temporarily changing things like the spacing or the font in a separate document helps me remember to undo those changes when I’m creating the ebook. Because I use the same styles in both files, all I need to do is reset my text from double- to single-spacing, update the book title, copyright information, etc., then save the Word document and run it through Jutoh.

Steps to prepare your Word manuscript for Jutoh

  • Insert a title page.
    This is often the same text that appears on the cover, but without the artwork. You may find you need to move the text around to make it look right without the artwork, and you might remove some things that make sense on the cover but not the title page, like pull quotes.
  • Set the title text in the table of contents, the first page of the story, and the copyright page.
  • Update the bookmark name.
  • Add or update the About the Author section.
    I have a standard set of text in my template, so I rarely modify this section from book to book.
  • Enter all relevant information in the copyright section – the title, copyright year/author name, cover design/artwork attribution, etc.
  • Test all hyperlinks.

Converting your Word manuscript using Jutoh

  • Open Jutoh and create a new project.
  • Enter the metadata about your book.
  • Confirm the project name and where you’d like to store the files.
  • On the Layout Choice screen, select “Normal reflowable book.”
  • You shouldn’t have to change anything on the Import Options screen, but here’s what mine look like just in case.
  • On the Import Method screen, select “From an existing file containing all sections.”
  • Jutoh will pop up a message saying its importing your Word document.
  • On the Single File Import screen, set “Split by style” to whatever style you’re using in the Word document for your chapter headings. If you’re using my styles, this is “E Chapter.”
  • Select your cover.
  • Click finish. Jutoh has now imported your file! Now you need to compile your ebook(s).
  • In the Control Panel, choose your desired configuration (ex. Epub or Mobipocket), then select “Compile.”
  • Open your ebook using the appropriate reader(s) to make sure everything came out correctly. I also like to open my ebooks on my phone/iPad as well, just to be safe. And test all hyperlinks! You may think they’re working just fine, but it’s no fun to publish an ebook and realize a day or two later that it contains a broken link. Trust me on this. 🙂

You may get errors if your manuscript has a formatting issue. I ran into a few minor things when I started to use Jutoh, and they were all easy to fix because the error messages were very clear.

You’re welcome to use my Word template as a starting point.

There are many other permutations of things you can do with Jutoh – this is a very simple example, but you can go crazy if you’d like. Check out their documentation and website for more information.

   
 

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Bundle story: “Some Old Lover’s Ghost” by Dayle A. Dermatis

Helena runs Paranormal Manifestation Services—PMS for short. When she’s hired by Beth and Marguerite to find out why a ghost is bothering Marguerite, she doesn’t expect to get a crush on Beth…which makes things especially awkward when she learns who the ghost is.

Rainbow Reviews called this short story “unexpectedly romantic [and] heart-wrenching,” and it was nominated for a 2008 Romance Erotica Connection Award for Best F/F Romance Short Story and for a 2010 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction.

BONUS: Includes an interview with the author about writing the story, her own paranormal experiences, and more.

“Some Old Lover’s Ghost” originally appeared in Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories (Lethe Press, 2008).

“Some Old Lover’s Ghost” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.


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About the Author

Called “one of the best writers working today” by bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith, Dayle A. Dermatis is the author or coauthor of seven novels and more than a hundred short stories in multiple genres, including the first seven Uncollected Anthology anthologies and the forthcoming urban fantasy novel Ghosted. She is a founding member of the Uncollected Anthology project.

A recent transplant to the wild greenscapes of the Pacific Northwest, in her spare time she follows Styx around the country and travels the world, which inspires her writing.


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