Use Draft2Digital to automatically submit your books to Goodreads

Sometimes your books appear on Goodreads as if by magic, and other times they take a few days to show up – or, mysteriously, don’t show up at all. You can add your book yourself, but this requires you to keep an eye on this every time you release a new title.

If you publish through Draft2Digital, they give you the option to have your books automatically submitted to Goodreads – as well as to other catalog sites they work with.

Prerequisites

  • You already have a Draft2Digital account.
  • Your book is distributed to at least one channel through Draft2Digital.

Set up Draft2Digital to automatically submit your books to catalogs

  • Log in to your Draft2Digital account.
  • Click on My Account, then on Advanced User Options.
     

     
  • Make sure “Submit books to Catalog Sites” is selected.
     

     
  • Click Save.

Non-Draft2Digital sales channels

It’s still a good idea to keep an eye on other, non-Draft2Digital channels on your book’s page at Goodreads. For example, if you go direct to Kobo, but use Draft2Digital to publish at iBooks and Barnes & Noble, you might need to add the Kobo channel to your book’s Goodreads page. But by utilizing this feature of Draft2Digital, your book will automatically have a page on Goodreads.

References

Interview: Grayson Towler on “The Dragon Waking”

Meet Grayson!

Grayson loves dragons and dinosaurs, and has managed to tie them together in a wonderful, magical story in The Dragon Waking, a middle grade fantasy.

The Dragon Waking

For thirteen-year-old Rose Gallagher, having a friend who is really a dragon and can perform magic, change shape, and fly her away from the predictability of small-town life feels like a dream come true. But secrets have a price, and the more Rose learns about her friend Jade and the world of dragons, the more dangerous her life becomes. Rose soon finds herself risking her life to help Jade recover a mysterious fragment of a meteorite called the Harbinger, which has the power to awaken countless dragons from their enchanted slumber. When Rose and Jade come face-to-face with a rival dragon in a battle over neon-drenched skies of Las Vegas, it will take all their courage to avert a catastrophe sixty-five million years in the making!

The dragon raised its head very slightly, watching her intently.

Rose still trembled at the sight of the dragon’s long talons and massive jaws, but she mustered her courage and edged closer. The dragon slowly extended its great head toward her as she approached, a posture that suggested both restraint and intense curiosity.

Rose’s sense of fear melted into wonder. Never had she seen anything lovelier than the tremendous green dragon before her. The elegant shape of its head and neck, the subtle shadings of green on each of its diamond-shaped scales, the delicate patterns on the translucent membrane of its folded wings – every feature of the dragon struck a perfect balance between beauty and power.

– from The Dragon Waking

The Interview

What inspired you to write The Dragon Waking?

It’s the sort of story I wanted to read. That’s usually my starting point… the reader in me wishes a certain kind of book would be waiting for me on the shelves, and then the writer in me decides that I’d better get working to make that happen.

More specifically, I’ve always loved stories of dragons, especially the ones in which dragons and humans are companions. Not that I don’t enjoy a good rampaging monster story with a dragon as the star, but I’m more moved by stories like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, or Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books – stories about the friendship between a humans and dragons.

I’ve often found myself spotting dragons in the environment, like clouds or rock formations shaped like dragons. I liked to dream about those formations waking up and becoming actual dragons. From those daydreams, the world of The Dragon Waking crystallized on a particularly productive evening of staring off into space.

Do you have more stories planned in this world?

I’m currently working on the second book in what I intend to be a trilogy. There’s a lot going on in this world, and I think there could be plenty of room for more short or long stories on top of the trilogy I have planned.

What did you find to be challenging with writing this story?

Well, it was my first book that I truly wanted to finish and get published, so there was a huge learning curve. The biggest challenges came from learning the conventions of the middle grade genre, and the first of these challenges was figuring out that the book was actually middle grade! I went in thinking it would be YA, and wrote it with that idea in mind. The resulting story turned out to be a better fit for middle grade, though.

Then the next big challenge was compressing the story down to middle grade length, which is a lot more restricted than YA. This was a crash-course in editing like I’d never experienced it, and I learned a lot.

The audience for The Dragon Waking is middle grade. Do you write stories for other ages?

I’ve got two novel-length manuscripts awaiting a second draft. One is a YA story to start a new series (really YA this time, I think). The second is an adult supernatural thriller. I’m quite excited about both of them, and I’m eager to get them into shape to pitch to publishers… if only pesky things like bills and my full time job didn’t keep getting in the way.

I do write short stories sometimes too, though I tend to focus on novels. I’ve got a sidestory from The Dragon Waking available on my website, and a couple other stories I’m going to try to get published this year if I can. I think my favorite of these is a story called “Crotar” about a 19th century British naval vessel encountering a very strange being in the south Pacific.

What’s important to you about Rose, and why did you give her these characteristics?

Rose has a lot of fine qualities, but I think the two most important ones are imagination and compassion. People tend to think of imagination as the ability to come up with things that don’t exist, which is part of it. But I also think a strong imagination is what allows us to see our world with greater clarity, and perceive truths that exist beyond accepted facts. It’s Rose’s capacity for imagination that allows her to see Jade and connect with her–most people couldn’t deal with the “impossible” appearance of a dragon in their world.

Compassion is just as important for Rose. Her compassion is why she can overcome her fear and connect with Jade, and sympathize with Jade’s mission to awaken the rest of the dragons. Rose is 13, which is a time when we’re still concentrated pretty much on figuring ourselves out, but that inward focus doesn’t mean we can’t expand our perspective and put ourselves in another’s shoes. I think Rose trained her compassion in working with horses, and learning to see the world through the eyes of an animal with a very different perspective than a human.

The Dragon Waking includes both dragons and dinosaurs. Why did you decide to include both? What’s the relationship between dragons and dinosaurs in the story’s world?

Is it not a kind of chocolate and peanut-butter combination? Seems so to me. In any case, I’ve always loved to toy with the idea of what would have happened if an intelligent, civilization-building race had evolved from the dinosaurs instead of mammals. At some point, it clicked that dragons would be a perfect candidate for that race.

In terms of the story, in the first book the main antagonist is a dragon who has disguised himself as a casino mogul named Rex Triumph, and has a dinosaur-themed resort in Las Vegas. When he gets back his full power, he naturally wants to bring back the old world he used to know. So he ends up animating a lot of dinosaurs, which in turn give our protagonists a lot of trouble.

In addition to writing, you also have a web comic. How did that start, and what do you enjoy about the comic that is different from what you enjoy about writing?

That’s Thunderstruck, and I started writing that as a conventional paper comic back in the mid-90s. At the time, I wanted to be an independent comic book artist-writer. Unfortunately, I chose to follow this aspiration right about the time the entire comic industry underwent a massive implosion, so the whole plan stopped being viable as comic stores folded left and right.

But the story stuck around, and when webcomics started to become a legit avenue for self-publishing, I revived Thunderstruck in that form. I wrote for many years, took a hiatus for a while to focus on my fiction career, and then came back and hopefully will be able to follow the whole complex story to the end.

The thing I like most about comics as opposed to straight prose is the ability to use artwork to express a story. Not only can a good picture be worth a thousand words, a visual medium like comics can sometimes express things prose never can. Yet comics still lets you keep many of the advantages of prose. It’s a unique medium and I enjoy exploring the various ways you can use it to tell stories…even though I feel like I’m a pretty limited artist, by comparison to many others out there.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Currently it’s the second book in the dragon series that’s getting all my attention, apart from my monthly engagement with writing the webcomic. There’s a lot of fun things about this book. There’s a change of setting, as part of it takes place in Hawaii. It’s also a story where Rose’s friend Clay gets to share the spotlight. He gets to come into his own this story and has to fend for himself when Rose and Jade are engaged elsewhere. We’re also going to get a new villain I’m really looking forward to introducing, and we’ll find out some of the mysteries we haven’t yet touched about dragons.

Grayson Towler has had a lifelong fascination with dragons, dinosaurs, magic, and the mysteries of the natural world. In addition to being a storyteller since he could first string words together, he has been a marketing copy writer, web designer, substitute teacher, comic artist, and small business owner. He and his wife, Candi, and their dog, Luna, live in a house owned by three relatively benevolent cats in Longmont, Colorado.

Find Grayson at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 
 
Find The Dragon Waking!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads
Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Wordery | Albert Whitman & Co.

Interview: DeAnna Knippling on being a writing contest judge

Meet DeAnna!

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She runs Wonderland Press, a micropublisher of curious fiction and non-fiction for iconoclasts.

The Interview

You’ve been a judge for multiple writing contests. Give us an example of one type of contest, and what the authors submitted.

The contest that I’ve judged most for is the Zebulon for Pikes Peak Writers, and before it was revamped, the Paul Gillette PPW contest. In general, you end up submitting a query letter, synopsis, and sample first chapter. Just like in submitting something to an agent, the first stage is having someone read the query letter and decide whether the entry deserves more attention.

Let me tell you…I loathe query letters with a passion. It could be the best book in the world, and I would hate the query letter. I feel like authors are getting bad information on how to write query letters and are taking that information the wrong way in order to create the Most Boring Sales Pitches Ever. I don’t have a good system to replace it–learning how to write good advertising material is hard, and I don’t have it mastered yet–but I seriously would just rather burn most query letters, even if I have to print them out myself.

I never volunteer for that part. I would either reject everything or accept everything, nothing in the middle.

I get the submissions in the middle part mostly, where the first pass of readthroughs/judging on the synopsis and sample are done. I’ll give a little bit of feedback on the query letter if I have to, but often I’ll just scan through the query letter to see if I can pick up hints on how experienced the writer is, so I can give better feedback.

I also feel that most writers couldn’t write a synopsis to save their lives, which is unfortunate–if writers spent as much time on a synopsis as they did on their outlines (or just tossed their outlines and wrote a synopsis?), then I feel they’d have a better grasp on the core story they were trying to write. A lot of times I see things like the story not actually having an antagonist, or the writer not really being sure who the story is about, things like that.

In the sample chapters, what you get is the opening of the story, about 2500 words. My biggest pet peeve is people who are writing a prologue and trying to hide it as “Chapter One.” Uh-huh. I don’t mind a good prologue, but I vehemently resent a writer trying to fool me on this. Like it’s not immediately obvious. Sheesh.

What’s it like being a judge?

I’ve been a contest judge for a number of years. I always feel like it’s a nailbiting experience, swinging between the poles of snark and honestly providing feedback? As in, writers have a tendency (I’m no exception) to have a mental running Snark-o-meter whenever they’re reading critically. And yet those comments aren’t helpful, and I usually have to go over my responses several times to make sure I’ve cut most of that out.

I’ve spoken to a number of contest participants, and it seems like the people who are sending in contest entries–especially in contests that don’t lead directly to being published in an anthology–are looking for feedback that they’re not getting from their usual sources. A lot of them are early writers who don’t have a writing community at home to help support them, but it seems like most of the entries that I see are from writers who have been writing for a while and are covering the basics, but not seeing a lot of success in publishing.

The kind of feedback that that second level of writer needs is often hard to get, and I always wonder if I’m saying the right thing, making the right guesses about where the writer is and what they need to move forward. It’s like, sure, on the surface level you’re just trying to answer the questions, but you also have to keep in mind that someone is on the other side of those answers, dying to find out what’s working on the manuscript and what isn’t. So I’m always torn between wearing a kind of editorial hat (snark) and a writer support hat (decent feedback). I try to score like an editor and give feedback like a writer supporter, so that I’m not artificially inflating entries that probably shouldn’t win the contest just to be nice, and yet giving the most supportive (yet honest) feedback I can give.

What are you looking for in submissions?

I’m not an editor, so I don’t approach submissions by going, “What can I publish?” That’s not what a non-publishing contest is for.

Instead I’m looking for what level of writer I’m working with, first and foremost, so I can give feedback. We all have different paths as writers, which complicates things, but in general you can check off things like, “This person is handling beginner’s basics like dialogue and character correctly but not intermediate level things like pacing and opening a scene well” to determine how far along someone is. I’ve also noted a split between two different types of writers–I call them engineer brain and poet brain. Engineers plot well; poets have better style. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but where one’s strengths lie.

Once I can kind of guesstimate how far along a writer is and the general areas of their strengths, I can start thinking in terms of what feedback might be useful.

I generally don’t care who wins a contest 🙂

How is an entry scored? Do you use rubrics of some sort?

There’s generally a checklist of some sort with spaces for feedback. I helped develop a checklist for the Zebulon with Pikes Peak Writers, and that was interesting. What are the main areas of writing? How do you organize all the aspects of writing into a system that makes sense in a contest, to multiple judges who themselves use vastly different organizational/teaching tools in their own writing? I think we did okay, but I always wonder if it could be better.

What do you aim for when you’re asked to write feedback letters?

I always aim to try to give decent advice for the level of writer involved. A lot of times, just because of the type of submissions I see, I end up typing a variation of, “You probably want to know why you’re not published yet, if everyone says you’ve got the basics down pat. Welcome to intermediate writing, where there’s not a lot of advice to be had because 90% of writers have dropped out at this point and it seems like everyone expects you to make the jump from amateur to professional with no extra work. It’s so simple, for someone who’s worked as much as you have…isn’t it? Here’s where you need to start working, though…” And then I try to block out two or three main areas for the writer to start working. I feel like the winners of contests are going to be happy no matter what I write; it’s the people who didn’t win who need to be able to walk out of a contest with a path ahead, arduous but true.

Why do you judge writing contests?

I like being able to dive down into the meat of where someone is in their craft, and find out what strengths and weaknesses they have, and how that affects the work. I’m starting to see how different writers’ points of view really affect what they write, and I find that incredibly interesting. Also, I really hope to be able to pass the education in craft that other people have given me forward, and this is one of the ways that I seem to be able to help.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on a novel in a series I haven’t released yet. It’s the third novel in a near-future thriller series. Murder and tech that’s so close to being real that it’s scary; not quite Blade Runner but in the same spirit.

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She started out as a farm girl in the middle of South Dakota, went to school in Vermillion, SD, then gravitated through Iowa to Colorado, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of putting together haunted houses in the basement of her grandparents’ house with her cousins, and taking flying leaps off haystacks and silage piles in the middle of winter with her brother. She was in charge of coming up with the “let’s pretend” ideas when they were kids, at least in theory. But then no plan survives contact with the enemy. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and mystery for adults under her own name; adventurous and weird fiction for middle-grade (8-12 year old) kids under the pseudonym De Kenyon; and various thriller and suspense fiction for her ghostwriting clients under various and non-disclosable names.

Find DeAnna at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Social media management with Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that can be used to:

  • Track and monitor messages and notifications.
  • Manage, schedule, and publish content to multiple social media platforms.
  • View reports on key metrics and engagement.
  • Create customized dashboards.

There are several different pricing plans. They do not have a free plan, but do offer a 30-day free trial.

Note: I’m experimenting with social media content management tools to manage multiple Facebook pages, as well as several accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., so this was my focus in exploring this tool.

Supported social media platforms

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • WordPress

They also offer over a hundred partner apps and integrations; some are free, and some are an additional cost on top of your plan.

Streams

Hootsuite uses streams to display content from your social media networks. The type of streams available vary depending on what social media channel you’re connecting to. For example, here are the options you see when adding a Twitter stream.

Each stream is specific to one social media channel, and one type of activity. For example, if you set up a stream to display the timeline of a Facebook page, that stream will only show your timeline, not your timeline and your messages.

Creating and scheduling posts

To schedule a post you go to the ‘Publisher’ section, create a new message, select one or more social media profiles, and specify when your message should be published.

You can publish it immediately, or schedule posts in advance. You can see your scheduled posts in a calendar view. You can select social media profiles that are on different channels, so for example you could publish the same content on both Twitter and Facebook.

Reporting

Analytics are available by channel, and then by profile – so you can see reports for all of your Facebook profiles in one view, but need to look at a different view for Twitter reports. The data includes information on posts, fans/followers, engagement, traffic, and inbound messages by sentiment.

There are additional reporting options, but you need to upgrade to a more expensive plan in order to use them.

References

Interview: Thea Hutcheson on “Judging Pashet”


 
“Judging Pashet” is in the Stars in the Darkness anthology, a collection of stories about why being just matters, and what the ramifications are for individuals, groups, towns, countries, or even worlds if justice is not expected, encouraged, or enforced.

Meet Thea!

Thea Hutcheson writes about magic, science, and everything in between. She has a special love for ancient cultures, and captured the essence of ancient Egypt and the impact of flooding – or lack thereof – of the Nile River on people’s lives in “Judging Pashet.”

“Judging Pashet”

In the time of the ancient pharaohs, the great annual flood of the Nile has not come to make the black soil fertile. Princes fight for power after the death of the pharaoh, blockading the boats that carry precious food up and down the river. Starvation faces Mert, her family, and her village unless she finds a way to render judgment on a dead man and make him pay for his crimes.

The stone floor was cool under her bare feet and the breeze from the opening swirled fresh air around her legs. Her heart pounded so loudly she could hear it in her ears. The horror of the crime she was committing made her hands tremble. Her breath harsh and loud in the silence of the tomb. She lifted the lamp and gasped.

The walls sported richly painted scenes of Pashet at his ease, receiving tribute, supping with Osiris.

The conceit of the man went beyond her understanding. She looked among the grave goods. Fine ebon chairs nestled against one another in a corner, ivory bracelets spilled across a carved box, and mounds of sheepskins, stacks of copper ingots, rolls of woven fabric, and tens of bronze oxen leaned against the walls.

And yes, baskets of bread, jars of beer, bags of seeds, pots of dates, honey, and almonds made an open ring around the sarcophagus.

– from “Judging Pashet”

The Interview

What inspired you to write “Judging Pashet?”

I love ancient cultures, especially Middle Eastern cultures. I have a book of Egyptian document translations and a lot of them are judgments of civil disputes. I found that priestesses were often called upon to hear testimony and render judgments, and I wanted to find out what Mert would do in the face of impossible odds and inestimable hubris.

How does “Judging Pashet” fit the Stars in the Darkness anthology?

A small village is suffering as a civil war rages for control of the crown, blockading the Nile river so that supplies have not reached them. The river has also not flooded yet, keeping them from planting. The villagers file a complaint against Pashet, the wealthy man who was responsible for the welfare of the village, who had been abusing them and failing in his responsibilities. As the designated judge in the matter of the villagers’ complaints against him, Mert is charged with finding a resolution. But he dies before she can render judgment, and she must find a way to mete out justice against a dead man and provide restitution to the villagers from his estate. Mert, who also lives in the village and sees her son suffer as a result of this man’s behavior, finds herself in an impossible situation when the needs of the mortal world and the requirements of the spiritual world clash. Her answer shows the selflessness of true justice.

Your protagonist breaks the rules to save people, knowing doing so would have repercussions for her personally. Why did you decide to put this in your story?

Ancient Egyptians had a highly developed sense of right and wrong and balancing the scales in both the mortal world and the hereafter. I wanted to explore mortal needs in direct opposition against spiritual laws.

Why did you set the story in Egypt, and why in this particular time?

I was bitten by the ancient civilization bug at the tender age of seven. I love all those Middle Eastern cultures. Egypt was a highly civilized and structured society, and I loved the idea of working in this part of the world. This particular time in history was very exciting. The death of a beloved ruler led to a dire struggle to fill the vacuum. It was exciting and a wonderful set up for the story’s conflict.

I had to do a diorama in the seventh grade for World History. I chose to do a mummy. I wrapped my Barbie doll in strips of an old sheet, working hard to create the patterns I saw on Victorian photographs. I painted a shoe box for the sarcophagus and several olive and lotion bottle jars for the canopic jars. I placed my pharaoh in the sarcophagus and filled the jars with dry dog food and put water in them (I hadn’t learned they dried the organs) and made a display. I got an A, of course, but my mother made me throw the jars away, unopened.

This was an opportunity to tell a story straight from my heart and the core of my interests. It’s also a bigger, better version of that first diorama, all fleshed out.

Why did ancient Egyptians put food in their tombs?

The Egyptians believed in the “as below, so above” philosophy. In other words, whatever you needed in the mortal world, you would want in the hereafter. So you would need food, plates, pets, servants, a chariot, your boat—all the trappings of a comfortable life. Unfortunately, even with all the elaborate precautions, many tombs were plundered, often almost immediately after they were sealed.

Several goddesses are mentioned in your story. Who are they, and why were they important to your protagonist?

Ipet is the hippo-headed goddess of childbirth. While male hippopotamus are vicious and are symbolic of chaos, females are exceptionally nurturing mothers. They represent the fierce caring required to carry a child to term, deliver the infant successfully, and nurture them in the face of terrible odds at all stages.

Maat represents justice, truth, honesty. She is often depicted with wings and often has an ostrich feather in her headband. That is the feather that is laid on the scale that Anubis, the god of the dead, holds when the soul is called to judgment. If the heart is heavier than the ostrich feather, the person has failed in their moral life, and is eaten by Ammit and can never live again.

Isis is the daughter of heaven and Earth. She is the wife of Osiris, who was killed and dismembered by his brother Set. She is also the mother of Horus.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I am working on a time travel series. There is some romance in them as the story unfolds and the characters are brought together, ultimately to be a team. The Bee Lady’s Amulet is the first in the series and follows Melinda, a woman in modern times, who walks through a doorway in an ancient Cretan ruin and finds herself face to face with a goddess who gives her a mission to save people from the destruction of Santorini. The people she meets believe she is the emissary of the goddess and set about planning how to effect the salvation. She thinks that her mission is over when she delivers the message, and is frustrated to find out things are more complicated for her, especially when she finds herself falling into an impossible romance with the earthly husband to Askar, the Cretan goddess. She doesn’t want to stay with him in this ancient culture, but she is heartbroken to know that she will leave and lose him.

The next story features a modern man thrust back into the same time period with instructions from that same goddess to save a witch from the eruption of Santorini. He is young enough to still be discovering who he is, and is thrust into a completely foreign world that he is ill-equipped to navigate. In the course of learning to survive, he meets the woman he is to rescue, and finds that she is not what she thought he was, and all of his beliefs about magic and realism are shifted once again as he falls in love with her.

The third book requires all four of them to work together for the first time on a mission that is endangered by a group committed to anarchy, and which opposes the goddess’ efforts to protect aspects of her creation. In that cauldron the four will face culture shock, the meaning of their relationships, and their commitment to the goddess’ wishes.

Thea Hutcheson explores far away lands full of magic and science with one hand holding hope and the other full of wonder. Lois Tilton of Locus called her work “sensual, fertile, with seed quickening on every page. Well done…” Her work has appeared in such places as Hot Blood, Fatal Attractions, M-Brane, Baen’s Universe, the Beauty and the Beast Issue of The Enchanted Conversation, Realms of Fantasy, and several volumes of the Fiction River anthology series. She lives in an economically depressed, unscenic, nearly historic small city in Colorado with four semi-feral cats, 1000 books, and an understanding partner. She’s a factotum when she’s filling the time between bouts at the computer.

Find Thea at:

Website | Goodreads

Stars in the Darkness is a collection of stories about why being just matters, and what the ramifications are for individuals, groups, towns, countries, or even worlds if justice is not expected, encouraged, or enforced.

All proceeds from this collection will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign.

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Books2Read | Facebook | Goodreads

Social media management with MavSocial

MavSocial is a social media management tool that can be used to:

  • Track and monitor messages and notifications.
  • Organize your images, videos, etc. in one place.
  • Manage, schedule, and publish content to multiple social media platforms.
  • Create and manage ‘campaigns.’
  • View reports about engagement with your posts.

There are several different pricing plans, including a very basic free plan.

Note: I’m experimenting with social media content management tools to manage multiple Facebook pages, as well as several accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., so this was my focus in exploring this tool.

Supported social media platforms

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr

Note that Instagram doesn’t allow third-party apps to publish directly to them, so you can create and schedule your Instagram posts with MavSocial, but need to use the mobile app Mav2Go (available for iPhones only) to publish your posts.

Creating and scheduling posts

The ‘Post Manager’ is used to schedule posts – but in spite of the name, it is not used to manage them. Posts are managed via campaigns.

To create a new post:

  • Go to Campaigns > Campaign Planner, click on the name of an existing campaign, and then on ‘Add Post.’ This will take you to the Post Manager. (You can get to the posts a few different ways, like from the campaign page or the campaign calendar.)
  • Go to the Post Manager and select the desired campaign from the dropdown. Note that the campaign must already exist, and you can’t create a new campaign from within the Post Manager.

You can save drafts, schedule posts, or publish them immediately.

Each post must be associated with either a campaign you’ve already created, or with the ‘Miscellaneous – Quick Posts’ campaign, which is the default campaign. A post may only be associated with one campaign, and it doesn’t appear possible to change the campaign associated with a post after the post has been saved.

One or more forms of social media must be associated with each post. If you have multiple Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc., you can select one or more to publish to. If you select multiple channels, you can’t edit channel-specific values. For example, if you select both Facebook and Twitter, you can’t edit ‘news feed targeting for pages’ which is Facebook-only.

Campaigns

To create a new campaign, go to Campaigns > Create Campaign, or click on Create Campaign in either of the other campaign management tabs. You can create a single (one-time) campaign, or one that repeats.

Details for your active campaigns can be viewed under Campaigns > Campaign Planner, and you can see a calendar view in Campaigns > Campaign Calendar.

Social Inbox

The Social Inbox is where you can track posts and messages, reply to comments on your posts, ‘like’ comments, etc. Select the social media channel, and then you can narrow down what you see by page, account, etc.

Mysteriously, only two posts from one of my Facebook pages show up here, and none of my Twitter posts are visible. They do show up in the Reporting tab, though.

Reporting

You can view reports for your digital assets, by campaign, or by social media platform. For each social media platform, you need to select the page, account, etc. that you want to view data for.

The data you see in the reports varies by social media channel. For example, you can see information on ‘likes’ for Facebook, and on replies and mentions for Twitter. You can also export data.

References

Interview: Bonnie Elizabeth and the Fantastic Feline Heroes bundle

Meet Bonnie!

Bonnie not only writes fiction, she also blogged as her cat Chey for many years. In addition to cat stories, Bonnie writes fantasy, mystery, Gothic suspense, and occasionally science fiction. She writes books about acupuncture as Bonnie Koenig.

Fantastic Feline Heroes

Who doesn’t love cats? And what cat doesn’t have a great cat story of their heroism, even if it’s only saving their owner from a spider?

From honorable feline assassins to compassionate feline dreamwalkers, these cats are saving the worlds—at least for someone. This multi-author bundle pays tribute to every cat who has ever played hero, from little things to big.

If you purchase the bundle through BundleRabbit, you have the option to donate a percentage of the purchase price to either the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary or Milo’s Sanctuary & Special Needs Cat Rescue.

Find the bundle at:

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | BundleRabbit | Facebook | Goodreads

The Interview

What inspired you to create this bundle?

Honestly? I wouldn’t have done if Kris Rusch hadn’t passed me in the hallway at the Master Class and said, “You need to do a bundle on cats.”

She made me feel guilty about not doing a bundle, even though I’m not really a manager sort of person. I like managing my own things, but not when there are other people around. I’d rather just take care of my own stuff and go my own way, so to speak.

Why did you choose the feline hero theme?

The idea of a cat bundle was really broad. There are lots of anthologies that use cats as a theme and I wanted this to stand out. Also, as I grew up reading fantasy and SF, I knew there were a fair number of professional anthologies that wrote about cats in the fantasy realm. I really wanted to do “Cats in Space” but I don’t write enough SF and I wasn’t sure how that would go over with cat people I knew. But cats as heroes? That I could totally see! So Fantastic Feline Heroes.

How do the stories in Fantastic Feline Heroes match up with what you expected? Were you surprised by any of them?

I think they hit the themes that I wanted. I guess my big surprise was that I “found” Matt’s on the BundleRabbit site. I hadn’t even invited him, but the story was such a perfect fit for the theme that it surprised me. But then again, if you’ve read my author interviews (done by my cat Gemini), you’ll notice I knew most of the authors, so the fact that there were really good stories from many different themes wasn’t a surprise.

That said, I was really thrilled that Mollie Hunt was able to participate. She’s an author I don’t know personally and I love that I get to introduce people to someone completely knew. And her story was such a delight!

Purchases of the bundle through the BundleRabbit website provide readers the option of donating a percentage of the purchase price to either the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary or Milo’s Sanctuary. Why did you choose these two organizations?

As a long time cat blogger, I was familiar with the Blind Cat Rescue. I really thought that the people working with those cats, along with the cats themselves, were pretty heroic, and it seemed like a good fit for a bundle about heroic cats.

Dayle Dermatis suggested Milo’s Sanctuary, and it really fit with heroic cats. Again, it’s a shelter I was familiar with from blogging, so I could feel good about offering it as a charity that people could donate to.

In both cases, I know that other people who blog about cats who are very supportive of these two charities, and I hope that they’re excited enough about a new way to share this information that they’ll go out and tell people!

Tell us about your cats!

I have three cats now, Gemini, Ichiro, and Ham. I started blogging about Gemini but my cat, Cheysuli, who recently died, was the voice of my blog at MySiamese.com. Chey was a chocolate point Siamese and she had attitude. The household isn’t the same without her.

So how to organize this. I’ve always had cats. I got Gemini shortly after I lost my first Siamese, Simone, a lilac point. It seemed it was meant to be. Gemini just showed up at my doorstep, mewing. I took her in, even though I’m not a long-haired cat owner. I like sleek cats that are easy to groom. Gemini was anything but.

She wasn’t very interested in me or in my calico cat Georgia, who was my only surviving cat at the time. Gemini was only about 5 weeks old, give or take but she looked smaller, all short legs and cobby little body.

After a few months, I found Chey, who was a 3-year-old retired breeder queen that I got for the cost of her spay. She was a beautiful chocolate point cat. Chey and Georgia instantly bonded, which surprised me because Georgia had never liked other cats.

When we lost Georgia, I worried that Chey would be lonely as Gemini was never a particularly friendly cat. In fact, it’s only been in the last couple of years that she’s really come out and decided she likes me. She’s 12.

Anyway, we got Ichiro. He was a kitten. I got a boy thinking perhaps he’d be a little more outgoing. He’s sweet and quite a busybody, but he’s still a little hesitant. He’s very sensitive.

Chey hated him on site. In fact, she stopped eating. We force-fed her for days, and she ended up having a surgery before she came back to us. I think she just felt so betrayed that there was another cat in her household.

Once she got through her health issues, she tolerated him and he adored her. I think as time when on she came to accept him and like him as a companion that Gemini never never really was for her.

When we lost her in May of 2017, I knew Ichiro would be lonely without her. He was very clingy. My husband and I had a couple of trips planned in the summer, so we waited until the second trip was finished and then began searching for another cat for Ichiro.

My husband fell in love with this black and white tuxedo boy who was only five months old. We had talked about getting an older cat, but he liked this one. He’s a crazy kid and the name Ham stuck. We do call him Hamlet but it’s not about the Danish prince. It’s because he’s a “little ham”. And he is–always wanting to be the center of attention. Jumping in and not thinking. He’s a wild man. Hence his nicknames, Haminator and Hamnible Lecter…

Why did you decided to start blogging as your cat, and how did your cat feel about this?

I started blogging probably in 2005. It was a way to make myself write daily. It was actually about Gemini and not Chey. Chey came into this when I had this affiliate site called My Siamese, everything for you and your meezer, and I learned that adding blog content could help bring people to the site. Well it did, but I never sold much on the site, so I eventually pulled down the affiliate links and just used the blog as the main part of the site.

When I moved a couple of years ago, I sort of fell out of the habit of updating it. There were so many people out there blogging about their cats, and I didn’t really have anything new to or different to say. It was hard to get people to come read too, and if no one was reading I didn’t feel as if it was worthwhile. Plus, I was starting to write books and stories that did get read.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on a bunch of short stories right now. I did a challenge in the fall to write three novels in three months, which I completed, and those will be coming out this spring or summer. I have a new series that’s sort of a dark fantasy series, and also a gothic ghost story.

The shorts are to give myself a rest and also strengthen my plotting ability. I think I do characters decently, and I’m always working on voice, but plotting can be my downfall. I hate hurting my characters. I hate doing bad things, so I need to work on that!

We’ll see what comes out of these shorts!

Bonnie Elizabeth started writing fiction when she was eight years old. Fortunately, that manuscript has long since been lost. In between a variety of odd jobs, including working as an acupuncturist, Bonnie wrote articles about acupuncture and the business of being an acupuncturist for a variety of acupuncture journals. She also blogged as her cat while transitioning to her real love of fiction writing. She writes the Whisper series, which begins with Whisper Bound, and has a number of other fantasy, urban fantasy, and mystery projects in the works.

Find Bonnie at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Interview: David H. Hendrickson on “How to Get Your Book into Schools”

Meet Dave!

David H. Hendrickson has published well over one thousand works of nonfiction ranging from sports journalism to humor and essays. How to Get Your Book into Schools is his first book for writers.

How to Get Your Book into Schools

David H. Hendrickson leads you through every step of the process of getting your book into schools. He highlights the critical pitfalls to avoid, and points out ways to maximize your profit when a school adopts your book.

Dave has first-hand experience; his novel Offside, a coming-of-age tale of a young country boy from Maine who must adapt to a new life in the city, was adopted as required reading for its entire student body and staff by Lynn English High School, in Lynn, Massachusetts.

How to Get Your Book Into Schools is available in both ebook and print.

The Interview

What does it mean to “get a book into schools?’

There are two ways. First, your book can be one of many titles selected for a Required Reading list, then students pick the books that appeal to them. If your book is one of, say, twenty titles, and students only need to pick one or two, this will be a nice addition to your usual sales, but it won’t be a bonanza.

Alternatively, a school can choose your book for an “all-school read.” This is a very big deal, and there are ways to help make this happen, such as working with the school so the total cost fits their budget or grant.

Which of your books have you gotten into schools, and what sort of results have you seen from them?

I consider Young Adult to be the “sweet spot” for most schools. I’ve published three YA titles, but one is a sequel, so I’ve focused on the other two, Offside and Cracking the Ice.

Offside was adopted by Lynn English High School for an all-school read, which meant the school bought 1750 copies, and over the course of a summer, every student, teacher, and administrator read the book.

Since then, I’ve adopted a marketing campaign to duplicate that success, either with Offside or Cracking the Ice, and both books are now under consideration for use by several high schools.

Are there different techniques for getting your book into different types of schools? How about different grade levels?

In How to Get Your Book Into Schools, I point you to lists of public and private high schools, as well as those for middle grades, so you don’t have to spend hour after hour of researching that information.

Once you’ve selected the schools to target, most of the techniques are the same, but there are differences. For example, faith-based titles will appeal to faith-based private schools, but likely not others. Also, many private schools end their year earlier than public schools, so that has to be factored in.

Do schools tend to prefer different formats (ebook, paperback, hardcover)?

I haven’t seen interest in ebooks yet, but I expect that to change over time, especially in the more expensive private schools where all students may be required to own an e-reader.

For now, though, my focus has been on trade paperbacks, since the economics of hardcovers forces a list price of about twice that of paperback. For an all-school read or a student picking titles off a Required Reading list, that extra cost is prohibitive. On the other hand, if the book is going to become part of the curriculum, used semester after semester, then hardcovers are worth the cost. As a result, I’m now investing in the extra design and layout cost of adding the hardcover option.

What’s the most important lesson you learned that helped you achieve the success you’ve had with schools?

Be aware. Be aware of the opportunities available to you, and of problems as they arise so you can quickly address them. Be aware of hidden costs and the deadlines you need to hit.

And especially, be aware of cash flow. There are ways to address the problem, but if your book is adopted for an all-school read, you will almost certainly pay CreateSpace or IngramSpark up front for the printing, and then have to wait for the school to pay off its Purchase Order months later.

What did you enjoy most out of getting your novel Offside accepted by a high school?

I spoke at the school following the summer in which students read the book, and they treated me like a rock star. Other than family events, it was the greatest day of my life.

The applause was thunderous. A group of boys chanted the name of the book. After the talk, I signed hundreds of books, Post-It notes, journals, backpacks, and over a dozen—I kid you not—outstretched arms.

I’ll never forget that day.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’ll be spending the rest of January on short stories, trying to sell to four anthologies based on an assigned theme. After that, it’s back to writing the third, and final, book in the “Rabbit Labelle” series. (Offside was the first, and Offensive Foul the second, but both stand nicely on their own.)

I love the characters from that series and enjoy the surprises they’ve had for me. Rabbit, his mother, and Anna will always have a special place in my heart. I hope everyone who has read the books feels the same way.

David H. Hendrickson’s first novel, Cracking the Ice, was praised by Booklist as “a gripping account of a courageous young man rising above evil.” He has since published five additional novels, including Offside, which has been adopted for high school student required reading, and its sequel, Offensive Foul.

His short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies, including multiple issues of Fiction Fiver.

Hendrickson has published over fifteen hundred works of nonfiction. He has been honored with the Joe Concannon Hockey East Media Award and the Murray Kramer Scarlet Quill Award.

Find Dave at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Welcome to 2018!

Things may have appeared to be quiet at Blackbird Publishing for the past few weeks, but there’s been a flurry of activity behind the scenes! With the holiday and end-of-year chaos, this seemed like a good time to focus on getting ahead on publishing for 2018, as well as to revamp the blog posting topics and schedule.

There are a total of eleven – yes, eleven! – anthologies on the list for 2018. This includes three new issues in the series A Procession of Faeries, issues in the brand new series Ever After Fairy Tales, a new justice-themed collection along the lines of Stars in the Darkness, a witch-themed collection, and a new series that’s a collaboration with Wonderland Press. There will also be a few standalone titles, a non-fiction book, and at least one audio book.

The Just the Facts series of how-to posts for authors and indie publishers will continue, and the somewhat sporadic interviews will become a regular series. Look for an interview with Dave Hendrickson about how to get your books into schools, one with Chuck Anderson and Jim LeMay of Mad Cow Press about the tribute anthology they put together to honor the wonderful author Edward Bryant, an interview with the editors of the online magazine Electric Spec about how they select stories, and interviews with authors participating in the Stars in the Darkness about why they chose the stories to write for that collection.

There are a few other things in the works as well, so stay tuned – and Happy New Year!!!

Flip an image with Photoshop

Sometimes you want to flip an image either horizontally or vertically.

For example, in this cover I wanted to horizontally flip the image of the woman so that she was facing right, not left.

There are two options, depending on the situation:

  1. You can flip the entire canvas.
  2. Flip a single image layer.

Flip the entire canvas

If you want to flip everything, you can flip the entire canvas.

  • Select Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Horizontal (or Vertical).
     

Just keep in mind that this really will flip everything – all of your image layers, any text you’ve added, etc.

Flip a single image

  • Select the image layer you want to flip.
     

     
  • Select Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal (or Vertical).
     

     

Photoshop version

The version of Photoshop used for this post was the 2017.1.1 Release of Adobe Photoshop CC, 20170425.r.252 x64, on OS X 10.13.1.