Make a basic gradient layer with Photoshop

A gradient in an image is a gradual transition from one color to another color.

Example of using a gradient layer to make text stand out

Here are the before and after versions of a book cover where a gradient layer was used to improve the readability of the title text. The color transition is from one of the blues in the image itself, and because the opacity is set so low, the effect is very subtle.

And here’s what the gradient layer looks like without the image.

How to create a gradient layer

  • Create a new layer.
  • In the new layer, create the desired shape using the appropriate selection tool. You can add a gradient to any shape.


  • Select the gradient tool.

  • Select the two colors to transition between. This is done using the same color selection tool you normally use. The top square sets the starting color of your gradient, and the bottom selects the ending color. The top left corner of your window will show an example of what the gradient will look like.
  • Select the desired type of gradient from the menu at the top left: linear, radial, angular, reflected, or diamond.

  • Determine where on the shape you just created that you want the gradient to start. Click on this spot and hold the mouse down.
  • Drag the mouse pointer to wherever the gradient should end. You’ll see a line from the starting point to the end point. Release the mouse.
  • The gradient you created will appear on your layer.



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.

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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Publish and distribute an audio book on Findaway Voices

Findaway Voices allows you to publish and distribute an existing audio book. There is no requirement for exclusivity, and you control the pricing.

You keep 80% of the royalties Findaway Voices receives. The actual percentages vary by the type of partner, channel, and business model.

These instructions assume you have an existing audio book, but you can also use the platform to find a narrator to record your audio book.


  • Audio book files.
  • A book cover.

Here are the five types of audio files you’ll need. Note that all but one is required.

  • Opening Credits (required)
    Material preceding the main text. Examples: Dedication, Introduction, etc.
  • Body Matter (required)
    The main text.
  • Back Matter (optional)
    Anything following the main text. Examples: About the Author, Bibliography, etc.
  • Closing Credits (required)
  • Retail Sample (required)
    A 1-5 minute long sample of the book. Customers will be able to preview this sample before purchasing your audio book.

Draft2Digital and Findaway Voices

If you have a Draft2Digital account, you can create and manage your audio books through their site. The integration is pretty seamless. I set up one audio book through Findaway Voices, and then selected an existing ebook on Draft2Digital to set up audio for. Both books appear on my audio books dashboard. I can’t see the one that’s only set up in audio book form in my regular ebooks panel on Draft2Digital, but that makes sense as I haven’t made it available as a stand-alone ebook

Set up your audio book

  • You’ll be prompted to start a new audio book when you create your Findaway Voices account. If you’ve already created your account, log in and click on ‘My Audiobooks,’ and then click ‘Start New Audiobook’ and set the button next to ‘Do you already have audio for this book?’ to ‘yes.’
  • You’ll be prompted for information about your book – title, description, narrator(s), copyright information, BISAC code, etc.

  • Upload your cover. Audio book covers are square, so you can either upload a regular, rectangular book cover, or make a square cover yourself.
    If you upload a rectangular cover, a frame will be added to your image. You can choose the color for this frame based on a selection of colors Findaway Voices picks from your image.

    Or you can create a square version of your existing cover.

  • Add your audio files.

  • Set the price for your book.

  • Select which distributors you’d like to use for this book.

  • Review everything and make sure it’s correct.

  • Set up your Payment Profile. This includes selecting which tax form to use (W-8BEN, W9, etc.).
  • Click ‘Submit for Publishing’ on the ‘Review your Audiobook’ page to publish and distribute your book!


Basic ebook download setup with BookFunnel

BookFunnel is an ebook delivery platform that allows authors to deliver books directly to their readers. You upload your ebook files to BookFunnel, create a download page, then provide the link to that download page to your readers.

These instructions cover the basics, but there are lots of different options – you can customize your landing page, integrate with your mailing list, etc.


You have created a BookFunnel account. 🙂

Create an author pen name

BookFunnel allows you to have multiple pen names – how many depends on which plan you’ve signed up for.

  • If you haven’t created a pen name on BookFunnel, you should be prompted to create one when you log in. If this doesn’t happen, or if you’ve already created a pen name and want to create another, click on ‘Add New’ and then ‘Add New Pen Name’ in the left sidebar.

  • A popup will appear asking you to enter your author name, email address, and URL. Fill these out, then click ‘Save Author’


Add a book

Once you’ve created a pen name, you need to associate a book with it.

  • Add a new book by clicking on ‘Add New’ in the left sidebar, then ‘Add New Book.’ You’ll be prompted to distribute either an epub/mobi or a pdf. Select the appropriate option.

  • Enter the details for your book. This includes the ‘book label’ which is a descriptive label only you will see. It can be the same as the title, or can be any text you want – the tagline, etc.

  • Upload your book files – your epub, mobi, pdf, or some combination thereof, plus the cover of the book.

  • Click on ‘Save Book.’

Create a download page

  • Click on ‘Home’ in the left sidebar.

  • If you haven’t created any download pages, you’ll see a link to create one. Click on ‘Create a Download Page for [your book name]’ and then select the desired book from the dropdown.
    If you have created at least one download page, go to ‘Books’ and select the desired book, then click ‘Add Page’ in the Download Pages section.
  • Decide whether or not you want to require the reader to provide their email address before downloading your book, then click on the appropriate button.

    If you choose ‘Yes, collect the reader’s email address’ then you’re creating a Giveaway Page; if you choose ‘No, just let them download the book’ you’re creating a Download Page.
  • Set the settings for your download or giveaway page, and then save the page.
  • Select the desired link from either the Download Pages section or the Giveaway Pages section. This link is what you’ll provide to people to download your book.
  • To edit your book information, download/giveaway pages, view statistics, etc., click on ‘Books’ in the left sidebar, and then click on your book.



Create a table of contents for an ebook anthology using volumes in Vellum

A ‘volume’ in Vellum is a way to group things together. Volumes can be used to associate content with individual authors and generate a table of contents for an anthology.

What is an ‘element’ in Vellum?

A book in Vellum is made up of a collection of elements. Each element can be formatted differently, displayed or hidden, appear/not appear in the Table of Contents, etc.

For example, the Chapter element can be configured to automatically display the chapter number at the beginning of each chapter, and the first paragraph in every chapter will have the same style applied.

Initial setup

  • Create a Chapter element for each story, and place the contents of the story in this element.
  • For each story, create an About the Author element after the author’s Chapter element, and add the author’s biography, links, etc. to this element.
  • Generate the ebook.

Your file and the generated table of contents should look something like this:

The table of contents correctly lists each story, but does not display the author’s name, and the ‘About the Author’ sections are displayed – but they look jammed in, plus it’s a little unclear which author each one links to.

This is super easy to fix!

Modify the structure to generate the new TOC format

  • In Vellum, select both the Chapter and About the Author elements for a story. Right-click and choose ‘Create Volume from Selection.’

  • Change the name of the volume to the name of the story.

  • Select the volume page, and then select ‘Add Author’ from the dropdown. Add the name of the author.
  • Select the chapter page, and then select ‘Hide Heading in Ebook’ from the dropdown.
  • Edit the Table of Contents settings, and uncheck ‘List elements within Volumes.’

  • Generate the ebook.

Your Volume should look like this.

And your Chapter like this.

Now your generated table of contents displays each author’s name, their story title with a link, and the about the author links no longer appear in the table of contents.

Make sure to test your ebook on multiple devices and make sure everything looks as expected.

This particular configuration mysteriously adds blank pages on the Mac OS X version of the Kindle, but looks fine on the Kindle apps on the iPhone, iPad, etc.


Software versions

Versions used in this post:

  • Vellum 2.0.5
  • macOS High Sierra 10.13.1

The differences between bundles and collaborations on BundleRabbit

BundleRabbit was initially created as a story bundling platform. It now offers another feature: collaborative projects, often referred to as ‘collaborations.’


curator: The person who organizes the bundle/collaboration. (Note that curation for a single collection may be done by several people working together, just like an anthology could have multiple editors.)

author: An author of a story included in a bundle/collaboration.

content marketplace: An area on BundleRabbit where curators can browse existing ebooks and contact authors to invite them to participate in a bundle.

What is a bundle on BundleRabbit?

A bundle is a collection of ebooks that is organized by a curator. It’s essentially a box set of stories, whether they’re short stories, novellas, novels, or a combination. The curator selects the stories, and BundleRabbit compiles all of the the ebooks into one big ebook.

What does the curator do?

  • Sets the theme for the bundle.
  • Decides what story lengths are allowed.
  • Invites authors to participate. This can be done by contacting an author personally, by requesting a story via the content marketplace on BundleRabbit, or by a combination of both depending on the author/story.
  • Each ebook has its own cover and sales copy, both provided by the author; the curator is responsible for creating the cover and sales copy for the entire collection.

What is a collaborative project (aka collaboration) on BundleRabbit?

A collaborative project, or collaboration, is a collection of stories organized by a curator. It’s closer to an anthology than to a box set. The curator selects the stories and combines them all into an ebook.

What does the curator do?

  • Sets the theme for the bundle.
  • Decides what story lengths are allowed.
  • Invites authors to participate. This is currently done by contacting the author personally (i.e. not through the content marketplace, although you can find authors/stories there and then contact them offline).
  • Creates the cover and sales copy for the entire collection.

What are the differences between bundles and collaborative projects?

What Bundle Collaboration
Percentage of revenue split between curator & authors 75%

5% goes to the curator; the rest is split equallybetween the authors

The curator sets the percentage that goes to each person involved in the collaboration; different percentages can be given to different people
Available on BundleRabbit yes no

(will likely be added in 2018)

Available on other sales channels (Amazon, etc.) yes yes
Print available? no yes
Ebook formatting, cover, sales copy Each author formats their own ebook, provides their own cover, and writes their own sales copy; the curator provides one overall cover, and writes the sales copy for the collection Authors provide their manuscripts to the curator; the curator formats the single ebook, provides one cover, and writes the sales copy for the collection
Formatting consistency Formatting varies by author The curator formats the ebook, and can choose to have consistent formatting for all stories

In either situation, the curator may act as an editor – however, this would be handled between the authors/curator directly (i.e. outside of BundleRabbit).


Which approach a curator should pick will depend on factors like the content being included, the amount of work the curator intends to invest in creating the collection, and the goals of the curator.

For example, if you’re creating a collection that will include ten novels, a bundle will allow each author to format their own book exactly how they want it – which means that there could be significant differences in formatting from book to book. A collection of ten short stories, however, might look better if all of the stories were formatted the same way.

One way to think about this is to compare a collection to the more traditional forms of anthologies and box sets. In an anthology, there’s a standard look and feel; with a box set, each title can look very different.

A collaboration requires more work from the curator, since the curator must combine all of the manuscripts into one ebook; with a bundle, BundleRabbit does the combination.

A collaboration also provides a finer level of control. For example, the curator can write an introduction to the collection, an afterward, and can do custom things like add images in between each story; with a bundle, the formatting is handled by BundleRabbit, and cannot be customized.

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages – you just need to figure out which one works best for your situation.

And regardless of whether or not you go with a bundle or a collaboration, BundleRabbit handles the revenue split, and takes care of delivering royalty payments to the curator and the authors. 🙂


Create and customize Universal Book Links with Books2Read

Books2Read, which is part of Draft2Digital, offers a free service where you can create a custom URL which will direct readers to just about every online bookstore you can think of.

A universal book link is a custom URL that provides links to every site your book is available. This means you can provide one link in an email, web page, etc., and readers will be able to select whichever store they want to purchase your book at. A reader can also set their preference so they always go directly to their preferred store.


You either have an existing Draft2Digital account (which you can use to log in to the Books2Read site), or have created a Books2Read account.

Create a universal book link

  • Copy the URL to your book from an online bookstore (ex. Amazon).
  • Log in to the Books2Read website.
  • Paste the URL to your book at the online bookstore where you see ‘Paste a link to your book’ on the Books2Read page.

  • Click on ‘Make My Universal Link’.
    Your custom link will be displayed. You can copy this link and use it anywhere you want.

Customize your universal book link

In addition to creating a universal link, you can customize this link to make it more reader-friendly.

  • Go to the page that lists the details for your universal book link and look in ‘Link Tools’ in the left-hand column.
  • Click on ‘Custom name your URL.’
  • Enter your custom name, then click on SAVE.

Manually updating store links

Books2Read will take the bookstore link you provide and search for that book at other stores. It may miss some stores, so make sure to verify what it’s found.

For example, here’s the universal book link for The Faerie Summer.

It shows that this collection is available at four stores, but it doesn’t list either iBooks or Barnes & Noble, so those two stores need to be added manually.

  • Go to the Universal Links section in Books2Read and click on the book title.
  • Paste the link to your book at the missing store in the appropriate field.

  • Click the text ‘Lock In’ to the right of the link you just provided.
  • Verify that the new store(s) appear on your universal book link page.