How-to: Watch and/or search for U.S. trademark registrations

What is a trademark?

From the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s FAQ:

Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.

Whether or not you should file a trademark is up to you and your attorney. This post merely provides information on how to find out what trademarks have been applied for or granted.
 
 
How to search existing trademarks and trademark applications

Go to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), click on ‘Search Trademarks’, and search for a specific word/phrase/design mark.
 

Detailed instructions on how to interpret the results are on the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) Help page.
 
 
How to keep an eye on fiction-related trademark applications

Follow CockyBot ™ on Twitter. CockyBot tweets information about recent fiction-related applications in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database. In addition to listing the text that someone has applied to trademark, CockyBot provides links to check on the status of the application, documentation about the application, and a URL to an Amazon search for that text.

More details about exactly what CockyBot does, as well as a number of useful links related to trademarks and the U.S. trademark process, can be found at cockybot.com.
 
 
References

How-to: Create a custom URL for your Goodreads author profile

A custom URL makes it easy for your readers to go directly to your Goodreads author profile. Even if they search for you by name instead, having a custom URL looks more professional than a generated one. And it takes mere seconds to set up!

Prerequisites

  • You have an existing Goodreads account.
  • You’re a member of the Goodreads Author Program, and therefore have an Author profile attached to your user profile.

How to set your custom URL

  • Log in to Goodreads.
  • Click your profile picture in the top right-hand corner.
  • Click ‘Profile.’
     

     

  • Your author profile page will be displayed.
  • Click ‘edit author profile’ at the top of your profile, or click ‘edit data’ which appears above the about the author section.
     

     
  • Click on ‘edit my user profile.’ Your custom URL is set on your user profile, not your author profile.
     

     
  • Set your username. This will become part of your custom URL.
     

     
  • Save your changes.
  • Go to your public author profile and verify that your spiffy new URL is displayed.
     

     

References

How-to: Goodreads author profile basics

There are two types of profiles on Goodreads: a user profile and an author profile.

A user profile is what every Goodreads member has – you can review books, create shelves, etc.

An author profile is an additional profile that is attached to your user profile.

Prerequisites

  • You have an existing Goodreads account.
  • You’re a member of the Goodreads Author Program, and therefore have an Author profile attached to your user profile.

If you’re not in the Author Program, follow these instructions to get set up.

One thing to keep in mind is whether or not you want to have one profile that you use as both your author and non-author selves, or create a new one to use as an author. Either way is totally fine, it’s just a question of whether or not you want everything you do on Goodreads to be associated with your author name.

How to edit your author profile

  • Log in to Goodreads.
  • Click your profile picture in the top right-hand corner.
  • Click ‘Profile.’
     

     

  • Your author profile page will be displayed.
     

     
  • Click ‘edit author profile’ at the top of your profile, or click ‘edit data’ which appears above the about the author section.
     

     

Basic author profile settings

  • Photo
    Adding a photo is simple and easy to do. If you don’t like any photos of you, put one of your cats, or a tree, or something! Otherwise you’ll get this nondescript, generic image.
     

     
  • Biography
    You can write this as text, or use HTML.
  • Influences
    If another author has influenced you, you can link to that author’s Goodreads profile.
  • Official website
    Add the URL to your author website.
  • Twitter
    Add your Twitter handle.
  • Genres
    You can select up to three genres that you write in.

More advanced author profile settings

There are other nifty things you can do, like add social media buttons to your author profile, link your author blog so previews of your posts show up on your profile, and add videos to your author profile.

References

How-to: Convert an image to black & white using an adjustment in Photoshop

There are a number of ways to convert an image to black & white in Photoshop; this post explains how to do it using an adjustment, which can be applied via either a smart filter or an adjustment layer.

Both smart filters and adjustment layers apply changes to the color and/or tone of your image, but they’re layered on top of your image – not made to the image itself. This means you can modify them, or turn them on or off, without changing the original image.

Smart filters apply to a single image, whereas an adjustment layer applies to all layers that come after it (not just image layers).

Here’s an example showing an image before and after the black & white adjustment was applied. In this case, the adjustment was only applied to the background image.

Prerequisites

  • You have an existing .psd file.
  • The image you are working with is a smart object.

Convert a single image to black and white using a smart filter

  • Select the image in the Layers panel.
  • Click Image > Adjustments > Black & White.
     

     
  • The Black and White adjustment presets will be displayed. You can adjust the color values if the defaults aren’t exactly what you want.
     

     
  • Click OK.
  • A new smart filter will appear underneath your image in the Layers panel.
     

     

Create an adjustment layer to change all subsequent layers to black and white

  • In the Layers panel, select the image you want to convert to black and white.
  • In the Adjustments panel, click the Black & White icon.
     

     
  • The Black and White adjustment presets will be displayed. You can adjust the color values if the defaults aren’t exactly what you want.
     

     

References

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.

Embed a Pinterest board in WordPress

Prerequisites

  • WordPress site.
  • Pinterest account.
  • A Pinterest board to embed on your WordPress site. Note that this doesn’t have to be your own board.

Configure WordPress

A specific instruction must appear in one of the PHP files on your WordPress site in order for embedded Pinterest boards to be displayed.

Don’t worry – you don’t need to write code to do this. 🙂

This instruction just tells WordPress to include some commands that tell it how to handle the Pinterest board.

  • Check to see if this is already set up.
    • If you have Jetpack installed, check to see if you have this file:
       
      wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/shortcodes/pinterest.php

      If you do, make sure it contains something like this:

      $script_src = '//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js';
      wp_enqueue_script( 'pinterest-embed', $script_src, array(), false, true );

    • If you don’t have Jetpack installed, see if this line or something similar is present in your PHP files (search for “pinit.js”). It would likely be in header.php, but could be in another location.
       
      <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script>

  • If this is not set up, add this text to the file header.php for your theme, and save the modified file.
     
    <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script>

    Note that if you’re not running a child theme, this line will be overwritten if your theme is updated. (Unless you’re doing something that’s very customized, you should be using a child theme for this very reason – because who wants their modifications to be lost?)

Embed your Pinterest board

  • Go to the board you want to include, and copy the URL.
     

     
  • Go to the Pinterest Widget builder page.
  • Click on Board widget.
     

     
  • Paste the URL you copied into the Pinterest board URL field.
  • Select the desired size.
  • Copy the code displayed in the box under “Copy and paste this code…”
  • Edit the WordPress page or post or widget where you want the Pinterest board to be displayed.
  • Paste in the code you copied. This should work in the Visual Editor as well as in the Text Editor in WordPress.
  • Preview what you’ve done to make sure everything is displaying properly, and then save it.

You can modify the HTML to adjust the size, change the alignment, etc. For example, this text centers the board.

<center><a data-pin-do="embedBoard" data-pin-board-width="400" data-pin-scale-height="240" data-pin-scale-width="80" href="https://www.pinterest.com/jamieauthor/underground-images/"></a></center>

And here’s the result.

Working with grids in Photoshop

Sometimes you can eyeball the spacing in an image, and sometimes it’s helpful to use a grid to make sure things are lined up correctly. Photoshop allows you to specify the distance between your gridlines, the style and color of the lines, and you can toggle them on and off.

Toggle gridlines on/off

  • View > Show > Grid
  • Keyboard shortcuts:
    • Mac OS X: ⌘ + ‘ (apostrophe)
    • Windows: control + ‘ (apostrophe)

Modify grid preferences

  • Toggle gridlines on if you’d like to see what your setting changes do. Note that you can toggle them on/off while you’re editing your preferences.
     
  • Go to Guides, Grid, & Slices:
    • Mac OS X: Photoshop > Preferences > Guides, Grid, & Slices
    • Windows: Edit > Preferences > Guides, Grid, & Slices

     
    The Preferences dialog will be displayed.

  • Modify the settings in the Grid section.
    • Color – this will change the color of the gridlines.
       
    • Style – this changes the style of the lines displayed in the grid.
       

       
    • Gridline Every – sets the spacing between gridlines. You can change the units to be inches, pixels, a percentage of the image, etc.
       
    • Subdivisions – sets the number of times each grid section will be further divided. Gridlines will show as slightly more obvious lines than the subdivision lines. For example, in this image the gridlines are solid, and the subdivision lines are dotted.
       

       
  • Click OK to save your changes.

References

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.

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.
     

     

References

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.

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

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

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