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.

Prerequisites

  • 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!

References

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.

Prerequisites

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.
     

     

References

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.

References

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.’

Terminology

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

90%
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).

Summary

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. 🙂

References

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.

Prerequisites

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.
     

References

Create a Vellum template for Word

Vellum is a tool that creates both ebooks and print books from a Microsoft Word .docx file. You can export to this format from Scrivener and other tools. If you work directly in Word, you can create a Vellum template using Vellum’s custom styles. This will reduce the amount of work you need to do once your manuscript has been imported into Vellum.

Prerequisites

You have both Word and Vellum installed.

Create a Vellum template in Word

  • Download Vellum’s sample documents from this link. (This is an official Vellum link, and is referenced in their tutorial.)
  • Open the file ‘Vellum Book Style.dotx’. Note the .dotx extension, which means this is a Word template tile. The file will open in Word.
  • Click on the File menu, then Save As. In the ‘Format’ dropdown, select ‘Word Template (.dotx)’. Navigate to wherever you want the template to live, then click ‘Save’.

Note: In theory, you can put your template anywhere. I found that unless I saved mine to the default location (/Users/ username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates) it wouldn’t show up in ‘My Templates’ when I created a new document.

Using your Vellum template in Word

  • To create a new file using this template, select ‘File’ and then ‘New from Template.’ Your template will be listed in ‘My Templates’ in the Word Document Gallery.
     
     
  • You can now either write your manuscript in the new document, or copy/paste from another document into the new one. If you do the latter, make sure to apply the Vellum custom styles to your text.
     

The sample material Vellum provides gives clear and detailed examples of the different styles and when to use them.

References

Bevel and Emboss basics with Photoshop

Beveling and embossing is a way to create shading and simulate shadows that make your text look three-dimensional.

Here’s the same text without and with beveling/embossing.

And here’s a close-up so you can see how different the same text can look.

Prerequisites

  • You have Photoshop
  • You have an existing text layer in a .psd file.

How to bevel and emboss text

  • Right-click on the text layer you want to edit, select Blending Options, and then select Bevel & Emboss.
     

     
  • Adjust the settings as desired, then click OK.
     
    Here are the settings used in the examples above.
     

     
  • In the layer view, right-click in the Effects section under the layer name, and then select ‘Bevel & Emboss’.
     

     

What do all those options mean?

The best way to find out is to try them out. You can see the text effects in your document if you check the Preview box.

The advantage of this approach is that by experimenting you’ll see firsthand how everything works, and you might come up with a combination of settings that you wouldn’t have found otherwise; the disadvantage is that experimenting takes time.

But never fear – here’s a cheat sheet! 🙂

There are three groupings of settings:

  1. Bevel & Emboss
  2. Contour
  3. Texture

Bevel & Emboss

Bevel & Emboss options are broken up into the categories Structure and Shading.

  • Structure
    • Style
      • Inner/Outer Bevel – applies the bevel to the inside or outside of the text.
      • Emboss – applies the bevel to both the inside and the outside of the text.
      • Pillow Emboss – applies the bevel to both the inside and the outside of the text, but in opposite directions from the regular ‘Emboss’ setting.
      • Stroke Emboss – applies the bevel only to the stroke (this only works if you have a stroke effect applied to the text).
    • Technique
      • Smooth – creates a smooth, rounded edge.
      • Chisel Hard – creates a hard, chiseled edge.
      • Chisel Soft – creates a rough, chiseled edge.
    • Depth
      Increases the three-dimensional depth. A higher value creates a larger amount of depth.
    • Direction
      Specifies whether the bevel & emboss should be extruded toward or away from you.
    • Size
      Specifies the overall size of the bevel & emboss on your text. A smaller number will limit the bevel/emboss to slower to the edges of the text, whereas a larger number covers more of the text.
    • Soften
      Specifies how soft the edges should be.
  • Shading
    • Angle
      Specifies the horizontal position of the artificial light source.
    • Altitude
      Specifies the vertical position of the artificial light source.
    • Gloss Contour
      Allows you to create glass and metallic effects.
    • Highlight Mode
      Specifies the blend mode for your highlights, as well as the highlight color and opacity.
    • Shadow Mode
      Specifies the blend mode for the shadows, as well as the shadow color and opacity.

Contour

Contour allows you to specify the shape of your bevel.

  • Contour
    Specifies the shape of the bevel.
  • Anti-aliasing
    Smooths the contour.
  • Range
    The range percentage modifies how much of the bevel the contour should apply to.

In this example, every setting is the same except for the contour shape.

Texture

Texture allows you to add a texture to your text.

  • Pattern
    Select a texture pattern to apply to the text.
  • Scale
    Increase or decrease the size of the pattern.
  • Depth
    Adjust the three-dimensional depth.
  • Invert
    Check this box to invert the pattern.
  • Link with Layer
    Lock the pattern to your text layer so if you later move your layer, the pattern will move with it.

In this example, every setting is the same except for the texture.

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 10.10.5.

Formatting KDP book descriptions using Ablurb

Ablurb is a simple tool that allows you to preview the formatted description (blurb) for your book before making it live on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

If you’re comfortable with HTML, you might not need to see a preview. If you don’t regularly write HTML, or if you just want to verify that what you wrote works before making it live, Ablurb is a quick and easy way to preview what you’ve written.

Here’s what it looks like when you write a blurb in the KDP editor. You can use HTML tags, but can’t see what the final version looks like.

How to use Ablurb

Go to Ablurb, type your text in, and the formatted version will appear at the bottom of the page. The allowed HTML tags are listed underneath the text box.

Once you’re happy with it, copy and paste the text from the text box (i.e. with the HTML tags) in to the description field for your book in KDP.

There are lots of things you can do – use headers, italicize text, even change the font color. Just remember to not go too crazy. 🙂

References

Formatting basics: ellipses

Ellipses are used to indicate ‘omissions’ of words, sentence, thoughts, etc.

Overview

There are a number of different ways in which ellipses can be used, and there are a variety of often conflicting style rules/recommendations on how ellipses should be formatted. This post covers the basics – there are lots of situations where ellipses can be used, and a surprising amount of variations for how to use them. Refer to your favorite style guide or go with your personal preference for more complex situations.

The most important thing is to research your use cases and make sure you’re consistent throughout your manuscript.

I highly recommend creating a checklist or cheat sheet. It will only take a tiny bit of time, and it will save you from having to look up and think about grammar rules when you’re formatting a manuscript.

Ways to represent an ellipsis

An ellipsis consists of three dots. There are three ways to represent this:

  • By actually using three dots: …
  • By using the ellipsis character: …
  • By using three dots, with spaces in between the dots: . . .

The first two options will generally look the same, or almost the same, depending on your browser, word processor, etc.

Formatting

These are a few of the more common use cases.

  • Spaces on either side of an ellipsis

    There is usually a space on each side of an ellipsis. For example:

    This was the last time …

    However, there are different schools of thought on this, so decide which approach to follow and be consistent.

  • When to use four dots

    Use four dots instead of three if you’re using an ellipse at the end of a complete sentence. This is technically a period followed by an ellipse, and is used to indicate that there’s a gap in between two sentences.

    Once again, she had forgotten to put on her wings…. She opened the door and walked in.

  • Handling exclamation points and question marks
    If a sentence ends with an exclamation point or question mark, and there’s an omission between it and the next sentence, use an ellipsis.

    Why did she leave …? Why couldn’t she have stayed?

    Or put the ellipsis after the punctuation mark, if the omission occurs in between the two sentences.

    Why did she leave? … Why couldn’t she have stayed?

References