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Writing a Book? Use WordPress

Slightly misleading title maybe. If you have written a book (or books) and would like to put it online, you can use WordPress (either .com or .org) to organise the book to make it readable. These instructions will probably also work on other blogging platforms, but please check your software first and make necessary adjustments.

Thanks to the WordPress FAQs for these instructions. The FAQs are necessarily short, so this expands on those instructions. With screenshots! As there is no real difference in the software itself between the self hosted WordPress blogs (.org version) or the WordPress hosted (.com version) blogs, I won’t be making changes to reflect this.

Enough with the chat, let’s get on with it!

Firstly, you need to create a new page to be the front cover of your book. Go to your WordPress Dashboard and select Manage and Pages.

Manage>>Pages

On that page, select Create a new page

Call this new page “Front” as it is the Front page of your new book. If you are artistic, I suppose you could call the page after your book’s name and create some cool artwork, but that sounds like more work than it’s worth.

If we now look at the header of my site, the Front page has been added:

Front Page(I added the red box for emphasis, it won’t show normally)

If we follow the FAQ, it then says to continue by creating another page called Index and a third called Chapters. My problem with this is that it assumes that you only host your book on the site and don’t have (as I would) other things that aren’t necessarily related. Luckily, there is a workaround for this.

When you create the Index page, go to the right hand side of the page creation page and click the plussign.png sign next to Page Parent . This expands the section and you can then choose to make the Index page a child page of the Front page. What does this do for you? Well, if you plan to host multiple books, you can use different titles for Front and keep all your books separate. It also stops your header from being cluttered and incomprehensible.

If we continue reading the FAQ, it says that we should make Front into the front page of the blog and the Chapters to be the posting pages. My method does away with this though. Obviously, if you create one blog per book and only have your book there, you can happily continue along the path shown by the FAQ.

If we follow my method, however, we have some more similar steps to follow. To recap, we created 3 pages and made 2 of them children of the main one. This means that right now we have 3 pages, all blank and ready to go.

Go to your “Front” page in the dashboard (Manage >> Pages and then click “Edit” in the list). Under the Page Content you will need to create a link to the Index Page. I use the Code editor because it’s less clicking around.

Create your Index Link

This will then give you a small “Front” page:

Front page with Index link

By clicking the Index link, you will see the Index. Obviously. Next steps are very similar, but again I am diverting from the FAQ:

Rename your Chapters page to Chapter 1 and rename the Post Slug to be “Chapter-1″ so that link in the index will work correctly. Create as many more child pages as you need, naming them after each chapter – so Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and so on. Then edit your Index page to link to each of the chapters in turn:

Chapter List

This makes your Index page look like this:

Index page with chapter listings

Once you have set up the bare bones of your book, you can then add the meat of it: this means, write the book and put each chapter into the relevant page. Since the Front page looks a little bare, I would also suggest putting a brief outline of the book itself onto the page, to let your readers know what’s in store for them. Additionally, I would also add a link at the end of each chapter to take the reader to the next chapter – if they have to keep clicking “back” they may just stop reading.

Setting up your site to host your work needn’t be difficult. It can be used for any book and, because WordPress also allows you to post pictures, you can illustrate it too. There are plugins out there which will do something similar, but you end up doing some parts by hand and then letting a plugin do the rest. This is fine as long as the plugin works and doesn’t conflict with another, different, plugin. This how to also disregards protecting your work, you could make each chapter an image of the page or use a plugin to provide a digital fingerprint, but really that is beyond the scope of this.

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45 Comments

  1. Lorelle says:

    Wow, I forgot those old instructions were in the FAQ. They weren’t very useful and you’ve made them useful. However, using Pages is exceptionally limiting and makes for lousy navigation.

    If you only have a few chapters, no more than 10, then this method would work, if you use the posts to promote those 10 chapters. WordPress, in past versions, didn’t search Pages. It’s supposed to in the next version, so a Plugin that covers Pages and posts in the search is a must until then.

    Another way that has been successful is to use Pages to create a Table of Contents and introduction to the book, and use the blog posts as the “pages” and “chapters”. The Table of Contents would be more of a site map, connecting all the bits in order. This makes the content within the “book” easily searchable, and indexable by search engines. If you write it “right”, in chronological order, then there is a natural flow from next and previous post links. You can control the order via the Post Timestamp feature.

    Great tip and well done. You just have to consider how WordPress works in order to arrange the content appropriately.

  2. Ray says:

    Thanks Lorelle. I had read, on the .org forums, about using the posts in reverse order but that sounded like a real hassle to me – particularly if you want to post up each chapter as it’s finished. Of course, you can change the post date to push older chapters down the page but, again, that makes for more administration. I love simplicity!

    Plugins are probably the way to go for the short term, but as I said, you are reliant then on someone updating the plugin and, as we’ve all seen, there are a lot out there that are no longer updated.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Probablepossible says:

    I am building an archive for a group of amateur writers. After looking at many versions of this solution, I found the http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/in-series/ plugin. This has the benefit of allowing readers to subscribe and be notified when new additions to the work come online.

    The archive I am working on will have one category for extranious discussion, and that is all that will show on the blog page. The in-series posts are accessed through the front page post which has links to the first page in each series.

  4. Ray says:

    Hi and welcome to the site. The WP creators have a lightweight forum software (and are working on chat software) which may be a better way of managing the discussion than an “off topic” blog post. And thanks for reminding me of this plugin, I was trying to find it a while ago and just couldn’t track down the correct name :)

    Whatever you decide, good luck with the project.

  5. use Pages to create a Table of Contents and introduction to the book, and use the blog posts as the “pages” and “chapters”

  6. That is really cool. You never think of wordpress as anything other than a cms for a blog or a static website, usually. The concept is rather elementary and should prove to be an excellent tool for your project. Nice post

  7. Ray says:

    Thanks Annie and welcome to the site :)

    Rays last blog post..Re: The Recent Outrages

  8. I make use of pages on my blog all the time. My goal is to set one up for each city in our County showing interesting points and things to do. I do keep the page a “page” though, I never intend for them to get too long.

  9. Hey thanks for the idea! I am not planning to write a book but it always amazes me how versatile and scalable the wordpress platform is! You can use it for so many things, the plugins make wordpress a good content management system for almost everyone’s needs!

    Great post!

  10. Louise says:

    I never thought of using WordPress to publish a book. I have used the In-Series Plugin for short series of posts and have really liked it. I think the real beauty of this idea is that you can also use the blog posting feature to promote or comment of different aspects of the book.

    Louises last blog post..Recipe for Homemade Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

  11. Ray says:

    Absolutely, so if oyu want instant feedback or if you are looking for proof readers, you can keep a running record of any feedback.

  12. Matt says:

    I love the idea of creating a book in a blog. I am a frustrated writer anyway so maybe this will be a way to get it out there without all the usual hurdles

    Matts last blog post..Cheap Holister Clothes

  13. Seguro Moto says:

    Hey Mat! It is a good idea, but how will you sell your book with wordpress??

    Seguro Motos last blog post..Melhor Seguro de Moto

  14. Ray says:

    Not everyone wants to solely sell books. Some books are released under a Creative Commons licence and the “end user” chooses to pay.

    Rays last blog post..Slackware vs Kubuntu: A Subjective Review

  15. Very nice use of WordPress! People use it for everything! There are also a lot of PLR books, this would be a great way to present them!

    Algarve Portugals last blog post..Holiday Villas in Algarve Portugal

  16. Busby says:

    Is it allowed modifying a theme? and i never used a wordpress blog for book.

    Busbys last blog post..Busby SEO Challenge: Does Google now crawls Flash Sites?

  17. Ray says:

    Yes it is allowed. Check the licence of the theme, but the usual thing is to leave the credits in the theme, but happily change it as you wish.

  18. what if i modify the whole theme and remove the license. but leaving a link to the creator as i have based the theme from his theme.

  19. Yes, It can be done but reminder, please do not remove the link of the creator of the theme.

  20. MrCorey says:

    Apparently, if you use the term “Busby SEO Challenge”, you might get on a search page for the useless term “Busby SEO Challenge”, which is a contest to see who can rank highest for the term “Busby SEO Challenge”, so I must concluded that these preceding comments (especially those which include the term “Busby”, which is not a real word at all) must be related to that contest and are not concerned with writing a book using WordPress to repsent it. That’s a shame, as this is a neat concept, which I might employ on a site of my own (MrCorey.com is stagnating, awaiting a fiction presentation, methinks). The originator of the Busby SEO challenge even named its contestants as spammers. I wonder if my rich and dense use of the important keywords will cause my site to be grouped as such as well.

    And, for the spammer who asked if he/she were to just remove the license from the theme being used, WHY NOT READ THE LICENSE? It will tell you if you are violating it if you remove it. Licenses are put in place for protection of the attribution. If you remove a license, you are probably breaking its terms, which is akin to being pond scum. Don’t remove a license from a work somebody made. If you don’t like the license, DON’T USE THEIR WORK! Create your own. Don’t be so lazy!

    The theme that I use for my site is a heavily hacked version of another’s theme, but I follow the license and attribute the theme’s originating source. I really don’t feel that I’m worse off for doing so. I am grateful for the code, as you should be.

  21. Ray says:

    MrC – I do the same thing – I prefer to leave the attribution in place to give a small something back to the creator. It takes many muscles to remove the attribution and none to leave it in – so it’s a good thing all round.

    I hadn’t realised the busby challenge was a spam thing – then again, I only just noticed the comment! The name and links will be gone as soon as I can log into the dashboard. Naughty spam fiends!

    Rays last blog post..Slackware vs Kubuntu: A Subjective Review

  22. Voos Baratos says:

    That is a creative way to use wordpress! I think it is a great way to organize books and works! I might take my university dissertation and publish it on the web like that! Looks easy and quick to implement!

  23. Ray says:

    Glad you find it useful

  24. Ringtones says:

    Really good tips, I’m gonna use some on my own blog. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Great tips.. Thanks a lot.. I will be using some of these on my blog as well.

  26. That is a very nice use of the wordpress software. It always amazes me how professional looking sites you can make with it and how many mods there are!

  27. Great tips.. Keep them comming.. These are very usefull.

  28. Stephanie says:

    Hmm, I can honestly say I have never though to write a book using wordpress. What a snazzy idea that is. I just might take advantage of that. Thanks for the tips they should really help if I end up doing that.

    Stephanie’s last blog post..MÆNDS TØJSTIL

  29. Great idea. Not sure if i’ll be going for it though. I use desktop author

  30. I’ve only recently started to play around with Pages on wordpress. This was a very useful set of information for me as I move onto adding more.

    • Ray says:

      Hi Steve and welcome to the site. Feel free to use the idea, there are other ways of doing it, but I think this is simplest. Of course, if you are looking at writing multiple books on the blog, you’d need one page per book and then make the chapters sub-pages of each book.

  31. Jon Price says:

    Not sure I’d ever get the time to write a book, but I do use WordPress in a similar way to track notes for future posts. Then when I have enough notes on a subject, I turn it into a proper post and publish.

  32. Sale Video says:

    Very much the helpful information. Many thanks to the author.

    Sale Video´s last blog post..Barbie: Fairytopia

  33. EXC! thank for the online tutorial..i’ve got the time to write my book and definitively i will use this wordpress tool

  34. Wow! This post could not have come at a better time. We have a client that was just in getting his computer repaired and told me he was planning to make an online book. This would be ideal for him, I’m gonna have to send him an email to this post. Thanks for the easy to follow tutorial.

  35. That really is a fantastic solution! WordPress is already a great CMS system, so why not use it for online editions of books. Brilliant if you ask me!

  36. We personally use WordPress for all our clients. It allows for the most flexibility, best ease of use, and awesome SEO plugins. Using it for a book is simply brilliant!

  37. Very nice use of WordPress!

  38. WordPress is awesome! Another great piece of multi-purpose software that you can tweak in a similar fashion is Drupal, where you can do more than post news or blog posts.

  39. Once again i come across another interesting way of using wordpress

  40. Very nice use of WordPress!

  41. rapidshare says:

    It is valid – fantastic decision! WordPress – already large CMS system, so why to not use it for the network editions of the books! Is healthy!

  42. I would also add to sell the book in PDF form directly on the blog. Most people will not have the time to read the entire blog, however will gladly shell out bucks for a PDF copy. They don't even know that all the material can be found in front of their eyes.

  43. Brad Miller says:

    This is absolutely an eye opener for those who love writing a book. WordPress is a lot more easier tool to use when dealing on it. In our home decorating pursuit, using area rugs at naturalarearugs will surely of big aid to those engaged in home decorating.

  44. I knew this could be good on my blog since I love writing tips on how to make things easier and useful. Thanks for helping. This may put good emphasis on my blog about garage doors.