By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Category: Writer Blogging Tips (Page 3 of 4)

Getting Social

  1. WordPress Plugins for Writers
  2. The WP Post Series Plugin
  3. The EZ Columns Plugin
  4. MyBookTable Plugin
  5. Embed PDF Plugin
  6. Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
  7. Media File Manager Plugin
  8. Folder Gallery Plugin
  9. Managing Links
  10. Creating Shortcodes
  11. Mailchimp: A Pandora’s Box
  12. Getting Social
  13. Dropbox Backup
Authors Marketing

Image Courtesy of Rocket Fuel

I’m no guru with social media, but there are two plugins I like and use.

One is Revive Old Post. You set a timer, whether it be three times a day or three times a month, and the plugin tweets a random post, page, or image from your site. Sound silly? It is. It’s delightfully silly. You can customize it to include or exclude certain content.

One thing I like about it is how it keeps the past alive, kind of like Facebook’s “one year ago today” feature. The other thing I like is putting my site on autopilot for awhile. No, disappearing from social media for months is not professional suicide. Despite the hype, social media is just a fun, free(ish) way to self-promote. Kurt Vonnegut (to my knowledge) never once tweeted, and his books are still selling fine.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a month off and have your site random-tweet or random-share on Facebook a post every few days while you were away?

The other plugin I like is the Social Metrics Tracker. I don’t have comments enabled on my website. The main reason is if my website gets very little traffic, and I have a fan post a wonderful review or comment, nobody is going to see it. I’d rather them direct that energy to a more visible forum, such as goodreads, facebook, or twitter.

So when I post, I also immediately share it out to my social media outlets, same as you. And, same as you, I don’t really care about getting comments on my site–my private space. I want to get comments, shares, retweets, out in the highly visible, public spaces of social media.

This plugin is turnkey: Install it and instantly see your top posts ranked by social media engagement. For me, it’s a good way to measure the success of my marketing efforts, but it’s also a good way to discover what seems to work and what doesn’t.

 

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Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

About the Author

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

Creating Shortcodes

  1. WordPress Plugins for Writers
  2. The WP Post Series Plugin
  3. The EZ Columns Plugin
  4. MyBookTable Plugin
  5. Embed PDF Plugin
  6. Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
  7. Media File Manager Plugin
  8. Folder Gallery Plugin
  9. Managing Links
  10. Creating Shortcodes
  11. Mailchimp: A Pandora’s Box
  12. Getting Social
  13. Dropbox Backup

 

Now it is time to dive into another technical plugin and help you understand how plugins work at an operational level. What is a shortcode? A shortcode is a symbol or marker that gets replaced by html code during the rendering of a wordpress page. Here is a typical example. At some point on your webpage, you have probably added a standard contact form. If you insert one, then switch from the “visual” to the “text” tab, you’ll see something like this:

 

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This is the shortcode for the contact me form. Not so short, you think? Then compare it to the html code that takes its place when the page renders:

 

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So you see, even though the shortcode might still look like computer code, it’s minimal compared to real computer code, it’s code you can actually type and work with. That’s the beauty of wordpress: all the complexity is hidden and a minimal amount of control is left to you to configure a working site.

If this intro hasn’t frightened you away, I strongly encourage you to stick with me as I teach you how to create your own custom shortcodes. If you’re on the fence, scroll to the bottom and see a really cool trick you’ll be able to do after wading through the geeky mumbojumbo. First, install the Shortcoder Plugin. Let’s start with something simple. There may be a page or a series of pages that you want to have a common footer, kind of like an email signature, and you’ve copy-pasted something over and over again. For example, on each of my download pages, I have the following icons & message. Looks nice, but I have over twenty download pages, and I was copy/pasting this footer each time.

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Go to Settings > Shortcoder and you will see something beautiful. It’s exactly the message you see at the bottom of each of my downloads pages. So the plugin allows me to create it once, then reference it in any page I want. Any changes I make to this centrally maintained code is reflected on every page.

 

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Here is what I put at the bottom of each download page. (Notice above where it says “your shortcode is.”)

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WordPress, as it renders each page, scans for this shortcode and replaces it with the message stored in the settings. That’s the concept. Now let me show you something truly cool. Shortcodes are more than just placeholders, they are also customizable. Take another look at my download page. See the goodreads reviews at the bottom? Wouldn’t you love to add this little widget to your book pages?? Here’s how I did it. At the bottom of each download page there appears the following shortcode:

 

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Notice that in addition to the shortcode itself, there are three parameters: the book’s goodreads id, isbn, and title. Going back to Settings > Shortcoder, here’s how the plugin manages those parameters:

 

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As wordpress renders the page, it looks out for this goodreads shortcode, and replaces each instance of it with the above code. But it also replaces each instance of %%id%% within that code with the book’s goodreads id. For those of you who don’t read html (we are writers after all, not coders), what this snippet of code does is insert a frame which goodreads fills with all the reviews for your book as they appear on your book’s goodreads page. I don’t expect you to type all that, after all, I copy/pasted it myself out of goodreads’ developer area. I can’t post it directly here because this website is itself a wordpress site which will try to render the code rather than just display it, so click here to access a copy for yourself. Please note though, that buried in the code is a place for “developer id.” No, you do not have to register as a goodreads developer in order for this to work, but keep in mind that like any other big site, if you use their tools without registering, they’ll throttle you after so many tens of thousands of clicks. Here is the final result, tailored to each individual book:

 

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The power of this one little plugin is so awesome, you can just about use it to create your very own plugins. If you have any questions about shortcodes, please contact me.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

 

Add an Instant Sample of your Book in 3 Easy Steps

 

Amazon now allows writers, authors, bloggers, and wannabes to add a preview of their book to their website. It is as simple as 1-2-3.

 

Step 1- Go to Amazon

Log into Amazon and search for your book (or the book you would like to preview). A screen shot of my book is below. You see that little “<Embed>” in the bottom right hand corner there? That’s where you want to click.

 

Amazon Dan Buri

 

Step 2- Get Embed Code

Click on the “<Embed>” on your page. You will then have then have the option to either get the link for your book or get the embed code for your site. If you’re putting this on your website, you’re going to want to click the embed radio button.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.28.12 PM

 

If you have an Amazon Associates ID, you will also want to make sure you add your ID.

 

Step 3- Place the Code on Your Site

This is self explanatory, but here’s a glimpse of what it looks like in action.

 

 

Go ahead, take a gander at my book. Read the first couple of pages. Get a feel for how it looks. In fact, read the entire sample. Once you’ve done that, you’re going to want to be sure that the “Buy” link works as advertised before implementing this on your own website with your own book. I mean, imagine how embarrassing that would be for you if it didn’t work! Use me as your guinea pig.

Go ahead and purchase it just to make sure everything works as it should. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Ok, done? Great! Now that you know it works, you can follow these three easy steps on your own website.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Managing Links

  1. WordPress Plugins for Writers
  2. The WP Post Series Plugin
  3. The EZ Columns Plugin
  4. MyBookTable Plugin
  5. Embed PDF Plugin
  6. Easy Digital Downloads Plugin
  7. Media File Manager Plugin
  8. Folder Gallery Plugin
  9. Managing Links
  10. Creating Shortcodes
  11. Mailchimp: A Pandora’s Box
  12. Getting Social
  13. Dropbox Backup
Wordpress for Authors

Photo Courtesy of WordPress for Beginners

It might be worth mentioning at this point an important fact about WordPress plugins. If you’ve been following this post series you might be getting excited and carried away by the many possibilities discussed. Keep in the back of your mind that plugins slow your site down. The more you have activated, the slower your site will run.

The reason is that each plugin consists of extra code that must run in order to render the page correctly. If you have twenty plugins activated, then twenty sets of code must run, each plugin demanding its round-robin piece of computation time to make sure it’s performing properly. Whenever you see a plugin advertising itself as “lightweight,” that’s tech speak for very little code, thus very little added load time.

Broken Link Checker

The Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that you can install and run periodically. It will search your site and check every link and report back to you any broken links that need to be repaired or removed.

As you know, it dents your credibility for a link on your site to come up with an error. External links are forgivable, since your reader knows you might have linked some content that has since disappeared through no fault of your own.

If there are any internal broken links, that makes you look much worse. Avoid them all by sweeping for them from time to time and fixing even very old posts. Per the caveat above, this is exactly the kind of plugin that is indispensable, but doesn’t have to be installed and activated 24/7 in order to work for you.

 

Redirection

When I first tried to use WordPress, I didn’t get the concept. I’ve worked as a software developer and built my fair share of websites. So the whole “new page,” “new post” GUI made no sense to me.

To me, a “new page” was an empty notepad file and I got to build it from scratch. WordPress asks you to create content in this tiny little box within your page, while it “takes care of” all the functional parts of the site around your content.

That’s every bit of what you intended to do, but there are a handful of times when you want to display some “naked” or custom content without leaving your site. Redirection allows you to create pages like this one, which looks like “http://mediascover.com/subscribe/” but behind the scenes, redirects you to “http://eepurl.com/bvnWy9” without you knowing.

This is called a “pass-through” redirect, and it is useful for folding special pages into your site without going through WordPress’s theme. The plugin offers other kinds of redirects as well.

 

External Link Checker

Every time you create a link in WordPress, there is a checkbox that says “open link in new tab.” SEO considerations aside, the rule of thumb is to open external links in a new tab so that your website stays open in the original tab, thus the user hasn’t truly yet left your site.

For your own internal links, you want the user to transition from page to page without annoying them with an explosion of new tabs each time. What This Amazing Plugin does is search through the hundreds of links on your blog and find any that violate this rule of thumb so that you can fix them.

The only problem is This Amazing Plugin does not exist. I’ve found dozens of plugins that, when activated, scan the page as the user loads it and make this change, but the change is not saved permanently. What I want is a plugin which, like the Broken Link Checker, I can install & run periodically to catch mishaps without having to leave it permanently activated. If you find such a plugin, or decide to make one on this inspiration, please contact me about it!

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on AmazonApple iBooksSmashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

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