For our first installment, let’s take a look at how these articles, the ones you are reading right now, are serialized.
You are a writer/blogger, and you already know how to use tags and categories to organize your blog, and WordPress already ships with built-in tools for organizing them.
Great! But now you want to drill deeper.
Within your “blog” or “technical” or “publishing tools” category, you want to write a connected series of articles. Perhaps you think of it as a sub-category, something that technically qualifies as “technical” but needs to be cordoned off in some way from the other technical posts. Perhaps order matters, and you intend to create a 10-part series of posts that are best consumed in a specific order.
The WP Post Series plugin is your gal.
To start, let me mention that just as any other plugin, there are lots of plugins that do this. Some have lots of downloads, others none. Some have great ratings & reviews, others poor. The one I recommend is actually not the most highly rated or the most downloaded.
I previously tried a bigger, more popular plugin, and I didn’t like it as much as WP Post Series. This could be because of my theme. Here is an example of the plugin in action.
I love the subtlety of the layout. There is a simple but very noticeable box at the top of each post in the series stating, “This is post X of Y in the series Awesome Series Title.” When you click on this box, the rest of the posts appear hyperlinked in a table of contents.
So, if your reader stumbled across post #6 of a twelve-part series, he can quickly and easily determine that he is on post six, and that there are twelve posts in the series. This allows him to easily choose whether to go to the next post in the series, the previous post, or the first post. It requires minimal formatting for you, and minimal searching for your readers.
The other advantage I liked right away about this plugin, besides the look of the final result, is this: bulk editing. You may have first looked for a plugin like this because a ten-part series you’d already written has gotten buried on your site. If that’s true, then as soon as you install & activate, you are going to want to turn it on for ten posts, which involves a lot of clicking & waiting.
This plugin changes what’s called the WordPress taxonomy, which means it adds “series” as a new type of organization on par with categories and tags. This means that the bulk edit feature works out of the box. Take a look at the following screen shot:
After installing WP Post Series, all you have to do is go to “posts,” check each box beside the posts you want to serialize, and select “bulk edit,” and WordPress presents you with the built-in bulk edit feature where you can serialize all of them at the same time, from the same screen. By design, the plugin will order the series chronologically.
Other plugins offer the “feature” of creating a custom order, but I see this as another setup headache. If you want to reorder the series, it’s as easy as fudging the publication dates, and the series will follow suit.
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 Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.