8 Must-Have WordPress Plug-ins for a Fiction Blog



If you manage a fiction blog in WordPress, you know the challenges of getting the right plug-ins to get the functionality you want. I work for a non-commercial e-zine, DargonZine, and we recently decided to make the move from a custom-built PHP/HTML system to a more robust environment (ie WordPress). While doing so, we realized that we had some specific needs that WordPress didn’t offer out of the box. Enter Plug-ins, WordPress’ way to extend functionality with a simple click. Here are some of the plug-ins we implemented. They should help out any fiction blog that’s out there.

1. Add to Any: Share/Bookmark/Email buttons

If you’re on the web, you know you need exposure and the best way to get exposure is through social networking. The Add to Any series of plug-ins gives you the ability to link your stories through almost every social site out there (although, realistically, you probably only need Facebook and Twitter). What I liked about this plug-in is that it also gives you a link to a printer-friendly version of the story (without messing with your CSS) and the ability to email the story to a friend. (link)

2. Co-Authors Plus

If you have multiple authors collaborating on a story, you need a Co-Authoring plug-in. There are several in the repository, Co-Authors Plus being the most recent and feature-packed. Choose multiple authors for a post, link to their author page, and even generate a list of stories by the author. A great plug-in. (link)

3. Fast Secure Contact Form

I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the user interface of this plug-in, but it’s got great functionality to let you implement a Contact form so that you don’t have to put your e-mail address out there for the spam bots to collect. (link)

4. GD Star Rating

This plug-in is top notch in terms of the most funtionality you can get out of a rating plug-in for your posts. You have options for the rating scale to use, what graphics, and even whether to allow ratings of comments or not. My only criticism is that sometimes it offers you TOO MANY options. But the user interface is slick and the programmer even offers professional support. (link)

5. More Fields

One could make an argument as to whether you should be implementing a custom post type versus adding more fields to WordPress’ default post type, but I try to keep things simple when I’m working, so I went this route. If you want to add fields such as Volume or Issue to your posts, then More Fields gets you there easily and quickly. It lets you add a nicer interface to WordPress’ custom fields functionality, so it works especially well if you have multiple contributors who need to fill out information but might not be the most computer savvy at doing so. (link)

6. Organize Series

If you write multiple posts that you want to string together in an orderly fashion, then Organize Series is the way to go. It lets you create collections of stories with such great features as auto-inserting navigation elements at the tops of stories in a series as well as creating series’ navigation blocks and archive pages. Definitely worth the investment. (link)

7. People Lists

At DargonZine, we have a number of authors who come and go, and a need to be able to list who is a current author versus a past author. I don’t like WordPress’ default behavior of asking you to reassign posts if you want to delete an author, so People Lists is a nice way for you to take your user list and divide it into different categories which can be displayed on your site. You can also add fields to a user profile with it, which can be nice if you want additional information beyond what WordPress provides. (link)

8. Avatars

This plug-in goes hand-in-hand with People Lists. You want to be able to let your authors have custom photos that might be linked to a Gravatar or just want them to be able to upload their own photos. Avatars lets you do this simply and cleanly. (link)

Conclusion

So there’s my list. If you have any other suggestions to offer, do so in the Comments area below. I still haven’t found great plug-ins for sending HTML newsletters out of WordPress — the best one I found for our needs was Sendit (link), but the interface was just terrible! And I would like an Archive plug-in that can sort content by custom metadata, but I was able to make do with writing some PHP code.

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