Bitchin’ Book Blog consists of tips to help you become a better blogger and have a sleek, professional, and user-friendly website. It is also a collection of WordPress tutorials and code snippets to help enhance your blog. If you have a question about blogging/web design, or want to request a tutorial, you can do so here (it’s completely anonymous)!
Everything a WordPress Book Blogger Needs… in One Plugin
Despite this plugin having been tested and tested and tested, for weeks and weeks and weeks, I’m really nervous about its release! So please, go easy on me! Also, if you do purchase the plugin and anything isn’t working properly, remember that you get full support! Just send me an e-mail with a description of the problem (screenshots help) and I’ll get it fixed. I will require admin access to your blog to install the updates.
Feature OverviewHere’s a quick overview of all the features available in the plugin. This list is just meant to give you an idea of what the plugin can offer you. If you want more detailed explanations of how to use each feature, please read the documentation.
- Easy book information display. Just fill out boxes for book title, book author, publisher, etc. and all the HTML gets rendered for you automatically!
- Easy rating display. Save your rating graphics on the settings page and then automatically display the book rating by selecting your rating from a dropdown menu. No need to constantly copy and paste the graphics URLs!
- Automatically updating review indexes. SEVEN different indexes: one for reviews sorted by book title, one sorted by author’s last name, one sorted by book series, one sorted by posting date/year, one sorted by star rating, one sorted by genre, and one sorted by book publisher.
- Custom taxonomies. Clickable links for author’s name, publisher, genre, and more. Each link takes you to an archive that shows posts tagged with that same author name/publisher/etc. See documentation for further explanation.
- “About the Author” box that automatically get tagged onto the end of your reviews! Using the custom taxonomies, you can fill out a bio for each author. Then when you add a review for that author’s book, the bio will automatically be generated and displayed below the review.
- Easy to use blogroll. Easily add new blogs to your blogroll and have the HTML automatically generated in a widget.
- Automatically updating giveaway page. This page automatically displays your current giveaways, and then when the giveaway ends, it gets moved to a “past giveaways” section.
- Easy to use image slider. This plugin comes built-in with an image slider. With one check of a box (and one upload of an image!), you can add a post to the slider. You can specify how many slider images you want to appear at once so that you don’t have to go back and remove old entries.
- AWESOME statistics about your reviews! With simple shortcodes, you can easily display tables of data, without having to manually collect the data yourself! Some of the statistics include: the number of books you’ve obtained from each source (i.e. how many you were gifted, how many from NetGalley, how many you bought, etc.), the rating distributions for books you’ve reviewed (i.e. how many 5 stars, how many 4 stars, etc.), and the average rating for each publisher!
- A plethora of widgets that you will LOVE!
- Blogroll Widget – For displaying the blogroll mentioned above.
- Books Reviewed Counter – Display the number of books you have reviewed so far this year, and optionally set a goal amount. This is similar to the Goodreads Reading Challenge.
- Giveaways – Automatically showcases your current and future giveaways. This is similar to the giveaway page feature, but it is in widget format!
- Reviews by Rating – Shows a list of your recent reviews for each rating. You can specify how many reviews you want to show and it will display that number of recent reviews for each rating.
- This Month’s Reviews – Automatically showcases the cover photos of the books you have reviewed this month. You can also decide to show it in textual format instead of book covers.
- Book Blogger Social Media – A social media feature that is easy to use and update, and is specifically designed for book bloggers! Stick with the default social media icons, or upload your own. You can also show off your follower counters!
- Shortcodes for EVERYTHING!
The book information is designed to help you save time and energy when formatting review posts. Most reviewers always display the exact same information in the exact same way on their book reviews: book title, book author, publisher information, the book cover, etc. With the book info feature, you simply have to fill out user-friendly boxes each time you write a book review and then the HTML gets rendered and automatically displayed on the post.
The book info feature is also what drives most of the other features on the plugin!
Instructions & Usage
Simply fill out the boxes on the post creation page. There are boxes in the center of the page under “Book Information”, and there are additional ones along the sidebar. Make sure you fill in all of them! This is also where you select your rating for the book and you can decide to display a content warning.
If, for some reason, you want to fill out the book information but you DO NOT want it displayed automatically, simply check the box for “Don’t Display Book Info”.
If you disable automatic display of book information, you can manually display it by typing the shortcode
[book-info] . This will display the book information for the current post. If you want to display book information from another post, you can type the shortcode
[book-info title="Book Title" author="Book Author"] . The title and author fields must be filled out.
The plugin comes with seven review indexes, all of which update automatically! There are indexes sorted by book title, sorted by author’s last name, sorted by series, sorted by date/year, sorted by star rating, sorted by genre, and sorted by book publisher. You can display each review index on posts/pages with shortcodes.
In order for the review indexes to be documented and displayed, you must fill out the book data fields for each review. At minimum, you need to fill out the book title, book title letter, author, and series. Any reviews that do not have this information filled out will not be counted in the indexes.
Instructions & Usages
Fill out the book info for each of your book reviews. As soon as you do this, the reviews will automatically be placed into the index and sorted. To display each index, use the following shortcodes on any post or page:
[index-title]– Index sorted by book title.
[index-author]– Index sorted by author last name.
[index-series]– Index sorted by series.
[index-year slug="reviews" year="2013"]– Index sorted by year, where “slug” is the slug of your review category, and “year” is the year of reviews you want to display.
[index-rating]– Index sorted by star rating. If you wish to exclude half stars, use
[index-genre]– Index sorted by book genre.
[index-publisher]– Index sorted by book publisher.
You enter these shortcodes in the main post box, where you would normally write your book review/page content/etc. Just put the shortcode in there, and the review index will be generated in your post final automatically!
This feature adds five new taxonomies to the post creation page. Taxonomies are like categories and tags (built in to WordPress), but this plugin creates 5 custom ones: authors, series, publishers, genres, and sources. Whenever you create a new book review post, fill in the authors of the book, the series (if applicable), the publishers, genres, and where you obtained it. This information gets filtered into the Book Information Display and is automatically generated and shown on your post. But the unique thing about these fields (as opposed to the simple publication date, pages, and other fields), is that they are clickable. When you click on the link, you get taken to a special archive of all posts that have been tagged with that taxonomy. For example, if you click on the author’s name link, you get taken to an archive that displays all of the books you’ve reviewed by that author.
Why is this useful?
When managing my own book review blog, I found myself wanting to “tag” (the built-in taxonomy) an author’s name on book review posts, on my interview posts with that author, on the Stacking the Shelves posts where I received a book by that author, etc. So then when I clicked on the tag of the author’s name, I got taken to an archive of all those posts. But I had no way of only showing the reviews of books by that author.
Having custom taxonomies gives you both options. You can normally tag an author if you want to be able to tag them across book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Waiting on Wednesday posts, and more. But additionally, you can tag them with the custom author taxonomy to limit the results to book reviews only. You get the best of both worlds!
Instructions & Usage
Once the plugin is installed, navigate to Settings » Permalinks and Save your settings. You don’t have to edit your settings at all, just press the Save Changes button. This will just refresh your permalink structure. It won’t change anything, but it’s important to sometimes get the new custom taxonomy archives to display properly.
Special note regarding themes and display
How your taxonomy archive is displayed is 100% dependent upon your theme. Some themes may be set up well for custom taxonomies, and some may not. An example of a good theme set up is one that displays the taxonomy name when you visit the archive and also displays the taxonomy description (in case you want to fill out author profiles). If you want your taxonomy template modified, e-mail me with a description of how you want it changed and I’ll give you a price quote.
The ratings feature allows you to select a rating graphic or upload your own, then when you create a new review you select your star rating from a drop down menu, and the proper star rating (using your chosen graphic) will be displayed automatically. You can choose whether you want the rating automatically displayed at the top with the book data, or at the bottom of the rating (or both). You can also use shortcodes to display certain ratings.
Instructions & Usage
To configure your rating settings, navigate to Ultimate BB » Ratings. First you need to select a rating graphic. You may choose one of the pre-made ones, or you can upload your own. If you decide to upload your own, you can decide to upload images for each rating, or just one 1-star image. Then you can check the boxes for where you’d like the rating to automatically be displayed.
In order for your rating to show up, you need to select your rating from the drop down menu on the post creation page. Select your rating and save the post. Then it will automatically be displayed on the review!
You can also use shortcodes to display certain ratings. Here’s the full list:
[rating stars="half-star"] [rating stars="one-star"] [rating stars="one-half-star"] [rating stars="two-stars"] [rating stars="two-half-stars"] [rating stars="three-stars"] [rating stars="three-half-stars"] [rating stars="four-stars"] [rating stars="four-half-stars"] [rating stars="five-stars"]
About the Author
This feature allows you to fill out biographies for each author. Then when you tag that author in the “Authors” custom taxonomy in a new book review, their bio will automatically be displayed at the end of the post.
This feature is dependent on the custom taxonomy feature. You MUST fill out the “author” taxonomy in order for this to work.
Instructions & Usage
Step 1: Enable author images
First, we need to enable images for the author taxonomies. The Ultimate Book Blogger plugin comes built-in with the Taxonomy Images plugin by Michael Fields. Navigate to Settings » Taxonomy Images and check the box next to “Authors”. This will allow you to upload an author profile image!
Step 2: Fill out an author profile
Then, you need to fill out an author profile! Navigate to Posts » Authors to get started. Select one of your authors (or enter a new one) and press Edit. In the description box, you can fill out the author’s bio. You can use HTML to add in paragraph tags and links to social media sites. Then, click the image thumbnail to upload a photo of the author.
Step 3: Configure the display settings
Navigate to Ultimate BB » About the Author to configure how the “About the Author” will be displayed. You can set the colour for the background, font, and border. I recommend you choose something that will match the rest of your theme!
Step 4: Tag the author
Create a new book review post (or edit an old one) and enter the author’s name in the “Authors” box. It must be spelled correctly!
Step 5: Check out the results!
Then save your post and view it. The author biography should automatically have been inserted at the end of the post!
If you change the setting so that the author bio is not automatically displayed, you can manually show it with the shortcode
[about-author] . This will show the author bio as long as the author is tagged on that post in the “Author” box. If you wish to show the bio for any author, even if it’s not tagged to that post, use this shortcode:
[get-bio author="Author Name"]
The blogroll feature creates a new custom post type. You can easily add a new entry to your blogroll with user-friendly boxes. This information then gets fed into the widget (described in the next section) to automatically generate the HTML for your blogroll.
Instructions & Usage
Navigate to Blogroll » Add New to begin. There you will see an Ultimate Book Blogger section titled Blogroll. Fill in the boxes for the name of the blog, the blog URL, and the button image. You can insert an image URL or upload it directly onto your site. Then publish the blogroll entry, and it will be automatically fed into the widget.
The Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin comes built-in with an image slider. You can add this image slider to any of your page templates, and then adding images to it is super easy! And you never have to manually remove all entries, because you can specify a maximum number of images to display on the settings page. Whenever it meets that limit, the older entries automatically get removed.
Instructions & Usage
First, configure your options on the settings page by going to Ultimate BB » Image Slider. Specify a maximum number of slider images to show at once. Then, it’s time to start adding images!
Add a new post, or edit an old one. Scroll to the bottom of the Ultimate Book Blogger section, and look for “Image Slider”. Check the box to add the post to the image slider, and then upload a slider image. For the slider image, make sure you use large banner dimensions. The image should be rectangular and have a larger width than height. Use a large image to avoid stretching, because the slider area will automatically span the full width of your blog. A good recommended resolution is 800px wide by 300px high. But if your blog has a larger width than 800px, then use a larger image!
After you have added slider images to a few posts, go back to the settings page on Ultimate BB » Image Slider. This is where the display instructions are located. Copy the ubb_get_slider() function to your clipboard. Now you have to edit your theme files.
Go to Appearance » Editor and look for the index.php file—this is your homepage template. There are two typical places for the image slider, and this is where I’ll split the instructions into two parts:
In your index.php theme file, look for this line of code:
<?php get_header(); ?>
We’re going to place our line of code directly after that. So immediately after, paste this:
<?php echo ubb_get_slider(); ?>
Note: if your get_header() line does not end with “?>” then do not include “<?php” at the beginning of the ubb_get_slider() text, and do not include “?>” afterwards. So it would look like this instead:
Right below the header. This option is directly below the header, and above the posts and sidebar. This means it will be a larger slider section, since it will span the full width of your layout.
In your index.php theme file, look for The Loop. It looks like this:
<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
Paste the image slider code immediately BEFORE that. This should ensure that it’s nested inside the post div. So paste this piece of code before The Loop:
<?php echo ubb_get_slider(); ?>
Right above the posts. This option is nested inside the post column, which means it will be a smaller slider area.
The blogroll widget is what you use to display your blogroll entries (described in the Blogroll section). When you add the widget to your sidebar, all of your blogroll entries get put together and automatically generated into HTML. This makes it a lot easier to maintain and edit your blogroll!
Instructions & Usage
First you need to add entries to your blogroll. For instructions on how to do this, see the Blogroll section. Then, navigate to Appearance » Widgets to add the UBB Blogroll widget to your sidebar. You can enter a title and select how you want the blogroll to be displayed. There are two options: a text list, or scrolling images. The text list is simply a list of all the blog names, each with a link to the actual blog. The scrolling images is a scrolling marquee of the blog buttons, with each blog button linking to the actual blog. When you hover the mouse over one of the buttons, it will stop scrolling until you move your mouse back off!
Books Reviewed Counter
This widget is very similar to the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It keeps track of how many books you have reviewed this year by counting the number of reviews you have posted. Optionally, you can set a goal for yourself and display a progress bar to show how well you’re doing on your goal.
The only requirement is that all of your book reviews (and only book reviews) are in one category. If you have book reviews, interviews, and giveaways all in the same category, this widget will not work correctly.
Instructions & Usage
For the most part, the plugin is very self explanatory. Simply drag it over onto your sidebar and, at minimum, fill out the required fields. You must enter in the slug for your review category. This can be found by going to Posts » Categories, finding your review category, and noting down what it says in the “Slug” column. Then paste this into the field in the widget.
There are several other optional fields such as a title for the widget, a review goal, and a progress bar. If you choose to display the progress bar, the goal section must be filled out! You can also customize the colour of the progress bar.
This widget automatically displays your current giveaways, and then automatically removes them from the sidebar when they end. You can choose to display giveaway banners in the widget and/or text. Optionally, you may also fill out a list of your upcoming giveaways if you want to get your readers excited about what’s to come! You can also fill out a link to you giveaway page (if you have one) to display at the bottom.
In the event that you have no current giveaways and no upcoming giveaways, the widget will not display in your sidebar at all, so there is no need to ever remove it!
This plugin 100% relies on the “Giveaways” section when creating a new post. There are four boxes: one for uploading a giveaway banner, one for entering a giveaway prize, one for setting an end date, and one for entering the winner. In order for the widget to properly display and remove your giveaway, you MUST submit an ending date (when the giveaway ends), and you must also upload a giveaway banner and/or enter in the prize.
Additionally, all of your reviews must be in their own category. If you do a review and giveaway simultaneously, it is fine if the post is in the “Reviews” category AND the “Giveaway” category, as long as it is in your designated giveaway category.
Instructions & Usage
Create a new post for a giveaway, add it to your giveaway category, scroll down to find the “Giveaways” section, upload a giveaway banner (optional), enter in the prize (optional, but required if you did not upload a banner), and select the end date (required).
Then, hop over to your widgets page and add the widget to your sidebar. Enter in the slug for your giveaways category. This can be found by going to Posts » Categories, finding your giveaway category, noting down what it says in the “Slug” column, and pasting this into the field in the widget. Then, decide how you want to display your giveaways. Do you want to show the banners? The text of what the prize is? Or both? Enter in future giveaways if you desire, and a link to your giveaway page (if desired, and if applicable). Then, save your settings, and check out your new sidebar!
Reviews by Rating
The reviews by rating widget showcases recent reviews for each of your rating options. For example, it will show a list of recent 5 star reviews, a list of recent 4 star reviews, a list of recent 3 star reviews, etc. You can specify how many reviews to show.
Instructions & Usage
First, hop on over to Ultimate BB » Ratings to configure your rating options. Make sure you select a star graphic or upload your own.
Then, return to your widget page and add the UBB Reviews by Rating widget to your sidebar. Add a title for the widget and specify how many reviews you want to display for each rating. The default is set to 2. If you do not use half star ratings, be sure to check the box saying so. This will ensure that the half stars are not displayed in the widget so that they do not take up unnecessary space. If you want, you may also check the box to use the small simple stars, regardless of your rating settings (these stars are the first option on the settings page). This is usually a good idea if you use large star graphics.
Save your settings and you’re done!
This Month’s Reviews
This month’s reviews widget automatically showcases the cover photos of the books you have reviewed this month, with links to each review.
In order for this widget to work, your reviews must be in their own category. If you choose to display cover images instead of text, you must upload the cover image on the post creation page.
Instructions & Usage
When adding a new book review, make sure you upload the cover on the post creation page where it says Cover Image. This will ensure that the widget can display the book cover!
Then, simply add the UBB This Month’s Reviews widget to your sidebar, specify your review slug, and decide whether you want to display cover images or text. Then save your settings, and you’re good to go!
The social media widget allows you to easily display social media icons, links to your profiles, and your follower counts. Some of the follower counts are updated automatically, but some have to be updated manually.
Instructions & Usage
First, go to Ultimate BB » Social Media to configure your settings. Fill out your profile information (username or profile URL, depending on the field) for each social media site you wish to display in the widget. If there is one you do not want to display, then don’t fill out your profile information. Then, you can optionally upload custom graphics for each of the social media sites. If you do not upload any graphics then the default ones will be used instead.
Once you’ve filled out and saved your settings, navigate to Appearance » Widgets to add the UBB Social Media widget to your sidebar. You can fill out a title for the widget and check to display labels and follower counters. Here’s what the difference looks like:
Then, depending on what social media profiles you filled out, you may have the option to input your follower/friend count. The ones that update automatically are Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, so you will not be able to manually adjust your follower count for those. But if you opted to display any of the others, you will have to manually edit your follower counter in the widget.
Here is a list of every single shortcode the plugin offers.
Review Index Shortcodes
[index-title] – Book review index by title.
[index-author] – Book review index by author.
[index-series] – Book review index by series.
[index-year slug="reviews" year="2012"] – Book review index by year, where “slug” is the slug for your review category, and “year” is the year you wish to display book reviews for.
[index-rating] – Book review index by rating. If you wish to exclude half stars, use this shortcode instead:
[sourcestats] – Statistics for where you have obtained your books.
[ratingstats] – Statistics for ratings you have given books.
[genrestats] – Statistics for the number of books you’ve reviewed in each genre.
[publisherstats] – Statistics for how many books you have reviewed from each publisher.
[average-ratings for="genres"] – Calculates the average star rating for each genre. You can also do the same for publishers (by doing for=”publishers”).
[rating stars="two-stars"]– Display a rating, where “stars” is the number of stars. Values should be formatted as: “five-stars”, “four-half-stars”, “four-stars”, … “one-star”, “half-star”. This shortcode uses the rating graphic you specify on the Ratings page.
[simple-rating stars="two-stars"]– Same as above, except it ALWAYS shows the first rating graphic on the Ratings page, regardless of your settings.
[related-ratings]– Displays a list of posts with the same rating as the current post.
[book-info] – Displays all of your compiled book information for the current post. Use this if you turn off automatic display in the settings.
[book-info title="Book Title" author="Book Author"] – Displays all of your compiled book information for a specific post (other than the current one).
[giveaways slug="giveaways"] – Displays all of your current and past giveaways, where “slug” is the slug for your giveaway category.
[book-author] – Displays the book author, with a link to the author profile page.
[book-series] – Displays the book series, with a link to the series page.
[about-author] – If you have filled out an author description, this displays your customized about the author box, as long as the author is “tagged” to the current post.
[get-bio author="Author Name"] – This displays the about the author box for any author, regardless of whether or not it’s tagged to the current post.
[spoiler]text here[/spoiler] – Turns “text here” into a spoiler, which is only viewable when clicked on. (NOTE: Not all web hosts support this. If you see an error on your RSS feed, you need to de-activate the feature by going to Ultimate BB » Misc.
How to install
You can purchase the plugin from this page. Once you go through the checkout process and pay with PayPal, you will get an e-mail that contains a link to download the plugin (this is also available on the “Thank You for Purchasing” page). Once you have it saved to your computer, login to your WordPress blog and navigate to Plugins » Add New » Upload. Click “Choose a File” to open the file browser and select the ultimate-book-blogger.zip file, then press “Install Now”. Once it is installed, activate it, and then you’re all set!
You’ve installed the plugin—now what?
The first thing you should do is refresh your permalinks. Navigate to Settings » Permalinks and Save your settings. You don’t have to edit your settings at all, just press the Save Changes button. This will just refresh your permalink structure. It won’t change anything, but it’s important to sometimes get the new custom taxonomy archives to display properly.Next, configure your settings! On the left-hand side, look for a tab that says “Ultimate BB”. Make sure you configure your settings for each category. The most important are:
- Book Info Tab: Choose which side you want the book cover image to appear on. Even if you don’t make any changes, SAVE the settings! Otherwise the book data might not display!
- Ratings: Select a rating image and decide where you want the rating to be displayed.
- About the Author: Configure the display settings and colours.
Do you have any questions about the plugin? Or is something not working properly? E-mail me with a description of your problem or question, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
Do you want the plugin customized even further to suit your needs? Maybe you want extra book info fields, or you want some removed that you never used, or perhaps you want customized taxonomy archives? E-mail me for a quote!
If you use the Jetpack e-mail subscription service, the book info and cover photo will not show up in the e-mail. This is due to a problem with Jetpack. Jetpack does not render out shortcodes or any modifications to the_content, and they do also not use RSS for sending out e-mails. As a result, the book info cannot be added to the content in e-mails. However, Jetpack does say that they are working on fixing it so that shortcodes can be used and rendered out in subscription services. But there is no ETA for this.
NOTE: This applies to Jetpack only. Book info is still properly displayed in all RSS feeds, so it will be displayed just fine in Mail Chimp and Feedburner subscription services.
I would like to give a HUGE thanks to my extremely devoted and speedy beta tester, Kelly from Radiant Shadows. She helped me iron through the early bugs of the plugin and was terrific at giving feedback!
Another person I would like to mention is Lexxie at (un)Conventional Bookviews. Lexxie was an early buyer of the plugin. She actually bought it before it was officially released and through testing (GO HER!). She gave me some excellent new ideas for the plugin, such as the review index sorted by star rating! She was a stellar First Official Customer!