In July, I had the absolute pleasure of working with Francesca from Under the Covers Book Blog to create their new, streamlined new release book calendar. This is easily one of the coolest WordPress plugins I’ve created for a client and I can’t wait to show you guys how awesome it is!
Francesca wanted to streamline her process. There were two main things she was looking for:
- A calendar that would show a schedule of book releases. When you clicked on a certain day, all the books releasing on that day would load below the calendar.
- A way to make it faster to create her new release blog posts. It was taking her hours to put those together!!
Step #1: A new admin area for Releases.
The first thing I did was create a new area for Francesca in the admin panel called “Releases”. She’s able to “Add New Release” much like you would add a new blog post.
Then, I totally integrated this admin area with the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. I copied all of the UBB fields over to this page. That way, she can easily fill out all the book fields like she would for a normal book review. She can even fetch the info automatically from Google or Goodreads if she wants.
However, the most important box on this page is the “Publication Date” box, which comes standard with all UBB installations. But this one text box helps me power the entire calendar.
And see that awesome “Copy to Post” box in the top right? If Francesca or her co-bloggers want to post a book review for one of the releases they add, they can quickly and easily copy all the book information over to a new blog post draft just by clicking the button! This saves them from having to get all the information twice.
Step #2: Automatically add all releases to the calendar.
Next I created the actual calendar page. In order to see exactly how the calendar works, I suggest you check it out for yourself. It’s super awesome! But in short, here’s how it works:
- The calendar is added to the page using a shortcode.
- You can navigate between months using the arrow buttons in the upper right.
- When you’re viewing a month, my code figures out how many books are being released on each day of that month and displays that number in a purple box.
- When you move to another month, my code figures out the books for that new month. This way we only process one month at a time to make the page load more efficiently.
- If you click on one of those purple boxes, then all the books for that day get loaded below the calendar. The books are grouped together according to their genres. You can see the cover, some book details, and you can click a link to see the dedicated page for that release. It shows all the book information in the typical UBB format.
- There’s also a search box, so you can search for a specific book by title or author name.
Step #2: Create shortcodes for putting together New Release blog posts.
Finally, I created some shortcodes to help Francesca put her blog posts together SUPER FAST.
The main shortcode I created was
[new-release-group] but this shortcode has a variety of options to it.
[new-release-group date="August 1st 2015"]— This displays the covers of all books releasing on August 1st 2015.
[new-release-group date="August 1st 2015" genre="Urban Fantasy"]— Displays the covers of all books releasing on that date that are also in the Urban Fantasy genre. Books in other genres are excluded.
[new-release-group from="August 1st 2015" to="August 7th 2015" genre="Urban Fantasy"]— This is similar to the one above, but instead of pulling releases from one date, it pulls from a date range.
[new-release-group from="August 1st 2015" to="August 7th 2015" genre="Paranormal Romance" exclude="Twilight Vendetta"]— Similar to above, but the book with the title “Twilight Vendetta” is excluded from the list.
Oh and all book covers link to their respective Amazon pages so readers can buy the book quickly and easily! 🙂
You might be wondering where that last shortcode will come in handy. Well, Francesca typically picks one book to spotlight at the top of the post. This spotlighted book has all the book information displayed (not only the cover). That’s done with a shortcode like this:
[new-release title="Twilight Vendetta" author="Maggie Shayne"]
But then, she doesn’t want the spotlighted book showing up AGAIN later in the release group list. So, she can easily exclude it using the shortcode.
Hours of time saved!
Posts that used to take Francesca HOURS now only take her a few minutes at most.
I was so thrilled when Francesca came to me with her idea because I LOVED the vision she had for her site. She already had an existing calendar plugin in place, but it wasn’t quite doing exactly what she wanted. I was able to work with her to create the plugin of her dreams that not only functioned incredibly well, but also saved her mountains of time.