It seems like a ‘no-brainer’ – WordPress is a publishing tool, so it should be an ideal platform to write your novel, biography or history. But sadly for those who want to publish their books on WordPress, it’s not.
WordPress was originally aimed at bloggers – who tend to publish short entries in a chronological manner: more like a diary or journal than a book. WordPress does have some advice on how to make your blog feel more like a book here – but even they admit
“There are ways to use a blog to post long-form pieces in chapters, however, though it will require a bit of work.” WordPress.com
WordPress method effectively turns your whole site into a single book. Not much use if you also want to run a blog with your thoughts about the writing process, add other content or even produce more than one book.
Nor does WordPress make creating many of the elements of a book particularly easy – how to create a table of contents, index or bibliography without a huge amount of manual work building internal links across your site?
How WordPress makes life hard for authors
There are a host of small ways in which WordPress makes it awkward for authors to self publish.
For example, if you write a book using pages as chapters then exporting your final text into a coherent single file – will be a challenge. It’s also not possible to directly import or export into popular publishing format like mobi and ePUB without further add-ons.
If you really are planning your magnum opus you might also want to set yourself some targets – maybe just a total word count you are aiming for, or perhaps more specific weekly targets to motivate you and measure your progress. Again, not possible in WordPress.
Or take another example – footnotes. Many authors use footnotes extensively, to provide additional information for readers. But WordPress has no way to create footnotes that will dynamically keep them on the same page as the text item to which they refer. This is especially a problem if you want to use pagination to break up pages within a chapter. Essentially, all you can do is place all the footnotes at the end of the chapter and force your reader to jump back and forth.
But…. WordPress is great for many things
So, that’s the downside.
We all know WordPress is the hottest thing on the web. It dominates the Content Management System (CRM) space and is running 30% + of websites. Many, many authors already have a WordPress site and it’s likely that the number of users will grow.
WordPress is a great publishing tool. It’s easy to use, has masses of add-ons that enable thousands of great features and has a huge and knowledgeable support community.
There are, of course, cloud based self-publishing solutions. But these also come with issues – loss of control, incompatible formats, inability to integrate with your own site. Each one has pros and cons, but at the end of the day, many people just want to do it for themselves. There’s nothing quite like having your own website. You own it. You control every aspect of it. And as your user numbers grow you can take pride in that success.
BookPress is the answer
For all the reasons above, we have developed BookPress.
Our plan is to combine a powerful plugin for formatting and publishing books on WordPress with a series of tools designed to help authors write their books.
We are starting with the design and publishing ‘core’ plugin. This makes physically creating something that feels ‘book like’ in WordPress much easier. Elements like the Table of Contents, Index, Footnotes and even chapters are simple to create and format – and are designed to appear in the correct place within your publication.
But on top of this we want to help you in your creative endeavours. So we will also be bringing you tools to help you with word counts; to create achievable goals and targets; models characters and plot lines and much more.
We’d love to hear from authors about what you want. Let us know in the comments section below.