How I Blog: Automate Everything & the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin

March 5, 2013 Tips & Tricks 15

how i blog

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I’m a big believer in sharing good stuff and I absolutely love it when good stuff gets shared with me, especially when it relates to blogging.  Blogging, let’s face it, is time consuming.  If I can learn how to do something more efficiently without loosing quality, I’m all over it.  A lot of times, the way I pick up new tips and tricks is via Twitter.  For today’s post, I have to thank @DearAuthor@Cuddlebuggery, and @Parajunkee for the tweetfest the other day.

I was tweeting with Rachel from Parajunkee about Review Request forms which led me to recommending Gravity Forms (which we use here at ATUF for about a million things) and telling her about how Dear Author uses Gravity Forms to automate almost everything on their site.  And then I had to tell her about the single best blogging time saver ever: Dear Author’s Auto Generate Buy Links method.  That’s when Steph from Cuddlebuggery joined in and typed four little words that made me love her forever: Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin.

Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin

Before I go into details, I should let you know this is a premium plugin ($35) currently only available for WordPress, not Blogger.

I’m always looking for plugins that will save me time (you can check out my ten favorite plugins for bloggers here).  I’d thought I was pretty aware of the really helpful ones until now.  I’ve been missing out on the one MUST HAVE plugin for  book bloggers, appropriately titled, the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin (UBBP).  This thing is packed with useful features that most of us are currently doing manually.  For example, we have a review archive that we update every time a review is posted. UBBP creates and updates a review archive for you automatically:

The plugin comes with five 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, and sorted by star rating. You can display each review index on posts/pages with shortcodes.

I haven’t yet adopted this automated method since we have over 800 reviews already archived that we’d have to modify, but for newer bloggers, or bloggers that haven’t started an archive yet, this rocks.  I may incorporate in somehow in  the future.

How about a Social Media counter specifically designed for book bloggers? See ours in action in the bottom right footer.

social media

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Or a built in slider, automatically updating sidebar widgets for giveaways and reviews stats.  But the best, the one I’d buy the plugin for alone, is the Book Info Display feature. We use a template plugin to help cut down on repetitive tasks for posts we do regularly.  They help make sure our posts are uniform and that we don’t inadvertently omit something.  Templates are a huge time saver, but they still do take time.  With the UBBP, it takes only a fraction of the time to draft a review now.  I think a visual will be more effective here.  These are two images of my old review template, and the one we now use thanks to UBBP:

Old review template pre- UBBP

New template with UBBP

reviewold

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reviewnew

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As you can see, we went from a rather lengthy template with tons of shortcodes and links and images to one single shortcode.  And our new reviews look almost identical to our old ones (We started using UBBP at the end of February. Did you notice?)How does it work? There are a series of fields that we fill out:

book info

Click to Embiggen

Ashley, the developer behind UBBP, customized the fields for us so we do have a few add ons that aren’t standard.  For example our cover image and book trailers are automatically lightboxed, we built in a few shortcodes to keep our toggles, and the biggest, most fantastic customization is that we no longer have to use the spreadsheet method from Dear Author (though we still use it for other posts like HOTP). Instead, buy links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Add to Goodreads get automatically inserted with our html buttons and affiliate links.  By default the UBBP has fields for you to paste two buy links and a link to goodreads, but like I said, we customized to incorporate Dear Author’s spreadsheet method so that we don’t have to even paste links.  They are automatically generated just by us typing the title and author:

What I did was configure the plugin with a streamlined review template that incorporated all the shortcodes built into UBBP:

 

html

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Then I pasted the html from this new streamlined template into the Compile Book Info section in the plugin settings area:

configure

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And now, when we create a review post, we type that one shortcode, fill in the book info fields and boom!  A post that used to take ten minutes give or take (not including composing the review), takes one or two!  And that’s not even a fraction of what the UBBP does.  Like I said, this is only one of the awesome features UBBP offers.  I’ll be going through the rest soon, but I couldn’t wait to pass on the news about something this good! And just so we’re clear, I bought this plugin and did not receive any kind of compensation for blogging about it.  I just really love it.

Check out the feature overview, then I highly recommend you buy the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin.  $35 is a small price to pay.  And Ashley couldn’t have been sweeter.  She answered all my questions lightning fast and stepped in immediately when I had an issue that initially effected my slider.

Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin

Feature Overview

Here’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. FIVE 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, and one sorted by star rating.
  • 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.
  • Smart Spoilers. This feature creates a shortcode for adding spoilers. When used, the spoiler will be hidden until the user clicks on “Show Spoiler.” But the best thing about this plugin is that it’s RSS/e-mail subscriber safe! That means, the spoilers will be COMPLETELY removed in RSS feeds and e-mails. (In other spoiler plugins they get rendered out since JavaScript is disabled on RSS/e-mails, but this spoiler feature is SUPER SMART! ;) )
  • 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!

15 Responses to “How I Blog: Automate Everything & the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin”

  1. Ashley

    Thanks so much for writing this post, Abigail! You are super sweet and I’m delighted that you’re enjoying the plugin! :)

  2. Calico

    Oh, wow… it figures that just when I’m easing out of reviewing, something like this pops up. :)

    I have to ask, though: is this plug-in available for those of us who use the free version of WordPress? I get that you have to pay for the plug-in itself, but I’m wondering if it even is available to those of us who are going the freebie route for the overall blog. :)

    • Ashley

      Sorry, it’s not available for free WordPress.com blogs. :( Simply because WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to upload new plugins or themes and you have to have that ability! So the plugin is only available for self-hosted WordPress.org blogs. Sorry! :(

      • Calico

        It’s all good: that’s what I figured. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

  3. Sherri @Urban Girl Reader

    Oh, I think I’m in love! I’m working at migrating from Blogger to WP and this looks like such an awesome product. I will be definitely checking it our!! Thanks so much for sharing Abigail.

    • Abigail

      You are so welcome! I hope all book bloggers hear about UBBP. It’s becoming more and more helpful as I play with it. We started using the Giveaway widget too, so I no longer have to manually update it. More time=More Books :)

  4. Megan

    so this is easy to use then? I just switched from blogger to wordpress, and i am very new to all this plugin stuff… I saw this when i was doing my research but i was worried it might be too complicated for me to figure out… will it actually make everything that much easier for me?

    • Abigail

      It’s very straightforward and Ashley has been amazingly fast ans friendly any time I had a question. This plugin has been a dream. Every book blogger should get it. I absolutely thing you should give it a try. I’m sure Ashley will help you if any thing is confusing :)

  5. Leandro

    Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am
    impressed! Very helpful information specially the closing part :
    ) I care for such info a lot. I used to be looking for this certain information for a
    long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  6. Book Wookie

    Ultimate Book Blogger is a great plugin, but it’s not really a good option for bloggers on a budget. I released the WordPress Book Review plugin a few weeks ago. It’s basically a simplified, stripped-down version of UBB, and may be a good alternative for book bloggers who are looking for a free plugin.

    Cheers!

  7. Jamie Pinson

    Love love love your site. I’m hoping one day I can make mine look as nice. I’m using the UBB plugin too and it’s fantastic. I’ve been uploading all my reviews and I was trying to find a way to make the book covers look whole on my home page the way they do on my review page but then I saw that yours look just like mine so instead of going back and changing it all I’m just going to leave it as it is.

    It’s just nice to know a really nice site like yours is doing them the same way. I really didn’t want to make the images super small so that the whole cover would fit on my blog posts the way they do when you actually click on them to read the review. You saved me so much work lol. Wish I could somehow make the cover smaller on each post yet have them larger on my actual review but I don’t think that’s possible.

    What theme do you use? I’m also using her Tweak Me theme which is so nice for someone with no html knowledge like me.

    How did you make that little magnifier glass on your page when I hover over each book? That is so nice. Love your site and thank you.