I’ve written on this blog before about using WordPress to “blog your book”. Today, I’d like to focus on using WordPress as a book publishing platform. When you blog your book, you write blog articles with the intention of turning them into a book at some point — the book is a collection of blog articles. That’s not how most writers go about creating a book. They write the book behind closed doors and publish it when it’s done.
You might be thinking, why would I want to use WordPress unless I intend to let the world see my work in progress? WordPress is a powerful content management system, which makes it an ideal environment for managing the materials — text and media — that constitute a book. Additionally, the plugins I’m about to discuss turn WordPress from a web publishing platform into a tool that can produce beautiful ebooks and PDF books that can be sent to a printing company.
Using WordPress to manage book creation workflows isn’t just a benefit for writers; publishers can leverage WordPress’ excellent user management features with the book creation tools we’re about to discuss to create efficient workflows for building, designing, and creating books from multiple authors. Authors, editors, and publishers can interact within WordPress, and once the “manuscript” is complete, it can be exported to whichever format the publisher desires.
There are several plugin options that will turn a WordPress installation into a book publishing platform, but I’m going to limit myself to a couple of examples: both of which are free and open source.
PressBooks is both a plugin and a platform based on the plugin. The plugin is open source, which means any writer or publisher can install it on their WordPress installation.
PressBooks makes it relatively simple to build a book, enter the metadata associated with it, and export to a format of your choice, including mobi, epub, and PDF. It includes several excellent templates that can be used to output a professional quality ebook.
While PressBooks is a powerful tool, its creators would much rather you use their hosted platform than a self-hosted WordPress, and that’s clear from the level of support you’ll get for the free open source plugin.
Anthologize is an excellent alternative to PressBooks. Developed with support from a number of educational establishments, it’s not the best looking plugin I’ve ever seen, but it does provide all the tools a writer or publisher needs to build and export books from within WordPress.
I’m a fan of Anthologize, but I’ve relegated into second position below PressBooks because development seems to have languished, the most recent versions of WordPress are not supported. Although there’s a strong chance it will work on a modern WordPress site, I won’t advise people to build on a project that isn’t actively maintained.
If you want a way to combine the power of WordPress as a content management system with book creation and export tools, hopefully you’ll find what you need in one of the plugins we’ve discussed here.