Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

WordPress Plugins at Dear Author

I had promised to blog about the plugins I use at WordPress about six months ago but I had been having some loading time issues and they were directly related to my plugins. Before I list the plugins, let me make a comment about the wordpress community. WordPress is a free piece of blogging software. It is distributed under a GNU General Public License, version 2 or later. It is the belief of the GNU community that derivative code must also be released under GNU General Public License as well. Remember that software code is just as much intellectual property as is a work of creative fiction so the GNU GLPv2 distribution of this work (that powers millions of blogs) is incredible.

There are thousands of free themes and plugins available to bloggers but there is also a very robust premium theme and plugin community. There are always many comments to the effect that once books are primarily digital, giving away free copies doesn’t make sense because people will only want the free but within the blogging community, the demand for premium products have only increased from the initial “free only” community. The reason for the demand for premium products comes from bloggers wanting access to richer feature sets and support. I don’t think you can dismiss the demand growth for premium derivative product as non applicable to genre fiction even though it isn’t exactly the same. There are lessons to be derived everywhere but I think the essential one here is that a) users were willing to pay for a premium product if b) it offered utility the free product did not.

A badly coded plugin can slow down the speed of a blog, as can a badly coded theme. It’s hard for an amateur like me to figure what which plugin is badly coded. You have to go with the trial by error (deactivating them one by one). Since the slowdown, I’ve moved to a new blog and implemented a new theme (from Pagelines) and will be making some additional changes to improve performance such as implementing a content delivery network (CDN) and employing a cache. And I’ve taken a hard look at what plugins I need and which ones I do not. Now I think I am ready to share with you my list. I have a combination of premium plugins and free plugins.

Premium Plugins:

  • Backup Buddy.   I use this to schedule daily, weekly and monthly backups of the blog.   It also has features to help with the migration of a blog to a new host.
  • Gravity Forms. This is a “form” plugin that collects data and outputs it. I am using it as a contact form but also to collect winners’ names and addresses for book giveaways.   You can also use forms to collect data and make new posts. I used Gravity Forms over at the dabwaha to collect the nominees for the RITA and that data was used to automatically create a new listing.
  • WP Ajax Edit Comments. A favorite of the commenters, this plugin allows the users to edit their comments. YAY!

 

Free Plugins:

@ Reply. This plugin allows you to add Twitter-like @reply links to comments.

Add Quicktag. This allows me to add “Quicktags” to the editor. Quicktags are essentially text that is inserted into a post whether it is html code or plain text. I use it for the buy links.   With a press of a button, the buy link text is inserted. I then go through and add the appropriate book code to make the link work.   It’s a time saver.**

Quick links

Advanced Spoiler. This is the spoiler plugin. The drawback of using this plugin instead of whiting out the text is that the spoiler shows up in the RSS Feed.

Ajax Comment Preview. Allows commenters to preview their comments before posting.

Akismet.   Askimet is our spam filter.

Comment Whitelist. I use this in conjunction with Askimet. Some of the regular commenters get pushed into the spam folder because their IP address may be similar to a banned IP address. Putting the commenter’s email address or IP address in the whitelist prevents them from being marked as a spammer.

Download Post Comments.   This is used for contests. The plugin allows me to download all the comments to one post in a csv list which helps me to identify the winners of giveaways in conjunction with numbers from random.org.   (I need to do this for the ACE/ROC Giveaway).

NextGEN Gallery.   We use this primarily on movie days to cycle through a number of images.   We don’t use it to its fullest potential.

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. This plugin allows readers to sign up for email notifications of new comments.   I can also use it to email all the subscribers (which I have never done).

Twitter Tools. I use this plugin to tweet each new post.   It can also be used to create digests of my own tweets but I haven’t used that feature.

Use Google Libaries. This is a more technical plugin and is part of my effort to speed up performance on the blog.   Basically it uses javascript libraries stored on Google rather than those stored on dearauthor, making the site more efficient.

WP-Polls.   This is the polling software we use for dabwaha but also here at Dear Author (when I used to run polls regularly.   Perhaps I should bring that back?)

WP-Table Reloaded. I use this plugin to create the tables that form the basis of the ebook comparison charts and the digital backlists.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. At the end of the posts, we now have a list of blog posts that are similar to the one you are reading.   This helps to identify other reviews or content that might be of interest.

Hope this helps!

** Here is my buy link text if it helps anyone:

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/isbn/9ISBN”>Book Link</a> | <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/ASIN?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=dearauthorcom-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=xxxx”>Kindle</a> | <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/10ISBN?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=dearauthorcom-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=10ISBN”>Amazon</a> | <a href=”http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?r=1&amp;r=1&amp;ISBN=nookISBN”> nook</a> | <a href=”http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?r=1&amp;r=1&amp;ISBN=9ISBN”>BN</a> | <a href=”http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=10ISBN”>Borders</a>
| <a href=”http://ebookstore.sony.com/search?keyword=EbookISBN”>Sony</a>| <a href=”http://kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=eISBN”>KoboBooks</a> |

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. Wordpress Plugins at Dear Author | Wbcom Designs | VAPDI
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 04:37:56

    [...] more here: WordPress Plugins at Dear Author Posted in: blog, blogger, book, Community, free, git, plugin, Plugins, premiu, Premium, rim, [...]

  2. FiaQ
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 05:19:48

    Advanced Spoiler. This is the spoiler plugin. The drawback of using this plugin instead of whiting out the text is that the spoiler shows up in the RSS Feed.

    Oooh, it depends on a reader. It doesn’t show up in Google Reader for instance. It says something like [[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]. Here is a screen shot.

    ReplyReply

  3. Mary (PPB)
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 05:46:06

    Wow! What a great list of plugins. This looks super helpful and I’m going to check out a few of those plugins. Thanks!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  4. Evangeline Holland
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 06:31:33

    Thanks for this post!

    In my experience, once my blog became more than hobby, I was more than happy to pay for a few premium plug-ins. I am currently theme shopping, and based on the appearance and variety of premium themes, I feel the costs are worth it when compared to the inertia of free themes.

    ReplyReply

  5. Jessica
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 06:48:44

    Thanks for this post, Jane. I love to see what plugins others bloggers are using. I had never heard of some of these and plan to check them out. I also use AJAX Edit comments and think it is well worth the money.

    I’d like to add one point, although it’s a bit OT: a year ago I had a terrible problem with my blog being hacked. I couldn’t get into it, it redirected viewers to porn sites, and it kept happening. It turned out the problem was that I had not been diligent about updating to the latest version of my plugins, and I was also using some plugins that were not in active development.

    All of the plugins you’ve listed are very secure, but I thought I would mention this potential pitfall for newbies.

    ReplyReply

  6. steve davidson
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 07:03:40

    Excellent. I always enjoy reading what others have implemented with their blogs. WordPress is a huge environment and seeing how others put their sites together to achieve the kind of functionality and interactivity they are looking for always helps me with mine.

    A few additional things to mention though: first – make sure to use some of the plugins used to help defeat hacking and losing your site: for example scan for eval, scan for php and even stop spammers plugins. (All plugins can be obtained from the http://www.wordpress.org site).

    It should also be noted that ‘some’ free themes and plugins carry problems with them. I’ve personally had good results and bad results, which means that backups of your content are important (and easy with even more plugins!)

    Premiums, from reputable developers, are the way to go. I use WooThemes right now but there are plenty of others.

    Finally – don’t get wedded to anything. Half the fun with WordPress is changing stuff around.

    And really finally – ‘plugin creep’ becomes an issue for everyone that desires lots of functionality on their site. Plugins have to load everytime your site loads, so slow downs can be a function of quantity.

    ReplyReply

  7. Teddypig
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 07:25:46

    WP Ajax Edit Comments. For the win! Best investment for any WordPress blog I know.

    I still use Simpletags is Quicktags better?

    I also use WP-Optimize for a performance boost.

    ReplyReply

  8. Lou
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 09:31:05

    Thanks for the post, Jane!

    ReplyReply

  9. Lisa Hendrix
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 11:21:48

    What helpful information — and perfectly timed, as a site upgrade is next on my to do list. I’ll be looking into all these plug-ins. Thanks so much, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  10. rebyj
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 15:50:10

    WP-Polls. This is the polling software we use for dabwaha but also here at Dear Author (when I used to run polls regularly. Perhaps I should bring that back?)

    The polls often inspired some good community discussions so yes!

    I also want to add that as a regular reader here, I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into maintaining the site. Thanks!

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 17:11:22

    @rebyj It is our pleasure, truly. As the commenter said up thread, part of the fun is keeping the site up to date.

    ReplyReply

  12. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 17:12:53

    @Teddypig Isn’t Simpletags designed to assist you in manipulating tags for posts? Quicktags allows you to create html tags for the html editor, or in my case, I use it to insert form type text that I use over and over again.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 17:13:15

    @steve davidson I use Woo Themes too but I really wanted this Pagelines carousel.

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 17:13:37

    @Jessica That is a very good point. I had a hacking experience too as a result of a weak plugin a long time ago.

    ReplyReply

  15. RebeccaJ
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 18:49:20

    Jane, what happened to the Cop To It? post? I saw it on my reader and since I”m a HUGE cop fan, had to check it out, but instead got a 404 error:(

    ReplyReply

  16. Sophia (FV)
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 18:53:03

    Thanks for this post. I use several of these but I want to take a look at Database Buddy.

    For giveaways I like ‘Pick Giveaway Winner’. From your dashboard you can choose the giveaway post, select the number of winners to randomly select with a few other features such as disqualifying multiple entries etc.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pick-giveaway-winner/

    ReplyReply

  17. Sophia (FV)
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 18:56:40

    Oh and forgot to mention I like ‘W3 Total Cache’ to cache my site. I’ve noticed a decrease in load time since installing an configuring it, plus my host says by using it I decrease the load on the server.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/

    ReplyReply

  18. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 19:36:43

    @Sophia (FV) I’m trying to figure out which caching plugin to use. I’ve signed up for W3 Total Cache and am waiting for the plugin creator to do the configuration for me.

    ReplyReply

  19. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 19:36:57

    @Sophia (FV) wow, this looks awesome. Thanks for the headsup!

    ReplyReply

  20. Jane
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 19:37:15

    @RebeccaJ It was an accidental pre posting. Reviews are up tomorrow.

    ReplyReply

  21. Ron Heimbecher
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 16:18:12

    Hi Jane,
    Found you through a link on the Crested Butte loop, but had to go through some antics to find my way here.

    This is a great article, I’ve been using WP for several years on dozens of blogs but you have some interesting stuff I haven’t run across yet.

    A tip for you, as well…

    If you can get out of the habit of double-spacing after a period, all of the Capital As with a little roof on them (Â)will go away…

    ttfn,
    Ron

    ReplyReply

  22. Jane
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 16:22:44

    @Ron Heimbecher: Unfortunately I have had some blog breakdowns today, but I appreciate the heads up. I didn’t realize doublespacing was so frowned up by the HTML gods. This will be a very hard habit to break.

    ReplyReply

  23. Jane
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 20:46:19

    @Sophia (FV): Sophia, you are seriously my favorite person right now. The Pick Winner Giveaway plugin is making me want to do more giveaways because it is so freaking easy. THANK YOU SO MUCH. Email me, would you, at jane at dearauthor.com. I want to send you something.

    ReplyReply

  24. Kendra aka The Meanest Momma
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:42:42

    Thanks a billion for the QuickTag suggestion. I’ve been looking for something like that foreva!

    ReplyReply

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