How to Make A Decent Author WordPress Template Maybe

WordPress is like a robot companion who fights alongside you, facilitates your livelihood, but also might explode into a cloud of fart gas and flying turds at any moment. You might be wondering: “How the hell did that robot get so full of organic fecal matter?” Sorry. That information is proprietary.

The fact is, though, WP is still the best. Authors need the dynamic ability of a framework like WordPress, even if that means a flying plop from time to time. Is it flatus? Just a touch.

It’s unfortunate that our products (paper books, kindle, etc.) are arranged in what a painter would call “portrait mode,” rather than the much more internet-friendly “landscape,” but books are older and better so fuck you, computers.

A Book Sellers Theme

I started chasing the idea of a portfolio-style home page when I saw Chuck Wendig’s web site some years ago. (I call him Chucky Wendy.) I hunted around in his source code to find the name of it, bought it, and used it for years myself.

Chucky Wendy’s theme is called “Yin and Yang.” It’s on Envato here.

There are a couple of things I like about this theme. Overall I think the design is great, but it’s not really made for authors. As you can see, the portfolio images are landscape orientation, so you can’t see all of the book cover unless you click on the whole thing. That’s not ideal.

Another thing I don’t like is that clicking on the book image takes you to a page on your web site where you are obliged to describe your book to your reader in hopes that they’ll click yet again to be taken to Amazon or Kobo or Honest Bobs Sweet-Ass Book Hut.

The path to purchase is too long here.

Warning: Sales Douche Talk Ahead

I wish I could just write books and have checks appear, but since I’m a one-man operation — with the love and support of my wife and family, of course — I have to do everything: writing, marketing, and sales.

I want my path to purchase to be as short as possible. If I can entice a potential reader to click on the image of my book — ಠ__ಠ — I want them to get to the “buy” button before they think, “Wait, I’ve never heard of this guy. Humorous Fantasy and Science fiction? What the butts?!”

I also don’t want to confuse potential readers by making them wonder if they should buy my book on Kobo, nor do I want to make them laugh out loud by suggesting that they’d buy books at a Barnes and Noble.

Amazon’s page for my book is ideal. The Createspace paperback, Kindle version, and Audible versions are all right there and I don’t have to maintain a blurb on my website in addition to the one I already rewrite occasionally on Amazon.

Enter the Amazon Link Builder plugin.

I hate plugins!

Yeah. Plugins suck. Sure, they add features to WordPress. Features like “unexplained crashing” and “security vulnerabilities.” But this one is written by Amazon and my little red wagon is, for good or ill, hitched right to that star. Might as well ride on.

My theme is called Snaps, which is free for download here, but the home page content is made using Amazon Link Builder.

Once you’ve installed Amazon Link Builder you’ll have to hook it up to your Amazon Associates account for it to work. Note that you can’t transmit associate links in an offline manner, so no podcasts and no emails. But that isn’t a problem for my home page.

The Amazon Link Builder adds this button to page/post editing screen.

If you play around with that, you’ll see you have a few options for how to display your books. I made a custom template for mine that removed the price stuff and just showed the books cover. Here’s what my template looks like on Pastebin:

And here’s the CSS to go with it:

This creates a workable gallery of my book images that take clickers straight to Amazon. If those people buy something, I get a few cents as an associate. It’s not much money, but then, I’m a professional writer so I’m not really in a position to leave pennies lying around.

That’s it for the book section of my home page. Below that is a list of my latest posts using a shortcode generated by the Ultimate Post List widget. Easy peasy.

Hey! I hope this helps you.

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