A Guide to Publishing WhatIF Stories
By Phoenix Spiritus
So you want to write Whateley Universe Independent Fiction (WhatIF) and post it on the http://whateleyacademy.net website?
Welcome! Pull up a chair, let me get you started. I'll even draw you some pictures.
The first thing you are going to want to do is PM (Private Message) Kristin, our site admin, and ask (nicely!) to be allowed access to the WhatIF sections of the website.
So let me start by walking you through how to do that.
Step 1: Getting Access to the WhatIF Forums and Content Management System (CMS)
Now, assuming you have logged into our forums (you have signed up for them right?) The first thing to do, is in the top right corner of the site, click on the "Community" tab.
(See? Didn't I promise you pictures?)
Now, on the tab towards the top, in the middle of the screen, you want to select "Messages"
Then its a simple matter of selecting "Compose" from the end of the messages tab,
entering "Kristin Darken" into the the "To" field,
write a message asking for access to the WhatIF sections,
and then clicking "Send" and waiting for Kristin to give you the magic access.
And done! Once Kristin reads your message and modifies your account settings, you're now officially allowed to write and publish stories to the site's CMS system!
It can't really be that simple can it?
Well, no. Not really. Now you need to set-up your Editor in your profile settings.
Step 2: A good editor is an online writer's pen and paper
While it is certainly possible to write your story in our site's content management system (CMS), and there are actually pretty good Editors available, it's not really an experience I would recommend. I personally would suggest using whatever text editor / word processor you are most comfortable with to write your story, and then when it has reached the stage you would like comments and feedback for it, to import the story into our CMS and prepare it for publishing.
So, what's the big deal about choosing an editor in your profile then?
The site has a few editors to choose from, each offering different features, but the one most people recomend, and the one I'll be illistrating in these walk-throughs, is the JCE Editor. This editor has a nice blend of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing, similar to a Word Processor, along with the ability to manually edit the HTML as needed. It also works pretty well for copy / pasting from a word processor into it, while still retaining text formating of the text, which is most convinient when using word processors to write your stories.
So, let's setup your profile for the JCE Editor.
Since you are still in the Community tab, what you want to do now is select "Profile" from the secondary menu at the middle top of the page.
Next, you want to click "Edit" and then select "Update Your Profile"
Then you want to make sure that you are in the "Contact Info" tab,
And finally make sure that the "Editor" is set to "Editor - JCE"
Feel free to make any other changes you wish as well, for example, your "Name" in your profile is the name that will show up to other users of the CMS system. If you would prefer a pen-name to be used, here is where you would edit the name so it does so.
Once you have satisied yourself, click "Update" to save the changes.
So that's it right? I'm all ready to write my story?
Well, yes. But you might like some lessons on using the CMS first.
Step 3: A new story is born
Publishing the story in our CMS is a multistage process, the first stage is relatively simple, creating a new story.
When you are logged in to our site, and have the privileges of an Author, you will note a new option in the main menu at the top right of the page, Authors. This is the entrance to our CMS system.
In the Author section, you have the ability to create new Stories in the CMS, in this case you want to use "Create WhatIF"
Bonus! Here is the full options for a Canon Author. As a "WhatIF" author, the options to create 2nd Gen, 1st Gen and Other stories will not be shown to you.
Now you can see the CMS system and it looks a little complicated, but don't worry, for this first time I'm going to keep it very simple.
First you want to make sure that you are in "Content"
Now, first thing to do is enter a Title. This is the title that will appear in the WhatIF story lists.
Next, we want to add the story text, copy and paste it in from your favourite editing program.
And now click save.
That's it? Its published?
No, its not published. As a way to encourage better quality work, the CMS is setup to first put the story into an "Author Only" section where you can work on the story in the CMS, editing and previewing it without it being visible to everyone.
Ah, I see you asking. If its in an Author only section, how can I get my friends to help me improve it? How can I see what it will look like published?
Well, you change the settings so that the WhatIF community can see your story, and then you invite your friends in the WhatIF community to look at it.
Step 4: With a little help from my friends
Now, the nuts and bolts of the CMS for an Author, as well as the Editors, Copy Writers and all the other members of the WhatIF community, is the Article Manager. It is the Article Manager that shows all the stories you can edit, as well as their current status, and allows you to select stories to edit them.
To get to the Article Manger, in the Author Section of the site, you click on "Article Manager" to access it.
Now, when you open this up, you will see that your story is now listed, and it has been placed in Category called "Independent Fiction - Workshop / In Progress".
The "Independent Fiction - Workshop / In Progress" category is used for stories that their Author is still working on. Stories in this section should only be looked at and edited when the Author specifically asks you to, otherwise they should be left to the Author to continue working on.
Eagle eyed readers will note that under the "Published" column, my story has a big red dot. That red dot means that the story has not been made visible in the CMS, it has not been published. If anyone, even the Author, clicked on the Title of the story, they would get an error stating the story could not be found. When not published, the only thing you can do is edit the story by clicking the icon of the page with a pen on it in the right hand side "Edit" column.
Now, say you want to preview your story, but not have everyone see it. Is it possible to "publish" the story in a way the Author can preview it, but the general public cannot?
Glad you asked!
Yes of course you can. By clicking on the red dot you will change it to a green tick. This mean that the story is published, but only listed in the "Independent Fiction - Workshop / In Progress" section, and here in the Article Manager. This means you can give links to your story to friends in the WhatIF community, and they can see the story as it would be published, but people without WhatIF Community access will not be able to find the story. You can also see the story by clicking the it's title in the Article Manger. You and your friends will be able to preview and work on the story, getting it up to the standard where you believe its ready for the WhatIF Community as a whole to help critique your story.
And how do I get the WhatIF community as a whole to help me?
That's easy too. To inform the WhatIF community that you are ready for your story to be reviewed, and for them to make suggestions, you are going to want to do two things. First move the story to the "Independent Fiction - Request for Review / Feedback" category. Second, create a forum topic and ask for feedback and tell them how you would prefer to recieve it.
Don't worry, I'll walk you through it.
Step 5: It takes a community to tell a story
Now to change catgory of a story, you want to be editing it, in the Article Manager you click the picture of the pen on a page on the far right of the line to open the story in the Editor again:
Now, we are going to use one of the other tabs in the Editor, this time we want to go to "Publishing"
In the Publishing tab, we can edit the "Category". The default category is "Independent Fiction - Workshop / In Progress", to signal to the WhatIF community the story is ready for fedback, want to change that to "Independent Fiction - Request for Review / Feedback"
Again bonus, you can see a few of the Canon author categories here. Obviously a WhatIF community member will only see the Independant Fiction ones, and not the Canon author categories.
There are quite a few other options here, but I only want to highlight a few.
First, the tag system is reserved for the Canon stories at this time. Please don't tag your stories, and especially don't create your own tags, as this causes problems for Kristin in the back-end. At a future date we may open up Tags to the WhatIF community by making specially created "WhatIF" tags you can use.
Next, in order for people to see the story in the CMS system, rather then in Editor, we need to make sure the story status is "Published".
And the final option I'm going to highlight, for those that wish the CMS system to track them by their name, but their stories to be on the site listed under a pen name, they can set the Author Alias for each story separately here to set the Author Name used in the story lists.
Now we just click save, and in the Article Manager the story shows in its new category,
Also, the stroy will be listed in the sidebar for WhatIF community members, so that they can quickly see and access the story
Now that we have the story in the "Independent Fiction - Request for Review / Feedback" category, its time to create a topic in the Order of the Worn Wrench section of the forums to let people know how you would like to receive feedback.
So, using the Site Menu at top right of page, you want to select Community, and this time go to the Forums
Then you are going to want to scroll down to the "Independent Fiction: Tunnels" section, and open the "Order of the Worn Wrench" topic.
In the Order of the Worn Wrench you want to create a new topic:
For a feedback topic there is a few conventions we tend to use, which I've illustrated here
- The Title should be "Name of Story" and then "Editing", "Feedback" or something similar
- Select the "Heart" as the Topic icon, this helps make it stand out a bit more in the forum lists
- Include a link to the story in the post, it makes it easy for WhatIF community members to find and open your story
- Include details of how you would like to receive feedback, so that WhatIF community members know if you prefer PMs or just discussion in the forum. If you don't state a preference, you'll get feedback in the forum. Don't say we didn't warn you.
For members of the WhatIF community interested in providing feedback to Authors, a good topic to read is the "Two Become One Editing" topic (sorry Pioneer), where a rather involved editing discussion was carried out in forum posts for all to see. This will give you a good understanding of what we are trying to achieve through the WhatIF feedback process.
OK, you can submit the topic now and get ready to receive the feedback!
So you've written your masterpiece, all your friends have politely said its wonderful, crickets chirped happily in the WhatIF Community, and now you're ready to show the world what you can do, its time to publish!
Woo! Slow down cowboy, just a few final touches to go.
Step 6: A few final things before publishing
WhatIF stories have a requirement to add a disclaimer to them, this lets people know that its a WhatIF story and not part of canon. This is the currently suggested disclaimer below, it is some HTML code that goes right at the top of your story and produces the following:
It's a simple image with a mouseover that puts a basic "Whateley Independent Fiction" logo/header at the top of the page, but when you mouseover the image, it displays the disclaimer as a graphic. Feel free to start using this, once we nail down the text of the final disclaimer, it'll be updated for all your stories with no extra work on your part.
Now, adding the disclaimer to your story is relatively easy, and I'll walk you through it now.
First, copy the following HTML fully, all the way from the opening "<" to the closing ">"
<img src="http://whateleyacademy.net/images/include/WhatIF-Logo.jpg" alt="WhatIF Logo" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" onmouseover="this.src='http://whateleyacademy.net/images/include/WhatIF-Disclaimer.jpg';" onmouseout="this.src='http://whateleyacademy.net/images/include/WhatIF-Logo.jpg';" />
Once again, we want to edit the story, but this time we want to edit the raw HTML. To access the HTML, in the Content tab of the Editor we want to click "[Toggle Editor]"
"[Toggle Editor]" is just words between the Title and the Editing controls, I've highlighted them in green in the screenshot so you can see them better.
Once the editor is toggled, you can now see the raw HTML code for your story, don't worry if you aren't familiar with HTML, its a very simple thing we want to do, no need for HTML knowledge at all.
At the top of the code, make a new line and paste the text from above on the new line so that the text is at the beginning of the story. Now you just "Save" the edits, that's all that is required.
The next task before publishing is to set a "Read More" marker very near the top of your story. How the "Read More" marker works is to allow the top of your story (the title and the first one or two paragraphs) to show on the main "WhatIF" story page, with a "Read More" button bellow for readers to click to "Read More" of your story.
This is very simple to do, in the editor after your first or second paragraph (whichever seems the better break point for you), click to position the curser there, then at the bottom right of the Editor, right below the story field, click the "Read More" button.
That's it! you are now ready to publish!
Step 7: My own private printing press
Now finally, my work shall be known to all!
To Publish the story, we are once again going to change the Category of the story. So exactly the same as we did for allowing the WhatIF community to see the story, we want to edit it and go to the Publishing tab, but this time we want to do the following:
Set the Category to "Whateley Independent Fiction (WhatIF)"
And so that everyone can read it, you want to make sure that the Access is set to "Public"
Making sure that the Status is set to Published, save the story and bask in its glory!
What? Where is your story? Sorry, let me guide you to it.
First, using the main site menu in the top right of the page, select "Stories"
Then in the Stories menu, select "Whateley Independent Fiction"
Now you can bask in the glory of your story, published to the Whateley Site for all to read!
And that's it, your story is published! but before we go …
A few dos and don'ts to make things run smoothly for all of us
Do make use of the stages of the editing process to allow time for feedback before publishing. Even the canon stories are extensively peer-reviewed before being published. As a general rule, we'd like the editing and corrections process to be 'behind the scenes' as much as possible so as to promote a "good quality" feel for the stories on our site.
Do encourage friends you would like to read and review your story to ask for WhatIF access to the site. Editors, proof-readers and Copy Writers are a resource we'd love to have become active WhatIF community members for all our Authors.
Don't create "test" stories to later 'delete'. The CMS is currently set up such that you actually can't delete stories, all you can do is 'unpublish' them. If you 'accidentally' create a story, try and reuse it for your next project, you can change the title and content through the Editor and continue on to publish the story as normal.
Remember to "Cancel" when in an story Editor if you want to leave the Editor and not make any changes. If you don't Cancel or Save before leaving, the story will remain "Signed out" by you and others cannot edit it until you edit the story again and properly Save or Cancel from the editor.