A modern writing date.

Many people who use WordPress for their websites are not the only writers on the site. In fact, many may not write anything at all. Instead, they’ll hire others to produce the content for them.

Having multiple writers on one WordPress site can be tricky business, especially if you have some users overseeing others and acting as editors. And if you have a complex editorial workflow system for your content, then it can get even trickier.

Out of the box, there are WordPress multiple authors features built right into the software for handling a multiple author environment. Of course the most powerful tool is the roles function. The default roles in WordPress, from top to bottom, are the following:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

So, for example, a Subscriber cannot write or manage posts. A Contributor can write and manage posts, but he/she cannot publish them. So when a Contributor writes a post, by default, he/she can only save the post as a draft or submit it to be reviewed by an Editor or an Administrator. (You can see a full list of roles and their capabilities here.)

Extending WordPress for Multiple Authors

This works well, but some need more than what WordPress offers out of the box. And so below we’ll go over four plugins that many have found useful in multiple-author environments.

1. Advanced Access Manager

The Advanced Access Manager plugin lets you take the idea of roles to another level. Instead of being stuck with the default roles and capabilities that WordPress gives, you can change things up with this plugin. You can assign new capabilities and even create new roles.

For example, say you have an editor you really trust, and you want to give this person more power to change things on the site than the default roles allow for. You can. One way would be to create a completely new role, maybe an Executive Editor, for example. This way you can still reserve the default Editor role for others if needed.

But this plugin goes beyond that. It also lets you control who sees content on the frontend of your site too (i.e. the public part of your site). It even manages access to posts, pages, and custom post types.

Here’s a quick look at some of the settings for controlling capabilities.

WordPress Advanced Access Manager

2. Editorial Calendar

The Editorial Calendar plugin gives you an easy way to track your future posts and even your ideas for posts.

The graphic style of it really helps you get a perspective that simply looking at lines of text doesn’t. You can look at a week’s worth of posts at one time, two weeks or even a month.

In addition, you can drag posts around and shift their publish dates automatically. On top of this, you also have options to edit, delete, and view right from the calendar itself. You can even add a new post right from the calendar interface.

Here’s a shot of the calendar in action:

WordPress Editorial Calendar

And this nicely done video overview will show you exactly how it works:

The WordPress Editorial Calendar Screen Cast from Zack Grossbart

3. WP Status Notifier

The WP Status Notifier plugin is handy plugin for busy authors and editors. This plugin notifies the correct person when the status of a post has changed.

For example, when a Contributor submits a post for review, you can set it up so that an Editor gets an email. When that Editor accepts or rejects the post, the Contributor can automatically be notified.

As some of you may already be thinking, this would be very handy for user-submitted content. Maybe you have a site where you open up submissions. When they come rolling in, the whole process can go even smoother when people on both ends are being notified.

4. Co-Authors Plus

And finally we have Co-Authors Plus. This plugin lets you assign multiple bylines to one post. If two people did significant work on one post, then both should get the credit. You see this all the time in major newspapers, for example. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it in WordPress as well.

A Little More WordPress Multiple Authors Functionality Coming Soon

As someone who works with multiple authors on a regular basis, I can tell you that there’s a slight blind spot in WordPress that crops up on a regular basis. If an Author finishes a post and submits it for review, but the Author leaves the WP editor screen open in the browser window, then it limits the ability of an Editor or Administrator to edit it the way they want.

This happens a lot. Probably more than you may imagine. I’ve had writers finish a post on a Friday and then technically stay “active” in the editor for the entire weekend.

In the coming 3.6 version of WordPress, this little annoyance is addressed, and the ability to kick lower level users out of the editor will be implemented.

While this new improvement may seem like a small thing, it emphasizes once again that WordPress has grown from a lone blogger’s publishing software into a more comprehensive Content Management System.  More improvements like this are still needed, but the good news is they definitely seem to be popping up on a regular basis.

Photo credit: C.G.P. Grey