10 Best WordPress Themes for Authors

Authors are well aware of the benefits of blogging, and a serviceable blog is now a tool of almost every author’s trade, alongside the HB pencil and the moleskine notebook. As an author, and as a recent but enthusiastic WordPress adopter, I thought I’d put together a list of ten WordPress themes which are ideal for authors. I am aware that WordPress is not the only blogging platform, but in 2011 WordPress is by far the most popular of the various options, so with that in mind, allow me to present my personal selection of the 10 best WordPress themes for authors.

The following countdown reflects my preference for clean white themes. It is a matter of personal taste, but also seems to be a logical choice for authors, who want the focus to be on words and book covers rather than on snowflakes and dancing penguins. Branding is important, of course, but all of the themes below can be easily customized to reflect your unique author brand. Think of them as blank slates on which to write.

10. Typominima

Typominima - a typography wordpress theme for writers and authors

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I like themes which focus on beautiful typography, and this theme is definitely heading in the right direction. But in my opinion the header and the sumptuous swirls take up too much space and leave the content straggling behind. In fact, I only included this theme here because of the lovely typewriter graphic.

9. Wp-notes theme

WP Notes wordpress theme - the perfect theme for a writer

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The right-justified sidebar in this theme is very unassuming and gives the blog a nice shape. At present the WP-Notes Theme seems popular with computer engineers like Jared and Jennifer and Max, but no doubt it would also make a good-looking quirky blog for a good-looking quirky author. Especially if used for frequent short posts. Just replace that letter b in the top-left corner with a greyscale close-up of your grinning face or your fingers dancing across the keyboard.

8. the Seven Five

The Seven Five wordpress theme - a great theme for authors

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I’ve always liked the typeface Lucida Sans, and this theme puts it to great use. Seven Five is not so much a blog theme as a ‘lifestream’ – a diary of your electronic life. The homepage has sections for ‘Latest Post’, ‘Latest Tweets’, ‘Latest Pics’ and so on. This would be a great theme for authors who tweet regularly.

7. Oulipo

Oulipo Minimalist WordPress theme for writers and authors

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The demo site for the wordpress.org installation of Oulipo is so sparse it does not do the theme justice, but check out the Oulipo demo on wordpress.com, which is much better. I love the way the left sidebar is pinned in place, keeping your page links (or your book covers) in view. Great design.

6. Structure theme

Structure Theme - a great wordpress theme for writers and authors

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Structure theme is a great freemium theme – a free theme with the design quality of a premium theme. It boasts well thought out typography and well laid out elements. It is content-focussed, uncluttered and stylish – this is a great theme for authors with a significant amount of content to organize.

5. Wu wei

Wu Wei - a white wordpress theme for writers and authors

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I dislike it when blog themes code their ‘blockquote’ with a single quotation mark graphic; talk about being left hanging. But opening quotes without closing them is Wu Wei’s only crime and it more than makes up for that with its clean, original design and tasteful hints of colour. I also like the big fat titles on the left of the posts (rather than above the posts) and the comment numbers in their little speech bubble icons. These space-saving gizmos mean that nothing will detract from that big full-colour jpeg of your new book cover. Let the colour and dynamism come from your content, not from the frame.

4. The Erudite

The Erudite wordpress theme - ideal for authors

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Lots of good things going on in this carefully coded theme. It has a very literary appearance with its highlighted initials, its elegant typography and its sophisticated white-on-black widgetized footer. Hmm, sophisticated and widgetized aren’t words that usually sit comfortably together – that shows you just what a special theme The Erudite is. I love the way it gives prominence to recent posts and just includes excerpts of the rest.

This would make a good blog theme for Martin Amis or Ian McEwan or for a Martin Amis or Ian McEwan wannabe. Maybe not for a children’s author, though, and maybe not for an author who wants to post a lot of images (unless the images are greyscale, mmm).

3. Smart Portfolio

Smart Portfolio - the perfect wordpress theme for an author displaying books

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Coded by the inimitable Curt Ziegler, this is one very smart theme indeed. All right, so it’s a whole content management system, not just a blog, but look at it – just perfect for the needs of an author. Have a play with the demo and you’ll see what I mean. All you need to do is to change the menu item ‘portfolio’ to ‘books’ and you’re away . Curt Ziegler’s tagline is ‘creating sites that breathe’. This theme breathes so deep it must have lungs the size of mulberry bushes. It has a good aesthetic, good line length, good icons, good footer, good contact form, good tagline area and good technical support. The demo looks a bit corporate, but once you have personalised the theme with your own pics and book content, it’ll look great. A $25 Premium Theme, Smart Portfolio is well worth the money. Think about it – how much would you pay a professional coder to make you an author site that looks this classy? Hundreds of dollars, that’s how much.

2. Manifest

Manifest WordPress Theme by Jim Barraud - a great theme for writers and authors

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I used to dislike Times New Roman so much that in the early days of Facebook I joined a Facebook group campaigning to ban Times New Roman from the web! Then I saw Jim Barraud’s Manifest theme and everything changed. It’s a natty one-column typography-based theme and I use it as the basis for all three of my blogs.

NB. The wordpress.com version has been tweaked by the folks at Automattic and is even better than the self-hosted version – it has a classier header and ‘post formats’ enabled. But I’m sure Jim will get around to updating the self-hosted version soon. Won’t you, Jim?

1. Minimal

Minimalist WordPress theme - a beautiful classy white theme for writers and authors

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I’m not being paid by Curt Ziegler for putting his themes at numbers 3 and 1 on this list. It’s just that he has produced two of the nicest looking wordpress themes I’ve ever seen. Minimal is a seamless portfolio / blog theme with great attention to detail. I love the alternating shading on the recent posts area, the greyscale social media links, the muted red-brown links and those fantastic shouty taglines. Again, if it’s still a bit corporate for your liking, just slap a big cartoony header in place of the ‘minimal’ graphic. Or a moody black and white photo of you hunched scowling over your Macbook. This theme costs $25 and would be a bargain at twice the price.

So there you have it: the ten best WordPress themes for authors, IMHO.

I’d love to hear your own suggestions so please do comment.

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

13 thoughts on “10 Best WordPress Themes for Authors”

  1. I also prefer clean, white themes. They are elegant, they are discreet and they let you breathe. The Smart Portfolio would be my choice if I used WordPress.

    1. Thanks Stephanie. Yes, it’s a biggish leap but I’m glad I made it. I have used Blogger and Movable Type in the past, and am so much happier with WordPress. It’s ever so user friendly.

      More food for thought – I forgot the Hemingway theme! Not only do you get a stylish black and white theme with great typography and layout, you also get authorial clout from having ‘Powered by Hemingway’ at the bottom of your blog (not as much as a Pulitzer on the mantelpiece, but it’s a start).

      Here’s the theme: http://warpspire.com/hemingway/

      And here are a few sites that use it:
      http://www.massimoscolari.it/
      http://www.lambertococcioli.com/
      http://www.stimmelopolis.com/blog/
      http://www.wadeharrell.info/

  2. While redesigning a WordPress site and looking for ideas, I found your article. I really appreciate your perspective as I too love clean white space and now I know why. Thanks. This piece is definitely influencing my final decisions.

  3. Steve–
    Very helpful post.
    I’m starting up a blog using Manifest and would like to set it up so that it has a right-hand side column as yours does but can’t figure out how to do that. Did you pay extra for the customize option or is this possible with the free theme?
    Thanks,
    Julie

  4. Hi Julie. I used to use plain Manifest on this blog, and then I began to feel the lack of a sidebar rather keenly, so I changed to Rudy Jahchan’s Manifesto theme, which is based on the original Manifest.

    I don’t think Rudy has done much work to update the Manifesto theme since its first release, and a number of people say its broken – but if you’re interested I did find a ZIP download link here http://themes.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/2766 which should still work.

    Be careful, though – the theme is white text on a black background – I tweaked the css quite a lot to get it looking like it does now on my blog. Best wishes for your redesign.

    1. Thanks for your comment Kavita. Yes, I’m afraid this post is well out of date now. I’ve rather lost touch with what’s out there, and have returned slavishly to WordPress Twenty Fifteen / Sixteen. Glad to see you’ve got your finger on the pulse, though. I had a look at your website and there are some lovely theme recommendations there for writers. I love the look of Melville, for example. Thanks for all you’re doing!

  5. Hello Stephen,

    Just to let you know that the theme Manifest listed above is retired from the official WordPress repository and the current version fails to install (on self-hosted/wordpress.org).

    We have recently fixed the theme and a working version can be downloaded from the link below:

    http://webpub.online/download-manifest-theme/

    The Team @ WebPub.online
    Free . WordPress . Hosting

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