I got up early this Saturday morning, and instead of doing my usual workout, I decided I'd work on my blog a bit. If that sounds like an excuse not to work out, trust me when I tell you I'd much rather go for a run than spend my Saturday morning performing administrative tasks on my blog. Alas, they needed to be done.
In addition to changing my template and cleaning things up a bit, I decided to see what I could do with the Blogger Page feature. I tried it when Blogger first released the gadget, but got a bit frustrated because what I wanted to do with pages wasn't what Blogger had in mind.
In short, their idea of a page is essentially one post that you want to provide a link to from your home page. To see what I mean, find the cover for Caution to the Wind in the right-hand column on this blog. Just beneath that, I have a page for the back of the book blurb. I suspect I could have made it fancier, but it is Saturday morning!
That's useful, but somewhat limited. I had envisioned something more like a web page for the book where I could add links to reviews, an excerpt or two, posts about the book, etc. Of course, I realize this is Blogger - a free tool no less! I shouldn't expect it to be a replacement for a web designer like Adobe Muse. (The tool I use for my even less attended to website.)
But, since the Pages gadget has been out awhile, I thought I'd search again to see what others have done with it. I've worked with tech people long enough to know that when you tell them something "doesn't work that way," they love to prove you wrong.
Sure enough, I found a very helpful page that explained in extremely clear language (a bit of a rarity) how to create pages that link to multiple posts using post labels. Here's a link to that post. Hopefully, it sticks around for a while, but if you try it, and the link appears to be broken, please let me know in the comment box.
Now, if you want to see what this menu looks like, look at the top of the right-hand column in this blog. I added a page for each of my books as well as a page for two key topics - the reviews I write and American History posts.
One quick tip: Because you have to create a link to the labels, it doesn't work so well if you have labels like "American Revolution" that include a space. Therefore, I created a unique label for each of my categories, e.g., AMRev. It's a little extra work, but the upside is that I could select specific posts I wanted to add to the page without removing the label from less important (interesting?) posts.
The other tip is that , for reasons I can't fathom, capitalization matters. For example, I had to use "AMRev" in the link instead of "amrev". I've never seen capitalization matter in a link, but this time it did.
For you cynics - I realize I could accomplish something very similar to this by using the labels feature and the labels list or cloud. However, to make it useable as a menu of pages, I would have had to limit the number of labels I include. I still think the labels list is incredibly useful, maybe not for others, but it's helped me when I want to reference a post wrote on something specific like the Marquis de Lafayette. Not that I don't love the Marquis, but he doesn't deserve his own page.
For the rest of you, I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any luck with it, or if you've found an even better way.