Today’s stunning Potpourri of stuff

In no particular order. . .

  • I listened to Trump’s speech this morning. It was more low key and measured than I expected. Having said that, I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and read that we bombed something in Iran. I hope we don’t.
  • I tend to agree with Melinda’s comment on yesterday’s post about writer weblogs. She thought people tended to visit after buying a little-known author’s book (or hearing about them) just to learn something more about them rather than to buy a book. I haven’t cancelled my website yet, but I did get rid of a pricey add-on that I really don’t need.
  • My ex-wife and I haven’t spoken (or written) for years, but we both hear about each other via our daughter. I learned yesterday that my ex-wife’s older brother died two days ago. I messaged my daughter that I was sorry to hear the news. That’s all I can do since leaving a message on his Facebook profile or any of his family members’ profiles would probably be seen as a very unwelcome intrusion. He was a great guy.
  • Homemade chilli is simmering in the Dutch oven. Maybe some of it will be around later in the week when the bad weather hits the Southeast. Right now, our low temps here in north Georgia are in the high 20s.
  • I’m currently reading and enjoying Dora Goss’ The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl. It’s the third in her Athena Club series. The club looks into mysteries and other weird stuff. Club members are reading the manuscript as it unfolds, so we frequently have comments and dissenting opinions about the way the story is being handled.
  • It’s been fun watching the special “Jeopardy” competition this week between three all-time winners. Even when we know the answers, the champs say them before we do.


Spent the day working on my author’s website

Supposedly, professional book publicists can look at an author’s platform (website, blog, Facebook) and say. “No wonder you’re not selling many books” and/or “If people aren’t buying your books, they’re nuts.”

Short of paying a professional $25,000 to provide us with that information, most of us (authors) are blindly wandering in the dark with no clue what helps us and what hurts us. With that in mind, I spent the afternoon updating my website with no idea whatsoever whether the changes will increase sales, decrease sales, or put me on the “no-fly list.”

Much to my horror, I’ve discovered that if an author is crazy and broke, s/he tends to draw crazy and broke people to his/her website, blog, and Facebook author’s page. So, what this means is lots of people are stopping by, but few of them are going out to Amazon (or wherever) and buying any books. This isn’t good.

Gurus say, “Be yourself.” Well, who else the hell can I be? The thing is, I wonder if I ought to stop being myself and put up a website that looks like I’m Dan Brown or Jo Rowling. Prospective readers would look at the site for a nanosecond and buy everything they see there. There might be some negative repercussions, but I wouldn’t care because I’d be rich.

As authors, we’re never sure what exactly will draw people to our books, to consider buying them and seeing if they like them instead of automatically purchasing the latest novel from one of the BIG NEW YOUR PUBLISHERS. Heck, I buy from the big publishers because most of the reviews, lists of the best of the best, interviews, and feature stories ignore authors from small-press publishers.  Why? That’s all I hear about in literary sites. Even sites that focus on helping aspiring authors don’t interview or feature aspiring authors.

So, what to do? I thought about using malware to automatically sell a copy of one of my books to everyone who logged onto my website. Somehow, that seemed wrong.  So, I didn’t do it.

I thought about putting a hex on everyone who logged onto my website so that they would buy copies of all of my books. Yes, that would help my Amazon ranking and maybe even get me on the New York Times bestseller list. Yet, it also seemed wrong.

So, when promoting my books I’m pretty much stuck being me. All of us are. And who knows what will come of it?


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satirical mystery/thriller “Special Investigative Reporter.”


Those messy website blues

Like a new car, a new website looks sleek, clean, and is the envy of everyone who sees it. However, like cars that get older and no longer are washed or given scheduled maintenance and oil changes, websites start showing their age as well.

Last night on MasterChef, chef Ramsay told one of the contestants that his dish was confusing because it wasn’t cohesive and was more like a smorgasbord of flavors that didn’t go together. This is another way of saying that–like the old car–a website that’s messy, confusing and probably difficult for new visitors to figure out isn’t helping you.

When I set up my website (Conjure Woman’s Cat), I had great intentions. I was going to keep it squared away (a navy terms that means “shipshape”) rather than than letting it look like our old Buick or the top of the desk in my office.

I chanced upon a writer’s website article that basically said, if you’re website is screwed up, you won’t be kissing your books goodbye because nobody will be buying them. This caught me attention because sales have been lower this year than last year. Partly, that’s Amazon’s fault for establishing a new ranking system that’s biased in favor of bestselling books from mainstream publishers. Even though the rest of us are in the chopped liver category, it was obvious to me that I needed to clean up and streamline the website.

This has taken the better part of two days. It’s by no means perfect. On the other hand, it no longer has a garage sale kind of ambiance surrounding it. One thing I tossed out was a synopsis of each of my older books. This made the site too wordy and added pages. So, I’m featuring my two latest books and putting everything else in a catalogue of covers. Might be a mistake, but the result is certainly a lot easier to figure out.

In the business world some years ago, the word “agile” was often used to refer to companies that could change quickly with the times whether they needed new products or new ways of talking about their current products. I think authors need to be agile in this way in their presentations and promotions. While the books are the same books we published some years ago, we need to find new ways of capturing people’s attention.

So, I cleaned up my website an hour ago. So far, neither Oprah or Warner Brothers has called, but I can always hope.