New look because I got bored with the old look

My wife and I once had a friend who had a lot of free time on her hands after work and spent most of it giving the inside of her house a new look. Every time we went over there, the walls and ceilings were adorned with fresh paint and the shelves and tabletops and walls were freshly accessorized like the re-done homes on HGTV. She was constantly bored with the old look so consistenly that when her husband–who traveled on business–came home, he must have wondered if had drunkenly staggered into the wrong house.

When HGTV’s home and hearth designers swoop in and re-do a house, the finishing touch is decorating every thing with knicknacks which–while they give the rooms a high-end look on TV, probably end of in the attic within months because they aren’t the look and feel the homeowners are used to and, when it comes down to it, take up a lot of room.

I wonder if our decorating-oriented friend found a Knicknacks to go kind of business where she could swap out rooms filled with old clutter for brand new clutter.

I take that approach to my blog and website, but prefer that my house looks like my house from month to month and year to year. Writers are supposed to find a niche for every component of their online presence and stay there because, as the gurus tell us, doing that builds audiences. When readers arrive on a site, they know where they are rather than wondering if they typed the URL incorrectly or drunkenly staggered into the wrong online enclave.

If I thought one look and feel forever and ever on my website would sell books, I might keep it. And if I kept it and sold more books, I could afford professional designers to keep each place fresh, yet comforting to readers who like exciting stories in the novels they read while reading them on the same frayed old couch.

I guess I should put a warning on the homepage of my website that says: “Youve probably been here before though you won’t rememeber it because I got bored with the old look again and don’t even recognize this place myself. Get used to it.”

Malcolm

Click on my name to see what my website looks like today, but maybe not next week.

Tinkering with the blog and the website

One never knows for sure what works.

So, this weekend, I got rid of two of the pages on this blog and updated the “About Me” page. One new page will rotate through a series of excerpts from my novels. The other will have related pictures of all kinds. Right now, it’s showing examples of the page proofs for the dust jackets when we came out with the hardcover editions.

When I first came out with Conjure Woman’s Cat, my website included a page about conjure. I decided that after adding two more conjure novels to the series, I really didn’t need a “conjure page” per se. Initially, I thought such a page would attract people interested in conjure who would then discover the novels. I don’t think that happened.

That page is now a page for excerpts. There are three there now. I hope to remain organized enough to change them from time to time so that there’s always something new on the website.

My publisher tells me that Thomas-Jacob Publishing’s hardcover books are selling. That’s certainly good news. My colleagues at T-J and I thank you.

My website is always in a state of flux. Frankly, that’s because I never know what information there attracts readers and what doesn’t. I also debate (with myself) how long something should stay there. I want more people to see items, but I don’t want them to come out to the site a few weeks later and find the same stuff. I’m winging it on this but usually, try to include something new every week.

My blog posts and tweets have feeds on the website. I have no clue whether that’s bad or good. At the very least, those feeds represent “new material.”

Most days, I think that bookselling is more of a gamble than either an art or a science.

Malcolm

Wow, new followers

WordPress keeps sending me notices that more and more people are following this blog. That’s a little scary because it means I can’t slack off and write these posts drunk and blindfolded. Thank you!

While many of my posts do sound drunk and blindfolded, I also have fun reviewing a few books, talking about authors, and occasionally saying a few things about writing. Yet, I have madness in my method and that is something that I believe needs to be said. I say it in fiction. This Facebook cover picture pretty well sums it up:

 

My publisher is working on a new edition. She just sent me photographs of it this morning. Wow, for a grey and rainy day, they really make me happy. You’re going to like it. More on that later, of course.

Malcolm

 

Blog housekeeping isn’t any more fun than house housekeeping

I get bored with cover pictures and themes on my web site, Facebook page, and blogs. Tinkering with those is fun. Less fun is keeping the blogroll and other links in the margins up to date. And then there are the old posts.

blogclipartWhen I sign on, I notice old posts that are getting a lot of hits. Sometimes I wonder why. Occasionally, I even go out and look at them and find (horrors) that my signature line has an out-of-date link in it, or worse yet that the post has a cover photo of an earlier edition of one of my novels.

If the posts are getting a lot of hits, then that’s where housekeeping is important. Writers who blog hope some of their readers will visit their websites and buy their books. This won’t happen if posts have links to web sites and books that no longer exist.

When blogs focus on events that are ongoing, you can also add updated material or fresh links. I did this a lot with my posts about the White House Boys (notorious school in Florida) and the fate of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. Both of these were for a while developing stories. You can rewrite the posts, of course, or you can add to them. When you add substantial new information, you can add the word UPDATED to the title.

I don’t delete a lot of old posts, but sometimes it’s good to take a look at them and see if you still feel the way you did when you wrote them. For a writer, this is often like finding old short stories in a file drawer and being a little embarrassed you haven’t thrown them away.

There’s more to do with a blog than meets the eye–just like the attic or the garage in your house.

–Malcolm

2010 in review – stats and more stats

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,700 times in 2010. That’s about 19 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 183 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 488 posts. There were 311 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 36mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 21st with 119 views. The most popular post that day was Songs and Whispers of the Living Earth.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, facebook.com, WordPress Dashboard, en.wordpress.com, and alphainventions.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for wicked leeks, the last templar, earth day 2010, “big bad slam poet”, and uss ranger fairview oregon.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Songs and Whispers of the Living Earth November 2010
28 comments

2

Fairview, Oregon selected for Super Carrier Museum July 2010
14 comments

3

Book Review: ‘The Last Templar’ October 2010
2 comments

4

Glacier Centennial: Heavens Peak Fire Lookout April 2010
3 comments

5

Wicked Leeks Site Under Fire for Leaking Leek Recipes December 2010
9 comments