Archives: blog

Help! I need a new name

 

I’m still an awkward adolescent in the adult world of blogging, but I thought I was doing just fine until I joined a social-media hop organized by Raimey Gallant. The hop had about 400 of us writers and artists agreeing to follow each other’s blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and the like to boost our online audiences and make connections.

As I started following these other blogs, though, I couldn’t help comparing mine to theirs.  One thing I noticed right off the bat. Many of these blogs had clever and intriguing names. Okay, Raimey’s blog is her name, but she has a cool-sounding name!

I mean, “Updates from Pam McGaffin” wouldn’t be so bad if I had a different name like . . . Margaret Atwood.

Or maybe I cut the word “updates” because there isn’t much to update. I’ve got one and a half unpublished books if you count my very rough, two-thirds-done first draft of Novel 2. And I’m still waiting on at least one agent and one small press who have asked to read the full manuscript of “The Leaving Year.” So, yeah, still no news.

But . . . okay, here’s an announcement: THIS IS GOING TO BE MY YEAR! If I can’t find an agent and/or (traditional) publisher, I will go the indie, non-traditional route. This novel will fledge in 2017, meaning I’ll start the actual process toward publication. MARK MY WORDS.

Hm, that’s not a bad blog title.

I tried to come up with something better than “Updates from . . .” when I started my blog a year and a half ago. Since my first novel is about the daughter of a missing fisherman, I played around with combining nautical and writing terms. For reasons now lost to me, I also got caught up in some cooking/creativity symbolism.

The result of this brainstorming was the two notebook pages you see above. There are some good ideas in there, I think. Also some bad and ugly.

First the good, as in I kind of like them:

  1. IN OTHER WORDS
  2. GRIST
  3. HOOK AND LINE
  4. CATCH-ALL
  5. HUNT AND PECK
  6. LIFELINES
  7. TALESPINNING
  8. WRITE NOW

The bad, as in I can’t imagine what was going through my head:

  1. CLEANING THE FILTER
  2. CARP
  3. BLOGGY DOGGY
  4. MILD MUSE
  5. NOODLES
  6. WORD SWILL or is it WORDS WILL?

The ugly, as in gag:

  1. LET’S WRITE BOOKS
  2. DEEP THOUGHTS

Now I see that there are entire websites devoted to helping bloggers come up with unique names. Just Google “blog n” if you’re curious. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but that may be next.

What do you think? Do I need a name change? Do any of the ideas listed above make you want to read my blog and tell your friends? Lay it on me straight and/or cast your vote. And if you’re the author of one of the blogs I’m now following, share how you came up with your name.  I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Birthday, Blog! 5 things you’ve taught me

 

My blog and website turned a year old on July 12. Since I forgot to celebrate, here’s a belated happy birthday to www.pamjmcgaffin.com!

I started blogging as a way to build that all-important author platform, which to me sounds very brick and mortar-ish but has more to do with growing an email list and letting people know that you do, in fact, exist. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn, but here are five insights I’ve gained so far.

  1. Hiring professionals can save you a lot of time and frustration if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know it’s technically possible to build your own website, but I’m not technically inclined. I knew nothing of WordPress or MailChimp. I didn’t know how to choose a good host or that I’d need to track my website traffic and protect against spam. I just recently learned what SEO stands for (still not completely sure how it works). I would rather clean scum from my refrigerator than work on computer issues, so I’m glad that Writing Coach Brooke Warner of She Writes Press and Kenny McNett of Fitted Web Design saved me the trouble with their “Sites on Summer” webinar last year. You made the process almost painless. Thank you!
  2. If you build it they will come – NOT. I don’t know what I was expecting. People didn’t flock to my site the second it went live. When I Googled my name (a self-indulgent habit), I didn’t get a thousand new hits. A website without promotion is like that tree falling in the forest. No one will know or care unless you tell them, and keep telling them, over and over again, any way you can — via social media, during dinner, while jogging, at other friend’s book signings . . . Really, you must lose all sense of shame.
  3. Blogging can be fun and give you a sorely needed feeling of accomplishment. Novels take a long time to write, but I can knock out a blog post in less than a day, two days if I’m being really fussy. My twice-monthly blog gives me the satisfaction of actually finishing something! That people like! To understand why that’s such a big deal, you need know a little about writing and submitting and how humbling it all is. In the last two weeks, I failed to win a contest (didn’t even get an honorable mention) and was turned down by a literary agency that had requested the first 50 pages of my novel. So keep those “likes” and comments coming. I will soak them up like a Bounty Quicker Picker Upper.
  4. Good content will keep them coming back, but it’s okay to mix things up. Over the last year, I’ve blogged about myself, my likes and dislikes, friends and family, the writing process, what’s inspired and helped me, and my efforts to get my first novel published. I don’t have an identifiable theme or format, and that’s okay for now, because I’m still learning, still discovering what resonates and what doesn’t. Different subjects pull in different readers (particularly if I’m linking to other sites). Every post is an opportunity to attract fans from near and far. I kid you not. According to Google Analytics, “sessions” on my site have come from 84 countries, including a couple I’ve never heard of. While I’d love to find a way to snare a reader in Mongolia or Iceland, I realize the first reader I have to engage is myself. If I like what I’m writing, if I’m being real and entertaining and occasionally practical, someone else will find value in it, too.
  5. Building an audience takes time, effort and gall. Confession time. After a year of blogging, I have a grand total of 23 subscribers, and six of them are family, including yours truly. (I practically had to bribe my sons to sign up, and they can’t be bothered to read my blog, even the posts about them!) I get it. People are bombarded with messages, and there are only so many hours in the day to dink around online. I, too, am guilty of reading an interesting post and ignoring the “subscribe” box that pops up like a conscience bubble. We don’t need or want any more emails, thank you, which is why I’m not above asking someone to subscribe to his or her face and handing over my business card. I know it sounds so 1980s, but it works. Note: If you’re not already one of my 17 non-family fans, feel free to prove me wrong by going to my contact page and signing up. It’s easy, and I promise not to inundate you with emails. Plus, you will get ABSOLUTELY FREE my “12 Tips to Saner, More Successful Writing… From My Three Decades of Trial and Error”. See what I mean about shameless?

Do you have a blog or plans to start one? Share the best thing you’ve learned or ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you!