I liked you better when….

When a person begins a sentence with this line, you know what comes next won’t be pretty. And when it’s from your sister, it’s gonna be downright ugly.

In this case, my sister, the vaunt-of-all-that-is-blunt in my life, tells me this: “I liked you better when you were a blogger, not an author.”

To get this statement in all its humor, the context must be explained. When I was toying around with fiction, I was blogging daily. Sometimes 2-3 times a day. Like many would-be authors, I hid my fear of failure behind the illusion that blogging would make me a better author, dutifully scoffing at all authors, agents and publishers who said this statement as fact. (I later wrote an entire chapter about what stops prospective authors). During this time, my sister, and a whole lotta strangers, had a peek into my life, my personality, warts and all. She loved it and public adored it based on the number of visitors.

Reality, (and change) hit when I saw I’d written over 600 blogs but not completed a single work of fiction. I changed overnight, and my sis (and blog readers) were none too happy about it. The books kept coming, the blog became obsolete, and even my periodic spurts back into blogging are weak. This last year, my final blog was in May, but I completed three additional books. That is what concentration and focus does for an author.

“But you were more fun when you blogged!” she wailed to me just this morning. “People don’t see movies because the movie is that great. It’s because they like the person.” (in a flash, Jet Li came to mind, and I thought–yeah, I like him, his movies are hit and miss, but something about that guy just makes me want to see him).

I do a visual backflip and try to pay attention to what she’s saying. “You’re suggesting people will read my books because they like me?” I ask, but she ignores me.

“Instead of giving away a signed book,” she answers, talking over my last words. “Give away a Valentine’s gift like a mug you use to drink your hot chocolate, filled with the recipe and the ingredients. That’s sooo much more interesting.” Hmm. That might give me the excuse to make more hot chocolate. I’m on board. She then proceeds to give me points on how to improve my just-released newsletter (it’s not even 24 hours old). “Giveaway a print book, sure,” (she barely hides her bored sigh), “but then every month, surprise the newsletter group with something about yourself.” She proceeds to list off a marketing-professionals oft-recited list of monthly holidays…Mother’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo (does that count?), Memorial Day, 4th of July….before you know it, she’s planned out my entire give away schedule…

I relent. She’s probably right. Rabid readers know my publishing schedule better than I do (and I heard about this on Instagram). So sure, I can come up with interesting things that are a part of my life, as she says. Fresh eggs (oooo, sexy), motorcycle gear (hmmm, guys would like that)…French perfume (okay, that’s better)…

“And another thing…” here it comes. “Publish a schedule of what they can expect when.” Now that does resonate. If you’ve read this far, you are dedicated, and yes, are one of those who knows my schedule, and should mentally thank my sister for her suggestions.

Here’s what newsletter recipients can expect:

  • No more than two emails from me a month (unless you are a lucky winner of something)
  • One email is the monthly newsletter, announcing the book giveaway for that month, and any other invites (such as advance copies of a forthcoming book)
  • Second email (mid-month) announces the winner and also a special something (I’ve already forgotten the marketing word she used. rest assured it will be something unique and must pass “the sister test,” first). God love sisters.

After all the advice, she came back around to the topic of why she liked me better, ending on a positive note.

“You know the best part of your newsletter? It wasn’t the new books, blah blah, it was the last section on self-reliance and preparing the home! It was like you were your old-blogger self. That was great! You’re a Dave Ramsey-light. That’s what I mean by your former blogger self. Put that stuff in the front and not the end.”

I made no such promise to her, but I did commit to a) attempting to find some balance in my blogging life and b) if I can’t do that with any consistency, then at least inject myself into my outward communications a bit more (aren’t my snaps of moose and dance songs enough??).

You, and she, will tell me if I’m succeeding.

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