September 6, 2004 - PB
July 11, 2004 - PB
May 1, 2004 - PB
March 23, 2004 - PB
Posted to Web site on 12-28-03.
New Year Reflections and Resolutions
2003 has been an interesting and productive year for MostlyFiction.com. Thanks to our fantastic review team -- Mary, Cindy, Shannon, Poornima, Jenny, Kam, Chuck, Sudheer, April, Bill, Hagen, Wenkai and Teri - we were able to post just over 250 reviews this year. That's 100 more than last year and that was a year in which I was unemployed (or more accurately put, fully employed with MostlyFiction.com). The interests and talents of our reviewers cover a wide range, which makes the site all the more interesting. I am very proud of all of our reviews; I love "talking" with each of the reviewers, my contacts at the publishers and with you. I find working on each new author page fully rewarding through the knowledge I gain and I hope I am successfully passing this onto you.
I am very pleased that we had 85 winners this year - most everyone won hot, new hardcover books. (Some people have yet to claim prizes. so please contact me if you haven't received your book.) Whereas, in previous years the publishers made many of the decisions on the books we gave away, this year the reviewers weighed in heavily with their opinion - obviously making the raffles all the more successful.
Our newsletter membership doubled this year with over 2600 members now subscribed. The best news on this front is that we were finally able to move away from the Yahoo sponsored newsletter to our own subscription list, which means that no one can get a hold of your e-mail address for SPAM and there are no ads. Also, it is easier than ever to subscribe and unsubscribe. Finally, for my benefit, the newsletters are easier to edit and send.
Not as obvious a change, but important to the site --- I moved MostlyFiction.com to a new host. I believe that the site became faster with the move - plus it will be a few years before we outgrow this server. The previous server had a limit of 100MB of data, which was a milestone that we easily surpassed this year (mostly through content, but partially through poor Web design).
Some things that didn't work out so hot - we made an effort to do a FORUM, but had to take it down during a second move (bad initial decision on my part). I'm not at all sure if the forum will be put back in the upcoming year or not. I honestly don't see how I'll ever have the time. I also never managed to do the site redesign that is so desperately needed; though, thanks to everyone who purchased goods at Amazon.com, I was able to buy the required software and hardware for the job -- now I just need the time (and maybe a little creativity). And somehow or other, December crept up on me without me arranging for a single book to be raffled off. I thought that I'd have time over the Thanksgiving break to put together a raffle and quickly discovered December 1 st at the end of the break and me without a single raffle prize. Let's say that at about that time I experienced a bit of a melt down.
Do you hear a reoccurring theme here? With the ending of one year and the start of the new, it does seem to be all about time. And that is something I'm finding that there isn't enough of; I finally have to admit that I cannot keep going with MostlyFiction.com the way that I have been. I know I've been expressing my concern here and there with the newsletter. But I've gone from a background whine to a full out panic. I can't keep up. As I write this, I have over twenty five reviews in the queue to be formatted and posted. I have a shelf full of books that need to be mailed out to reviewers; I have no idea whatsoever what I should do for January raffles for which I should already have commitments from the publishers; I have at least five books that I haven't written my own reviews for; not to mention how little time I have to actually read books - the whole reason for doing this Web site.
Something has to give. I already know that MostlyFiction.com will never cover my living expenses (I tried that); so quitting my day job is not an option. Yet I'm not ready to bail on this site. Every time I read a "goodbye" letter from someone who hosts a similar site, my eyes tear up. I'm sad that they had to write the letter. I'm sad because I know I will write my own one day. The good news is -- this isn't the day.
Instead I'm cutting back. No raffles until I can do them again and enjoy them. To be honest, the last few raffles have caused me more anxiety than pleasure (though I am proud of the stocking stuffer raffle). I am going to concentrate on posting new reviews until I am caught up. I will likely post less reviews in the upcoming year - unless I manage to get the site redesign accomplished and will thus able to post reviews more quickly. (I have created a monster and now I must tame it.) I will hold off taking on new reviewers until I am caught up. I will not ask for so many books from the publishers (and then feel awful that I don't have time to post the reviews). I will remove the invitation for writers to tell me about their new books, AS IF I'm going to have time to review them. I will remember that my sisters' children are only kids for a little while and that my father has cancer and that my mom and I have a great time whenever we get together. But more than anything, I will hold conversations with Carl by looking directly at him and not facing the computer; that if he suggests I join him in an errand I will; if he suggests a holiday I will go without first making him transfer a copy of the Web site to our laptop computer. I will remember that deadlines are arbitrary. MostlyFiction.com will be relegated back to hobby stage; when I work on it I shall enjoy it.
So, dear readers, this is not my goodbye letter; but it is my new year's resolution that some things will change. My hope is that you will stick with me in 2004 and that you still find MostlyFiction.com rewarding (even without a chance to win a book).