Sunday, June 30, 2013

Failing ain't fun


I got another email the other day, the same as all the rest.

"Everything all right?" it read. "I can't remember you ever going this long without posting something new on the blog.

"It's been weeks, man. Are you okay?"

This being an old friend who was reaching out I responded to him in the usual way: I told the truth. But other people, loyal readers who'd made similar inquiries, received far less respect from me than this.

I lied to them. I apologize. It won't happen again.

The standard line I'd been feeding these people went something like this: "Been real busy, also traveling a lot. Not much time in the kitchen and so nothing new to report. Hopefully things'll lighten up and I'll get some new stuff up on the blog pretty soon. Thanks for checking in, though. Really appreciate your interest — a lot!"

Except for that last line, which I stand hard by, every other word is bullshit. I haven't been busy. Or on the road much. I've been right here. Licking some pretty deep wounds over two failed attempts — a proposed Italian cookbook and a weekly newsletter — at taking this blog to the next level. Both the book proposal and the newsletter were rejected and are dead now. And I'd be lying to you (again) if I pretended that the taste is no longer bitter.

These failures, it turns out, sapped my enthusiasm for continuing on with this blog.

I should say that I allowed this to happen, but then what does it matter? I do not intend on tolerating such disruption much longer.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, OK I understand. A sad thing, and knowing you, you tried damn hard to make a go of this. Time for a cold one...

Anonymous said...

Tried posting this to your FB page, but I don't think it posted. Anyway, here goes...

Unless and until you give up, you have not failed.

A few things you ought to consider if you haven't already...

Newsletters (email and otherwise) are extraordinarily difficult to monetize. Aside from the occasional "stock tips" type of newsletter (most of which have very small followings), I'm not aware of anyone who has successfully monetized their content in this fashion. What you refer to as failure, may just be an instance where you simply need to take another look at the market and reassess your goals and what is realistic.

Perhaps consider that starting with a paid list of subscribers may not be the best approach. Ever heard the (charming) phrase --- "the first rock of crack is always free?" Consider starting up a free email list/newsletter using a service like MailChimp, which is free to use until you've amassed something like 10,000 subscribers. (And even then, its pretty affordable.) They also have free templates that you can use. So maybe you start up an e-newsletter, send out regular updates and then, in a year or so from now when you've got a good sized audience of people "hooked" on your content, you re-approach the idea of paid content or premium content for paid members?

RE: The book --- okay, so one door is closed (and not necessarily permanently). Look, I know a number of writers (and bloggers) who do this (write) all day, every day, and still haven't been able to get a book published. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. You've established a great reputation in Portland/Maine in a relatively short amount of time. If memory serves, you were voted "best food blog" by the Phoenix not once, but twice. Have you put the feelers out there to see if any of the (many) local publications might be interested in your unique, entertaining and well-written perspective? Seems like you'd be a great fit for something like Maine Magazine. So maybe start a little smaller than a book and see if anyone is interested in picking you up for a weekly or monthly column and then see if you can leverage that experience into a book? (By the way, how many publishing houses did you submit your book proposal too? Anything shy of 20 doesn't count as trying, LOL.) Self-publishing may be a viable option too.

Anyway, I agree that you should take the time you need to regroup and grab a proverbial or literal "cold one." But as someone who sincerely enjoys reading your blog, I hope that your break will not be a permanent one.

—ChubbyWerewolf

Jewell said...

What in the world?! Don't give up NOW! I didn't even know until I read your FB post that you HAD a blog. I think you need to get right back in the saddle but, this time, do more tooting of your own horn about the posts on your blog. Other bloggers that I read post on FB and Twitter (and probably other places) every time they add a new blog post, and give titillating previews so you just HAVE to click and read. Come on now! Cheer up and give us some more Mister Meatball. :)

3M said...

I completely understand - I figured this was why you were taking a break. Sometimes it's simply a matter of timing. Just know that you are very much loved, and we'll be here waiting for you when you're ready to get rolling again.

Stacey Snacks said...

Very unlike you, from what I know of you (virtual friend!).

You are an amazing chef/cook and hilarious writer, I always enjoy your posts.............don't even go there with me, or I may have to beat you.

A fellow Queens (Flushing) blogger.

xo

Anonymous said...

love your site....pls dont stop.....

ann tracy said...

I understand your frustration - been there myself as a writer of plays, not cookbooks. Take some time off, but perhaps a re-write of the cookbook or "repackaging" might help... keep on keeping on my friend

Anonymous said...

Ditto!

jerseypaulie said...

I have a so-so food and cocktail blog and follow many others. Your wit and knowledge makes Mister Meatball by far the most entertaining and educational. I feel as though I know you through your wonderful comments about you family. I think the advice about getting published first as an occasional columnist is very good. That's how the majority of writers start. (Jack Kerouac, Dave Barry, Carl Hiassen to name a few.) You have real talent combined with a unique knowledge of "true Italian" food. I collect Italian cookbooks and have well over 50 of them from many regions, yet I am more likely to cook your food.
I think I speak for the majority of your readers, and if there wasn't an active Mister Meatball blog, my days would be far less interesting.

Mister Meatball said...

Thanks all. Very much.

You guys are the best.

MM

Anonymous said...

Go fire up the Inferno and get back in the game!!

Arlene said...

Don't give up - you have so much to offer. Your humor, great stories, recipes, family. Sometime your material makes me laugh out loud - other times I want to cry because it reminds me so much of "home".

Would you consider a self-published cookbook? Your newsletter shows that you have the ability (look at Ruhlman's website - he self-published the "Book of Schmaltz). Your site if great - don't give up.

Massimo said...

Mr. Meatball you are the best.I totally agree with your feelings, but just keep on fighting. An old Japanese proverb says "Fall down seven times, stand up eight times". Easier said than done, but I know you can do it. Go get them!
A BIG Italian hug to you!

kennebunksgossip said...

Oh Mr.Meatball..

I am feeling sad!

You asked me to comment about your paid site...and I was "Brutally" honest. I did not want to pay for all the people on your site that I did not know or trust! I was a loyal subscriber to your free site, and when asked to pay..to me..it just did not make sense. I WOULD pay for your sense of humor and your cynical(LOL) point of view..But not pay for whoever from NJ or Whole Foods, that I did not have an experience with! Not that they were incompetent or bad..but I wanted YOU!

I then suggested a more realistic price point!

But I am so sorry my honesty may have hurt!

I moved to Maine and it was devoid of all things NY ..and when I found you ..I felt hopeful for fun!

Please do not give up..you have a great sense of things..and while things are not working now..they will.

Karma...just keep doing what you are doing on the blog ..and best of portland will turn in to ..BEST OF North East and then Best of USA!!

John Gaylord said...

I happen to know that the Food Network has a recently opened slot. I bet that you would be great on TV!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sad reading this but I KNOW you will buck up and get back to the ole Meatball and try again. I love your posts and stories. I'm a lousy cook and have a very juvenile palette but I can still envy what you can do. Please keep going. Pretty please with whatever shredded cheese you want on top of that. :)

Pam

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog for a while but never commented - I'm sorry to hear about your situation. For what it's worth, I would have loved to buy a cookbook of yours. Maybe you can self-publish an e-book? Please keep posting!

Anonymous said...

I am new to this blog and it has become a new favorite. Please keep posting, I love the food and family stories.

-Beth

Michael B said...

Just came across your blog a few weeks ago after an impossible craving (moved to St. Louis a while back) for a Royal Crown pignoli cookie. Made your recipe and...THANK YOU! Can you figure out their recipe for sfilatino? And that got me thinking. I don't know your angle for the book but I googled "Brooklyn Italian cookbook" and I was surprised not a whole lot came up. Maybe there's an opportunity to link your cooking/recipes in a book with stories from some of the purveyors you (and I) love. Keep at it. I mean, I moved from Brooklyn to St. Louis and didn't die after all. Who knew THAT was possible?! --MB

Mister Meatball said...

MB: That was the exact angle of the book, yeah. No takers. Many thanks anyway. MM