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The Former Cop Says: It’s All About Balance

July 29, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
by Kathy Bennett
I was a Los Angeles Police Officer for twenty-one years.  From the title, you might think this article is going to talk about balancing on a roof while in a foot pursuit or running along a block wall.  No, that’s not what I’m talking about.  Let me give you a little background.
When I first hit the streets as a rookie officer, I can remember how every day seemed like a new adventure.  Each day held the promise of the unknown, what new things I’d be learning, what different experiences I’d be exposed to.  When my first set of scheduled days off came up, I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to work.  (Trust me – that effect wore off; but it took a while).  However I think every cop I’ve talked to had the same feeling.  The truth was, I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do my job…it was that much fun. 
I remember working about a month, as sick as a dog, so my favorite partner wouldn’t have to work with someone else.  I had a ‘sick bag’ I’d filled with boxes of Kleenex and throat lozenges so I could get through the graveyard shift.  I also remember, as a training officer, working until one in the afternoon and having to be back at work at six-thirty the same night.  I could have requested to take a few hours of compensatory time off for extra sleep and I’m sure my supervisors would have agreed, but I felt it was my duty to be there.  I needed to find balance. 
But after twenty-one years, it became necessary for me to retire – in part to take care of my mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and to nurse a back injury I’d suffered on the job a year prior.  My retirement left me feeling anxious and remorseful that my dream of being a police officer was now over.
But I’d been fostering another dream for a number of years…more years than I care to say.  And that dream was to become a published author.  I’d tried for several years to actively acquire an agent and publisher.  About the time I was getting some interest, I started hearing about self-publishing and, for various reasons, opted to self-publish my book, a romantic suspense, A Dozen Deadly Roses.
After the release of my book, I was pleased to learn I seemed to be doing a little better than average with the sales of my book.  I started discovering Facebook pages of other self-published authors, book review websites, Kindleboards, Nookboards, Goodreads, Shelfari and on and on.  I learned that self-published authors spend a great deal of time promoting their books and trying to reach out to readers and have ‘meaningful relationships’ with those readers.
I joined groups, I read blogs, I commented on blogs, I joined blog hop tours, I gave away prizes.  I friended on Facebook, I followed on Twitter…I became exhausted, and a part of me felt insincere.  I discovered that I need balance.  It seemed like my butt was glued to my chair, but I wasn’t writing – I was busy promoting.
Then, I discovered I’d hit the Top 100 List on Barnes and Noble of Nookbook Police Stories.  A few days after that, I hit the Barnes and Noble Top 100 List of Nookbooks!  I’d like to tell you my place on those lists was directly related to all my self-promoting…but there were hundreds of other writers doing the same amount of promotion – if not more – and they weren’t on those lists.  I don’t know how I got on those lists.  I’m grateful I did, but I don’t feel it was related to my frenzy of self-promotion.
So what do I, a girl without balance, immediately do?  I promote more.  I reach out to book buyers who may have missed the fact I’m on those lists.  I make myself crazy.  So, I sit down to write this guest blog, and decide: enough is enough.  I’m jumping off the merry-go-round. 
Instead, I’m choosing to focus on finishing the revisions of my next book.  I’m going to develop REAL relationships with readers…as much as they will let me.  I have a good (and real) relationship with many of the people who visit my blog.  I hope my readers find me there, or on Facebook, or on Twitter or wherever else I’ve left my mark.    
Don’t get me wrong…I won’t stop my Facebook postings, or my tweets on Twitter, my comments on the Kindleboards, or the Nookboards.  I’ll still do guest blogs.  I’ll probably still give away prizes from time to time.  Those activities will be a part of my day, but I won’t let them consume me.  My efforts will be to make true connections with my readers. 
You see, for twenty-one years I was proud to say I was a Los Angeles Police Officer.  I did my job to the best of my ability with the hope of touching people’s lives for the better.  I want to to approach my career as a published author with the same amount of integrity and touch people’s lives for the better.  I learned as a cop it’s important to have balance.  Thankfully, I’ve learned early in my writing career, it’s just as important to have balance as an author as well.
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