The Dreaded “DNF”: When A Reader Rejects You

Okay, so… being an author is funny. Not funny in the, “Oh, haha, this is a barrel of shits and giggles,”—though, I struggle to find the joy in a barrel of shit—but funny in the more accurate, “I pour my heart and soul into every word of this piece of paper and then ask people I will never meet to shred it to literary pieces because I seek validation by my peers and already know I’m a hack but I will keep writing and do it all over again because I am also a masochist,” way.

Yeah, you know what I mean, fellow fledgling author. I see you, there. And if you don’t know what I mean, well, just wait. Come back when you get your first taste and we will commiserate together.

“Why keep writing when apparently I really suck at it? What’s the point?!”

For those not interested in writing that might be reading this, I am sure you are sitting there in your bubble of self-confidence wondering why on Earth any human would do something so self-flagellating. Well let me just throw a few quick reasons out there:

  1. It helps us hone our craft. Sometimes getting ripped apart is the best thing to happen to a book. It makes the author question things and go in to fix them. Fixing  usually = better content for you.
  2. We finally feel right! I’ve said before, there are two types of writers: One who thinks everything they touch is literary gold (regardless of the truth), and one who just knows it’s not good enough no matter how much they work on it and everyone who says it’s great is just placating you because they feel sorry for you or want to spare your feelings. (No, I couldn’t possibly be in group number 2.) You’ll be hard pressed to find an author who falls within the very narrow margin between the two.
  3. It keeps us honest. This almost goes with number 1, but by putting your work out there for critics, you are keeping yourself from developing an ultra-ego, helping prospective readers make a better decision as to whether they want to buy your book. In my opinion, transparency is invaluable when it comes to reviews. Not everyone is going to like your book (we’ll get to that in a moment) and when all people see are glowing reviews, it looks suspicious. I know if I don’t find at least ONE person nit-picking something, no matter how small, then the reviews start to feel disingenuous.

Also, to further explain how our brains work, we can save a lot of time by telling you to just NOT try to understand it. A creative’s brain is a twisty-turny labyrinth of nonsense at the best of times. Many people in my life have personally adopted the “smile and wave” strategy when dealing with me and I think it suits all of us just fine.

But that isn’t the main focus of this blog. As usual, I have derailed from my train of thought and wandered into a field of poppies.

No, I want to spotlight one of the most soul-crushing types of reviews:

The dreaded “DNF”.

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For those who are not in-the-know—oh, how I envy your innocence—when you see “DNF” on a book review it means the reader Did Not Finish.

 

Let me say that again.

A reader, who is the bread-and-butter of your chosen path, who is of a type of personality that usually hungers for more and more books to read, DID. NOT. FINISH. READING. IT.

Nothing could be worse, right? Now you are back to an unformed lump of self-deprecation and hopelessness. All of your dreams and aspirations have been proven to be out of your reach and now you need to go ahead and finish those Insurance classes so you can return to the “real world’ and live out your life as just another wire in the machine of dull, menial, adulting. Right?

Okay, so, it might feel that way, but let’s take a deep breath and put down clipboard and 401k. (Okay, don’t really give up the 401k. You totally need that.)

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DNFs happen. They happen all. The. Time. The fact of the matter is, you are not going to please everyone. There might be a million people who love you voice, your style of writing, or your genre, but there is always going to be a million more who are just not into it. Usually, thank God, many of those won’t find their way to you because they will know beforehand that your story isn’t for them. Then there are the few who actually do make it to your book, find it’s not to their taste, and put it away never to look at it again. Even then, it’s not the end of the world. The ones that hurt are the ones who actually review the book, stating that they couldn’t finish.

Yes. Ouch. That smarts.

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But, guess what. You’ll still be okay. How do I know this? Because today I got my first DNF review. My initial reaction?

 

 

Yeah… I’m not proud. I almost cried. Was ready to just give up and forget it all. Why keep writing when apparently I really suck at it? What’s the point?! Because that’s what you do! Once I settled my overdramatic ass down, I made myself really read the review again. Really take it in and mull the words over, savor them, and allowed myself to step outside of my mental hangups to really figure out what this meant. Do you know what I found?

That it doesn’t really matter.

Sure, hearing that someone just couldn’t even get through my (free!) book hurts me right in the feels, but that’s just one person. One person who, might I add, was actually completely sincere and sweet about how they felt. She didn’t slam my book, blame my writing skills, or in any other way diminish my hard work.

It just was not to her taste. Simple.

You might looooove grilled cheese sandwiches, but if you find you don’t like fig and goat-cheese (or, maybe more accurately, a sandwich filled with government processed cheese product) does that mean the chef isn’t even suited for a school cafeteria? No. You just have a taste for some things, and it didn’t quite hit that mmmm factor. That is basically what this reader did. She was even kind enough to ask that other readers not take her personal tastes as gospel when considering my book. That’s completely fair of her, and who am I to have a tantrum over that?

So, even if you find your book on someone’s DNF reading list, don’t despair. It’s not as bad as it seems at first. Don’t listen to the voice that tells you that one (ONE!) person not being into it means no one else liked it. That voice is lying, and a dick. Breathe. Eat the ice cream. Have the tantrum. Now pick yourself back up and keep at it.

 

 

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DENY THE MOON is Officially Live on #Smashwords and #Amazon

 

I feel like it has taken ages to get here, which is absurd when  you think about it. I’ve launched Deny the Moon before, right? So there really isn’t much to be said this time around.

Wrong!

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Well, okay. So my book is no stranger to the Smashwords or Kindle shelves. I know to many people, this relaunch hardly seems like a big deal and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be a big deal to everyone else.

Personally, I think it’s phenomenal. I feel like I have finally accomplished something.

“But Melissa,” you say. “How do you feel accomplished now, but didn’t before?”

“Because,” I tell you while demonstrating a perfect Captain Morgan pose, “I have finally finished!” I am done. Finally. Completely. Done.

I no longer feel compelled to go in and tweak this scene, or fill in this part. I don’t feel as though there are things still left unsaid. I am content. To be honest, I never thought I would get that way about a book, but there it is. I can look at Deny the Moon and feel nothing. No wiggle of anxiety. No panic. There is nothing left to say.

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So relaxed.

Does this mean Deny the Moon is perfect? Hell no. This is my first book guys, my debut novel. I’m still getting my feet wet in this whole writing thing, and I am sure from a technical standpoint there can still be fixes to be had, but the truth of the matter is I am done having them. I have put the book through all the paces I had access to, have revised and rewrote hours of content, had a multitude of eyes peruse it’s pages in search of problematic paragraphs, and there is no more I can do. It’s my baby, and she’s ready to meet the world.

So, as of today, you can snag yourself a copy in two ways:

  • Via Smashwords for Free!
  • Or, if you don’t mind throwing a nickel into my hat, you can also get the Kindle version for $0.99.

There’s really not much else to it.

Thank you, to everyone who has listened to my ups and downs while getting through this. It means the world to me. And the best part about being done? I have finally unclogged the blockade that was keeping me from writing book two. Since the relaunch, I have written an entire page of content for Raging Spirit, something I was beginning to worry would never happen. I will totally take that as a sign to move forward.

Hopefully, you will enjoy what I’ve offered to you. Whether you are new to the series, or just want to brush up on the new content, I recommend giving it a read. And as always, feel free to leave an honest review. I’ll keep plugging away at the sequel, and another surprise I have up my sleeve for you.

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#Excerpt: Deny the Moon

We are just over two weeks away from the re-launch of Deny the Moon! I don’t know about you, but I am getting super excited! Not just because I’ve been dying to get this back on the shelves, but also because it will be the start of new projects for me. I can finally turn my focus—cause let’s face it, I don’t have much to spare!—to my other works to try and get them out there for you guys.

Because I love to share, I felt that now was as good a time as any to give a little sneak-peek snack-sized bite of Deny the Moon for you all to enjoy. Take a gander, and if you like what you see then please join us on April 7th at Duckicorn’s facebook page for the little Re-Launch shindig. And if you really can’t wait two more weeks, and you like to review things, the first five people to sign up for the Duckicorn ARC Team Mailing list will get a free copy of Deny the Moon to read and review, as well as be first in line to receive Advance Review Copies of future works from us at Duckicorn Creative Squad! Why would you ever turn down free books!

Become a member of the ARC Team!

Okay, enough shenanigans and tomfoolery. Get your sneak peek below and mark your calendars for April 7th!

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Traffic along South Quentin Avenue began to slow as the night dragged on, allowing him an almost-unobstructed view inside the restaurant across the road. Only the occasional car driving past broke the scene before him, robbing a few seconds of her flirtatious smile from him. He’d been standing there for nearly two hours, and it looked like they weren’t going to be leaving any time soon.

God, she was beautiful. More than she’d ever been, if it was possible. Her face was alive and vibrant as she spoke, her hands animated with whatever story she was sharing with the man at her table. For once, it looked as if she had thrown all of her worries aside and allowed herself to live in the moment, to enjoy life and all it had to offer her, and he hated her for it. He hated the way this man could bring that coy smile to her lips, the way she fluttered those eyelashes at him, and lightly touched his arm as they talked.

He’d been looking for her for several months. Every city they passed through, he couldn’t help but wonder if she was nearby, if she was right under his nose. Like most things Harley did to him, her running off had made him crazy. He didn’t know what she’d done with his bike, if she’d gotten herself hurt, or worse, if she’d moved on. Watching her with this guy, it appeared as though she had done just that.

A waiter set a plate between them. The man grabbed his fork and dug it into the fat slice of chocolate cake then offered it to Harley. Rage roiled within him as she leaned over the table and let the guy feed her.

Oh, but that bitch was gonna pay. She would pay for what she put him through, how she made him feel, but first, he was going to tear that jackass limb from limb.

Frank’s cell rang in his jacket pocket and, tamping down his anger, he answered it on the third ring.

“Yeah,” he growled.

“Where are you?” the voice was impatient.

“Who are you, my mama?”

Harlow growled over the line. “Don’t start with me, Essex. You’re on thin ice as it is, you know. Now, if it were up to me… I’d have skinned you alive the night you let the girl ride away on your little toy. You had one job to do, and you fucked it off. However, my father thinks you’ll be worthwhile, yet.”

“Is that so?” Frank laughed derisively. “Must piss you off that daddy likes me better.”

“Don’t get too cocky, jackass. You’re about one wrong move from being on his shit list. Please,” he said the word with longing. “Please, give him a reason to send me after you.”

“Sorry, dickweed. You’re not my type,” Frank breathed as his eyes moved back to Harley.

She was reaching over and wiping something off the guy’s lower lip. Frank’s grip tightened on his phone so hard that it began to creak in protest. “What the fuck do you want, Harlow? I’m a little busy right now so if you just called to bust my balls—”

“Have you found her yet?”

Frank stared at the woman in the restaurant. Her hair was different. Blond and shorter than before, but there was no doubt that it was her. It was tragic, really. So many memories of that long, thick, dark hair as it tickled down his body. The tips sliding silkily over his skin as she teased him. So many memories of her and the things she could do. His dick hardened at the mere thought of it.

“No,” he growled as he watched them together. “Still no sign of the bitch.”

Follow me on Twitter at @MelissaGraham85 or @Duckicorn_squad or join us at the Duckicorn community fb page for updates on this and other projects, inspiration and encouragement, and just plain quirky goodness.

DENY THE MOON: #CoverReveal and more!

There is something to be said for trying to do everything on your own. When it comes to self-publishing, usually that something is, “Noooo! Don’t do that! Hire someone! What are you doing?!” That’s not to say there aren’t authors out there who can both write and edit their work or market their product and design their own book covers, but the vast majority really shouldn’t. I should know, I’m one of them.

Now I have some experience in Adobe Photoshop, but really all that amounts to is 6+ years of self-taught skills. Great when you are editing photos or goofing around with graphics for roleplay sites, but if you think you can skip over a professional book cover—especially when you are self-publishing—then I have some words of caution for you.

Don’t do it!

Seriously. I know it’s a real drag to fork out cash you probably don’t have to pay someone to do something you are confident you could do yourself, but if you don’t you are possibly shooting your book in the foot before it even starts to crawl. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of readers truly do judge a book by it’s cover. It’s the very first impression your work gives to someone scrolling through hundreds and thousands of other books. Why handicap yourself by slapping on a mediocre cover?

The answer is, you shouldn’t. Spend the money, network your connections, get the dang thing made.

You have to give your work—the work you slaved over, tweaked, cried about, and most likely cut yourself off from civilization for—the very best start. This is why, even though I was very proud of the original cover I had made for Deny the Moon, I knew I had to kill my darling and get a professional, and quite frankly better, cover.

Luckily, I came across Silvana G. Sanchez and she dropped me an AMAZING version of my cover. It is everything I wanted from the get go. Trust me, if you are in the market for a beautiful, succinct design, Silvana is where to go. After being blown away for my book, I think it’s safe to say she will be the cover artist for the rest of this series.

 

Okay, okay, enough gabbing about it. The time has come to drop the curtain. I give you the shiny new cover for Deny the Moon!

 

 

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Isn’t it perfection?! I swear, I could stare at it all day (and totally have, haha!) Again, this work was done by the amazingly talented Silvana G. Sanchez, so follow her, talk to her about doing your own cover design, or just congratulate her on being awesome!

FOLLOW SILVANA ON TWITTER AT @SILVANA_MD

Okay, as exciting as the cover reveal is, I promised a few other things. First off, what good is a cover without a book to put it on, right? Those that have followed me from the beginning know how bi-polar I have been with this book. Well, my husband made me promise that this would be my absolute last revision. This is great for you guys though, and for two reasons.

  1. That means I had to make this revision count, which pretty much translates to added content and ironing out every last kink. It also means I had the opportunity to add an excerpt from book two at the end. Yay for more stuff to read!
  2. It also means that after the relaunch of Deny the Moon, I will be putting my focus fully on Raging Spirit. No more being distracted by book one. I must draw the curtain on it and let it be.

So, as of April 7th 2017, Deny the Moon will return to virtual shelves via Amazon and Smashwords distributors.

 

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It’s almost here! And to celebrate the coming relaunch, I am doing a bit of a giveaway! If you sign up for Duckicorn Creative Squad’s bright and shiny newsletter today, you will be entered into a raffle to receive one of FIVE Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to be sent to you immediately! No need to buy anything, just sign up for our not-so-monthly newsletter. It’s that easy!

Click Here to Sign Up for the Duckicorn Newsletter!

Winner will be picked by submitting your emails into an online randomizer and will be announced tomorrow. Keep your eyes on our twitter accounts @MelissaGraham85 or @duckicorn_squad, or on the Duckicorn Creative Squad Facebook page for the winners.

So, all is said and done I think. We have revealed the beautiful cover design by Silvana G. Sanchez, we have announced the relaunch of Deny the Moon on April 7th, and we have opened up a raffle for ARCs of Deny the Moon by subscribing to the Duckicorn Creative Squad’s newsletter. There isn’t much else to say except thank you for stopping by the blog to share this news with me, and more details for the launch party are to come!

Mark Your Calendars!

I’m excited. Like, super excited. I’m talking full on Jessie Spano on caffeine pills excited (and yes, I mean the full meltdown.) What do I have to be so excited-yet-mind-numbingly-terrified about, you ask?

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Well, if you didn’t ask I’m going to tell you anyway.

Deny the Moon is in the final stages of being republished! Yes, after yet another go-around with revisions I have finally trimmed and tweaked it to exactly where I want it. Huzzah! Hooray! Bravo! Yippee!

Now, anyone who has kept up with my bi-polar plans and efforts with this book will know that after having pulled it from the virtual shelves to really tighten it up, I had planned to shop the finished manuscript to any agent that will accept a previously self-published work. I knew they were out there, just waiting to have my query pop up in their inbox so they could all clamor to offer me bountiful contracts…

*sighs dreamily*

Of course, what I’ve learned about that is:

  • There aren’t very many agents willing to accept previously self-pubbed works, and
  • Of those that do, you really don’t have much of a chance of selling a work if it wasn’t already selling well to begin with

So, after finding two agents that would accept it, I decided to give it a try with them as a means to get my feet wet and if no one bit, I would go back to self-publishing it. I submitted my queries, heard back from one with a very polite and encouraging form rejection, and have waited several weeks to hear back from the other. Since I have not, I will take that as their version of the FadeAway and mark that up as a no-go.

But I did not admit defeat! I took it as a quick lesson in what my future queries will hold, got the scary first rejection out of the way, and set to putting Deny the Moon back on the shelves. The proper way.

And now here we are!

ON FEBRUARY 18 2017
  • I will reveal the launch date for the re-release of Deny the Moon!
  • I will reveal my sexy, shiny new cover designed by @Silvana_md!
  • And a few other treats!

 

It will all be going down here on my blog two weeks from tomorrow. So are you excited? I know I am! I’ll bet you want a little sneak peek, right? Just a teaser tide-me-over until the 18th? Is that what you want? Well…

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Yep, I know. I’m a mean, awful person. Come on, I have to do something to feel in control, here!

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