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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

05/30/2024 May Wrap-up and the Uncomfortably Dark Team

Updated: Jun 9

Before I close out this month by sharing our review numbers, I have a few things I’d like to share.

I started my website in Jan. 2020, clueless and excited, I only had a vague idea of what I was doing. Regardless, I started building my site, learning the process, and connecting with other authors. Several kindly accepted my offer to review their books and I happily did so, starting with Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, Carver Pike, RJ Roles, D. E. Grant, Ruthann Jagge, and many more. Most of these early connections blossomed into amazing friendships and mentors. I’ve learned a great deal from these connections and others.

I continued my writing, added in regular reviewing, then interviews, then special features and resources. I found a home here, in a community that seemed to welcome me with open arms. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I fit somewhere. I was delighted and eager to pay that forward. I began mentoring others, not formally but just making myself available to answer questions, to be a resource, to be a guide. Kindness has always been my campaign; my entire platform is built on that ideal.

Today, not quite five years later, after hundreds of reviews and interviews, thousands of tweets and posts, and promotional efforts, my platform has changed a great deal as my needs changed and the community changed. We are reaching thousands of readers a month via the site and our social media presence, averaging 11k to 25k at peak times. We are on all the major publishing house ARC lists. I have a full review team of wonderful people that contribute consistently. I became a publisher to help champion other voices, who like myself, have struggled to be seen or heard. I offer author promotions on my site, cover reveals, resources, editing services and reviews.

My team is NOT told who to review, how much to read or how to review, outside of my two basic rules that govern the review process for Uncomfortably Dark, (no graphic child SA, no reviews under 3 stars). The first is a personal preference, the second ties to my mission statement, to bring readers the best in horror, one uncomfortably dark page at a time.

We accept review requests on the site, and I am also emailed ARCs daily, 4-6 per day on average. This does not count the physical ARCs I receive in the mail which averages 3-6 per week. Christina logs every request the team receives. The ARCs are sent to the entire team and whoever wants it, will reply to that email, usually 2-3 team members will accept the ARC and prioritize it in order received. I also make every effort to review as many as I can personally.

We do this of our own accord. We are not paid. This is not our job, nor do I treat my team like it’s their obligation. I treat them like family, because they are. I could not do this without them. I could not do any of what I offer on the site, without them.

I’m a single parent with kids. I have a full-time day job. I work 9-10 hour days, take an hour break then spend 6-8 more hours on reviews, reading, writing, editing, formatting, and working for my authors, my clients, and this community. I also update the website, post the reviews, run our Patreon, our social media presence, our newsletters, our marketing and promoting, and my own personal website. Every member of my team has jobs, families, and lives of their own. I spend every day grateful they are here to help, that they believe in what I do so strongly they want to be a part of it.

It’s not all been peaches and roses. Behind the scenes over recent months, there have been those that want to see me fail, those that have accused me of not being supportive of them enough, not reviewing their work enough, not focusing enough on one author over another, of gatekeeping the directory that I built and maintained for free, (you’ll notice it’s been removed as a result). There are those that email me weekly demanding to know if they've been read yet and those that harass me acting as if I am to promote them above anyone else. It's exhausting, disheartening, and tedious.

I only have this to say, if you read the above and see the work it takes not only me, but 7 people to keep up with the demand, and think that I have time to single out anyone, to gatekeep or to even remember what day of the week it is, well, I don’t know what to tell you except there are several hundred authors my team and I are trying to support, and we will never focus all our efforts on a single handful. To do so, would also bring out the torch and pitchforks.

Regardless of those that want me gone or that want me to fail, my team and I exist for the greater good of this community, to try to do as much as we can, as consistently as we can. Ultimately, we are human, we have families, and we are all fighting demons. I want to see this community thrive, to see all my peers succeed and flourish and achieve all their goals.

I want to cheer you on, to applaud your every win. I want the place I call home, to be a home for all that choose to be here. All indie authors, all indie presses, all indie creatives that are putting in the work, making the effort, and giving back, will always have my full support. They had it when I started, they have it now, and they will as long as Uncomfortably Dark exists.

Massive thank you to Christina Pfeiffer for everything she does, to my review team: Christopher Besonen, Sonja Ska, Rachel Schommer, Chaz Williams, Ali Sweet, and Mort Stone. None of this is possible without you.

Also, Uncomfortably Dark would not be where it is without the support and guidance of my family and close personal friends like Eric Butler, Mike Ennenbach, Rowland Bercy, Jr., Brennan LaFaro and Kristopher Rufty, some amazing mentors, authors, and publishers such as Brian Keene, Mary San Giovanni, Lisa Vasquez, L. Marie Wood, Stephen Kozeniewski, Wile E. Young, Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, Somer Canon, John Edward Lawson & Raw Dog Screaming Press, Andrew Robert & Dark Lit, Caitlin Marceau, and Sean Duregger & Encyclopocalypse and countless others that have advised me, helped me learn the ropes (and still are helping), and have provided other resources that have helped me continue to bring this platform up to the level I want it to be.

And lastly but certainly not least, the Uncomfortably Dark Street Team and amazing review friends that help promote not only the work of my authors but my own writing as well, eternally grateful for you all. Mike Rankin, Corrina Morse, Z. Martin, Sally Feliz, Sean Stanford, Lisa Lee Tone, Samantha Hawkins, Chris Carelse, Warn Iverson, and Matt Vaughn.

Our review numbers for May for the team, for myself, and for YTD are below.

Team Totals-Year to Date:

Reviews: 211

ARCs Read: 15

Pages Read: 37,685

Team Totals-Month of May:

Reviews: 53

ARCs Read: 2

Pages Read: 9,434

Candace Totals-Year to Date:

Reviews: 37

Pages Read: 7,881

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