Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spec the Halls: Holiday Season Charity Project

Today, we are passing along a guest post from Steven Saus, regarding a new charity project he is involved in. Steven is an author, teacher, and operates independent eBook services, and is one of the good guys of the small press/self-publishing world. We hope you give this project a look!
Stephen Z

Spec the Halls

My name is Steven Saus; I'm an author and publisher. I run Alliteration Ink, where I both publish original work and also provide publishing services. This year, I've taken up the mantle of running Spec The Halls from Abra Staffin-Wiebe. There's both a writing contest and a charity fundraiser. Right now, I'm doing a bit of a blog tour to support the fundraiser; each entry talks about something different, so you'll want to stop by them all. You can see a full linklist of the guest posts at and read more about the whole project (and get the charity eBook) at

I've already been asked a few times why Spec The Halls is only going to be available in digital formats.

First, I want to point out that if you get the eBook from our website, not only will more of the purchase price be going to charity, but you'll get more formats. You will get a PDF as well as the ePub (iBooks, nook, Kobo, Sony) and Kindle formats. Basically, if you have a computer, you'll be able to read it.

Second, it means that more of the money can go to charity. If I printed the book (about 150 pages if you made it a trade paperback size), it would cost a few dollars a book - and that's not counting what the retailers take. Because the authors donated the stories, Kathleen Tennant donated the cover art, and I do eBook conversions myself, there are neither up-front or per-unit costs. More money for Heifer International!

Third, this eBook is only available for a short time for the fundraiser. When the fundraiser is over, I won't have excess inventory to worry about!

Finally, digital distribution means that we can do innovative things with the book - like accepting reciepts for donations that people make on their own instead of requiring people to pay me directly.

It's that kind of flexibility that made it obvious that this project required digital-only distribution.

This year's edition of Spec The Halls is only available for a limited time, so act quickly to get your copy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday-New Books Available!

Today is Small Business Saturday in the United States, a day in which shoppers are encouraged to support the independent, more localized business. A small press definitely falls under the category of a small business, so we hope you will give our titles a look today, whether you pick up an eBook on Kindle or Nook, order a softcover on, or pick up something from our own online store.

We have two brand new releases available now in Kindle, Nook, and softcover. The pricing on our eBooks, as always, is just $2.99.

If you like urban fantasy, we have Angelkiller, Book One of the Angelkiller Triad, from H. David Blalock.

Kindle Link for Angelkiller

If you like fantasy, we have The Fall of Dorkhun, from D.A. Adams, the latest in his Brotherhood of Dwarves series.

Kindle Link for The Fall of Dorkhun

Both books feature some outstanding interior artwork, Angelkiller's was done by Matthew Perry and The Fall of Dorkhun's was done by Bonnie Wasson.

Give one of our titles a look today as one of your gift purchases.

Like YA Fantasy? Try Jackie Gamber's Redheart
Like Sword and Sorcery? Try Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall
Like epic fantasy? Try Stephen Zimmer's Fires in Eden Series (Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends)
Like horror? Try Michael West's Cinema of Shadows
Want to try epic-scale urban fantasy? Try Stephen Zimmer's Rising Dawn Saga (The Exodus Gate, The Storm Guardians, and The Seventh Throne)

Every one of them can be found in softcover, Kindle, Nook, on the iBookstore, and at other eReader vendors. A few still have some limited edition hardcovers left at the Seventh Star Press online store

We hope you will participate in Small Business Saturday, and pick up a nice gift from Seventh Star Press!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thank You to Our Readers

With the holiday week, we won't be having our Pick of the Week or featured blog post, both of which will resume next week.

We do want to take a moment, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, to say a few things to you, our readers.

We are always grateful to you, an appreciate each and every time you share a link, tell a friend, or buy a book from one of our authors. You come first with us, as authors and publishers cannot exist without you. You are the reason we are here, and we want you to know that we put every ounce of resource, time, and effort into bringing you the best books that we can.

As we grow, you can expect even more, as we strive to always improve in what we are able to offer you. Publishing is one of the hardest industries, in the midst of a very difficult time economically, but your support helps us to move forward and support our authors in every way we are able.

Just know that every time you pass a link, make a post, put up a review on or a similar outlet, or buy a book or other item related to Seventh Star Press, we deeply appreciate it.

Thank you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Emerging Issue With Online Book Ratings: The No-Review Review, and Non-Book Related Rating

An Emerging Issue With Online Book Ratings: The No-Review Review, and Non-Book Related Rating
by Frank Hall

There is an increasing problem that needs to be dealt with soon. Unfortunately, I am not sure what to do about it. It's been happening for years, but now that ebooks are really coming into the fold, it's becoming more and more of a problem.

Stephen King's newest book just came out. Now, this is Stephen King I am using as an example, so I know that he is not going to be hurt by bad reviews. As of right now there are 10 reviews that are 1 star reviews on Amazon. Of those, 9 are just complaining about the price of the ebook.

We license people to drive cars. If you don’t have a license, you can't drive a car. We do this because if you can't drive, you can hurt yourself or others. Maybe we need to license people to use the internet. Now this has been a running joke for a while, but I think it is something that might need to be done. Maybe not a license for the entire internet, but maybe websites like amazon should put a hold on people's accounts like most forums do. For the first 6 months, everything you post will be reviewed before it is actually posted.

Like I said, Stephen King is not going to get hurt by a bad review. But what about all of the indie authors out there that only get a small amount of reviews? What about someone who is not reviewing the book, but making a comment about how Amazon took three days instead of two to ship them their book, or the fact that the Publisher has set the ebook price at 8.99, and that is way too much to pay for an ebook. A single bad review wont kill someone like getting behind the wheel of a car might, but it will damage an indie author's sales and their ability to make a living.

The world has gone digital. We are a digital society, and we need to start putting common sense, and at least some guidelines in place in cyberspace, like we would in real life. Like I said, I am not sure what the solution is, but we need to work on finding one.

UPDATE (as I finished this blog post): There are now 14 reviews of Stephen King's book, 3 of which have actual reviews of the book.

--Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pick of the Week: Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III

Pick of the Week (#11): Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III
(Eraserhead Press)
-Selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book:In this town, everyone's a bottom feeder...

Five desperate criminals are robbing one of the last remaining banks in Freedom City, a town devastated by the previous nuclear war. But these are no ordinary criminals. They are members of the House of Cards, an organization designed to help the less fortunate citizens of the city. In a place where the poor are separated from the rich, jobs are as scarce as clean water, and even the doctors are as corrupt as the politicians, the House of Cards are a final beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless world.

Featuring: radiation fetishists, balloon people, mutant crabs, sail-bike road warriors, and a love affair between a woman and an H-Bomb. This is one mean asshole of a city.

Welcome to Crab Town

The Author: Carlton Mellick III is one of the leading authors in the new Bizarro genre uprising. Since 2001, his surreal counterculture novels have drawn an international cult following despite the fact that they have been shunned by most libraries and corporate bookstores. He lives in Portland, OR, the Bizarro fiction mecca.

Visit the author's site at:

The Publisher: Founded in 1999, Eraserhead Press is an independent publishing company with a focus on Bizarro Fiction, with an aim to bring you the weirdest most fun to read books you'll ever find. For more information about Bizarro Fiction visit:

To visit the publisher's site, visit:

My Comments: Crab Town was my first foray into the messed up mind of Carlton Mellick III, and I enjoyed every single sentence of it! I originally picked Crab Town up because of it's awesome cover, and then fell in love with it after reading the synopsis for it.

With Crab Town, Mellick has managed to pack 85 pages with as many ideas as possible, without taking away from the story. Each page pops with two to three concepts that Mellick manages to blend together so well, without taking the reader out of the ridiculousness of it. (After the first few pages, your mind quickly realizes and adjusts to all of the crazy, twisted ideas of the story.)

It doesn't take much to trip my trigger, and immediately upon opening the book, several things jumped out at me that grabbed my attention: crime (the House of Cards, a crime organization created to help the less fortunate), crustecians (for which a specific part of town is named after), post-apocalyptic setting (Crab Town takes place after a nuclear war), and the novella length format (short enough to enjoy in only a few sittings, but long enough to get a full story). And ultimately it's a story of people who have nothing, trying to help others who are in the same situation, told each chapter from a different main character's point of view. Add to it the fear of debt and the extremes that people will go to in order to demolish such a burden from their shoulders, and you have Crab Town.

Not only is the cover art beautiful, but the genesis of the novella was brilliant, and I'm glad all the more for picking this quick read up based solely off of the cover art. If you've got a taste for the strange, weird or bizarre, or you're unsure of what Bizarro is, then check out


So make Crab Town the SSP Blog Pick of the Week!

Pick up Crab Town today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:



Monday, November 14, 2011

Seventh Star Press Announces Legacy of the Gods, the New Urban Fantasy Series from Michael West

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2011

Seventh Star Press Proudly Announces New Four Book Urban Fantasy Series From Michael West

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce Legacy of the Gods, an exciting new urban fantasy series from Michael West that begins with Poseidon's Children.  Four titles are scheduled in the series.  The award-winning horror author's foray into urban fantasy is his second series with Seventh Star Press, joining his Harmony Indiana novels in a schedule that will see two books a year released from the prolific author.

Poseidon's Children has already received high praise from Maurice Broaddus, whose series, The Knights of Breton  Court, has been making big waves in the urban fantasy world.  As Maurice commented, “Poseidon’s Children is some of Michael West’s best writing and storytelling!”

As with all Seventh Star Press novels, the books will feature interior artwork, with covers and illustrations being done by acclaimed fantasy/horror artist Matthew Perry.  His artwork appears in other Seventh Star Press releases from Jackie Gamber, H.David Blalock, Stephen Shrewsbury, and Stephen Zimmer.

"This has been an epic story that I have been passionate about for a long time, an idea that would not let go of my brain, it just kept growing, and growing, demanding that I start writing it all down,” Michael said in regards to the upcoming series.  “I've talked about wanting to do this series for years, and my faithful readers kept asking me, 'When are you going to do that? When is it coming out?'  Well, I'm happy to say that the answer is now, and I am so pleased that Seventh Star Press has given me the opportunity to finally make this dark, horrific, fantastical dream a reality."

In Poseidon's Children, man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change. After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current--high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead.

And that's just the beginning.

Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes ... at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse. Now, to stop the carnage,Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths.

Michael West is a fast rising force in the speculative fiction world. His work includes novels such as The Wide Game (Graveside Tales), Cinema of Shadows (Seventh Star Press) and a single author collection, Skull Full of Kisses (Graveside Tales). He also has an array of short fiction published, spanning many magazines and anthologies, including appearances in Shroud Magazine, and the Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

Amanda DeBord will be handling editing duties on Poseidon's Children and the other three Legacy of the Gods titles.

"Seventh Star Press is simply amazing to work with,” Michael commented. “They know good fiction, put out hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions of the highest quality, and they support their authors and releases more
than any other publisher in the business. I could not be happier to be working with them on my Harmony, Indiana books and now the Legacy series."

The projected release date window for Poseidon's Children is March of 2012, with versions released in limited hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats, such Kindle, iPad, the Nook, and Sony/Sony compatible eBook reading devices. The second novel is slated for spring of 2013, with other titles to follow on an annual basis.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at, or at the author's site,

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
email: ccjames at

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Angelkiller Video Trailer

Here's a brand new video trailer for the H. David Blalock novel Angelkiller, Book One of the Angelkiller Triad from Seventh Star Press.

There are still limited hardcover packages available for pre-order for about the next week and a half. Only 75 will be issued of this first limited hardcover edition of the exciting new urban fantasy series. Be sure that you get one of these sharp editions! Visit the online store today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For the Self-Published: The Do-and-Do-Not's on How to get Reviewed

For the Self-Published: The Do-and-Do-Not's on How to get Reviewed
-by Rodney Carlstrom

Okay, so you've written a novel. Now, let's assume that you're capable of holding it in your hands, or you've received the finished product; whether it's dead tree or space on your hard-drive. The next step is getting it into the hands of readers. Obviously, the strongest form of marketing is word of mouth. That's where people like myself (a reviewer), come into play.

For those who might not know, or are interested from a reviewer's perspective, here are some ways to avoid getting your work ignored, badly reviewed, or discarded.

Most people who run review sites have a set of rules they follow. Before you decide to up and send said site your book for reviewing, make sure that they take self-published works, and that your novel fits the bill for the specified genres that they are willing to review. If you're novel fits the bill for the site, the next step is to contact the person(s) who run it.

Every site should have some form of contact information available to visitors. If there isn't, then the next best way to contact the reviewer is by leaving a message, whether it be in the response section to a recent post, or, for the desperate, hunting them down on Facebook (which might seem stalkerish. Do this at your own risk).

Some would recommend that you use a form letter if you decide to contact more than a handful of reviewers. Others would suggest writing the initial letter so that each is authentic and personal. To me it doesn't matter, although I can tell instantly which one is used. This might matter to some reviewers, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just as long as you hit the main points: who you are, the title of your book, what it's about, if it's part of a series, and your interest in sending them a copy to review. Whichever method you decide to go with, make sure it's professional and courteous.

Once initial contact has been made, and a decision has been finalized in regards to the delivery of your novel, send your work forth to be devoured by hungry and objective eyes.

This next bit is crucial. For no reason should you do any of the following:

-Send a manuscript of your novel. Unless the reviewer specifies that it's alright to do so, don't. Not even if you've only released your novel in e-book form.

-Consistently e-mail or contact the reviewer to see if they've read your book yet, or to get their thoughts on it. Wait. Sooner or later you're going to find out, that's the whole point of a review. And by constantly contacting the reviewer you will not only make them annoyed, but it could very well land you with no review to speak of. Now, if it's been awhile, and you haven't heard anything about your book, then it's okay to send an inquiring e-mail. Otherwise, don't worry.

-And when the review does surface in regards to your work, even if it's a negative review, post it. Any publicity is good publicity.

-Don't argue with the reviewer, because ultimately what they've written in regards to your novel is their own opinion. They're just one person. If it upsets you, then too bad, grow thick skin and move on.

If you can manage to follow these steps, and avoid pissing the reviewer off, then you're set to get feedback and publicity for your newest piece of work.


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pick of the Week: Choices Meant for Gods, by Sandy Lender

Pick of the Week (#10): Choices Meant for Gods, by Sandy Lender
(ArcheBooks Publishing)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

The Author:Fantasy enthusiasts will recognize Sandy Lender as the author of the breakout novel Choices Meant for Gods and a leader of workshops on world-building and characterization. Her four-year degree in English and seventeen-year career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations.

Learn more about Sandy at

The Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing is an independent commercial trade publisher of original Hardcover Editions, our own proprietary paperback ArcheBookZine, and eBooks (PDF and Kindle).

Visit their site at:

My Comments: Choices Meant for Gods was Sandy Lender's first novel, and what a debut novel it was! Well-written, imaginative, and full of diverse, distinctive characters, the novel is the first of the "Choices" trilogy.

Chariss is a very strong heroine, and is complimented very well by Nigel Taiman, who she becomes very inclined towards later in the story. It is a world where gods walk the earth in human form, a pantheon containing an array of individuals with different personalities and interests. Anyone familiar with Roman, Greek, or Norse gods will easily connect with these characters. On the other side of the equation is Jamieson Drake and Julette, a dragon who walks the earth in human form. The conflict between the two villains make for a very interesting element within the book. Overall, it is a fantastic book that readers of fantasy and those who enjoy myths about Roman/Greek-style pantheons.


So make Choices Meant for Gods the SSP Blog Pick of the Week.

Pick up Choices Meant for Gods Today! Direct hardcover and Kindle links below:



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Advice on Three Things Authors Can Bring a Blog Site That Are Good For Both

Advice on Three Things Authors Can Bring a Blog Site That Are Good For Both
by Stephen Zimmer

One of the best avenues for authors of all levels, major press, small press, and self-published, for raising awareness is the growing literary blogosphere. In every genre, there are growing numbers of active bloggers that cover new releases, do reviews, interviews, and much more.

Obviously, authors want reviews of their books, and this is a primary focus of most of these blog sites. Most blog reviewers, after publishing a review on their own blog, will cross-post the review to other highly important sites for authors such as, Goodreads, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble, and others.

But beyond the reviews, there are three areas in which an author can participate with a blogger, each of which is of direct benefit to the blogger and their site. These are; interviews, giveaways contests, and guest posts by the author.

The three areas also provide an opening for an author on a blog that is not accepting new reviews, due to having a large TBR (To-Be-Read) pile. As many sites are deluged with new books from publishers of all sizes, the authors that have the flexibility to participate in each of the three areas raises the chances for increasing the number of blogs they are exposed on.

Let's take a look at the trio, one by one:

1. The Interview. Blog reviewers will conduct interviews in a variety of ways. I have experienced some that send you a question at a time, almost like an ongoing conversation (such as one I did on the blog site of author Terry Ervin, writer of Flank Hawk). Others will send you a standard list of questions, and still others will customize the interview to you.

A few reviewers will want to read your book before doing an interview, but many do not have such a policy. This provides a nice opening for the blogger and you to get to know each other a little better before they read your work.

My advice regarding interviews is to work to make them conversational in tone. Do not worry about making them “formal” or perfect, literary-wise. It is tempting to do that, since it is a written interview. Just keep in mind it is not an essay, but an interview for a potential or current reader to learn more about you. Try to keep the tone similar to how you would be on a radio or podcast interview. This will make it more interesting, and it will also allow for more of your personality to be reflected.

When doing multiple interviews, you will sometimes come across similar questions. Answer them uniquely, as they happen, and do not “cut and paste” answers from early interviews where you responded to a similar question. While your answers might ultimately be quite similar when addressing similar questions, it is disingenuous to cut and paste responses. Providing unique answers shows proper respect to both the blogger and the reviewer, and you just may discover that you put a few different things into the responses that give your readers more to glean about you.

2. The Giveaway Contest: Giveaway contests are fantastic ways to expose yourself to new potential readers, as everyone likes the idea of winning prizes, or getting something for free. An author always has to take cost into account, as with most blog sites, the author is responsible for mailing the winner their book (the blog will typically just email you the winner's mailing address).

The cost for an author in postage and mailer will often be close to the cost of the book itself, in regards to a trade paperback of around 250-300 pages. Be careful of taking on too many prizes and contests, as things can add up in a hurry. Ebook giveways are a less costly option, as even gifting a Kindle edition is fairly inexpensive, and ePubs are free.

My advice regarding giveaways is to make the most out of them, especially in terms of building up your social networks. Most blog sites will have a system for allowing extra entries into the contest if the participant joins the author's own blog, Facebook page, twitter site, etc. A contest can result in several new adds to each of your social networking pages, which definitely does not hurt in terms of promoting your work. The blog sites will also often allow extra entries if the participant puts a Facebook post up or tweets about the contest, which puts the author's name out there even more.

Make use of these tools to maximize the benefits of sponsoring a giveaway contest on a blog site. The blogger will appreciate your participation too, as they won't mind being able to offer their readers some perks in the way of free books.

3. The Guest Post. Guest posts are a great way for potential readers to get to know you, as well as providing rich new content for the blog site, something a blogger will really appreciate. Some bloggers will suggest a topic to write about, and others will leave things wide open. Just be sure to stick to any parameters you are given, in terms of word count, and if you are given a topic, stay on it. If you are not given a topic, I suggest to try to get an idea of what the blogger's readership might enjoy, perhaps covering something relating to the genre of the site that has not been used in a post as of yet.

My advice regarding guest blog posts is to try and make them either very useful, or very interesting, such that readers will be tempted to share the link via Facebook or Twitter, maximizing your exposure. Give readers a reason to dive into your post. Do not forget to include links at the end of your post for your own website, Facebook page, etc. Give readers every way to find you, even if you have multiple links/social networks. Not all readers are on every social network.

The blogosphere is a fantastic place to raise awareness and secure interviews. It is growing larger by the moment, both in size and importance as eBooks increase in market share. Do not hesitate to reach out to bloggers, and explore ways to engage of activities that are of mutual benefit. Interviews, contests, and guest posts bring content of interest to a blogger's readership, while also promoting you and your work. Treat each instance uniquely, conduct yourself professionally, and you'll find yourself making headway without spending a large amount of money, never a bad thing for the typically cash-strapped author!

-Stephen Zimmer

To find out more about Stephen or connect with him, visit the following:

Stephen's Website
Facebook Page
Twitter Page
Blog Site
and also on Google+ and GoodReads