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Book Plug Friday

With a focus on independents and ebooks. Have any recommendations?

Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin


July 12, 2013 - 11:00 am

This week, Sarah A. Hoyt and I are starting a new little feature, called Book Plug Friday because, well, it runs on Fridays and we’re going to plug books. Specifically, we’re going to plug independently published e-books (although we may be a little flexible about what we mean by “independent” as time and space will allow.)


Going back to my first pieces here at PJM, I’ve been following the collapse of the whole business model of publishing on milled vegetable matter, and the similar business of publishing music on special-purpose pieces of plastic. The key insight is simple: all these things are, really, is bits. Information. And replicating bits is darn near free.

The economics of publishing, however, have been driven by the costs of making the physical objects. At the time Roger L. Simon was planning PJ Media, I did some calculations; based on the New York Times company’s financial statements, it cost the Times roughly $4 to publish one copy of the paper on paper; of that a really amazingly small part of the costs, around 5 cents, was editorial costs, even with the astonishing salaries and perks their top writers get.

The cost of delivering that many words of content over the web is in the order of one one-billionth of a dollar. The cost of delivering a Kindle e-book over Whispernet is probably bigger, but less than a penny I’m sure, and a lot of people (like me) don’t have Whispernet Kindles. Almost all my Kindles just use my Wi-Fi.

We might fuss over the details, but when one means of delivery costs ten billion times more than the other, the cheap one is probably going to win.


The major publishers have been fighting this. When Amazon started publishing Kindle books, they charged $9.95 for practically everything, and took 30 percent. Now consider a standard hardback book: they’re usually sold at at least a 50 percent discount off the cover price, more if it’s a big retailer like Amazon. So for a $20 hardback, they paid the publisher no more than about $10, and the publisher paid the author no more than about $2. Of the remaining $8 they paid about $5 for printing and shipping.

Based purely on economics they should have loved e-books: they got $7, paid the author $2, and didn’t have to pay for any of the paper parts. But there was a problem in that, because given the option, people would rather buy a $10 book than a $20 book. Kindle would be cannibalizing the sales of vegetable matter — is that a mixed metaphor? — and the big publishers were paying for the cost of owning the big presses. (Smaller publishers didn’t care as much, because they bought their printing from the big publishers, either by publication agreements or simply by buying the printing service outright.) Apple and the “agency model” of e-book pricing they introduced — and which has just been found to be a restraint of trade — gave the big publishers some leverage. They were able to raise their e-book prices. Some publishers — Penguin is notorious for this — actually set the e-book prices higher than the paper-printed book.

But when one means of delivery costs ten billion times more than the other, the cheap one is probably going to win.

Amazon made it easy for independent publishers. You can format a book for Kindle on your laptop in an afternoon, publish it that night, and have it in Amazon’s catalogues the next day. It opened whole new markets for writers, by letting them avoid all the intermediaries and gatekeepers. Publish a Kindle e-book for $2.99 and you make about $2 a copy, roughly what you would get from a hardcover original. And the market for $3 books is pretty significant. Books, as Robert Heinlein said, compete with beer for people’s disposable money.

So this feature will regularly plug independently published e-books, much as Glenn Reynolds does his reader book plugs. It’s time the vegetable matter publishers felt the pressure.

By the way, blurbs are from the authors unless they’re explicitly marked otherwise.



Easy money–or a quick death! Joshua Love, the crazy kid with a dark secret, has seen the likes of Chewy Bill Roberts before. Rustling cattle is easy money-until they get caught. And Josh is sure Chewy Bill will end up just like all the others, with terror in his eyes and a hole in his head. Robbing stagecoaches turns out to be even more deadly. When the blood starts flowing, Josh and Bill are branded as outlaws, forever, true members of the Amarillas Gang, a ruthless bunch of cold-blooded killers. Josh has other things to worry about: a gunfight over a scheming girl named Jenny, the price tag of a banjo-and a wanted poster with his face on it! But if the law wants Joshua Love, they’re gonna have to get to him before the Amarillas, who now want him dead.




An unlikely band of brothers… A ruthless gambler, a reckless young outlaw and a tough Buffalo soldier find themselves accidental partners in crime. But things really heat up when the outlaw’s carelessness puts the law hard on their tail. They set out to flee New Mexico Territory and cross the border into Colorado…or die trying.




I wrote THE FARAIAN CONSPIRACY way back in 1989, but its theme is just as relevant for today: Meddling in and manipulating the political scenes of other cultures is a very bad idea, one that can easily blow up in your face. It’s an espionage story, set in the far future, on worlds colonized by Humans, and I think it kinda sorta fits the HW ideals. Needs a new cover, in the worst way, but I hope the words inside will more than make up for the less-than-stellar exterior.



Lilith Rises by Terry R. Lacy

Deep in the heartland of America, at a thousand-year-old effigy mound in southern Ohio, an ancient coven of witches attempts to bring about Armageddon by awakening Lilith’s soul. Lilith is the first woman created by God, before the more compliant Eve, and the mother of all demons, often depicted as the Whore of Babylon riding the Beast in the Book of Revelations. Her soul resides in the body of twenty-year-old, Teresa Moore, who is unaware of her past and why Lilith’s voice lures her away from her Catholic upbringing. As Teresa gives birth to a daughter, the coven senses the arrival and sends its most cunning sister, Briana, to capture Teresa and awaken Lilith’s soul. Will Teresa learn about her past in time to stop Lilith’s rise and the onset of Armageddon?

Charlie: I’m a little prejudiced because Terry is an old friend, but I really liked this book. It reads well, they’re interesting characters, and it’s exciting. I really recommend it.


Partners by Andy Solomon

Twenty-four year-old graduate student and painter Mark Hollander has only a dim idea what he’s looking for as he opens his apartment door that October morning, but he knows what he finds: Holly, the spritely blonde from down the hall, clearly the culprit who’s been stealing his newspaper.

Deep in poverty but even deeper in love, Mark and Holly marry, and toward the end of her senior year Holly becomes pregnant. Idyllic as their life together seems, Mark vaguely senses clouds approaching their world. Yet can Mark grow enough to be the father, artist, teacher, and person he hopes to be, or will he struggle on just doing the best he can?

Charlie: I read this book. It’s genre fiction, in the slice-of-life literary fiction genre. I usually hate that stuff. But this is really brilliantly written, and worth a look.


“For the fragile muses…” by D. Jason Fleming

“For the fragile Muses…” is a short story about a barroom conversation that does not go anywhere you expect it to.


shutterstock_59010307Richard Monaco

Richard Monaco published four Arthurian/Fantasy novels. Two were best-sellers and Pulitzer Prize finalists. PARSIVAL OR A KNIGHT’S TALE; THE GRAIL WAR; THE FINAL QUEST and BLOOD AND DREAMS were originally published by Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Putnam/Berkley. PARSIVAL OR A KNIGHT’S TALE is currently available on ereads. He published twelve other books between 1970 and 2000 many of which were translated into German, Italian and other languages.

All the Parsival books are self-contained and don’t need to be read in any order. LOST YEARS: THE QUEST FOR AVALON involves the tangled and forbidden love relationships of Parsival, his son, wife, Gawain and others amidst the dark magical power-plots of Morgana the witch in a terroristic, plague-struck Post-Apocalyptic world swirling with mad politics and violent religious cults.

Charlie: A new friend, but I’m an old fan. I’ve thought Richard’s work was brilliant since Parsival blew me away a long time ago.

Dead Blossoms

DEAD BLOSSOMS; THE THIRD GEISHA is set in 16th century Civil War-racked Japan featuring a hard-drinking Japanese ex-ninja, Takezo – a master swordsman who renounced his clan and became a ronin (free-lance) detective/bodyguard. He hopes to retire in the country with his geisha girlfriend, a ninja spy secretly watching him for a clan boss. In the end, she gives up her life to protect him as clan leaders plot and fight to possess the contents of a captured Portuguese ship loaded with western armaments. Takezo follows a trail of murder to the ship, aided by shipwreck survivors: a Zulu warrior prince, an Italian painter and a Scots fugitive. First hired to find a missing possibly murdered noblewoman, our detective escapes assassination attempts while investigating a string of Geisha killings (including his own lover) in a world of treacherous politics, extreme passions, ninja manipulations, intense romance and clashing clans at war. Slashed, burnt, half-blinded and crucified by his enemies, Takezo survives the battle, exposes the plotters, and weathers the typhoon that rages while the future city of Tokyo burns.


Parsival or a Knights Tale

Richard Monaco has taken a slice of the Arthurian legend and created a thoroughly modern-minded re-imagining of the classic tale. Colorful medieval settings blend with a hard-edged look at human foibles and a romantic story of love and loss is narrated with a lean, contemporary sensibility to form a new, but still ageless, adventure that anyone can enjoy.


Lost Years: The Quest for Avalon

LOST YEARS: THE QUEST FOR AVALON explores the tangled and forbidden love relationships of Parsival, his son, wife, Gawain and others amidst the dark magical power-plots of Morgana the witch in a Post-Apocalyptic terroristic, plague-struck world swirling with mad politics and violent religious cults.



The Bureau of Substandards Annual Report by Sabrina Chase

Short story collection The Bureau of Substandards Annual Report is now available at a special introductory discount price of $1.99, until August 8.  Hidden behind protective layers of government red tape, the Bureau of Substandards fights the good fight against interdimensional threats of every kind. Thrill to amazing tales of bureaucratic adventure and derring-do!  Adorable baby krakens! Ferocious zombie tuna sandwiches! And more…


The Barton Street Gym by Zoey Ivers

A malfunctioning dimensional door dumps two teenagers and their “bio-model” artificial friends into the middle of a war between Artificial Intelligences in dimensions beyond their own.

Dimensions where they can change themselves, and the ruling computers create avatars in the forms they identify with. Alice and Joe find themselves lost in a maze of ruins, dodging a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex, with control of a complex cyber world up for grabs.


Vulcan’s Kittens by Cedar Sanderson

Vulcan’s Kittens is a young adult novel that does not talk down to its readers, and is being enjoyed by all ages. Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heph’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war.

Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special litter. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…


To Carry the Horn by Karen Myers

To Carry the Horn, the first book in my series The Hounds of Annwn, will be on sale for $0.99 for 1 week, July 9 thru July 15, at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Regular price $5.99. Here’s the two links (feel free to substitute your own version if you want the affiliate revenue).


NASA e-books

Here’s one of those special cases: NASA publishes many things as free e-books, downloadable in many formats. If you’re a space nut at all, you should have a look.

NASA e-books


At least for the moment, we’ll plug every book we get an Amazon link for. Authors are encouraged to let us know about their books, and ideally we’d like a one-paragraph blurb to go with the book. Unless we call something out specifically, we aren’t claiming to have read or reviewed the books at all.

We don’t care about genre — Sarah and I know lots of SF and Fantasy writers, so it may lean that way, but one of my blurbs for the week is for a completely mainstream literary novel. I (at least) am perfectly willing to link erotica as long as the title is printable (which being on Kindle pretty much guarantees, Amazon not wanting to have an over-18 section of their website.) We will try, however, to mark erotica as such. Fair warning: if it’s marked as erotica and you are offended by erotic content, don’t buy the book.


images courtesy shutterstock / DavidPinoPhotography / upthebanner / Sascha Burkard / paul prescott / Alberto Masnovo

Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin write and blog on science, science fiction, self-improvement, culture, and politics for PJ Lifestyle. Send an email to for submission guidelines for Book Plug Friday, a weekly listing of independently published e-books.

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The Alecto Initiative
(Science Fiction, published by Pleiades Web Press, May 6, 2013. Owen R. O'Neill and Jordan Leah Hunter)

Here is the description:
Life was never easy out in the Methuselah Cluster, the most remote region humanity ever settled, but when her alcoholic father found her a 'job' while he went off-planet to look for work for a 'few months', 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn just how ugly it could get. Within the year, her employers sold her to a brutal slaver captain, who took from her the last thing she owned: her name.

Most girls in Kris's position last a year or two. The strong ones might last four. Kris survived for eight before she was set free, thanks to the Nereidian League Navy.

Unfortunately, eight years growing up in Hell prepared Kris for nearly everything but freedom, and her new life isn't at all what she imagined. Not only must she find her way in a bewildering society full of bizarre rules, but the very people who rescued her think she's a terrorist plant, a beautiful interstellar celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and now someone is trying to kill her.

But Kris hasn't stayed alive by respecting boundaries or obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it's like to collide with someone who has no concept of a no-win scenario.

The Alecto Initiative is the gripping story of an extraordinary young woman forced to come of age while looking Death in the eye. It is the powerful and thought-provoking beginning to a new science-fiction series unlike any you have ever read.

Thanks for the opportunity to post this!
1 year ago
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The Color of Thunder
(literary fiction, self-published through Xlibris Publishing, December 2012)

Here's the synopsis:

Faith Linsey comes from a highly regarded family in Jackson, Mississippi. As the oldest daughter of a well liked pastor and his dutiful wife, her life is good and comfortable and she has no reason to question the things that take place around her. When she witnesses something that shakes her to her very core, she realizes that the world she's always known may not be as picture perfect as she'd always imagined . . . and that her father may not be the respectable hero everyone believes him to be. Faith's story begins in 1946, soon after the end of World War II, and moves straight into the heat of the Civil Rights Movement. She is forced to deal with the questions she has, not only about her father but about the unshakable convictions that he and many of his fellow southerners share about racial equality and about the very religion she's been taught to believe in. Events that take place, not only in her personal life but in the world at large, and a very unsuspected and special friendship she becomes involved in will make Faith decide what it is she truly believes in, what things are important enough to fight for and what things are not.

Available in both print and e-book format.

On amazon at:

and on Barnes and Noble at:
1 year ago
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More Than Mischief (The Hurley Vance Series, #1) can be downloaded for free for the remainder of July over at Smashwords. Input the code “SW100” at checkout.

The book is a dystopian novel written from the libertarian/conservative perspective, and it is intended for a “new adult” audience. My hope is that this story will serve as an unapologetic and entertaining way to carry a message. And to bring this message to an audience otherwise indifferent to issues concerning the State.

Here’s the blurb…

Torture, brainwashing, and obedience are common. Questions are not.

A few among the subservient population strive for something more. Son of a senator and brutalized for his beliefs, Hurley Vance desires to be his own person. Wicked statesmen want Hurley contained and the ideas he cherishes suppressed. Evangeline Street, an opposition leader who rejects State enslavement, asks that Hurley join her countermovement.

After visiting his friends one night, Hurley saves a woman from a Watcher’s cruelty. As a result of his actions, he discovers an underground society living in Building 86. Now, he must choose between a safe life of government protection or one of danger and revolution.

And a few links…

Thanks for helping us self-published authors get the word out. It's greatly appreciated.
1 year ago
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When That Great Ship Went Down: The Legal and Political Repercussions of the Loss of RMS Titanic, is the centenary history of the British and American inquiries into, and the lawsuits arising from, the sinking of that iconic ship.

A tale of witch-hunts and cover-ups, corporatism and crony capitalism, regulatory capture and crooked lawyers, electioneering and insider trading, it has been praised by the Daily Telegraph's James Delingpole as a "cool reassessment [that] shows ... politicians and regulators in 1912 were just as bad as the current lot: they had a progressive political narrative to push, and their own secrets to hide;" and by the Sunday Telegraph's Anne-Elisabeth Moutet as a "sharply and eruditely-drawn account of the Titanic Inquiries on either side of the Atlantic ... [a] vivid reconstruction [and a] a parliamentary procedural as well as the re-creation of a vanished pre-War world."

Amazon Kindle:
1 year ago
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In 1783, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, was determined that American independence must not end her dreams of evangelizing the Native Americans and settling her brand and branch of Methodists on the frontier. Fortunately, she had a distant cousin in America to whom she could write: George Washington.

This is the history of their correspondence and that of their circle, which included Phillis Wheatley, the Wesleys, George Whitefield, the Mohegan evangelist the Rev. Samuel Occom, and the earliest opponents of slavery; and of how it shaped the American expansion, the beginnings of abolition, and US attitudes towards religious pluralism and immigration.

Its author is one of the co-authors of the celebrated centenary history of the US and UK investigations into the loss of RMS Titanic, and the historian of Congress' August 1941 decision, by one vote, to keep the draft, four months before Pearl Harbor.

Amazon Kindle:
1 year ago
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"Why is this so hard for me? Why am I having so much trouble? Why do I feel so helpless, so hopeless? What the hell is wrong with me?"

After tangling with murders and mobsters, not to mention medical school and three years of residency, Sara thought she could handle anything. And then the police show up without warning at her new office and arrest her for a crime she can't possibly have committed. Sara's confidence, and her grip on reality, is shattered during one terrifying night in jail.

Now, the very dreams that have endangered her life and driven her to the edge of madness may be the only thing that can help Sara find herself again...

"Dream Family" is the powerful fourth novel in the "Dreams" series.
1 year ago
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"I would give anything to take this away from her. I would gladly go back to having the nightmares myself – the very worst ones, the ones that had me waking up screaming in a pool of my own vomit – rather than see Lizzie go through this..."

As a resident at Children's Hospital, Sara can handle ninety hour workweeks, fighting to save her young patients from deadly childhood diseases. But she's about to be faced with a challenge that all her training and experience haven't prepared her for: her four-year-old daughter has inherited her ability to see other people's dreams...

"Dream Child" is the suspenseful third novel in the "Dreams" series.
1 year ago
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“I didn’t expect to be woken up by someone I don’t know dreaming about killing somebody. I thought I was done with that once and for all…”

But Sara’s not done with it. As if adjusting to life as a newlywed and starting medical school weren’t difficult enough, she’s started seeing the dreams of everyone around her, again. Before everything is said and done, those dreams might destroy Sara’s hopes of becoming a doctor, wreck her marriage and even end her life…

“Dream Doctor” is the thrilling second novel in the Dreams series.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I guess I put my blurbs/links here for this coming Friday?

What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?

Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.

But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.

“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.
1 year ago
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PAINTED SKIES by Sue Simonich

Nova Denver's quiet academic life is shattered by the appearance of a posthumous letter and surprising familial secrets. Retreating to her family's cabin high in the Uintah wilderness, she seeks answers to a forty-year old mystery. Hours after her return, disturbing connections send her back to England. Never did she expect the truth to be so convoluted, personal and life changing.

See more here:

1 year ago
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