Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ye Gods II: Outskirts Press Responds

So, a while ago I wrote a post instructing authors to run screaming away from Outskirts Press.  They just noticed I wrote it and responded.  Now, for some reason I'm not seeing their comment on the original post, so I thought I'd copy it and respond directly here:

Keryl, You're right, our pricing is much different from CreateSpace. If you look deeper, you'll discover that our fee-based services are actually lower than the fee-based services offered by CreateSpace. Please feel free to re-examine their service fees on their website and then perhaps post an update to your blog that more accurately reflects our value. We're happy to help you do that by providing some some details below for your convenience:

CreateSpace offers something similar to our Ruby ($699) or Diamond ($999) packages for $785 and you can see those details on the CreateSpace website at https://www.createspace.com/Services/TotalDesignFreedomStandard.jsp

Although this service doesn't include some the inclusions of our Ruby or Diamond packages.

When you examine CreateSpace's service fees, you may notice that their a la carte prices are actually quite a bit higher than ours. For instance, they charge $499 (https://www.createspace.com/Services/UniqueBookCover.jsp) for the same custom cover design that we charge $299 for.

Their copyediting service is $0.019 cents per word (https://www.createspace.com/Services/ComprehensiveCopyediting.jsp), whereas ours is $0.014 cents per word. For an average 60,000 word document, that equates to a difference of $300 less with Outskirts Press at http://outskirtspress.com/p/editing

As for marketing services, their prices are actually quite a bit more expensive than ours. Their press release with distribution service is $598 (https://www.createspace.com/Services/PressReleaseWithDistribution.jsp ) compared with ours for $219 at http://outskirtspress.com/p/customrelease (and if you published with us, it's even less).

Their book video service is $1,249 (https://www.createspace.com/Services/VideoBookTrailers.jsp
) compared with ours at $799, and our authors save 50% off that price! As a CreateSpace author, is CreateSpace offering you a 50% discount on their "egregious" book video fees? Want a less expensive one than you can get anywhere else? http://outskirtspress.com/p/videotrailer

Speaking of not free, CreateSpace even charges $199 for Sell Sheets (https://www.createspace.com/Services/SellSheets.jsp), whereas Outskirts Press authors can print (and even create/modify) their Sell Sheets within their Publishing Center freely whenever they want.

It's true CreateSpace doesn't offer the Amazon Extreme services, although based upon their prices above, if they did, you can bet their prices would be more than ours.

All that, PLUS you get your paperback on Barnes & Noble. The good news for CreateSpace authors is that even if you publish with CreateSpace, you can benefit from affordable Outskirts Press marketing options at http://outskirtspress.com/marketing

Outskirts Press

Now, everything they've got posted there may be true, but, that was not the point of my original post.  I compared what it costs to get a book printed with Outskirts to what it costs to get a book printed with CreateSpace and with Lulu.com.  I did this with a professional author, someone who is trying to make a living selling books, in mind.  They didn't mention Lulu in the response, so I'll skip it as well.

To make a physical book, with an ISBN, barcode, distribution to major retailers (including Barnes and Noble and Amazon), and a customizable cover costs $39.00 on CreateSpace.   That $39.00 gets you the option of something like 15 book sizes, more than 20 customizable covers, and two paper colors. 

Outskirts' least expensive option is $199.99.  They take your MS and turn it into a book.  There is no barcode, no ISBN, no distribution.  You have the option of one size, one paper grade, and one of two customizable covers.  They then give you one "free" copy.  

You've got an MS.  You want to sell it.  Which of those two options looks better?

Now, let me go a bit further.  Outskirts does not appear to make the bulk of their money printing books.  They appear to make their money selling services to authors.  They may or may not have better prices that CreateSpace, but here's the thing, I don't recommend using any of the a la carte services of any of the DIY publishers.  They are, for the most part, a waste of money.  Go find places where other indies hang out, make friends, and you can find those same services for a much better price.  Better yet, learn how to do a lot of them yourself.  

There was one service Outskirts offered that really pissed me off, and it's mentioned briefly in the response above:  The Amazon Extreme Service.  It cost $299.00 and gets you three things, a Kindle version of your book, the Look Inside feature for your book on Amazon, and ten tags.  Words are insufficient to explain how big of a rip off this is.  This is taking advantage of people who don't know how CreateSpace or Amazon DTP works and robbing them blind.  So, let me take a minute here to explain in detail what sort of work you'd have to do to get these things for yourself.

A: Go to CreateSpace and set up a book.
B: There will be an option that says something like: Amazon Look Inside: yes or no?
C: Check the yes square.

You are now signed up for Look Inside.  Depending on how fast with a mouse you are, that took you less than one second.

D: Once your book is up live on Amazon, scroll down your product page.
E: Find the tags section.
F: Type in the tags you want.  (Outskirts will type in ten tags.  Amazon lets any user add up to fifteen.) 

To further hammer home exactly how blindingly easy the tag thing is, authors routinely do tag swaps.  I click on your tags, you click on mine, both of our books are a little easier to find.  And (this is something I'll go into more detail on in a later post) it's also not all that useful.  Tag is not a synonym for keyword (which is an impression Outskirts tries to create) so the only way a lot of tags makes it easier for someone to find your book is if they specifically search tags.  I've got over 200 votes on the tag "true love" for Sylvianna, which means Sylvianna is in second or third place for total "true love" tags.  If you search keyword, true love, books I didn't write pop up.  How many tags of true love does the number one book on the list have?  Zero.  So, not only are they selling you a service that anyone can do for free, it's not even terribly useful.

But what about getting your book up on Kindle.  That's hard and scary and requires a lot of technical savvy, right?  Um... no. 

A: Fill out forms (Outskirts sends you a copy of the forms, and you fill them out, then they reenter the data.)
B: Copy and paste all the information (category, back cover blurb, etc...) from the print version into the kindle version.
C: Upload your .jpeg cover image
D: Upload your .doc text.

Congratulations!  In two or three days you've got a Kindle book. (Or, according to Outskirts: four weeks.)   From the way they describe what they do, it looks like someone at Outskirts signs you up with Amazon DTP.  Which, once again, you can do for yourself for free.

All told, it took me less than half an hour do to all three of these things, and less than a minute for the first two.  I'm not a computer wizard.  But I can read, and I can follow simple directions, and I sure as hell don't need to pay someone close to three hundred dollars to do that for me!  You don't either.  As I said in my previous post, if you want someone else to do this, go find someone charging about fifteen dollars, which is a decent price for the amount of work involved in doing this.

Once upon a time services that catered to self-published authors were called vanity presses.  They were called this because, by the time you were done, you had a book to stick on your shelf at home, sell to a few friends, and that was about it.  If selling your books is your career, if you want to make a living at this, if you want something beyond your name on the cover of a book, Outskirts is a bad choice.  They charge too much.  Here's how my 424 page, 9x6 novel does at a $14.99 price point with about a 40% author discount:  CreateSpace, I make $3.03 per book sold.  Outskirts, I end up owing them $2.27 for each book printed.  I have to jack the price up to $16.95, and then I only make $0.42 per book.  If you sign with Outskirts you cannot price your book low enough to compete with the hordes of people publishing on CreateSpace.  And that, more than any other reason, is why you should run away from Outskirts.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Indie Book Review: Black Earth The End of the Innocence.

I started Black Earth: End of the Innocence with a lot of hope.  I did my usual pre-review routine of reading the blurb and the first chapter.  Both of them looked good.  The first chapter is arresting and sets up the promise of a really interesting story.  I was happy to agree to review Black Earth.

Unfortunately Black Earth starts going downhill from there pretty swiftly. 

This is a big book, and it's the first in a series with, I think, thirteen point of view characters.  It's entirely possible I've forgotten a few.  On the upside I rarely found myself confusing them with each other.  On the downside the whole book is more or less character introductions, a little back story, and a tiny bit of plot.   I read the kindle version, so I'm guessing here, but this is probably a 400+ page story where by the end of it we're just starting to get a feel for what might be going on.

What is going on?  It's hard to tell.  The world is falling apart.   Meteorites are crashing into the planet.  Aliens or demons, possibly alien demons, are ramping up for war against God.  Teenagers with superpowers are fumbling around trying to figure out what is going on.   The President of the United States appears to be the Anti-Christ, or working for the Anti-Christ, it's fuzzy.  There's some sort of time-travel-fix-the-future, and counter-time-travel-keep-the-future-the-way-it-is angle.  Other planets have been destroyed by Legion (the alien demons).  There's something about getting humans off of Earth to a new planet (which may have been destroyed in the future, by Legion) so they can evolve and avoid the destruction of Earth.   There are bad guys galore (more on this later), and absolute scads of purposeless violence.    Any one of these threads could have been a book by itself, but they're all scattered together, and none of them developed enough to do more than give the reader a glimpse of a building story.  Basically, we get to read the first third of something like six books.

And then it just stops.  Part of how a series is supposed to be built is that each part is a story of its own.  Look at Harry Potter, each of the novels has a complete story arc while building up the larger arc of the series.  It's possible one of the arcs this story began with ended.  All the rest of them are left dangling.  If there is an overarching theme of this book, it's everything falling apart, and that's well and truly going gangbusters by the time Black Earth has ended.

There's a saying: a book is only as good as its bad guys.  And while that isn't always true, clunky, melodramatic villains will just kill a book.  Unfortunately Black Earth has a lot of them.   There's Evanescence, Witch Queen of the Damned (something like a Super Satan), The President of the United States (the Anti-Christ?), Mr. Silver (misogynistic, super-rich-corporate-tycoon-James-Bond-style-villain),  Alpha 1 (psychopathic killer working for Mr. Silver), Theresa (counter time travel sociopath), and a few other random psychopaths.  And all of them need mustaches to twirl.   There is not a single subtle, sane bad guy in the lot.   Be prepared for clunky dialog; psychopathic musings; megalomaniacs; ice-cold, stone-hard killers, who can be distracted and overpowered by untrained victims; random, useless violence; and monologues that give the good guys the chance to escape.   

Good dialog makes me want to sing the praises of a book.  Bad dialog makes me want to cry.  This book is riddled with stilted and stiff dialog, mostly coming from the mouths of the bad guys.  On top of that most of the characters use the same basic vocabulary.  Quick example: things are falling out of the sky and crashing into Earth.  With the exception of one NASA scientist, everyone calls them falling stars: not meteors, meteorites, comets, shooting stars, or anything else.  All of the characters have precisely the same internal vocabulary for this event, even the ones who come from another planet.  Here's another example: no one curses.  At first I thought this was a young adult book, but no, it has a not-suitable-for-under-17 note on it, so there's no reason that no one ever utters 'shit' or 'fuck.'  There are some seriously scuzzy people in this book and one rough teenager, and none of them ever says anything beyond a PG rated word.   Not to say I'm a fan of profanity for profanity's sake, but I am a fan of realistic dialog, and at the very least, the kind of teen girl who sets up her own sex club in high school is likely to mutter something untoward upon finding she's been drugged and raped.

And that leads into another aspect of this book, it's Christian fiction.  (Not that you can find this out by reading the description or the genre.   Why this isn't mentioned in the description or genre is puzzling.)  I think this is why no one curses, even though it would be in character for at least a few of them to be doing it.  This might also explain the fact that there is only one gray character and everyone else is fully a black hat or white hat.

I like eschatology, and while there's a lot of creative work going on in this version of the end times, it's heavy handed.  The President is a bad guy.  How do we learn that at first?  We find out she's had the "under God" bit removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.  As a work of theology goes, this one isn't sophisticated.  There's plenty of room for theodicy in this story, but either his characters or Alderman isn't up to it.  Instead of spending some real time on what it means that an all powerful God allows evil and suffering, we get the tired tropes of 'it makes us stronger' or 'keep the faith.'

Then there's writing as a technical aspect of putting words together.  Parts of this book are eloquent and graceful.  Parts feel like a car with a shot suspension driving over a pitted, rocky, country road.  Word choice was problematic.   Alderman often uses a word that sounds similar to the one he wants, but isn't it: equitable for equal or correlating for corresponding.  Likewise he comes up with sentences that sound good, but don't actually mean what I think he was trying to convey.  Point of view is also an issue.  He's either writing third person omniscient badly, or head hopping from one third person limited to another.  Either way it's distracting.  You think you're in one character's head, next thing you know there's an info dump involving stuff the character shouldn't know, then you're in another character's head.   Top this off with many scenes ending in a cliff hanger, and when next we see those characters they've suddenly gotten off of the cliff, without Alderman bothering to tell us how it happened.

All of this is excruciatingly disappointing because the first few chapters are good.  Alderman can write decent teenagers (adults and children not so much).  The first chapter has stunningly beautiful imagery and makes you want to read more.  The first few chapters that follow were good enough I kept working out so I could read more.  (And I'm not what anyone would call a fan of the elliptical machine.  Reading the beginning, my normal twenty minutes grew to thirty before I hit the first rough patch.)  Then suddenly, it all goes awry and we're stuck in the land of stilted dialog and insane bad-guys.  I'm giving it two stars, and wishing the promises of the first chapters could have been fulfilled.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Indie Book Review: Optical Delusions In Deadwood

Deadwood Violet is back in Optical Delusions, and she's brought along all the things I loved about Nearly Departed.   Witty writing, killer dialog, red-hot sex scenes, a corker of a mystery, and a tinge of paranormal that leaves the reader wondering if the supernatural is really happening or not have all come back for Ann Charles' sophomore offering.

In the wake of the action in Nearly Departed, Violet's developed something of a reputation as the local spook finder.  All the more ironic because Violet still doesn't really believe in ghosties and ghoulies.  But, setting fire to the "haunted" residence of the local psychopathic killer will get you that sort of reputation.    Newly minted reputation in hand, Violet gets approached by a small, mousy woman in need of a realtor.  In a matter of minutes, Violet knows why she was picked, the house, in addition to having a reputation for being haunted, was also the location of a murder-suicide a few months earlier.    

On the good news front, the house is perfect.  On the better news front, the Sturgis Harley Davidson convention is on, and Deadwood is packed with out-of-towners, some of whom are looking for real estate.  On the downside, something just isn't right about the owners, and that triggers Violet's need to get down to the bottom of what is going on.  She's thinking it's a simple matter of a not-all-there mother being taken advantage by her daughter and almost daughter-in-law.  But of course, it's so much more than that.  Next thing Violet knows she's got witches, demons, and spooks in her life again, and she'd really prefer they weren't. 

If that was all the plot this story had, it'd be a great read.  But it's not all the plot, the Deadwood mysteries are romances as well as who/what-done-its.  I'll admit to being a bit disappointed in the romance for Optical Delusions.  When we left Nearly Departed, Doc and Violet were heading toward happily ever after.  There were some big obstacles in the way, and I wanted to see how they would deal with them.  Two weeks later we begin Optical Delusions and apparently during the intervening time Doc's character got a personality transplant and went skittering into hiding because he's oh-so-scared of a real relationship.  So, for all practical purposes Doc and Violet go back to square one and start over again in Optical Delusions. 

Now, the actual romance plot line of: guy acts like jerk, guy decides he can't live without woman, guy does valiant things to get back into woman's good graces, forgiveness, and happy time is just fine.  It holds together well and works.  Charles handles it with grace and wit.  But I was hoping to see the romance actually move forward, as opposed to end up in precisely the same place it was when we got done with Nearly Departed.  None of the major issues facing Doc and Violet as a couple are any closer to resolved.   He's still a psychic.  She's still not sure she believes such things are real.  Her best friend is still in love with Doc and she's not sure how to handle that. 

And, while I wouldn't call that a minor issue with the book, it is one of personal taste.  Optical Delusions is extremely well written.  The characters are vibrant and spending time with them is a genuine joy.  The mystery has twists, turns, red-herrings, and fully satisfying ending.  Charles' ability to balance paranormal creepiness with the real world and leave the reader on the fence as to what is actually going on is reminiscent of the best episodes of the X-Files.   Plot threads that were sprinkled into both Optical Delusions and Nearly Departed look like they'll get picked up in the third book.  This is another carefully written, carefully plotted book.  I want to know what happens next.  I just hope it doesn't involve Doc and Violet heading back to square one again.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Not Even Remotely Indie Book Review: Dragons of the Hourglass Mage

Amazingly enough, I do actually read the occasional traditionally published book.  Especially if it's a book by authors I like about a character I love.

Back in 2008 I found out that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman had come back, yet again, to DragonLance to do something called the Lost Chronicles.  Basically, they were filling in the bits of the story that didn't make it into the first Chronicles.  So I was pleased to see them.  Then I started reading, and they were, well, blah.  Apparently there was a reason those bits didn't make it into the story.  They were boring.

But, hey, stories of Dwarven intrigue and Dragon Highlords in the midst of romantic angst were never my thing.  But Raistlin, dark, hacking, anti-hero Raistlin, golden-skinned-outsider with the weak body and the Herculean mind, he was always my thing.  (The particularly astute reader might notice a similarity between my name and his, and the serious DragonLance geek might get the entire reference.)  So, it was with some hope of joy, I waited for summer 2008 and Dragons of the Hourglass Mage.

Summer came and no book was written.  As the release date came and went word was there wasn't even a finished manuscript.  And with that I more or less gave up, the first two books had been lame, and the one I was hoping for unwritten.  With two kids, a book I was writing, and fan fic waiting to be read, I let hopes of Raistlin's further adventures go.

Fast forward three years, and I'm on Goodreads chatting with another reader about the comparative merits of DragonLance and Forgotten Realms.  During that conversation it comes to my attention that Dragons of the Hourglass Mage had eventually gotten written and came out in 2009.

Twenty-four hours later I had finished it.

So, how did it look to a mad fan girl, now all grown up?  Decent.  The actual plot seemed solid, if improbable.  It fills in the period between when Raistlin vanished with the Dragon Orb in the Maelstrom and then pops back up again during the final battle to make sure the Companions win it.  Basically we're asked to believe that Raistlin joins the resistance, infiltrates the temple at Nerka, and more or less singlehandedly overthrows the Queen of Darkness (while getting Fistandantillus out of his head).  It hangs together pretty well, but it wasn't what I was expecting.  Having read it, I can say with assurance that Hickman and Weis had no idea whatsoever how it was Raistlin came to be on the platform in time to save Tanis, or if they did, they tossed those ideas to write this book.   There was one plot hole that needed some patching, but nothing that caused me to want to toss the book aside in disgust. 

Now, in the twenty plus years since I picked up Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I've changed.  We all have.  The problem is, Raistlin shouldn't have.  Dragons of the Hourglass Mage supposedly takes place less than six months from the end of Autumn Twilight.  His internal voice shouldn't have gone from high functioning sociopath (which was something I always loved about him) to a pretty well adjusted Objectivist Hero.  (I defy anyone, having read Dragons of the Hourglass Mage to come up with a substantial difference between Raistlin and John Galt.  What this says about Hickman and Weis and their ideas of what constitutes evil might make for an interesting discussion.  But I digresss...)  He's actually emotional, sad, scared, unsure, angry.  Besides angry we didn't see much of that out of Raistlin before.  And, while Hickman and Weis were always a little vague about what precisely it was that made Raistlin evil, they've gone from flat out vague to not evil at all.  Seriously, the guy who would step over his brother's corpse to get to his goals is gone from this book.

I still enjoyed this latest installment of Raistlin,  (I like Objectivist heroes.) but he's not the same man he was before.  This new version is close, but not quite right.  And while I enjoyed Dragons of the Hourglass Mage, I'm honestly not sure if I was happier not having read it.

You know what they say: you can't go home again.  They're wrong.  You can.  The question is: should you?  Hickman and Weis took me home again, and I found the furniture rearranged and the walls painted a new color.  It looked okay, but it wasn't home.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Should You Self Publish-The Definitive Answer

Should you self publish? It's a pretty hot question, and among writers can get the sorts of vitriolic responses usually reserved for devout Christians seeing the Piss Christ.  If you read my blog regularly, you know I said yes.  But and as much as I think it was the right answer, I know it was the right answer for me.  Is it the right answer for you?  Well, let's take a few minutes and find out.

Are you capable of being honest with yourself?   None of the rest of these questions are going to help if you don't answer them honestly.  And by honest I mean not hyper-critical and not too easy on yourself.  For women there's an easy test for how honest you are, look at your butt, how big is it compared to everyone else?  Small, average, or big?  Now look at your pants size.  Average in the US is 12-14.  You can do the rest of the math yourself.   If you're the kind of person who can look at your body and see what's really there, you're probably the kind of person who can look at your life and determine if self-publishing is a good fit for you.

How easily can you learn new skills?  Being a self-publisher means you've got to run a business, deal with tax information, market and promote your work, format it, edit it, get art for it, set up an online presence, and really I'm just scratching the tip of the iceberg here.  You can either hire out for these things or you can do them yourself.  The more skills you can learn, the faster you can learn them, the more of your book budget can be moved from low priorities to high priorities. 

Do you have money?  Your book needs editing, cover art, a website, and distribution.  This takes cash.  How much is up to you, but at the least it requires some.  I'd say a good rule of thumb is about $2,500 per book.  For most books that's enough to get decent editing, a good cover, a website, plus whatever incidentals.  Long books might take more, short books less, and if you've got mad skills or friends out the ears with useful skills, it might cost even less.  But, if you want to make a go of this as a professional you will need at least some start up capital.

Can you read critically?  What are the best selling works in your genre?  Why?  You need to be able to locate those books, read them, and understand why they sell.  And by this I do not mean look at Twilight and say, "It sells because teens are idiots and vampires and werewolves are hot."  It's because Bella has been so carefully crafted that basically any teen girl can immediately relate to her, and within the blink of an eye she has two ultra-alpha men hanging on her every word.  She lets anyone who reads the series get to experience being immeasurably desirable.   Who finds being desired above everything else irresistible?  Teen girls.   You need to be able to understand what need a book fulfills and make your books fulfill that need.

Can you accept criticism?  The single smartest thing the self-publisher can do is realize he doesn't know everything.  If at all possible you want as many talented people you can find looking at your products and giving you their input.  You certainly don't have to take the advice, but you need to know how to hear it and analyze it.  To put it very bluntly, even Ayn Rand had an editor she listened to.

Are you shy?  Do you consider talking up your own works unsavory?  If either of these are true, run to traditional publishing.  Most of the game of getting people to buy your book is about making connections with other people and making them want to get to know you or it better.  If talking to strangers is your idea of hell, self-publishing it likely to be an exercise in torture.

Are you comfortable being the ultimate authority on your book?  If you publish traditionally, you can blame someone else if your book has a bad cover, the formatting is off, the electronic version is riddled with OCRs, it still has typos when it went to press, and so on and so forth.  Heck, depending on what sorts of edits they demanded you can even blame them if the book isn't as good as you wanted it to be.  When you self publish it's all on you.  The upside of absolute control is that everything ends up how you set it up, but that's also the downside.

Can you market?  There are book, websites, seminars, and all sorts of information on how to market your book, so it's not a matter of can you learn it, it's a matter of can you do it.  This takes time.  Do you have the time to invest in this sort of work?  It takes chutzpah.  You've got to tell strangers you've got something they want.  Can you keep at it, year after year, when the bad reviews come and the sales go flat?  Many writers have said this is a marathon, not a sprint.  With that in mind, can you run the marathon?  It might take five or ten years to catch on.  Can you keep plugging yourself as an author to get to the point where it finally takes off?

Are you a writer or an author?  A writer writes.  An author writes, edits, re-edits, makes a name for him or herself, writes more, edits more, and keeps at it.  Writing is a hobby, being an author is a career.  (Actually, this is a question you need to ask yourself if you want to self or trad publish.)

Lastly, did you write a good book?  Why is this the last question?  Honestly because this matters less than the above.  If you can't do/won't do the above it doesn't matter if you wrote a brilliant book.   You may be the finest writer in the history of the written word, but if you don't have the discipline to do the work above, it won't matter.

So, hopefully that was a helpful checklist.   Good luck to all of you out there debating your options.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Indie Book Review: Hungry For You

A while back, I remember a friend joking about how there were vampire romances, werewolf romances, ghost romances, and finally after musing over the different shades of paranormal romance out there, he said, "What's next? Zombie romance?"

A.M. Harte's Hungry For You answers that question with a resounding yes.  It's a collection of short zombie love stories and poems.  The topics range from zombies in love, to humans in love with zombies, to humans in love with each other fighting off the zombies, to humans facing their loved ones slowly turning into zombies.  If zombies and love can be worked into it, Harte's written about it.

As writing from the point of view of flow of words, elegant prose, and vivid description, these stories were quite lovely.   As writing from the point of view of world building and taking an old classic trope, the zombie, and spiffing it up for the modern reader, they are very well done.  In fact, my only real complaint about this book is that it's a collection of short stories and not a novel.

There are so many intriguing questions raised by this collection: How did the zombie plague start?  How did it end?  Why?  What happened to the zombies when it was over?  and on and on, all of which I would have been very happy to know more about.  It's high praise to tell a writer that you wanted more, but this collection was a bit like going to a really good restaurant, getting a plate covered in little tidbits, some are plate licking good, some are just tasty, but in the end, as you're staring at that empty plate, you're still hungry.  

As with any collection of short stories, some of the tales were stronger than others.  The first few in particular didn't seem like complete stories to me.  I kept expecting the book to go back to those characters and tell me more about what happened.  But they were left in eternal literary limbo.  Once past them, I lost the sense of "Huh?  That's it?" and enjoyed the stories that came next immensely.

So, if you'd like to expand your paranormal romance horizons, go grab a copy.  It's well worth the money and time.  And, maybe, if enough of us buy Hungry For You, we'll encourage A.M. Harte to write the full story of her version of the zombie plague.