Friday, March 8, 2013

Joseph Lallo - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Joseph Lallo. He is a bestselling author of the Science Fiction & Fantasy series: The Book of Deacon Trilogy.

Author Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Epic

Website: The Book of Deacon Series
Twitter: @jrlallo
E-Mail: jrlallo (at) bookofdeacon (dot) com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
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Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
A resident of Bayonne, NJ - the fabled birthplace of George R. R. Martin - Joseph Lallo is an unlikely entry into the world of literature. After a childhood spent daydreaming and reading, he fully intended to pursue a career in the tech sector. He received a Master's Degree in Computer Engineering from NJIT, and subsequently got a job working IT for a large healthcare corporation.

Things changed when, in January 2010, his friends finally convinced him to publish the story that had accumulated over the course of a decade of spare time. That story, now known as the Book of Deacon Trilogy, was a surprise hit, and once he got a taste of the world of indie writing, he was hooked. Now he splits his time between crunching numbers at his day job, writing novels at night, and writing articles and reviews for, a group blog he helps run. His latest novels are Bypass Gemini and Unstable Prototypes, the first two books of a science fiction series.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. I understand that you are working on the origin story of Lain. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Lain Origin, which is the working title, seems to be following the standard release timeline for my fantasy novels. That is to say, it is taking far longer than I'd anticipated. It is mostly complete, that much is certain. The only thing I can say for certain about the release date is that I'd like it to be out some time in 2013, but it will be a few more months at least.

As for the tease? You can find two scenes from the book here and here. Generally speaking, this book will focus on the early life of Lain, starting from just after his birth. You'll see him develop from a simple creature trying to stay alive into the single-minded warrior you see in the series. I hope to answer a number of lingering questions about the character in this story. Why does he act the way he does? Did he have any friends? Any mentors? I can tell you that if things continue the way they are going, there may be enough of his story untold to fill another book after this one, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success? Is your website your main connection to your fans?

Social media relationships have been crucial. I can attribute a lot of my early success to being picked up on a few discount book blogs. I literally went from selling a few dozen books a month to dozens a day once The Book of Deacon made its appearance on Pixel of Ink and similar sites. The handful of indie reviewers who contacted me in the early days continue to be my first points of contact when I've got something new to talk about. At least once a week I'll still get emails from fans telling me that they discovered me via this blog or that promotion, and they subsequently spread the word on twitter or Facebook, where I also have a presence. I've got no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be nearly where I am today without the accelerated word of mouth that the internet provides.

I pride myself on connecting with my fans as much as I can. It not only boosts my confidence to know that people enjoyed my book enough to share their thoughts, but even the negative comments bring to light the areas that need work, which helps me improve my future writings. My website is definitely the core of my contact, but I also rely a great deal on the Facebook Fan Page and Twitter.

Do you do book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you?

Unfortunately, I don't do many public appearances. It isn't that I wouldn't like to. The problem is that I've got a bone-deep fear that my literary success is destined to be fleeting, so I'm unwilling to quit the day job. Thus, I don't have time to make appearances and the like. That said, I try my best to do the virtual equivalent of each. I've set up contests and purchase pages to allow fans to get autographs. On certain rare occasions I've given a contact address for fans to send their own items for autograph. I've done interviews via email and the phone for sites like this one, and I'm toying with the idea of blog tour for my next book release.

I'm not entirely a shut-in, though. There are two events a year when I am available for face to face meetings with fans and press. For the last few years I've attended the New York Comic Con and Penny Arcade Expo East. NYCC usually happens around Halloween in New York City, and PAX East is happening March 22nd-24th at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center (BCEC) in Boston, MA. I'll be there as press, but I'm planning to meet up with at least one fan.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I've got a collaborative approach for cover creation. I found the cover artist, Nick Deligaris, via For the covers for the trilogy, I brainstormed some ideas and ran them by him. He gave useful critiques, helping me shave away unnecessary details and create a stronger visual impact. One we agree on a basic look he'll send me regular updates of his process of moving a sketch to a rough draft to a full color image, and I'll give him any minor notes along the way. Nick really has a knack for picking up my intention, because I seldom need to suggest any changes besides little things like “more academic, less action hero” or“tone down the evil a notch.”

I have a small circle of friends and fans who I've bounced ideas off of for most of the covers so far, but that's mostly because until recently my pool of readers was pretty small. I'm toying with the idea of including the fans in the creation of the Lain Origin cover, but it is tricky because, naturally, they haven't read the book and don't know the tone or events.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

So far I haven't joined any official support groups, though I really ought to. There is a network of fellow indie authors that I follow and interact with via social media, and I'm currently expanding my pool of beta readers. Interacting with my fellow authors is invariably educational for everything from the creation, completion, and publication. Marketing is an area I've perpetually struggled with, so having some people with a few years of experience to watch and learn from is invaluable, and most of the more effective techniques I've tried started off as suggestions or observations from more seasoned authors.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, day job and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I really don't manage my time as well as I should, but I do have a rudimentary schedule in place. My day job includes two hours of mass transit commute every day, so that time is spent sketching out and roughly composing discrete scenes for my current project. The last hour or so before bed is usually reserved for tightening up and jotting down the ideas that have developed over the course of the day. Beyond those three hours, writing takes place in any nook or cranny I can manage it, and I have an arsenal of mobile electronic devices, as well as good old pen and paper, to make sure that any spare moment can be devoted to writing.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Digitally, giving away books has been possibly the most important thing I've done to get my book career rolling. I typically write in series form, so giving away the first book in the series and hopefully capturing the attention of the readers enough to inspire them to pick up the rest has been my business model for years. I'm eager, sometimes borderline desperate to give away copies of books. There have been times when a fan has lamented that he or she didn't have the money to read the rest of my series due to employment problems or lack of disposable income and I've tossed them the rest of the trilogy just to set their mind at ease. My opinion is that any book in the hands of a reader is a chance to create a fan. A fan is a person who will buy the next book, and will talk about your book to their friends and family. There is nothing more important than having fans, so I'm more than willing to do what it takes to earn the trust and loyalty of the readers. I've done autographed paperback giveaways via blogs, and I've provided review copies almost without fail upon receiving requests. I don't have an advertising budget, but paperbacks are cheap and eBooks are free, so I try to be as generous as possible.

There have been obstacles, though. I've had to cut down on shipping paperbacks internationally, simply because of the cost of shipping and the very low return on investment. Likewise, though I would prefer if Book 1 of my trilogy was free in eBook form everywhere, Amazon isn't exactly enthusiastic about the idea of a free book. The only official way to pull it off is to go exclusive with them, but even then the promotion only lasts for a short while. Plan B has been to make it free everywhere BUT Amazon and rely upon price-matching. It is hit or miss, but it has done the job so far. The other obstacles I've encountered are usually centered on contacting the winners of giveaways. Facebook security settings can really get in the way of alerting a reader of their selection as the winner.

Have you ever done a book tour? If so, did it contribute to the success of your book sales?

I haven't done a book tour yet, but it isn't for lack of interest. I'm from New Jersey, but I've had questions about making Book Tour stops as nearby as New York and as far away as the Midwest, California and even (no lie) Bulgaria. I've been traditionally published in Bulgaria—but not America, go figure—and even the publisher vaguely floated the idea of a trip over there. As I said, though, the day job is rather inflexible in that regard. I'd love to meet the fans, and I'm sure it would go a long way to helping me make connections with both readers and the industry, but I just haven't got the time or money to pull that off... yet.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

Managing timelines and plots is tricky at times. I'm terrified of being inconsistent or leaving gaping plot holes, but so far I haven't put any software to use yet. I use what I've dubbed the “note to self-system.” Basically, whenever I hit a point in the book where I might need to lay keep track of a dangling thread, install some foreshadowing, or maintain consistency, I make a note in the manuscript with a “***” on either side of it. “*** Make sure the timing of this works out. ***” “*** Add an earlier indication of this ***” Things of that nature. On top of that, I maintain a file of resources, a sort of bible of the series, to try to keep the finer points of the world and its history straight. I run a (very) simple wiki on my official site, and I'm toying with the idea of making it my go-to for history and reference, but so far I haven't taken the time to become fluent in wiki-formatting.

What has been the result of your audio book, Jade? Have you seen any uptick in your other sales?

It is a little early to tell how the audio book is doing. It has only been out for a month, and it hasn't exactly exploded out of the gate, but I didn't expect it to. Jade is the oddball story in the Book of Deacon series. Frequently readers desperate for me to finish my current book don't even realize that Jade exists as a little additional morsel to the series. The process of making the audio book, though, has been fascinating. I was able to listen to auditions, and eventually make contact with a woman, Fiona Dwyer, who I feel did a phenomenal job. Within days of its release, it seemed to have put me on the radar for the audio book industry, because it led to a pair of emails from a pair of individuals who... well, I don't want to jinx it, but let's just say that I may be working on some new audio books before too long.

You were included in the book, Interviews with Indie Authors (credit below). Did being included with all the outstanding and successful authors help with building your brand with your readers and fellow authors?

Being included in the book has been useful, certainly. Though I haven't received many messages from press or readers specifically referencing the book, it was great to be interviewed, and its presence alongside my other books in various bookstores has really helped to expand my presence. I'm not just an author with a few books to my name, I've also got a collaborative piece that associates me with my peers. I am grateful to the creators of the book for including me.

Author's Book List
The Battle of Verril - The Book of Deacon (Volume 3)
In this, the finale of the Book of Deacon Trilogy, Myranda and the Chosen face their greatest challenges yet. Time is running out, and the Generals are growing desperate. Through victory and defeat, reunion and betrayal, neither the heroes nor their foes will rest until they have seen their task through to the end. The only question is, will it be the end of a war, or the end of times?
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
The Book of Deacon - Volume 1
The tale of Myranda Celeste, a young woman orphaned by a century long war, and her chance discovery of a fallen soldier's priceless cargo. The find will change her life, sending her on an adventure of soldiers and rebels, wizards and warriors, and beasts both noble and monstrous. Each step will bring her closer to the truth of her potential, of the war, and of the fate of her world.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
Unstable Prototypes
Following his last adventure, Trevor "Lex" Alexander's life has managed to return to normal. He's back to splitting his time between delivering packages and transporting passengers, along with the occasional foray into testing highly experimental equipment. He's even gotten back together with his girlfriend Michella Modane, who has been launched to stardom by her coverage of the Bypass Gemini incident. Yes, things are going quite well for Lex. But in his life, luck like this never lasts long. Sure enough, while he is preparing for a rare visit from Michella, he receives word that the reclusive inventor Karter Dee has been kidnapped. The eccentric and slightly deranged inventor's checkered past has made getting the authorities involved out of the question. That has left "Ma", the AI in charge of cooking his meals and reining in his insanity, with few options. She has reached out to Lex as one of the few people she can trust, and needs him to help assemble a team of Karter's former allies to take him back before his latest contraptions can be put to work terrorizing the populace at the hands of his captors.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Bypass Gemini
In a distant future, Trevor "Lex" Alexander was shaping up to be the next great race pilot until a fixed race got him banned from the sport. Reduced to making freelance deliveries, he thinks his life can't get any worse. That's when a package manages to get him mixed up with mobsters, a megacorp, and a mad scientist. Now his life depends on learning what their plans are, and how he can stop them.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes
This short novel, set after the events of The Book of Deacon, follows the blessed and cursed life of Jade Rinton. Stripped of her family and kept in a tall tower by a fierce dragon due to the scheming of a mysterious stranger, Jade seems to be living in a twisted fairy tale. She soon learns, though, that fate has its own ideas of who should play each part, and that family is where you find it.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
The Great Convergence - The Book of Deacon
The second in the Book of Deacon series, The Great Convergence continues the tale of young Myranda Celeste. With fresh knowledge of magic and steadfast resolve to see the end of the war that plagues her land, Myranda sets out to find and unite the five fated heroes, the Chosen. Each new warrior brings her world a step closer to peace, but does she have the strength to survive the trials ahead
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes

Interviews with Indie Authors - Top Tips from Successful Self-Published Authors
Learn how to succeed in indie publishing.

With interviews from 34 of the hottest names in self-publishing, "Interviews with Indie Authors" contains a unique view into the world of the indie writer. Each bestselling self-published author shares how they ensure their books are a hit, and what led them to indie publishing in the first place. You will also find out what they think the future of self-publishing will bring. Their first hand experience is invaluable for anyone planning to succeed with their own books.

Whatever your background, you will learn from these incredible interviews.

With diverse genres such as thrillers, young adult fiction, the paranormal, romance, comedy, fantasy, horror, science fiction, mystery and even non-fiction, whatever you are writing about, this book has it covered.

Contains interviews with indie authors such as: Michael McCloskey, Nick Russell, Connie Suttle, Michael Prescott, Terri Reid, Hugh Howey, Scott Nicholson, Kristen Ashley, Aaron Patterson, Carol Davis Luce, Claire Ridgway, Alexa Grace, Marie Force, Shadonna Richards, Colleen Hoover, Barbara Freethy, Joseph Lallo, Rebecca Forster, Caryn Moya Block, Denise Grover Swank, Mainak Dhar, Imogen Rose, CJ Lyons, Bella Andre, Maria Murnane, Theresa Ragan, Russell Blake, Linda Welch, Debra Holland, J. Thorn, James Somers, Karen Cantwell, Tracey Garvis Graves and Elena Greene.

50% of the royalties from "Interviews with Indie Authors" will be given to charity. The money will be split between two charities - ROPE (Relief for Oppressed People Everywhere) and Goal for the Gambia.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
Mystery Reader’s Circle
Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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