Learning the Ropes

Hi again.

I’ve got a few small announcements to make. First, after a bit of fighting and formatting, I think I finally got the professionally edited version of the first book into a form that looks right on a kindle. (I do not yet own a kindle, so this is actually difficult for me to determine without shenanigans.) I have thus informed the Amazon folks to send out notifications, but they are a busy bunch, and I am low on the literary totem pole, so it may be a while. On the plus side, in my various investigations and analyses, I discovered that there is a way to directly request to receive an updated edition of the book. (I’ll warn you that this is untested by me, so pursue at your own risk.) In the words of Amazon’s Support page, in reference to how I can receive a new copy of my own work:

… We request your explicit permission, and will do the same for any customers who contact us to receive the updated content, prior to sending the revised file because the new version will not have previously saved Highlights, Last Page Read, Bookmarks, and the location of notes may not match. If this is acceptable, please email kdp-support@amazon.com confirming your permission and which title/s you’d like to have re-sent. Thank you.

Note: Customers who purchased the old content can also contact our Customer Service department to have the new file delivered.

So there you have it. If you are impatient to see the multitude of minor adjustments that have been made to Book 1 (and to a lesser degree, book 2) in the trilogy, and you have a kindle, feel free to give that a try and let me know how it works out.

I’ve also been getting plenty of excellent feedback in the form of emails and comments, and I am, as always, glad to hear from people. Strangely, hot on the heels of my recent appearance on Pure Textuality, I received a message and a twitter follow from a certain Ebook Apothecary. Aside from indicating she was planning to feature a review of my book, and graciously offering to take a look at the updated version, she also brought to light one or two ways in which I had been remiss in my authorly duties. Based on her observations and suggestions, my twitter presence has gotten an overhaul, which hopefully will make it more clear that the jrlallo floating around on twitter and the Joseph Lallo making the eBook rounds are in fact the same person. I also spruced up the appearance of my twitter page to bring it more in line with my overall visual style. There was also talk of other things authors tend to do, like book giveaways and interviews. While I did do something of an interview a while back, I hadn’t really thought about doing a giveaway for my non-free stuff. I’ve got one or two ideas of how that might go down, now. I haven’t made any firm decisions, mind you, but you may just see me hand out some Smashwords coupon codes ’round about the time my next book comes out.

That about wraps it up for now. Until I have something interesting to say, thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Amazon let me know that they will send out notifications within 5 business days, so you’ll likely be contacted sometime next week if you bought it through them.

Pure Textuality

A few quick updates.

I got an email from Jena Gregoire yesterday informing me that she would be featuring The Book of Deacon on her blog, Pure Textuality. I took a look at the site, and it looks like a great place to find eBook news, reviews, and lists. Certainly worth checking out. My specific post is here, if you are interested. My thanks to Jena, and a special welcome to any new readers who found me via her posting. She also mentioned that she is planning to give my book the full review treatment after her current project, so I will nervously look forward to learning what she thinks of my work, as I do with all reviews. Fingers crossed.

In other news, the professionally edited version of Book 1 is live in virtually all retailers. I’ll nudge Amazon to send out notifications shortly. For some reason, I’m noticing a minor indent problem that Amazon’s file conversion is introducing to the end result, so I may need to fiddle with a few settings and push a new copy, but I don’t think it impacts the book too heavily. Earlier this morning, Smashwords and Amazon got a freshly revised version of The Great Convergence as well. This isn’t a professional edit. A friend of mine who read the books prior to their publication took the time to read through again and caught 80 or so minor typos, so I corrected them and pushed a revision. A few minor format alterations have been made to bring it more in line with the new look for book 1, too. As always, there are no changes to plot or dialog beyond minor phrasing adjustments, so if and when you receive a notification of a new version, feel free to ignore it if you want to hang on to any bookmarks or highlights you’ve applied, or if you simply don’t mind the errors. Expect similar treatment to be given to book 3 in a week or two.

Sci Fi book 2 is creeping closer to completion, but it is becoming increasingly clear that I’ll need to run through it once or twice after it is finished to make sure that all of those involved are justified and properly motivated… at least, where justification and motivation are called for. The various threads are beginning to weave back together, though, so the end is in sight.

Thanks for reading.

A Letter From The Editor

Late last night I got a message from Anna Genoese, the editor who has been working on Book 1 of the Trilogy, and guess what it said? The polished up copy is finished! I skimmed through it today, and the degree to which my grasp of the English language differs from the official one is downright horrifying. I sent my sincere thanks to her, along with a few points of clarification. Once everything is squared away, I’ll have to tweak the version she gave me into something that fits the format requirements of Smashwords and Amazon. Once that’s done, and I’ve delivered my final payment to her, I’ll push it live.

I’d like to make a few things clear before this edit goes live. First, this is merely a cleaned up, proofread version. No scenes have been added or removed, so for those of you who have already completed it, the story you know and love (or hate) remains intact. Second, as always, even after I push the update, it will be a while before Amazon will send out update notifications, and if you don’t mind the typos, feel free to ignore the notification when it comes.

Now that this edit is nearly out of the way, I’m officially left with nothing going on in the background. I’ll have to wait until I know precisely where I stand regarding finances before I move forward with either sending off Book 2 for similar treatment or having covers made for the remaining books. Until then, you can check out the recently added Coming Attractions section under books on the menu above in order to see a slice of the current book I’m working on. I’ve got some vacation coming up from my day job. Maybe I’ll get a chance to churn out a few chapters.

As always, thanks for reading.

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that you good folks might want to see what a professionally proofread and polished manuscript looks like. Well, here’s a picture! (Click for full size.)

Updated Covers and Future Endeavors

Hi everybody!

I got the high resolution covers back from the artist, and I’ve since formatted them to match the requirements for Amazon and Smashwords and pushed replacements. I have likewise gone to Good Reads, Shelfari, and Library Thing and done my best to update covers there as well. (If any of you folks are frequent visitors of those sites, feel free to send me a friend request, by the way.) Once the updated books and covers have finished trickling to the far reaches of the distribution network, I’ll let Amazon know that they can send out update notices.

So what now? Well, Sci Fi Book 2 is still creeping along, but since I’m on the east coast of the United States, a cluster of natural disasters managed to shift my priorities for a few days. The aforementioned earthquake sent me home early from work, and the subsequent hurricane knocked out power for a few hours. Nothing devastating, thankfully, but distracting. Now that the random acts of God seem to have died down, I’m left with nothing but the still in progress professional edit of The Book of Deacon sitting on the back burner. Since I don’t feel as though I am multitasking properly unless I’ve got something going on BOTH back burners, I’ll once again ask for input from my readers.

My literary to do list is fairly full right now, so what I’m mostly looking for is ancillary stuff. I’m extremely new to this whole “author” thing, so I’m not sure where I’m coming up short. Is there anything you good folks would like to see from me? Recommendations for site features, perhaps, or questions you’d like to ask? Now that I’ve got nice new covers for the Book of Deacon Trilogy, the Jade and Bypass Gemini covers are looking positively childish by comparison. The chances are good I’ll be tapping the artist to produce some covers for them as well, if the money builds up enough. Until then, I’m open to suggestions for ideas of what to showcase on those covers. If you have any ideas of what I should be doing with my existing artwork, please speak up as well. A friend of mine has expressed interest in a poster-sized print, so I may be looking into that whole process. If anyone else wants one, let me know. If there is enough interest, I’ll talk to the artist about working out a royalty rate and see about selling them on the site.

I look forward to your input. Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: If you look down in the comments, you’ll see that I got a reply, and a good one at that. Rather than wait an appropriate amount of time and do a post about it, or post again right away, I figured it would be best to announce any changes that come as a result of this post as updates. The first request was a list of future projects, potentially with snippets. I threw something together quickly and put it up. Just mouse over the Books tab and you’ll see a drop down with “Coming attractions,” which will contain any preview materials I decide to distribute. Thanks for the suggestion!

Here it is, the third cover!

Technically this was finished on Friday, but after some technical issues took down my site and email, I didn’t find out until today. As far as I am concerned, it is well worth the wait. See for yourself.

Lain and Ether have joined the party.

Once again I am astounded at the ability of this artist to capture so much of the character within the image. Ether is a fiery spectacle, ready to pour all she is into the battle. Lain manages to be an indistinct shadow, focused on the task and little else. There are loads of details I love. Spectacular.

I’ve given this the thumbs up, so he’ll be looking over all three, making any tweaks he feels are necessary, then delivering the full size ones. Once that happens, I’ll push updates to all of the relevant locations and watch as the excellence trickles out into the wild. I’ll also update the contents of the book to credit the excellent Nick Deligaris for his work. This concludes what so far has been my absolute favorite part of the self-publishing process. I created these characters long ago, and they’ve been running around in my head, but it wasn’t until now that they really had any sort of tangible form. It is unreal to see them rendered with such skill.

The professional edit of the first book should be showing up near the end of September, so this cover represents the last significant update I’m likely to have for a while. The next book is creeping along, but a remarkable variety of things have managed to force me to set it aside recently, from the arrival of a review copy of a highly anticipated game to an earthquake. I’ll keep at it, though. Until then, what do you folks think of the covers? Have you got any other suggestions of steps I should take to improve the books? I look forward to your replies.

Deacon has arrived

Just wanted to give everyone the heads up, The Great Convergence now has a high quality cover! This time around Myranda partners up with Deacon.

The namesake of the series finally shows up!

Quite the formidable pair, eh? I have no doubt that I’ve been driving Mr. Deligaris completely insane with my incessant emails, but he’s nearly there. Just one more cover to go! The next one is set to feature a trio of characters. Myranda will be joined by two members of The Chosen. I just sent a rundown of what I considered to be key details, then another panicked email with more details, then I had to physically prevent myself from sending yet another. It is like I’m sending my kids off to their first class picture or something. Once all three covers are done, and any potential final adjustments are made, I’ll get maximum resolution copies and push them to all of the retailers. I can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Myranda

I usually don’t post updates this close together, but I hadn’t anticipated the sheer speed with which the artwork would be completed. The cover for The Book of Deacon is complete. Here it is:

Pleased to meet you, Miss Celeste.

Do yourself a favor and give that a click to full size. I cannot put into words how thrilled I am with how it came out. It is the character exactly as I picture her. As I told my friends, the best part of the book is now officially the cover. I just dished out the details for the second cover, which will feature Myranda along with one additional character. As before, I’ll post it when it is complete. When all three covers are complete, I’ll push updates to all three books with the new cover art and credits for the artist, Nick Deligaris.

Thanks for reading.

Art is on the way!

Hi, everyone!

As I’ve said elsewhere, it is my plan to reinvest all of the money earned from the books back into the books, until they are as good as I can make them. Initially the first thing on the list was to have all of the books professionally edited. Well, editing is a lengthy process. Since I would like to stick with the same editor for all books, for the sake of consistency and loyalty, it will probably be months before the first book is completed and the second book can be sent off to be touched up.

I’m not the patient type, and I knew that the longer I waited to invest my earnings, the more likely I would be to spend them on something frivolous, so I decided to track down an artist and commission some covers. After a few days scanning Deviant Art for prospective cover artists, a friend suggested Nick Deligaris. I’d actually encountered his work in my initial sweep (it turns up pretty quickly if you search for fantasy or dragon), but I’d dismissed it as being far beyond my means. The guy is EMMY NOMINATED for crying out loud. As usual, my friends nudged me until I sent him an email, and as usual, I’m glad they did. He got back to me right away, and he has been beyond helpful with his advice and support. Never underestimate the insight of a skilled artist and graphic designer. He collaborated with me and guided me away from designs that wouldn’t translate well to book covers, as well as making suggestions on how to increase the impact of the images. On top of it all, he was extremely understanding and supportive of my status as an indie author. Even if I never ended up getting a picture, the advice and service alone makes him worthy of a recommendation.

Barring mishap, he will be supplying the covers for all three books of the trilogy. We just hammered out the final details for the cover of Book 1 this morning, so I imagine it will be a little while before the first draft makes its way to me. Until then, do yourself a favor and check out his other work at www.deligaris.com. I’ve had it open in a tab of my browser since last week. He does great work.

I cannot put into words how cool this is for me. It is like someone is going to finally introduce me to the character I’ve been writing about for all of this time. Like everything else that I’ve discussed in this blog, this is all thanks to you good people out there for giving me a chance and picking up my books. I appreciate your support, and I hope that I can continue to produce things that you will enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: I already got a rough draft, and it is magnificent. You folks will have to wait until the finished product, but for me, Myranda finally has a face.

25k! Unbelievable!

Amazon has been treating me very well of late. Even though the downloads have been tapering off, they have still not died entirely. As a matter of fact, some time yesterday the combined downloads of all of my books on Amazon.com crossed the 25,000 mark! Granted, the vast majority of those downloads are free copies of Book 1, but that does not diminish the fact that tens of thousands of people have my book in their digital libraries. This is a very big deal for me. I realize that most of you out there would suggest that it would be a big deal for any indie author, but people who know me personally can appreciate how monumental this is to me specifically.

I am intensely self-conscious about the things that I create. I always have been. The books in particular were a source of great embarrassment for me for reasons I’m still not able to fully articulate. On the day that I self-published, the number of people who were fully aware that I’d written a book, let alone a trilogy, was in the single digits. I would agonize over whether or not to tell someone, and swear them to secrecy about it. Members of my immediate family didn’t know. Now there are thousands and thousands of people who have the book. That is simultaneously the most exciting and most terrifying outcome I could have imagined. To my great relief, the experience has been extremely positive. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been perfect. I’ve received some reviews that I’ve described as psychologically ruinous. (Evidently there is at least one person out there who would have liked to see all of my characters die in a fire.) Most people who share their thoughts, though, are encouraging and helpful. For the others, I’m slowly developing what I refer to as a “review callous.” Very slowly.

I very much doubt that I’m the only person who has poured countless hours into a project, then sat upon it for fear of failure. Consider this an example of what could happen if you take a chance.

Rather than spend a whole post patting myself on the back, though, let me give you an update on what’s going on. I’ve finished doing another revision of Book 3. In the next few weeks that will go live, and those interested can update. Since I’ve received comparatively few complaints about typos and the like on Jade and Bypass Gemini, I’ll put off doing additional revisions of them in order to focus on the current book I’m writing. I’m not usually in a hurry to finish a book, but I am extremely interested in getting Sci Fi Book 2 finished and published. When I’m selecting books to read, I always feel a lot better about trying a new author when I know that, if I like their stuff, there will be more where that came from. Thus, continuing the adventures of Lex, Karter, and Ma is my current priority, so that fellow series readers will know that it isn’t one and done.

That’s it for now. As always, thanks for reading.


Amazon Notifications and Other News

I’ve just learned that Amazon has sent out the notifications about my corrected version of The Great Convergence, so if you have been waiting for it, it is either already sitting in your inbox or will be arriving soon. (Though ‘soon’, it has been pointed out, has an entirely different interpretation for large corporations.) The message claims that it is correcting formatting errors, which isn’t strictly the case, but it is probably better to say that than “a frankly embarrassing number of grammatical errors,” which is what I would have said. It is worth pointing out that the message also warns that updating will cost you your highlights and bookmarks, so if you’ve made significant use of such features, you may want to avoid the auto update. You won’t be missing out on any plot alterations, just a few moved commas, a few word substitutions, and a few corrected spellings.

The Amazon Sales Anomaly seems to have finally tapered off, with new purchases trickling instead of gushing, but I couldn’t be happier with the results. My thanks to all of you who made this possible. I earned enough to finance a professional edit of Book 1 – which is still a few months away, mind you – and I’m within spitting distance of getting the same treatment for Book 2. I’ve also got a bit set aside to commission some new covers. I’m still waiting to hear back from the artist that has been recommended to me, so if any of you have artists in mind that are taking commissions, I’d certainly take them into consideration. Likewise, if you have any thoughts on what the covers should depict, I’d love to hear them, too. Obviously keep spoilers to a minimum. As always, if you’ve got something to say that you think would spoil things for those who have not finished reading, you can drop me a line directly at the email address on my contact page.

Before I sign off for now, I’ll give you an update on my current project, a sequel to Bypass Gemini. I still haven’t picked out a name, but I’ve got a few ideas now. Giving you an idea of the length of an ebook is tricky, but so far I’ve reached 51,000 words, which is just over a third of the way to the average length of the books in the trilogy. It has got a long way to go, and real life has been conspiring to slow down my progress, but I’ll keep plugging away.

Until next time, thanks for reading.