Selling Fantasy, the Importance of Book Covers, and Commissioning Plush Toy Characters with Joseph R. Lallo

Today, we interviewed Joseph R. Lallo, author of the epic fantasy Book of Deacon series, as well as steampunk, science fiction, and super hero novels. He’s been self-publishing since 2010, and he’s really rocked it with his Book of Deacon series (over 1,000 reviews on the first title at Amazon). He recently quit his day job to write full time.

Among other things, we discussed:

  • How Jo has used permafree to sell his series (and how he’s kept it selling well for over four years)
  • The importance of cover art and some of the difficulties of finding killer covers in science fiction and fantasy (i.e. is it better to go with custom illustrations, photo manipulation, or symbol-based designs)
  • How helpful writing and publishing in a series can be for getting to that point where you earn a steady income
  • What’s working in marketing right now
  • Making plush toys (and other merchandise) out of book characters (or dragons/familiars/pets) from your stories and whether there’s any money to be made merchandising these things.


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  • I took the advice to try DeviantArt for artwork. I was specifically looking for Character sketch work for fantasy.
    I can’t believe how many and how fast I got offers. Most of which were quality illustrators.
    Thanks for the advice!

  • Jim Mulcey

    Another great podcast. I’m in the process of working with an artist for cover art. Hoping it will inspire me to finish yet another revision that just might be almost ready to push out the door. Kind of wish I listened to this podcast about 6 months ago though. I wasted too much potential writing time demonstrating my lack of design skills.

    I’m not sure if you take requests, but I’d be interested in your perspectives on working with editors. I know, a little off the topic of marketing.

    Thanks again for taking the time to do the podcast.

    • SFFpodcast

      Hah, I think we’ve all spent time working on things that ultimately weren’t that useful. Oh, hey, Joe’s editor is coming on the show next week, so stay tuned. 🙂