Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Plantanimus “Awakening” is part one of the Plantanimus Trilogy. The story begins in the 27th century on the planet Mars, four hundred years after being settled by humans. The main character is Kelem Rogeston, a young Martian psychic and scientific genius who is the first member of the 6th Root Race, the next step in the evolution of mankind. Kelem learns to harness his amazing abilities and invents the n’time generator, a device that will carry mankind to the stars. Kelem struggles against The Phalanx, an evil organization from Earth that wants to steal the technology and conquer Mars. He designs an n’time ship and on its maiden voyage accidentally becomes stranded on Plantanimus, an alien planet where the Dreamers, an ancient race of sentient plant life, help him expand his abilities and teach him the true nature of consciousness.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I considered it at first, but I decided I didn’t want to wait for an established publisher to make an offer. That does not mean that I wouldn’t welcome an offer from an established publishing house. Plantanimus “Awakening” is the first book of a trilogy, so I would be open to a publishing deal that would encompass the first book or all three books. What finally convinced me to self-publish was Xlibris. I went with them because they offered me an incredible discount on their “Executive Package” which came with distribution to all the major sellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc., plus eBook conversion, book returnability, [this feature guarantees brick and mortar retailers that they won’t get stuck with unsold stock on their shelves] as well as online promotion and marketing.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I recently joined Authors Learning Center. The free one year membership to the organization came with the original package that I purchased from Xlibris. ALC provides independent authors with helpful resources for writing, publishing and marketing your book. The site has all sorts of webinars, articles and writer’s community help forums. However I had already written and partially edited my book and had signed up with Xlibris by the time I joined ALC. But now that I’m preparing to possibly self-publish the next book in the series, “Return to Mars”, I plan to take full advantage of all the resources available at ALC
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Xlibris offered two full rounds of editing which I used, however, my life partner Barbara and I had already gone through seven rounds of proof reading prior to submitting the final draft of the book.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Patience! Self-publishing is usually a faster way to put your book out there as opposed to the traditional route of signing with an established publisher, but it is not an instant thing. The first thing I recommend for first timers like me is to make sure that your book is as good as it can possibly be. Don’t be afraid to re-write or change things. You’d be surprised how many mistakes and inconsistencies you will find in your manuscript if you take the time to put it away for a week or two, before proof-reading the entire thing. Do it as many times and you can stand it, even if you think that you’ve caught all the mistakes in grammar and spelling. Even now that the book has been published, I still found a couple of things that I’ll have to correct during the next printing! Be organized and be prepared. Read/research as much information as you can digest regarding self –publishing companies, marketing etc. Thousands of books are published every month and yours is just one of many competing for that market share of business in whatever genre you write in. If you can afford it, join an organization like Authors Learning Center or IBPA, (Independent Book Publisher’s Association) or any of the many other organizations out there that exist to help and support independent, self-published authors.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. Barnes and Noble and my own two websites; www.Plantanimusbook.com and www.PlantanimusTrilogy.com. The latter only sells the paperback version of the book.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Aside from Xlibris’ marketing campaign, I have a blog on AuthorsXpress at: http//authorjosepharmillas.authorsxpress.com, I’m on Facebook, My Space, @JosephArmillas on Twitter, and of course Author’s Learning Center. I also have a very slick 60 second promo video for Plantanimus “Awakening” on YouTube: http://youtu.be/P-im0HswqBA and an interview of me, on LifeForceEnergetics.com , also on YouTube: http://youtu.be/JF-Ru5dgldM. In concert with Xlibris’ marketing I will be hiring an independent publicity expert to help me with additional promotion, personal appearances such as book signings, interviews etc.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes. But I’m organized and I spend a tremendous amount of time taking care of business. Like most creative people, (particularly writers!) I’ve been known to be a bit of a procrastinator, but over the years I’ve become very disciplined and learned that one must approach writing and business in equal measure, particularly if you’re self-publishing. I schedule a certain amount of hours of the day for writing and another portion of my day for promotion and marketing. I’ve learned to manage my time well because I also work as a professional actor in film and TV. I’m a member of SAG and AFTRA and I work four to five days a month. I recently appeared on Lil’ Wayne’s latest video of his newest song, “How To Love”, playing a doctor. I also have an interview show that I host on YouTube, called LA Interview. I plan to begin a series of writer’s interviews in the near future. I want to give other self-published writers a chance to get their work known by the public.
What inspires you to write, and in particular what was the genesis of the Plantanimus Trilogy?
I grew up in a very artistic creative family. My mother and father were in show business. My mom, Margarita Lecuona, was a very well-known Cuban songwriter. She wrote Babalu, made famous by Desi Arnaz on the “I Love Lucy Show”. My dad was an Argentinian actor/singer/dancer. Both always encouraged me to experiment with my creative side. I began writing short science fiction stories in grammar school and I never stopped. I also had a successful career as a musician for over thirty years. So I’ve never been short on inspiration. My problem with writing for many years was discipline, which is why it took me so long to finally become a serious writer. The inspiration for Plantanimus came from a dream that I had over three consecutive nights in the summer of 2000. I’ve always been able to “lucid dream”. It’s an ability that came naturally to me, so it was very easy for me to remember the arc of the story and write down the entire three part dream which eventually became the three books of the Trilogy; Plantanimus “Awakening”, “Return to Mars” and “The Gulax War”.
What’s next for you?
I’m heavily involved in the marketing and promotion of Plantanimus “Awakening” at the moment, but when time allows, I continue proof reading Return to Mars, and doing some minor re-writes on The Gulax War. I’m also working on the last few chapters of a fourth book which is connected to, but not part of the Plantanimus trilogy, titled Reunion. That one’s on the back burner but I pick at it whenever the muse comes. Additionally I’ve recently began to lucid dream a follow up to the previous four books, tentatively called “Kelem’s Ascension”. That one is still in its cocoon stage, but I’m writing down everything that comes my way the moment I wake up! All are part of the same universe that comprises the story of Kelem Rogeston.