• Q&A With Joe Giordano

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in WBN News & Events     Comments 14 comments

    Today we’re pleased to run a Q&A with Austin author Joe Giordano, whose latest novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller, was released June 15 by Harvard Square Editions.

    We talked with Joe about the long road to publication, the publication process, and how it feels to release a new book out into the world.

    After the interview, check out Joe’s bio as well as some links to his work.

    Any questions for Joe? Leave ’em in the comments section below and we’ll see if we can’t bring him back here to provide some answers.



    WriteByNight: Can you give us some background on your career as a writer? How you got started, how long you’ve been at it, a bit about your publishing history?

    Joe Giordano: One of the positions I held before I became a writer was to run a business in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa out of Athens. I developed a deep sense of history and the desire to write an historical fiction about the Ancient Greek-Persian Wars. Thirteen years ago, I tackled the task. My prose was terrible; I needed to learn how to write.

    I attended classes at the University of Texas and began writing short stories. I also attended WriteByNight workshops in Austin to improve my craft.

    Years later, after a landfill’s worth of rejections, my work started to be accepted by small, online magazines. Eventually, I developed enough confidence to write another novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, published by Harvard Square Editions in October 2015.

    I enjoy the process of writing. In addition, my experience doing readings and with book clubs was so enjoyable that I felt encouraged to write a second novel, Appointment with ISIL, An Anthony Provati Thriller, which Harvard Square Editions released on June 15, 2017. I continue to write short stories and have had more than one hundred published in such magazines as The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah.


    So tell us about Anthony Provati. The subtitle indicates that this is the first in a series. Has Anthony appeared as a character in some of your short fiction, or even in your first novel, or is this his debut?

    Anthony debuts in Appointment with ISIL. He’s in his thirties, and grew up in Brooklyn. He suffered an abusive father, but his mother channeled him to love art, learn to sail, and play piano. Primo Magazine‘s review of Appointment with ISIL called Anthony a flawed yet likeable character. His attraction to Sophia, girlfriend of Russian mob boss Gorgon Malakhov, clouded his judgment. That conflict catalyzed a chase across the Mediterranean and a life-threatening confrontation with the Islamic State in the Levant.


    Is Anthony an amalgam of characters you’ve drawn in your short fiction, or is he a totally new creation?

    Anthony’s new, although I’ve named a few of my short-story Italian protagonists Anthony. They’re all different. For example, I wrote a series of coming-of-age pieces recalling a 1950s/early 1960s Brooklyn neighborhood. That Anthony has loving parents.

    About twenty percent of my short stories have an Italian protagonist, so part of my author “brand” is Italian. I’m the son and grandson of Italian immigrants. The famed poet Jorge Luis Borges asked, “What will the world lose when I die?” When my generation passes, the first-hand connection to the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Italian immigrants will be lost, their culture, their thinking, their experiences. These fictional, “old neighborhood” stories seek to preserve some of this heritage, as did Birds of Passage. In Manhattan’s Little Italy, on Mulberry Street, the sacred flame is maintained by Dr. Scelsa and The Italian American Museum. The Manhattan launch for Appointment with ISIL will be hosted by the Museum on Friday, July 7th.


    For our aspiring writers, can you talk a bit about your publication process? Do you have an agent, how did you find publishers for your two books, what was the editorial process like, that kind of thing?

    Landing a publisher was more difficult than writing a novel. Drafting Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story started in October 2013. Following a professional critique and multiple rewrites, I submitted the manuscript to agents and independent publishers. Major publishers can only be approached through agents.

    Kirkus Reviews called Birds of Passage a “riveting debut novel” that was “a refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.” The agency that represented Mario Puzo, one of many literary representatives I approached, said that anything in the genre without Puzo or Corleone attached was a tough sell.

    Agents will read a chapter or two before rejecting or requesting the manuscript. Writers must compose an opening section that sings on the page. Invest in professional editing. You’ll only get one shot to impress. In January 2015, Harvard Square Editions expressed interest but requested another edit and rewrite. They accepted the novel in April 2015 for release in October 2015, which allowed time for pre-publication book reviews.

    Before submitting Appointment with ISIL to Harvard Square Editions, I approached a slew of literary agents. Half never responded. HSE accepted Appointment with ISIL in October 2016. Release of the novel in June 2017 allowed a period for pre-publication book reviews. Kirkus Reviews featured Appointment with ISIL in their January 2017 newsletter, calling the novel “a roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch.” While many writers pursue the self-publish route, I preferred to run the independent publishing gauntlet to confirm the quality of my work and for the prestige of being published.


    So June 15 was the pub date for Appointment with ISIL. Can you talk about what happens on a pub date, and what you as a writer go through, both logistically and emotionally?

    Whether a short story or a novel, acceptance is the biggest thrill followed closely by publication. Harvard Square Editions and I blasted out the news through my blog and social media. I shared the Kirkus review. Selling sites don’t permit the posting of customer reviews until the book is for sale, so I sent the Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and Apple links to pre-publication readers and asked them to post. I contacted bloggers who’ve promised reviews or to publicize the release on their sites.


    So now that the novel is out, what’s next? I know you have a book tour going. Have you started on your next writing project? Are you able to get some good work done while out on the road?

    The Appointment with ISIL book launch kicked off with a virtual tour. If your readers aren’t familiar with the concept, I wasn’t either before Birds of Passage was published. Every day, Appointment with ISIL will be featured by one or more book bloggers on their site. The blogger may publish their book review, an author interview, or the author might submit a guest blog post. This tour was my second opportunity to work with Laura Fabiani of Italy Book Tours and iRead Book Tours. She’s professional, efficient, and effective.

    Virtual tours are a means to connect with a new audience of avid readers. Successful writers have their books read by strangers. Today, folks select books based on recommendations; that’s why getting good reviews is important.

    Appointment with ISIL has shipped for a week. Already, Goodreads published ten reviews with a 4.7 average rating, and Amazon published seven reviews with a 4.8 average rating. Birds of Passage received forty-two Amazon reviews with a 4.5 average rating.

    Aside from the virtual tour and book reviews, the marketing plan for Appointment with ISIL will include author interviews, a personal tour reaching book clubs, associations and key book bloggers, direct mail, social media, discounted eBook and book giveaway promotions. Harvard Square Editions insured that the book is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. Ingram distribution insures that Appointment with ISIL is available through bookstores everywhere.

    My next project will be another Anthony Provati thriller, with the working title, Drone Strike, and will include some of the characters introduced in Appointment with ISIL, but each novel can be read independently. Drone Strike includes a victim whose family was “collateral damage.” Where can he turn for justice? Without a higher authority to arbitrate, is the desire for revenge understandable?

    When I’m not writing, say when I’m traveling, I’m thinking about the new novel and jot down plot and characterization ideas as they come to me.


    Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    Read a lot. Write a lot. Criticism comes by the barrelful. Self-doubt is your enemy. Don’t be deterred. Persistence in an underappreciated success factor. Use rejection to incentivize improvement.

    Recognize that most writers take an unintended vow of poverty, you’ll spend hours isolated, reading and writing, and you’ll pray that your work will be appreciated and accepted. These descriptors can also be found under the definitions of cloistered nun and monk. Be careful what you become good at, because that’s what you’ll do.


    Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu, Sophia.

    Joe’s stories have appeared in more than one hundred magazines, including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. Read the first chapters of Appointment with ISIL and sign up for his blog at http://joe-giordano.com/

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    Joe Giordano

    David, thanks for your support.

    Readers, as part of my Virtual Tour, we have a raffle Giveaway of a signed copy of Appointment with ISIL. It’s free. Here is the link to enter:


    John Liebling

    As an historian with specific expertise regarding the palestinian-Israeli conflict. Not to mention the implosion of the Sunni world, or how dramatically Turkey has changed in the 21st century. I was curious why your title is ISIL and not ISIS? And will your story include other similar organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood? As David knows, I am slowly working on my 4th draft now up over 182,000 words. My second book will be centered on the Middle East. A lot less science fiction and more historical fact – and certainly 50-60% fewer words. Do you think… Read more »

    Joe Giordano

    John, thanks for your note. I decided on ISIL for two reasons. First, I told a friend that my title would be Appointment with ISIS and she said, “Oh. You’re writing about the Egyptian Goddess?” I didn’t want confusion. Further, While the Caliphate held territory in Iraq and Syria, their terrorism spread throughout the Levant and beyond. The novel includes the New York Mafia, the Camorra, the Red Mob, Russian Intelligence, Israeli Intelligence, the FBI, Greek intelligence, and the New York police. No Hamas, Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood. Read the first chapter on my website to get a feel… Read more »

    John Liebling

    I am also going to throw spell-ng out the window as well

    Mel Daniels

    What made you decide to use the character as a
    subtitle, when it’s the first time you’ve written that
    character? I’m curious about this. It makes it sound
    like part of a series, which I think could cut both
    ways. It adds a sense of familiarity, which is good,
    but I also wonder if some readers would stay away
    because they don’t like to pick up on a series in
    midstream (even though that’s not the case here). Does that
    Question make sense?

    Joe Giordano

    Mel, yes, the question makes sense. Thanks for your interest. I use subtitles to describe the book. My thinking is that I have about five seconds to catch a potential reader’s interest, and I want them to clearly understand: Thriller. My thought on starting a series was that I might be a more attractive to either a publisher or an agent if they believed that I had multiple books planned. An opportunity to leverage their brand (Joe Giordano) investment. Each book will stand alone to avoid the issue you raised, that a reader might not want to start a series… Read more »

    Stephen C

    Joe, You mentioned “Invest in professional editing.” Could you tell us more about that? For instance, with respect to such questions as, * How did you know when your novel was ready to be professionally edited? * Is there a right time to decide it, or is sooner always better than later (or vice versa)? * What did you gain by it, other than the obvious of having another set of eyes look at your novel? * Could you have imagined going without professional editing now that your novel is published? Why or why not? Thank you for sharing your… Read more »

    Joe Giordano

    Stephen, thanks for your note. You will only get one shot with a publisher or agent, therefore you must give them your best effort. For Birds of Passage, after I’d done all I thought I could, I paid to have the manuscript edited. Editors find flaws, they don’t tell you how to write. So, after another rewrite, I began to submit to agents and publishers. Harvard Square Editions liked the manuscript, but felt some changes needed to be made. They recommended a couple of editors. I selected Riverside Editors, Cambridge, Mass. After their comments and another rewrite, Harvard Square Editions… Read more »

    Jon S,

    Hi Joe,

    Clearly you read your own reviews. Is that a double edged sword at all? Like do negative reviews throw you into a tail-spin, or does that stuff slide off you? I haven’t looked at reviews of my book, even on Good Reads, and I’m not sure I ever will. My wife will tell me sometimes when a new one goes up and that it’s positive, but still, even some postiive reviews include “Buts” that would make me regret not reading it.

    Jon S,

    I mean make me regret reading it. Not “not reading” it.

    Joe Giordano

    Jon, thanks for your interest. I consider reviews to be the most effective marketing tool for a book. The bigger name of the reviewer, the greater the impact. Oh, if only the New York Times would review my novel. So, I seek reviews but am sometimes disappointed with what I get. Writing is art and the viewer/reader decides what they like or don’t. I might have a picture hanging on a prominent wall that you wouldn’t display in your garage. Both of us would be correct. I think, though, that you’re really asking how I deal with criticism. Some folks… Read more »

    Sonni Quick

    I enjoyed reading what you had to say and it shows clearly how long the process can be and without determination and persistence you’ll never make it and why most don’t. It is also why so many self published books I down load it is often hard to get through the first page – because learning how to write want a priority. I see ads that say, ” Write a book in 30 days!” Really? Do they write it straight through, have it read by a friend and have some crappy self publishing company convince them it is the next… Read more »

    Sonni Quick

    I enjoyed reading what you had to say and it shows clearly how long the process can be and without determination and persistence you’ll never make it and why most don’t. It is also why so many self published books I down load it is often hard to get through the first page – because learning how to write want a priority. I see ads that say, ” Write a book in 30 days!” Really? Do they write it straight through, have it read by a friend and have some crappy self publishing company convince them it is the next… Read more »

    Joe Giordano


    Thanks for your kind words and support. You write well. Keep going.


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