Today I’m interviewing author Jo Lindsell, author of numerous articles and several non-fiction books including the popular Italian for Tourists which is available in ebook and pocketbook editions. Jo lives in Rome with her husband and toddler and continues to work on publicity on her own books, but also to help other authors to spread the word about their books. She has organized a big event each year called PROMO DAY. It’s a FREE online international event for people in the writing industry. Loads of promotional opportunities on site! FREE workshops on a variety of topics by experts from the industry. You can also find more information about the event at the official blog.
I met Jo several months ago on Book Blogs and jumped at the chance to be able to interview her on my blog. Her road to publishing has been so different from my own.
How has being published changed your life?
It gives me more to promote :). In general being published hasn’t really changed my life. I was writing articles, poems etc… well before I was published anywhere. Being published just made me realise that what I write is of interest to others and not just for me.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved to write. Even when I was little my favourite lessons at school were always the creative ones.
After a couple of years writing articles for the dental industry and then in the neurology department here in Rome, I decided it was time to start writing about things that interested me. I sent off my first article to an English language newspaper in Florence called ‘The Florentine’ and they printed it straight away. That gave me the confidence to start working on bigger projects.
What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
I came to Rome, Italy in 2001 with the intention of staying just 3 days. Well, days turned into months and then into years and I’m still here.
Over the years friends often asked me if I would write a short phrasebook for them, I so started putting together my first book ‘Italian for Tourists’. In the beginning I made it as an e-book but soon got lots of requests for a print version.
I decided that I wanted to learn as much about the industry as possible and the easiest way to do that for me was be in control of every aspect of the book. I choose to publish it using www.lulu.com because it was free to do, an easy to use site and gave an immediate online presence.
‘Italian for Tourists’ went from e-book to print version and then in 2009, pocket edition. The reason for this evolution was mainly driven by public request. Given it’s popularity I also wanted to design a better and more suited cover art. I took photos myself from around Rome and sketched a rough idea of what I wanted. My friend Burt Crismore then stepped in and put it all together. It was at this point that I got the ISBN for it and got listed on www.amazon.com
The whole process was a great learning experience and, for me, the perfect way to find my feet.
It sounds like you have published lots of different projects. Tell us a bit about your various publications.
Like I mentioned before, my first book was ‘Italian for Tourists’. After I married my Italian husband in 2006 I decided to write ‘A Guide to Weddings in Italy’. Italy can be a bit trickier in terms of documents than other countries. They also have many traditions and proverbs related to the event. As I’d researched for my own wedding, I decided to write the sort of guide that would have been helpful to me.
I’ve also published various e-books related to Italy and marketing. In addition to these is INSIDE.OUT, which is a collection of poems. This is probably the most personal piece I’ve published so far and therefore has a special place in my heart.
When I’m not working on books and e-books, I’m writing articles for websites, magazines and newspapers. I also manage various blogs including http://writersandauthors.blogspot.com, http://astheromansdo.blgospot.com and http://1sttimemums.blogspot.com
Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Honestly, not really. I love what I do. I’m always working on a variety of different projects so if I don’t feel like doing one, I work on another one.
I think it’s important to remember that not everyone’s tastes are the same. For every person that turns you down, there is another one out there that is more than happy to publish your work. Market to people interested in your genre and submit to the right places and you’ll have better success. As a writer, you create ”
What is your writing schedule like?
My writing schedule depends on my two-year-old. I’m a mum first and everything else comes after. Being a writer-mum has taught me to make the most of any free time I get and made me realise just how much I can get done in a short period of time if I’m organised. You’d be surprised at how much you can write in just 10 minutes.
Luckily I’m a good multi-tasker and an addictive list maker. Having a list of tasks broken down into bite sized chunks really helps. I normally manage an hour or two in the afternoon while my son naps or happily plays with playdoh or draws next to me. This gives me time to get some marketing done, write a few articles or work on my books.
I also keep a notepad next to my bed as find a lot of ideas come to me late at night before I go to sleep.
What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
I could write a lot here but I’ll keep to the basics.
1) You will have to market your book however you decide to publish it so learning the basics in advance is a good idea. If your trying to publish with a traditional publisher a basic market plan might also help you close the deal.
2) Editing is just as important as what you write. Check, check and then check again. Get someone else to check for you too if possible.
3) Believe in yourself. You can’t expect others to if you don’t.
4) Explore different publishing options to find the route best suited to you and what you want.
Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Two people come straight to mind, Lea Schizas and Carolyn Howard Johnson. Lea because attending the Muse Online Writers Conference, that she organises, at the beginning of my career really helped me. I learnt loads about the industry and made some great contacts. This year I’ll be presenting my own workshop about social media at the conference in the week long forums.
Lea has always been available to offer advice and motivation and is a great example of another multi-tasker.
Carolyn is also connected with the Muse Conference and has worked with me during my PROMO DAY events over the years. I’ll be doing a Roman Writing Retreat with her in October 2010 too. Carolyn is a wiz at marketing and a lovely person to work with. We’re definitely on the same wave length and can see us continuing to work together in the future.
Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
‘Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition’ because it’s been my learning curve. It’s grown with me.
Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
All my books and e-books can be found at www.lulu.com/jolinsdell. Both my books in print can also be found on www.amazon.com
How much research goes into your books?
Lots as non fiction needs to have correct information. As I write mainly about Italy, the fact that I live in Rome makes research easy though as I can use my first hand experience. I always get my husband to check it too.
What do you like reading these days?
I have quite varied tastes in books and will happily read most genres. I recently started writing book reviews for www.booksneeze.com and often review for other authors and publishing companies, which means I always have a good mix.
For my enjoyment, I tend to pick a good chick lit or a mystery but read more children’s books these days with my son 🙂
Who is your favorite author?
That’s a tough one. I love the classics and will happily read anything from Jane Austen to Oscar Wilde. I also like Dean Koontz and have read several of his titles, my favourite of which is ‘One door away from heaven’.
Great interview! I'm impressed she doesn't get discouraged. That's so cool!
Weddings in Italy can be very romantic. I have a friend who is getting married to an Italian. I will give her the book as a gift. Thanks Jo. Wonderful interview.
It was so nice meeting Jo! Thanks for interviewing her! 🙂
Nice interview! And I loved the line where Jo said, (in response to how publishing changed her life), "It gives me more to promote." 🙂
Oh, so true.
Thanks everyone for your comments and to Heather for having me here. This was a fun interview to do.
Carolyn, I guess I just like to look on the bright side 🙂 Seriously though, as a writer, there's no reason to get discouraged. We can create new worlds, give our thoughts about this one or even just scribble down the various thoughts that pass by each day. Inspiration is everywhere. Keep an open mind to your writing and you'll see that nothing will stop you.
Gladys, I hope your friends wedding goes well. I'm sure she'll find the book useful.
Elizabeth, Nice to meet you too 🙂
CL Beck, It's true. A lot of writers just starting out don't realise how much promoting they will have to do. Becoming a writer, you also become a sort of PR agent.
I have to say I love both writing and marketing, so for me, I've hit gold 😉
Hope to see you all at PROMO DAY on Saturday 15th May at http://jolinsdell.tripod.com/promoday where you can promote your writing and network whilst learning some new tricks.
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