Jo Linsdell, Author/Illustrator
Recently BookOrBust caught up with author/illustrator, Jo Linsdell. Gratefully, BookOrBust got to ask Linsdell a few questions.
Here's what Linsdell had to say.
Q: Can you share with readers a little about yourself? Where do you live? Perhaps info about your family, too, if you care to share.
A: I'm originally from the UK but moved to Rome, Italy back in 2001. I came here for 3 days and ended up staying. I'm married to an Italian and together we have two sons, a 9 year old and a 5 year old.
When I'm not writing, or illustrating, I work as a graphic designer and create book covers. I'm also the CEO of http://www.writersandauthors.
info/ and organiser of annual Promo Day event at http://www.PromoDay.net/
Q: I see that you have written several books, can you list them here for BookOrBust readers?
A: I've published books in different genres. Italian for Tourists, and a Guide to Weddings in Italy and non fiction guides. Out and About at the Zoo, Fairy May, and The Box, which are children's picture story books. Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort Of Your Own Home, and How To be Twittertastic, which are non fiction reference books, and most recently the serial fiction KOSMOS, The Pendant, Gunpowder, Gladiator, Pyramids, The Soldier, and All That Jazz. The rest of the series will be coming out over the the rest of this year, with a new book being published on the first of every month.
Q: Care to share what prompted you to write your books? Where did you get your ideas?
A: I get ideas from everywhere. Seriously it's almost a problem. I have so many ideas and not enough time to develop them all!
My Italy guides came about because so many people told me I should write them. I wrote my children's books for my kids. They are an endless font of inspiration. I got the ideas for my non-fiction reference books from the fact that I'm an author and therefore have a good idea about the sort of things fellow authors might want to know, and the fact that I'm also a social media junky. I'm one of those weird people that enjoys the marketing side of things just as much as the creative side.
I have a huge list of works in progress, and others that I plan to work on in the future. I don't think I'll ever run out of ideas. I add to the list almost daily.
Q: I was delighted to learn that you do your own illustrations. Can you describe your training? Where did you go to school for this? Is your artistic talent as natural to you as your writing talent? Would you recommend to writers learn to do illustrations for their books? If so, any tips or advice on that?
A: I've always been creative. I studied Art and Design in college when I was a teen, but then just did it as a hobby after that. As I tend to have very clear ideas for how I see my books, it just seemed natural to do the illustrations myself. I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator by playing around with the program. I'm a very hands on learner. I've since gone on to learn photoshop and other design programs too. I've spent a lot of time studying tutorials and reading articles about illustrating and graphic design.
If you're going to illustrate your book you need to know how to do it right. It's not enough to just be able to create an image. You also need to know how to format an image and other technical stuff. After-all, you want a professional looking finished product. It's a huge learning curve, but if you have an artistic talent, it could be worth your time and effort.
Q: Are you self-published? Why did you make this choice? Any tips or advice to writers on self-publication, perhaps a recommendation or a favorite publishing house?
A: I knew I wanted to self publish my books from the start. I'm quite a control freak! I also wanted to know as much as possible about the whole process. Like I said before, I'm a hands on learner.
Over the years I've often considered going the traditional route. As a self publisher I have full control over every aspect but I also need to do all the work. I'm not just talking about the writing, editing, formatting etc... I mean the marketing and publicity side of things too. It's a LOT of work for one person. Even more so, when you've published several books. A traditional publisher has an editing team, a marketing team, etc.
The reason I haven't yet gone the traditional route is that I know however you publish you still need to do your fair share of the work. So yes, they help, but it's limited. Then there's the fact that you no longer have full control over the project, both on a creative level, and from an administrative point of view. As a self publisher I get to decided when my books are published. With publisher you often have long wait times.
I think the route an author takes depends a lot on what their personal goals are, and the strengths and skills they have. It's different for everyone. Either way you should learn as much as possible about the industry, the publishing process, author branding, and book marketing.
I've published most of my books through Amazon KDP and createspace. The quality is great, and the publishing process is very easy. They are always on time with royalty payments, and have great customer services when you need some help. They also offer competitive pricing (which helps sell more books), and one of the best royalty percentages.
Q: Of all the books you have written, do you have a favorite? Why?
A: That's a tough question. All my books are my babies. It's hard to choose just one. Italian for Tourists was the first book I published and so will always hold a special place in my heart. I think my favourite is probably Out and About at the Zoo though. I wrote it for my son when he was little. It's based on the first time I took him to the zoo. It was also the first children's book I wrote and illustrated.
Q: Finally, what is your favorite book, or author? Do you have one? Why? Why not?
A: I have lots of favorite authors, and books I love. I don't think I could ever pick just one. Authors that inspire me are people like Julia Donaldson (she does the best children's picture story books), Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, CS Lewis... and then there's authors of adult books like Ethan Cross (he does awesome thrillers), and Susan Hatler, Freya North, and Sophie Kinsella who all write amazing romance. Then there are particular books that have stayed with me even years after reading them like the Diary of Anne Frank, or Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. It's too hard to pick just one!
Q: In closing, what tips or advice on writing or illustrating do you have for a writer?
1) If you write, you are a writer. Be proud of it and stop calling yourself an "aspiring" writer.
2) No first draft is perfect. It's just you getting the idea out of your head and down in words.
3) No book is for everyone. Not everyone will like your book, and that's OK.
4) Don't be scared to be different. Embrace your personal style and voice. This applies to both writing and illustrating.
I wish to extend my sincerest thanks Jo Linsdell for taking time for BookOrBust readers and for sharing her amazing talent. We look forward to reading her all her books.
On a personal note: Jo Linsdell, all best wishes for continued success. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being my friend.