Friday, August 31, 2012

Jo Linsdell,Out and About at the Zoo

AUTHOR: Jo Linsdell
BOOK TITLE: Out and About at the Zoo
PUBLISHER: self published using

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I've been writing pretty much since I could hold a pen. I used to love creative writing classes at school, then I got into poetry in my teens and would write it as a way of venting my feelings. As I got older, I had various jobs working on publications and writing research articles but these were about dentistry and neurology and not really what I wanted to be writing about.

In 2006 everything changed. I saw an ad that an English language newspaper in Florence was looking for new writers to contribute to the paper. I sent off an article, and it got published in the very next edition as it was. This was a huge turning point for me as it made me realize I could write about things I was actually interested in. Soon after I started work on my first book.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I'm a writing mum. I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old and so fit my writing in around them. I work on my writing everyday, even if I only manage 5 minutes here and there.

I think that if someone really wants to be a writer they need to make it a priority. It would be so easy to skip days, especially when my little one has had me up all night, but I love writing and always find a way to make time for it. I take any time I get. It's amazing how much you can get done in just a short amount of time if you're motivated.

What influences your writing?

I write various genres and so inspiration can really come from anywhere and everywhere.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

I've published two non-fiction books Italian for Tourists and A Guide to Weddings in Italy and various e-books. This is my first children's book, but I enjoyed doing it so much I've already started on another one.

I've also had poetry and short stories published and work as a freelance writer covering topics like Italy, social media, and parenting.

My first non-fiction book in Italian will be released later on this year and I'm working on a chick-lit too.

It's fair to say my writing is very varied :)

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

I wrote my children's picture book Out and About at the Zoo after taking my son to the zoo for the first time. He's always shown a big interest in my writing and asked me why I hadn't written a story for him. I figured he made a good point and so Out and About at the Zoo was born.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

This experience has been completely different from my other writing projects as it's the first time I'm also an illustrator. Who ever thinks putting a children's book together is easy is wrong. In a way it's harder than writing a full length novel.

I started by writing the text, and that was actually the easy bit. Next I sketched some ideas for the illustrations and made a paper draft of the book layout.

My son was a huge help as at 4 years old he is full of questions and very honest in giving his opinions. He made it very clear, both with the text and the illustrations, what he liked and what he didn't, and I made changes until it reached his standards.

It was nice to be able to involve him so much in my work for once and has made the book even more special to me.

Drawing the pictures for the book was fun but making them digital and print quality was not an easy task as I had no experience with illustrator programs. This book has been a huge learning curve for me. I scanned the sketches into the computer and then used Adobe Illustrator to turn them into the finished pages for the book. I would have been lost without the help and advice from my graphic friend Simon, who saved the day more than once with his technical knowledge.

This is also my first time using createspace for publishing, and so I felt like a 'newbie' all over again from start to finish.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

The writing industry has changed a lot over the past few years, and self-publishing is no longer considered a plan B for writers that can't get a book deal. Self publishers are becoming best sellers, and the reputation of self publishing has changed to reflect that. Some of the big names in the industry are ditching their big name publishers in favor of self publishing. For me self publishing was plan A. I wanted to have complete control over my book in all it's stages.

I enjoy the marketing aspect of being a writer as much as the writing itself, and so that wasn't a problem factor. In today's writing industry all writers need to promote their own work themselves to a certain extent, which ever publishing route they decide to take.

What is your marketing strategy?

I'm a social media junky and a huge fan of networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Social media therefore plays an important role in my marketing strategy.

I'm currently doing a 3 month long virtual tour to promote the launch of the book including interviews, guest posts, book spotlights, reviews, LIVE twitter interviews, Facebook wall chats, radio interviews and more. The schedule can be found at my website

I'm also planning on taking part in several online conferences as well as off line events throughout the year.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

If you plan to self publish an agent isn't necessary. If you want to go down the traditional route an agent will be needed to get your manuscript in front of the big name publishers. As with every decision regarding your writing, you should research wel,l so you know what your options are and which are best suited to your project and character.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

At my website or via my various social media sites:

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

Word choice is very important. The text of a children's book is limited so every word counts. There is little room for visual description but most of that is done with the illustrations anyway.

Read it aloud. Children's books are meant to be read aloud. Read to an audience or record yourself reading the text so you can check for flow.

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Out and About at the Zoo highlights how special quality time together can be for a mother and child. Rhyming text and colorful pictures accompany this fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.

The official release date for Out and About at the Zoo (ISBN/EAN13: 1477446591 / 9781477446591) was 1st June 2012.

Purchasing links:


  1. Thanks for hosting me on your site Penny. It was a great interview.

  2. My pleasure, Jo. You're always a welcome guest.

  3. I'm sure I commented on this yesterday! Guess something happened.

    Anyway, I think it's great you have an in-house critiquer, Jo! I bet he was a great help while you were putting the book together.