Thursday, 8 December 2011

Interview with author JO LINSDELL

Author Bio
Before becoming a writer Jo spent time as a waitress, shop assistant, credit controller, receptionist, tour guide and secretary to name a few. Luckily she came to her senses and started taking her writing seriously. Since then she's managed to convince editors and other members of the writing industry to work with her, gaining several awards along the way. When she's not writing articles, updating guides or adding to the word count of her books in progress, she's researching social media news (one of her big passions), reading, getting fit with her Wii or shopping. That is of course when she's not with her husband and busy being a mummy to their two young sons.
She is also the creator and manager of the multi award winning site WRITERS AND AUTHORS and founder and organiser of PROMO DAY an international online event for people in the writing industry.

Born in England and now residing in Italy, Jo has written a number of books including  Italian For Tourists

Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition a phrasebook published through the online content marketplace is a basic guide to the Italian language covering phrases and words most needed by tourists. It includes all the words and phrases a tourist is likely to need during their stay in Italy as well as a pronunciation guide and map of Italy.

 Jo is presently on a virtual book tour of Italian for Tourists and has dropped in to say hello. Please join me in sitting down with Jo as I ask her a few questions about her life and her writing. Let’s begin:

1.      When you were a little girl what did you most like to do most?

Anything and everything! I've always liked to try out new things. When I was younger I was all about sports. I did gymnastics, netball, football, hockey, dance, running... basically any sport going. Then at 14 I had an accident where a dismount went wrong during a gymnastics routine and I moved my knee caps round the wrong side of my legs (ouch!) resulting in being restricted to rest for 6 months and having to give up competitive sports. This was a huge turning point in my life but did open me up to a lot of other interests including a passion for books.

2.      How long have you been writing?

I used to love creative writing at school when I was younger, then in my teens years started writing poetry as a kind of therapy to help me deal with everything life threw at me. It was my way of venting but I kept it just for myself.
When I moved to Rome in 2001 I got a job working on a publication for the dental industry. After came translation assignments and then a job writing research articles for the neurology department of Rome's main hospital. It was whilst I was working here that I sent off my first freelance article. It was accepted and publish in an English language newspaper in Florence called The Florentine.
After having several more articles published I decided it was time to try writing a book. For a while people had been telling me to write a phrasebook or guide to Rome and so Italian for Tourists was born.
Since then I've never really stopped writing.

3.      Your book, Italian for Tourists seems to be a big hit among tourists. Can you talk a bit about how you came to write this book?

I worked in hostels when I first came to Rome and I would help tourists with the basics of the language and give them tips for during their stay. So many of them told me I should write a book that I eventually decided I would.
It started out as a simple e-book but I soon got requests for a print version. Both versions proved popular and so I re-launched it as the 'pocket edition' in 2009. Since then it's become available in most formats including kindle and nook, and can even be downloaded from the ibookstore to iphones and ipads.
Out of all my projects, Italian for Tourists is probably the one I'm most proud of as it's grown with me over the years and all due to public demand.

4.      What kinds of books do you see yourself writing in the future?

There is no limit! I hope to try my hand at most genres. I definitely live 'outside the box' and like to try on new styles.
I'm currently working on a chick-lit, a non-fiction about social media and a romance. I also have several children's books under review with Publishers.

5.      Where do you get feedback on your work…that is to say when you are working on it?

It depends on the piece. I test my children's books out on my son and his friends but I also use critic circles online.

6.      I know you have young sons,  so can you fill me in on what a typical working day might be like for you?

I have two. Matteo who is nearly 4 and Lorenzo who was born in August this year. I'm a very busy lady ;)
I don't have a fixed writing schedule as I'm sure you can imagine. I write when I can. Usually, I manage to get most work done late morning (when my eldest is at pre-school and the youngest is happily sleeping after his feed). This is when I work on articles, guest posts etc...
I hop on and off my social media sites during the day to do marketing, check out a few useful websites, research etc..
If the boys are being good I can sometimes get some writing done in the afternoon. When this happens it's usually working on a piece for children or about parenting or pregnancy. My eldest loves it when I read to him and takes an active role in 'helping' mummy write.
I work on my books and other 'bigger' projects e.g. Promo Day, during the evenings once the boys are asleep.

7.      I read where you picked Italy to visit by chance then decided to stay. Do you think it might have been fate? Are you a romantic?

Haha! yes that's right. I was meant to be touring Europe and picked Italy as my first stop by closing my eyes and waving my finger over an atlas. I figure the capital was a good place to start.
Unfortunately I had my money stolen at the airport in France on the way here and so had to get a job on my third day here. I was lucky and started working as a receptionist at a hostel in the centre. They gave me a bed as part of my pay.
The plan was then to get together enough money to move on to the next destination but a visit to Piazza di Spagna changed everything... I met my husband.
Given everything that has happened to me, I can't not believe in fate or be a romantic :)

8.      One of the biggest hurdles today in writing is the marketing end of it. What tips can you pass on to those who are now in the marketing phase?

I love the marketing side of my job just as much as the writing side and have a passion for social media.
All writers should have a profile on twitter. In my opinion, it's the most important social media site for writers. Excellent for spreading the word about writing projects, sharing article links, building a reputation as an expert in your topic and of course, for networking and building relationships. If you only do one social media network it should be twitter.
Obviously if you can build an online presence across numerous sites the results will be even greater. Each platform offers different features but it's better to pick just one or two, and do them well, than to be everywhere and not use any to their full potential.
One of the best methods of marketing is to guest post on other people's websites, blogs and newsletters. You get to show an example of what you can do, reach a new audience, build a portfolio, drive traffic to your own website and more without having to hard sell. When done correctly, it can also be an excellent way to network. The comment section is just as important as the article itself so make sure you visit the site several times following your post to reply to comments.
I could go on for ages about ways to market and build an internet presence so I'll stop here for now.

9.      Leaving England to move to other countries indicates that you are an adventurous type. Would you call yourself that? And is there anywhere else in the world that you have dreamed of living?

I guess I am quite adventurous. I've settled down a lot since becoming a mum though. When I was younger I was much more carefree.
I love living in Italy but would definitely like to travel more. There are so many places I'd like to go to and wouldn't rule out relocating again to a different country.

10.  Is this your first virtual book tour, and how is it going? Can you describe what a virtual tour is in a nutshell?

I've done loads of virtual tours over the years both to promote my books, websites and Promo Day. It's a great marketing tool. Basically it involves being featured on as many sites as possible over a fixed time period (anything from a week to a couple of months is standard but some last longer). Posts can be interviews, guest posts, book reviews, etc... The more varied the content, the better.
So far the current tour is going great. I've already sold more books and traffic to my website has increased over 360% in the last month. I've also got 3 new clients for on-going article work and some partnership deals with companies.

11.  If you could, what famous author would you most like to interview?

That's a tough one. So many to choose from... I'd love to interview Dean Koontz as I'm a huge fan of his work.

 I can agree with that choice as Dean Koontz is one of my favourite authors as well. Thank you Jo for this guest author interview.

Thank you for having me here.

Jo is currently on a virtual book tour for her book, Italian for Tourists. You can find her books on most online bookstores including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and


  1. Thanks for hosting me on your site Carol. This was a nice interview that made me reflect on how I got to this point. It's good to remind ourselves of how far we've come as it motivates us to go further.

  2. Jo, thank you for this interview. It's great to get back into interviewing again. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors, and with Italian for Tourists.