Welcome to Author Talk. Today I have the great pleasure in interviewing the wonderful Tia Mitsis.
Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your background as An Writer
- What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I hope to continue writing both fiction and non-fiction, build up a following of readers and enjoy the craft of writing.
- How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I learned to write. I always remember coming up with little stories and writing them down. I would also ‘bind’ them into little books and sell them to my classmates! My first book was the first I wrote for publication – the others have just been for me.
- Which writers inspire you?
I don’t think I can choose just one. I am inspired by writers who have the gift of building strong imagery in my mind, by writers who aren’t afraid to reveal their innermost thoughts, by writers who can make me understand previously difficult concepts. If I have to choose one, I would choose my childhood favourite who taught me about fairies, wishing chairs and English boarding schools – Enid Blyton.
- Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
N/A as my book is non-fiction.
- What is the easiest thing about writing?
Getting swept away in thoughts and ideas.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I have published one book so far and it took me approximately 4 months to write the first draft and then about 3 more months to do the recommended re-writes/restructure and new content.
- Do you ever get writer’s Block? If so, Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I don’t think it’s possible not to! I try not to get caught up in writer’s block and usually just leave it and come back to it with a fresh perspective. If I can skip ahead to something else, I do. This usually gets the creative juices flowing again.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I read more non-fiction than fiction currently. I love books by Bill Bryson about his travels. Enid Blyton of course remains a firm favourite. For a good dose of mystery and crime, I love Agatha Christie.
- For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional paper/hard back books?
I am old-fashioned, I prefer paperbacks. I like to feel the pages, flip through at my leisure and not be glued to a screen.
- What & whose book/s are you reading at present?
I aim for my next book to be a travel book. I am reading Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’ to gain some ideas and am loving his injections of humour!
- Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
No, I feel far too close to my work to be able to do that and for me, it’s important to have someone else read your work. What makes sense to you may well not make sense to someone else. I had my book edited twice – by different editors and also proofread, again by someone else. In this way, three people other than myself read my manuscript in full before publication.
- Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I let mine stew for much longer when I received the first edit back. I had some health issues going on and I just didn’t have the motivation to get stuck into rewrites at that stage. When I did go back to it though, it was with a fresh set of eyes through not having even looked at it for several months. Re-reading brought with it a new perspective, new ideas and a good grasp of the suggested structural changes.
- When did you decide to become a writer? What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I always wanted to be a writer. I think the moment I decided to write for publication was a long time coming. I’d been writing for myself for so long and in late 2013, I thought, it’s time to do this – for me but also for others.
- Why do you write?
I write non-fiction to share my story, to share experiences, to let others know that they are not alone. I also write fiction to get away from reality, to experience the lives of my characters and although I control that world, I get lost in those characters too.
- Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
In between working full time, volunteering one night a week and completing a professional writing degree, I write very part-time! I don’t have a structure, though obviously I try to get as much work as possible done on weekends which are the biggest stretch of time I have for writing.
- Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? How successful are you at achieving that goal?
I don’t aim for a specific amount of words each day. I consider any amount, as long as it’s good quality writing a good outcome.
- Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Do you use a special writing program, or just type away?
I write on my laptop. I use Word. I have tried Scrivener, but I think I need to play around with that one some more to get a good feel for it.
- Where do the your ideas come from?
Real life situations, things I see and hear.
- Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I outline an idea through to see where it might go but sometimes I start to write and just see where the idea takes me. It’s amazing how much can come from a single idea!
- How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve evolved through doing the professional writing subjects, understanding more about the craft of writing. I have learned editing and proofreading also which I am happy to do for others but not for my own work. It’s too hard to see your own errors when you have written it. Your brain just skips over it! Although I have always written, that was for me and I could structure it any way I liked. For publication, I needed to focus on how to craft the writing towards an audience.
- What is the hardest thing about writing?
I wish I had more time in my day to devote to writing. I hope to one day be able to take 6 months in a Greek village somewhere and focus on the writing. I can dream!
- What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
It brought up previous frustrations – it can be an emotive subject. I also needed to find enough case studies to make it worthwhile and that was a frustrating task also.
- How do you market your books? Why did you choose this route?
I am still learning this. So far I have been using social media, have approached a community radio station I was once affiliated with for an interview, have looked for bookstores which support independent authors and have created some promotional bookmarks/flyers to give out when the opportunity arises.
- Would you or do you use a PR agency
No, I have not used or considered a PR agency.
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
I have found word of mouth far more pervasive than social media actually, surprising in this age of social media reliance.
- What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
I start to market my book before publication once I have something tangible to share – the cover for example. I have shared quotes from the book, I have shared the foreword and I have tried making a book trailer. Then once it’s published, marketing seems to be like a full time job!
- How do you relax?
Writing fiction, listening to music, reading a book.
- What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have just one favourite, my reading interests are so varied.
- What is your favourite movie and why?
Too many to name.
- Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully happy, healthy and still enjoying writing.
- What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry what others think. It only matters what you think. Be confident and stand proud.
- Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet Albert Einstein and talk about his discoveries and thoughts about the future.
- If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I would have written the Harry Potter series just to see it become an empire!
About Your Books
- What genre are your books?
- What draws you to this genre?
Sharing my own experiences
- How much research do you do?
My book required quite a bit of research and analysis of data. If you want to present facts, the book has to be researched and as my name goes on the book – my real name – I needed to make sure what I presented was correct.
- Have you written any other books in collaboration with other writers? If so, with whom?
- What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
The advantage of self-publishing is that you control each part of the book – the writing, the cover, the timing, the distribution etc. You also control getting the chance to publish in the first place. I made no enquiries whatsoever with traditional publishers because the biggest lesson I have learned in life is not to let others control your opportunities.
- What do you do to get book reviews? How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I haven’t got any other than one from a customer on Amazon. Five stars luckily! I have been looking at free review sites and have made a few enquiries.
- Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
No, just looking online to see where reviewers can be found!
- What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
A bad review should be a constructive review – one you can use and learn from. A good review is of course fabulous and will make you feel that your work is appreciated.
- Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
- What’s your views on social media for marketing? Which social network worked best for you?
So far best results are from like-minded individuals on LinkedIn and WordPress.
- Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Try not to become disappointed too quickly, particularly when friends don’t support your work as you expect. They are simply the wrong market.
- Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I haven’t yet worked out all the elements of Goodreads but I did have a book launch just for family and friends.
- Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
No but I have a possible radio interview coming up.
- Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
- Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
I am still in the midst of putting my work out there and am very much in a learning phase.
- What do you think of “trailers” for books?
It’s a good idea, I wish I had more technological skills to be able to make them. I did make a promo trailer once but it was just simple with still photos and a voice over.
- Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
It depends on who you are giving it to. People who helped you with the book – absolutely. People who will review your book – definitely. Running a free giveaway is also good.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Don’t say you don’t have time – make time.
- Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I see the growth of the self-publishing industry – it seems to be growing. I hope to see paperbacks make a comeback, I’m just not a fan of reading digital books!
About Your Current Book
- Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My book is non-fiction but there are many protagonists in the book. All the graduates interviewed have their own story to share.
- What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on marketing my book, ‘When Study Goes Wrong’, published on Amazon’s virtual shelves on 12 March 2015. I have also tentatively started work on a second book which is a travel book.
- What’s it about? (*if relevant)
When Study Goes Wrong is a unique exploration of graduate outcomes for graduates unable to find work in their field of study. It’s filled with my own story, case studies, relevant research, tips and coping mechanisms as well as discussions about retraining, career changes and study areas.
- Is this book part of a series? What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
It’s not part of a series but it could be. I am certain I could find more people to discuss their situation as graduates unable to find work in their field for a second volume.
- Did you format your own book? In what formats is your book available?
No, I had downloaded Createspace’s template to use and while this was in book format, I wanted it to look more professional and I didn’t have the skills to make it look that way. I was pulling my hair out arguing with Word when I decided to just have CS format the book for me. Yes, it was expensive but it saved me hours of frustration. I certainly would not have been ready to publish my book when I did if I was still arguing with Word! My book is available in paperback and I am currently in the process of having it converted to be available on Kindle.
- If formatted by someone else, how did you select them and what was your experience?
I selected CS because I was publishing my book through them and thought who better to adhere by all their specifications than CS formatters themselves.My experience was quite good. I did have an issue with the first digital proof – it must not have been checked properly as there were paragraph spacing issues. Once fixed though, it was perfect and I am very happy with it.
- Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. Who designed your book cover/s?
My cover was originally drawn by my brother, who is very talented at drawing and art. I loved his drawing and was imagining using it for a bold black and white cover. I had tried doing the cover formatting myself but wasn’t having much luck – certainly not to create something that looked like it had been done by a professional. I then found Billington Media, I believe someone on AWR pointed me in her direction. Sarah did a great job giving me ideas about the cover and in the end I chose a different cover – bright and colourful and I used the drawing as an internal illustration. I love my cover, it looks fabulous.
- Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Of course, it’s the first thing a reader sees!
- How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
I have published through CreateSpace. I chose that option because it gave me the freedom to control my work as well as the opportunity to have my work published in my own time.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
They can follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, check out my blog on WordPress and of course my Amazon author profile.
Your published books here.
Book Title: When Study Goes Wrong
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Author: Tia Mitsis
Paperback / Hardback: Paperback
Book Cover by: Billington Media
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/tiamitsis
Amazon listing: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494862875
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.