Today I’ve caught up with Anna Othitis; writer of the charming and educational My First Travel books. Anna has kindly taken some time out of her busy day to answer some questions about her journey as an author as well as taking us on a journey around the world with her writing!
Q. So Anna, what inspired you to write a book?
A. I decided to write because I love teaching young children and giving them my knowledge.
Children have to be taught to read from a young age and they love books, they also have curious little minds.
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. I started writing at a young age, but I only published a few years ago when I came to the USA.
The children I met were curious and had questions of the world beyond them, they did not realise and know that there was a world bigger than theirs!
Q. How long did it take you to write Africa’s “Big Five” Wild Animals?
A. It took me about 3 days to write.
Q. What do you use to write your books?
A. I use pen and paper the old-fashioned way!
Q. How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A. I have learnt to be patient when it comes to selling and learnt that a lot of tweeting and push is needed to get my work and books known. We did not have this technology in Africa, so this was all new to me. Self-publishing is also something I learnt to do.
Q. Is there anything you wished you’d known when you started writing?
A. Not really I learnt a lot as I went along and especially from great author friends that guided me through the ad processing.
Q. Do you structure your plots or just go with the flow?
A. I like to structure my plots/pages and set them out.
Q. Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A. Yes, I do as I like and have to get my facts right as I am writing for children that are absorbing interesting information in my books.
Q. What time of the day do you find is best to write?
A. I love to write in the early morning when my mind is fresh and full of ideas and thoughts.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. I draw my inspiration from our son Captain Frankie who is the main character in our children’s travel books and from my family in general as well as the autistic children that I teach and love to read to.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A. I love to teach the children of the world and especially the unfortunate children of Africa who are unable to travel to the rest of the world due to poverty. They love to learn and hear about all the different places in the world. They also love to watch aeroplanes flying above and wonder where they fly to and their purpose of being in the deep blue skies.
Q. Have you ever tried to write other genres?
A. No, not yet.
Q. Can you relate to any of your own stories?
A. Yes, when I travelled to Greece at a young age I was curious and fascinated that I could see other parts of the world and fly in the sky in an aeroplane.
I loved discovering new places and learning about other cultures from around the world!
Q. How many books have you written?
A. I have written 4 children’s books, as well as two Greek recipe books.
Q. Who designed your front cover?
A. I have a publisher in the UK who does my covers and my editing.
Q. Who was the first person you showed your novel too?
A. I showed my book to my husband and children.
Q. Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?
A. Yes to my son Frankie and now to my new granddaughter Annamaria who loves animals.
Q. How do you market your books?
A. I market them through social media, twitter, Facebook, friends, relatives.
Q. How do you deal with bad reviews?
A. Most times I just ignore them and smile!
Q. Do you use an agent?
A. I do not use an agent and never have thought of one.
I did start off with a publisher and it cost me way too much money and I ended up doing all the marketing and most of the work on my first book.
Q. How much time do you devote to marketing your books?
A. I devote at least 2 hours a day.
Q. How do you get your book reviews/reviewed?
A. I use bloggers and send out free paid copies to them I also give out free paid copies to authors and family.
Q. Do you ever run free book promotions? Have these worked for you?
A. Yes I do and I do find they work, I love when little children give me their reviews too.
Q. Do you do all your own proofreading and editing?
A. No, I don’t! Instead, I have my publisher do this. It always needs a second or third set of eyes to read and review.
Q. What are the main benefits of being an independent author?
A. I love having control of my own and interacting with my fellow authors who are helpful and social too.
Q. What type of books do you most enjoy reading?
A. I like to read books that my fellow authors have written, especially true stories of their experiences in life.
Q. What was the first book you ever read?
A. I loved to read Janet and John – school books that I was brought up on.
Q. What is your favourite quote from a book?
A. Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
—The Minpins by Roald Dahl
Q. Where are your favourite places to read?
A. In the living room or in the garden on a bench in summer under a tree.
Q. What books do you read to your children?
A. I love to read a variety of books to my children, but nothing too specific as long as they are interesting.
Q. When you read do you prefer a book or a Kindle/tablet?
A. I prefer to hold a book and feel the pages, children also prefer a book as they take it and look flip the pages, this is also a motivational skill for them.
Q. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today Anna, do you have any tips for an aspiring author?
A. Be proud of your work and never let anyone bring you down! You have a unique talent and work on it. “Be bold and be Brave” my favourite quote in life.
Q. What are you up to next?
A. I am continuing my travels around the world because I want to show the children the wonderful earth and world that we live in!