Birds of a Feather welcomes Jill Dobbe to the nest
The best way to write a compelling book in your niche is to read books by other authors who write in a similar niche. After a few books you soon get to spot ones that are badly written or edited, and find writers who can spin a good yarn. Like me, Jill reads mostly memoirs, and especially travel memoirs. She’s partial to female authors who write humorous family stories, so it’s no wonder that Jill’s books showcase this niche so eloquently.
How would you describe the type of books/genre you write?
I write travel memoirs and my first book, HERE WE ARE & THERE WE GO, is about my family’s 10 years living and working overseas. Our children were one and two years old when my husband and I decided we wanted to live the lifestyle of overseas teachers.
My first memoir details what it was like to live in four different countries with two toddlers, who by the time we moved back to the U.S., were teenagers. It’s also about teaching in different schools in Singapore, Guam, Mexico, and Ghana, West Africa, where we worked with teachers from around the world, and our children had friends and classmates from a variety of countries.
What motivated you to start writing?
After 10 years abroad we returned to the U.S. When my son went to college, Dan and I decided to go overseas again. We acquired our Master’s degrees and moved to Cairo, Egypt, to work as principals in a Muslim school. My second memoir, KIDS, CAMELS, & CAIRO, is about that experience.
Tell us the journey you went on to get your books published (e.g. direct on your website, self-published, assisted-publishing, traditional publisher)
After returning from India, where we worked after Cairo, my husband gave me the idea of writing our experiences into travel memoirs. I kept journals in all the countries we lived in and unearthed those for ideas for my books. I write what it’s like to live in different countries and cultures and learn to speak the language, live with the locals, and try not to make too many cultural faux pas. As an educator, I also write about the schools and teachers that I worked with. The schools varied widely; not all were international, and not all were well run institutions. I write with the experienced traveler, armchair traveler, and overseas educator in mind.
I knew nothing about getting a book published the first time. I went to the first published I found in my home state of Wisconsin. Since I was living overseas we did everything online and over Skype. When I returned home for summer vacation we met up and she gave me my book galley. For my second travel memoir, I published independently and loved the freedom of doing it all on my own.
With the hindsight of being a published author, anything you would have done differently?
As hindsight, I would have used more than one editor to go through my book before I published. Hiring editors is one of the most important things you can do. Too many grammar mistakes in a book can make it look unprofessional and could cut down on your sales. I also would have put out early reader copies to get more feedback from readers.
There are websites that you can use to get word out about your book and most importantly, to get those reviews. Publishing independently can be a lot of work, even after the formatting, choosing a cover, writing your blurb, etc. Marketing and trying to get reviews takes a lot of time and determination, but it’s all up to you. You can decide how much or how little you want to put into it.
Even when I went with a publisher, I found I still had to do a lot of the marketing myself, which was another reason I published independently the second time around.
What tips or advice would you give an aspiring indie author who is looking to self-publish?
My advice to authors who want to self-publish is to research ahead of time to understand if it is the way you really want to go. Connect with others who have gone through the process and can answer questions you may have. There are many helpful Youtube videos that will also explain how to format your book, etc.
Another exciting feature of self-publishing is that you can go back and correct any mistakes that you didn’t see the first time, and you don’t have to pay the publishing company each time you do it.
What marketing or promotional tools or techniques do you use to reach your readers?
In order to market my book I write interviews, such as this one. I also join travel memoir websites and scope out other travel memoir writers. There are many blogs out there whose authors want input from other authors and I also look for reviews wherever I can find them.
What impact do you want your books to have on your readers?
In my first book I went with the theme that you can travel with kids. I wanted readers to know that it is possible and should be done. Traveling with kids gives adults a whole different perspective. It teaches kids the important values of diversity, empathy, and caring, and gives them geographical skills.
In KIDS, CAMELS, & CAIRO I wrote more about the Islamic school and what it was like to move to a Middle Eastern culture. I wrote about my travels in Egypt and the many fantastic sites there, but I also wanted to reach out to educators who were teaching overseas or who were considering the lifestyle. As a result of giving readers a taste of what being an overseas educator is like, I have gotten many emails from people who want to know how I got into it, and where they could find out more.
What’s next on your writing journey?
Next in my series, Tales of an International Educator, I am writing about my time spent in India where I worked as an elementary principal. India is a confusing, hectic, and contradictory place and I hope to give readers insight into what it’s like to live in that culture, as well as, work with Indian teachers, students, and parents. I am working hard on bringing the joy and humor into my memoir that I experienced while there. India was one of my favorite places to live and I want that to come across in my memoir.Here we go with Kids in Tow #AuthorInterview with #travelblogger @jilldobbe Click To Tweet
Jill Dobbe Author Bio
Jill is an international educator and published author who writes about her experiences living and working in schools and countries around the world. She currently lives in her seventh country, Honduras, with her husband, Dan, and her Yorkie-Poo, Mickey.
While working as an elementary principal, Jill also travels, does scrap booking, reads obsessively, photographs the beautiful countries and people of Latin America, and muddles her way through the Spanish language. Jill loves her life as an international educator, and most days, feels like she is living her dream.
Connect with Jill: