I’m 2 1/2 months into my Cambodia and Vietnam trip and as any independent traveler knows one of the biggest challenges is being your own travel agent. It can become pretty overwhelming to constantly be looking for accommodation, and then figuring out the best mode of transport to get from point A to point B. There have been times when I’ve become completely overwhelmed by the planning process, and I know I’m not alone.
So let’s find out how Nina Thomas, from Travel with Nina, used her planning and organizational skills to write “How to be Your Own Travel Agent” and learn more about her self-publishing journey. ~~ Jay
Author Interview: Nina Thomas
How would you describe the type of books/genre you write?
My writing is all about travel. My writing is non-fiction, informative and a lot of “how-to’s.” I write practical advice, because I’m a practical girl. I like being as detailed as possible without overloading people. I share travel tips so that people can get the most out of their vacations. I hope to be inspirational, but I always strive to be informative.The best compliment someone can give me about my writing is that they feel informed and empowered with the tools they need to have a great vacation.
What motivated you to start writing?
I noticed a lack of information about the nitty-gritty of trip-planning. I found a lot of travel writers inspirational, but not necessarily informational. After being inspired, I was still left with the “how.” I love seeing pictures of people standing on a cliff with an inspirational quote that motivates me to explore. But what I really want to know is: how did they get there? How much did it cost? How can I get there, too? So, I started a blog (Traveling with Nina) as a way to share my travel successes and failures with traveling. I write about anything from trip-planning to destination guides to what you can bring through TSA. There were so many things I wished I had known and had to learn the hard way. I wanted to help others learn from my experience. In terms of trip-planning, I’ve found some great ways to save for and plan the trips of my dreams. I have used travel agents to plan trips for me, but it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to do it myself so it was completely tailored to my needs and wants. After years of planning trips, I’ve found tools that are helpful and wanted to share those with others. My new book is a compilation of years of posts I’ve written about trip-planning.
Tell us the journey you went on to get your books published (e.g. direct on your website, self-published, assisted-publishing, traditional publisher)
I honestly didn’t even pursue a traditional publisher because I thought it would be a lot of work. I also didn’t think someone would want to publish someone like me who isn’t well-known. I was just going to publish an e-book, but I discovered CreateSpace and realized I could do an e-book and a paperback book without any money up front. They print the books on demand as people order them, and I thought, “This is perfect!” I wasn’t really sure how many people would be interested in my book, so I was hesitant to invest a lot up front when I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Once I went with CreateSpace, it was pretty simple and straight-forward.
What publishing elements do you most enjoy and most like to avoid, and why? (e.g. design, marketing, formatting etc.)
I loved writing, designing and formatting the book. I found that everything leading up to the publishing of the book to be a lot of fun. It’s what came after the book was published that was challenging. There is this concept in sales called “closing the deal.” You have to convince someone they need your product, and bring them to the point of actually purchasing it (“closing the deal”). I like to sell things I believe in, and I do believe in this book, but finding avenues to tap into the right niche market is a bit of a challenge. I’ve tried a few different things and I’m still brainstorming ideas, but it’s a lot of work. The old saying, “build it and they’ll come” is definitely a myth. Being a self-published writer means also being a salesman. I have to put on my sales hat and pitch that this book is truly worth someone’s money. I would say that’s the most difficult aspect of self-publishing.
With the hindsight of being a published author, anything you would have done differently?
I may have actually tried to go with a traditional publisher. The fact that I didn’t even pitch an idea to be rejected, and just assumed I would be, is rather defeatist. With my next book, I want to really look into this and pitch my idea to a few places and see where that takes me! I would also consider hiring someone to brainstorm marketing ideas and finding ways to get the word out.
What tips or advice would you give an aspiring indie author who is looking to self-publish?
I had someone ask me how I would define success with this book. Would success mean selling a million copies? Would success mean seeing my name in print? Would success mean just actually writing the book to say I did it? This would mean that if I just wanted to say I wrote a book, I wouldn’t need to sell any books to be successful; just actually writing it would be a success. For me personally, success means that someone bought this book, read it and felt informed to plan a trip. I wanted at least one person to read it and find it helpful. So far, I know of more than one! So according to my standard, this book was a success. My advice is to determine what success means for you, and strive for that. If success means you want your book to reach all around the world, then that will determine if you want to self-publish or try to find a more traditional publisher. If success means earning a certain dollar amount, find out which avenue brings in the most money. I knew I could be successful with self-publishing. Define what your goals are (and what success means for you) and follow the path that helps you reach them.
What marketing or promotional tools or techniques do you use to reach your readers?
I use my blog and social media avenues (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). I also have a YouTube channel and worked with a content editor to edit some of my travel videos to make a promotional video. I used Fiverr to find a few some people to help market my book to various audiences and on different platforms. There are some great marketing freelancers on Fiverr who will do advertising that won’t break that bank. I also plan to send my book to a few travel websites and see if we can partner in some way. It can’t hurt to try!
What impact do you want your books to have on your readers?
I want people to be informed. I want people to feel like they can do things they thought they couldn’t (ie plan a trip!) Information-sharing is very important to be as a traveler. I rely on it. My writing is my contribution to the information-sharing world of traveling. My hope is that people feel empowered to plan a trip for themselves by themselves. Not go on someone else’s trip, but on their trip. The trip with all the bells and whistles they want. My hope is that people find the information they need through my writing to plan the trips they want to go on.
What is your latest book about?
It’s titled How to be Your Own Travel Agent. This book is for those who find trip-planning daunting, frustrating or complicated. I believe that everyone is capable of planning the trip of their dreams on their own. No one knows what you want better than you. The tips in the book will work for people no matter what kind of traveler they are: budget-conscious or want-it-all luxury style. When you design your own trip, you can tailor it to your own interests, budget and style. I’ve dedicated the book to anyone who has said, “I can’t plan a trip” or “I can’t afford to travel” because I believe they can!
What’s next on your writing journey?
I continue to blog every week with my latest travel tips and travel guides, but I do have a few book ideas I’m working on. One is all about packing light with just a carry-on and how to plan a travel wardrobe for multiple climates and countries. The other is about day trips from Columbus. I have planned a lot of day trips from Columbus and those posts on my blog have consistently been the most popular. Since I’m an Ohio girl, it would be a natural for me. Perhaps this is the one I will pitch to a publisher!
#Selfpublishing and #IndieAuthor tips and advice from @travelwithnina, author of How to be your own Travel Agent #travelblogger Click To Tweet
Author Bio for Nina Thomas
Nina Thomas is a travel writer from Columbus, Ohio who has been enjoying part-time travel with her husband since 2008. She’s visited 15 countries, and over 125 cities to seek adventures ranging from camping in the wilderness to fine dining. Nina began writing a blog in 2014 as a way to share some of her successes, failures and travel tips that she is learning as she goes. Her goal is to share authentic experiences with others, so they can be fully empowered for their next vacation.
Connect with Nina: