Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Interview At A Book Lover's Library

ABLL would like to welcome Billi Tiner to our humble abode. Sit back and enjoy the interview.

You are a vet. What was it about the profession that first drew you to it?

I have always loved animals. When I was 5 years old, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I answered “animal doctor”. I couldn’t think of anything more cool than earning a living taking care of animals.

How did you move from being a vet to writing?

Writing novels allows me to combine two passions, animals and writing. I wrote my first book, Welcome Home, while serving in the US Army Veterinary Corps. The main character, a black lab mix named Jake, was based on a patient that I had my first year out of veterinary school. All of my middle-grade books have animals as the main character and are told from the animal’s point of view. My experiences as a veterinarian have given me a good insight into animal behavior which help me to write more depth to my animal characters.

What was the most challenging thing about starting as a writer?

I wrote Welcome Home about 10 years ago. I tried the traditional paths of getting it published. I wrote hundreds of query letters to both agents and publishers with no success. So, the most difficult part was finding a way to get published. Once I found out about self-publishing, it opened an exciting door for me. I have been writing steadily since publishing Welcome Home in December of 2012 and currently have 4 middle-grade books and 1 young adult book available.

What was the funniest thing you saw as a vet?

My first year out of veterinary school I worked in a small animal practice in Oregon. A woman and her three kids brought in their six-month old German Shepherd puppy for a lump on his face. The woman was distraught. She was convinced that the young puppy had cancer as the “tumor” had grown so rapidly. She had heard that fast growing tumors were the most life-threatening. I knew immediately that the puppy didn’t have cancer as there are no types of skin cancers that affect puppies that young. I took a look at the puppy and saw that instead of a “tumor” it had an engorged tick attached to its muzzle. I grew up in Oklahoma and couldn’t imagine not being able to recognize a tick. I plucked the tick off the puppies face and explained what it was to the owner. She was quite embarrassed by her mistake, but very happy that her puppy was going to be okay.

What is the best thing you have learned in marketing regarding your books?

I have tried to develop a diversified approach to marketing my books. I have a blog, website, am on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I am also on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing. I also have contacted several book reviewers about reviewing my books and usually offer giveaways on their site. However, the most successful part of my marketing strategy has been the KDP free promotion days that you can use if you sign up for KDP Select with Amazon. I usually contact as many sites as possible to advertise my free days in order to giveaway as many books as possible. This helps to boost ratings on Amazon and usually results in an increase in sales post-promotion.

What is a typical day like for you?

I work full-time and am an author as a side job. I try to spend part of everyday on some aspect of my writing. This can be anything from maintaining my blog to working on my next book. It is difficult when I only have a few hours a day to devote to my writing. However, I am hopeful that I will one day be able to make a career out of it.

Describe yourself as a writer.

My books are all very character driven. I develop my characters first and then build the story around them. I am very lucky in that once the story starts flowing, it just comes spilling out. I let my writing flow naturally and then go back and worry about editing.

What is the best part of being a writer?

I love getting lost in the story. The books start playing through my mind like a movie and I am just putting them on paper. It is a very exhilarating feeling.

What projects are you working on now?

I am currently working on the sequel to Bounty Hunter: The Beginning, my young adult western. The story centers around Ben Sharp, a teenager, who thwarts a robbery attempt and then decides to become a bounty hunter. I am having a lot of fun with this series as it is very fast paced and full of adventure and romance.

What are your plans for 2013?

I plan to get out the next two books in the Bounty Hunter series. I also plan to release a book of pet health tips. In addition, I have several middle-grade stories rolling around in my head that I would love to let out. I also hope to continue to build a fan base and improve the marketing of the books that are currently available.

Billi, thank you for stopping by.

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