My journey to publication
As you can see from the buttons in this blog’s left column – spoiler alert: if you click on one of them, you’ll get access to my books’ presentation – I’ve been published six times yet. My seventh book, Land of Mist, the first in a 2-book series, will be out on September 11th. Of course, all these publications have occurred in France. For the moment, I’m only writing in French (but – second spoiler alert – it won’t stay that way for long!).
Being published in French-speaking countries
Before I really get to the heart of the matter, that is to say my journey to publication, I’d like to specify a few things in this regard. Unlike what is the standard in English-speaking countries (and certainly in other parts of the world), when you decide to submit your book for publication in France as I’ve done, you directly address the publishers in this case. Until very recently, literary agents in French-speaking countries were some kind of a rarity, only available for best-seller writers (as far as I know, anyway, because I won’t claim I am aware of everything in this matter). At the time I submitted my first book, sending it out to publishers, I was totally unaware of the fact that literary agents even existed.
Dealing directly with a publisher who is interested in publishing your book has pros and cons. Pros – there is no one between you and the publisher, so things may get done quite quickly (although there are exceptions to this rule. There *always* are.). Cons – you’re alone when standing up for your rights as a writer. And it’s especially true when you get your first book deal, because you don’t quite know what to look out for in publishing agreements. Of course, you can ask questions to the publisher and let him/her explain things to you. But let’s be clear that publishers will first act in their own interests, which is quite logical. Book publishing is a business. It doesn’t necessarily mean that things will work to your disadvantage, it means that your interests and those of the publishers don’t always coincide.
You have to be vigilant, reading carefully every clause, finding more experienced people in this matter and asking them questions (because you will have questions about the publishing agreement which has been submitted to you. Trust me on that one!) In short, you have to do your own research before signing (or taking the risk and suffering the possible consequences afterwards). Described like this it might seem very logical – of course, you won’t sign something before reading it! – but when you’re in the thick of things, being overwhelmed by the fact that your book has been accepted and might be soon out in the wide world, it’s actually quite easy to forget any recommendation in this regard and throw caution to the wind.
That being said, let’s come back to this post’s main theme – how I got published!
It might seem a very weird name, especially in English, but I can’t talk about my journey to publication without speaking first of CoCyclics. It’s an online community of SFF writers which has been created more than ten years ago by a very dear friend of mine, and it so happened that we’ ve just met when the idea came to her. I’d never forget the day I received a message stating “Hey! I’m going to create an Internet forum to help writers find critique partners… You’re in?” That’s how great adventures begin, right?
To be a little more specific about CoCyclics, it’s an online community based on the solidarity between its members – you read my text, I’ll read yours. And we both write an honest as well as constructive critique about it. It might seem simple, it isn’t! Looking back at this project in which I was involved right from the start, I realize that I developed some critical skills for my future career without even being aware I was doing so. Reading other people’s works, learning how to help them as best as possible, drawing up critiques stating the strong and weak points of entire manuscripts helped me a lot with my writing. Because, when you start noticing someone else’s darlings – you know, elements from the novel that don’t serve to further the work as a whole, but that any writer loves to use – you are much more likely to spot yours.
Last but certainly not the least, that’s where I found extraordinary people, generous with their time and their ideas to improve my writing and make my first novel shine. The principles of solidarity and mutual assistance thanks to which CoCyclics is still thriving could only encourage people to forge strong relationships with each other. That’s where I met people who have become very dear friends as well as successful authors (among other things). When people asked me for writing advice, I always told them not to remain isolated. The truth is you will need other people’s help in your writing career, which looks like a rollercoaster most of the time! One day you’re at the top of the mountain, buoyed up by some good news you’ve just received and the day after, you might as well feel the rug has been pulled beneath your feet and feeling completely depressed. Having people around you who not only share the same passion but also understand what’s writing life is like will give you stability and proper motivation.
If CoCyclics hadn’t been there to help me take my first steps as a writer, I’m convinced my writing career would have turned out in a very different way.
To be continued!