Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cherie Le Clare on Writing and ePublishing

Today my guest is fellow New Zealand writer, Cherie le Clare, whose debut novel 'French Kiss' was released by The Wild Rose Press early in 2010. I first 'met' Cherie when I read her article about e-publishing in the Romance Writers of New Zealand newsletter. I'd just embarked on my own e-publishing journey and the concept was still a little strange to me. With Cherie's permission I've posted the article after this interview. I'm sure you'll find it as informational and enlightening as I did.

"Hi and welcome, Cherie!"
"Hello Leigh, thank you for having me here today."

Cherie's Writing Journey began in the Eighties
Cherie's journey as a romance novelist began way back in the eighties when her two sons were small. "I began a correspondence writing course but didn’t complete a novel until almost a decade later. I sent it away to Mills & Boon in London. And subsequently received my first taste of rejection. All my first writing efforts were rejected – children’s stories and articles included. I didn’t attempt another novel until I gave up fulltime work in 2003. And then I joined the Romance Writers of New Zealand Inc. and began to learn a whole lot more about the craft of writing romance. I entered competitions and gained a Commended in the Clendon, and a Highly Commended in the short story competition. These successes encouraged me to take my quest for publication more seriously."

 Keeping Motivated can be Difficult
Cherie selected The Wild Rose Press as her publisher because her novel, French Kiss, fitted the criteria for their Vintage Rose Line. "It was a perfect match!" Cherie says that the most difficult experience as a writer has been keeping motivated when there is no guarantee of any kind of reward for the long hours put in. The downside of being an e-published writer was the long wait between signing the contract and the book launch.

Self Promotion is Vital to Increase Market Share
Self-promotion is the most important thing Cherie's learnt through her e-publishing experience. "Self promotion seems to be vital to increase market share." Cherie says that she would certainly embark on e-publishing again. She is delighted with the Sony Pocket Reader she owns. "The sky is the limit," says Cherie in answer to a question about the future of e-publishing.

 The Men and Women of the French Resistance Inspired Cherie
'French Kiss', Cherie's debut novel, is set in the Second World War. "Reading about the men and women involved in fighting with the French Resistance made a big impression on me as a teenager," says Cherie, "one which has stayed with me. There were very few heroic women in books in those days, or so it seemed to me. I was inspired by the fact that the leader of the partisans was a woman who had exciting adventures whilst contributing to altering the course of a world war. A bit like a female James Bond."

Cherie's WIP is another novel set in the Second World War – but the setting is far away from the battlefields this time. Cherie wanted to explore the effect the Second World War had on the women who had to take on men’s work and responsibilities while the men were away fighting. Her WIP is set in New Zealand and involves a New Zealand girl and an American sailor.

 Stay True to Your Own Voice and Don't be Shy about Self-Promotion
Staying true to your own voice is the most important advice Cherie has for someone embarking on a writing career. If you're looking at e-publishing, the same rules apply as for print publishing - polish your manuscript and research the publishers' guidelines/requirements before submitting. And, after publication, don’t be shy about self-promotion.

'When the Reader is Ready the Book will Appear'
"My goal is to keep my ‘fans’ satisfied with nine more published novels within the next five years. As someone once said: 'When the reader is ready the book will appear.' Actually, I just made that up – it’s a version of the old wise saying: 'When the student is ready the teacher will appear.' And that’s another thing I love doing – passing on the writing knowledge I’ve gained through my own experiences – although there’s always more to learn. That’s okay, ‘cause I also love learning!"

And now to Cherie's enlightening and informational thoughts on the e-publishing phenomenon:

E is for Embracing Change
"More Advantages than Disadvantages to this Evolution."
I may be an old trout(ess) but surely not a stick in the mud, if my excitement at the launch of the newfangled E-readers is anything to go by. Granted, they have not hit the Nelson shops yet, nor, as far as I know, any retail centres here in New Zealand, although a variety of brands, such as Sony, Bebook and Cybook have been available to order via the internet for some time now. When Amazon tested the American market, with its launch of the Kindle E-reader, sales were so positive that their device has now also been made available world-wide.

 I have much to owe the technology of web publishing as my very first success at finding a home for my debut novel was with an E-publisher. This way of presenting books to customers may have been viewed with much suspicion at first, but many mainstream publishing houses, recognizing the computer-savvy consumer demand for choice, are now increasingly offering their lists as E-books for downloading, alongside the traditional print format.

 But reading a text on a screen is not as satisfying as reading words on paper, I hear you protest. In fact, I’ve heard little else from other writers and readers of my acquaintance. They shake their heads and fire three questions at me: What about the feel of a book in your hands? The smell of crisp, new pages? The satisfaction of owning bookshelves filled with treasured tomes?

 Let me now reply with a three word rebuttal: 1: Heavy, 2: Fetish, 3: Dust. (Keep up, guys – this is the way of the short and to the point texting generation.)

 All joking aside, I firmly believe that there are more advantages than disadvantages to this evolution. For example: Imagine the benefits to schoolkids’ and university students’ postures and spines, if, instead of lugging around piles of heavy textbooks, they can access them all on one easily portable E-reader.
  • And then there’s the cost: E-books are cheaper than print books.
  • Plus privacy: The cover is not permanently on display so no-one will know what you are reading, unless you choose to tell them.
  • How about adjustable font size: A boon for anyone with sight problems. And audio books are available too.
  • One last point: They’ll save a heck of a lot of trees from getting the chop.
My prediction is, that in the not-too-distant future, E-readers will become as popular, and as common as, mobile phones, embraced by both young and old alike. At this point, you may be wondering about the future of lending libraries. My investigations confirm that both the Nelson and Tasman District Libraries are currently considering the options of how to best provide for multi-format borrowing of books, in preparation for when access to the technology becomes more widely available in New Zealand.

 Last month, I was thrilled to be almost pitched into the lap of a young tourist with an E-reader (I was trying to negotiate the unsteady floor of the rolling Cook Strait ferry) because she graciously demonstrated all the features to me and explained that she travelled a lot and the device saved her from having to cart around a weighty pile of books. I even got to hold it – and I can report that it was light, the font was easy to read on a non-glary screen, and it was virtually the same size as a paperback, only much slimmer. Looks much easier to tuck into a case or handbag.

 Back in the early 90’s, when I was a real estate consultant, I bought a cell phone. It was the size of a small brick, and just about as heavy, and cost me the exorbitant sum of $800. My manager applauded my initiative in being the first salesperson in the office with one, but my colleagues, however, viewed it with utter disdain.

‘It’s rude to talk on that thing in someone’s house,’ was one of the objections I remember, along with, ‘Ridiculous. You don’t need one of those to do your job.’ Then, of course, it wasn’t long before the price, the size, and my colleagues’ resistance, had all tumbled down. And, now, just about everyone seems to own one.

The moral of this tale is that I’ve been through this aversion to technological gadgets before and know that change need not be as scary as it appears. E-readers won’t replace print books, they’ll merely be an alternative vehicle to accessing the written word. My son’s friend, who recently purchased a Kindle, sums it up with: “I read a lot more books now.” From the point of view of all writers, scribes and authors, and the future growth of the younger generation’s literacy skills, that’s got to be a good thing, right?

12 comments:

  1. Nice post Cherie.
    Nice to know you are writing about the 2nd World war rom the New Zealand perspective. My 2nd World war novel, The Trouble With Playboys, from TWRP, is from the Aussie POV.
    Á pity there weren't a few more romance stories written against a background of WW2. It was a crucial period in history.

    Cheers
    Margaret

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  2. I have a Sony and I really like it. I joined the techy although I still grab a book of the shelf on a weekly basis.

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  3. I agree, but I think with devices like the iPhone eventually everything will all be on one device and print books will be collectables.

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  4. Change is scary, hard but always necessary.
    E-publishing is the wave of the future and that is a big wave indeed. Funny how we still want the book in our hands...

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  5. Thank you all for your comments. The advances in technology offer authors so many different forums now - which can only be a good thing for reaching our audience. My Sony arrived with a built-in library of books, or excerpts from books, printed in several different languages - instant reading for an international customer base - that's pretty amazing!

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  6. Hi Margaret,
    I'd like to read 'The Trouble With Playboys' - will add it to my TBR list.

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  7. Hi Cherie! I enjoyed the post. Lots of great advice and incentive. As being new to e-pub, I enjoyed reading about your jump to that venue. Granted I wasn't even paper pubbed, but that's neither here nor there, I found a home at TWRP as well. French Kiss sounds wonderful - women at war is something seldom explored and I'm intrigued by your second book's premise. Best of luck and as they say, the only constant is change!

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  8. Hi everyone - thanks so much for stopping by!

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  9. Leigh, I have something for you at my blog!

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  10. Hi Leigh: Loved reading his interesting guest post. French Kiss sounds like a book I need to put on my TBR pile (sigh). I love books set in France, and the Resistance fighters were so heroic this has got to be a good read. I saw The Citadel north of Arras, France, and always thought there were a lot of stories to be told about the brave men in the Resistance.

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  11. I suppose Clare is probably right about eReaders, but I'll sure miss hardbound books if it ever comes to that. I suppose I resist change, too. Actually, I still resist cell phones. ;)

    But great interview. And thanks for stopping by my blog, Leigh!

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  12. Thanks for stopping by everyone! I've never been to France but it's on my bucket list. What isn't on my bucket list is becoming a cell phone expert - I'm with Janet on that!

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