Battle of the books – England v France : the great Euro divide

We ♥ the French.

It’s true.

Not because they lunch for three hours, or because of their beautiful churches and gloriously gorgeous people, nor is it because you can drink over there at fourteen and seemingly deposit your car between two parked cars by shunting them out of the way and NOT get arrested – no, it’s none of that (although all of the aforementioned reasons do help).

So, why the love-fest on the Saffina Desforges blog today for our friends across the channel?

Well, I’ll tell you…

It’s their love of books.

Not just their love of books, but their infinite passion for the written word (in whatever format it might take) and their open-mindedness when it comes to subject matter.

Now, you may accuse me of being biased and maybe I am. I am still a little love-sick for Paris after my recent trip and miss the waving of hands when talking and the kissing of both cheeks every time you greet somebody, but there are a few things about our experience with our French publishers that we wanted to put out there into the blogosphere to help dispel a few myths.

For those of you who have either been living under a rock, detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure or are just not the slightest bit interested, a few things have been happening recently.

There was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Leveson Inquiry, Euro 2012 started and the Olympic torch started its journey around the UK. Oh and lest we forget, Paraphilia, the French version of Sugar & Spice was released in print and digital! 😉

 You can read about my promotional trip to Paris here on my SMoD&L blog.

So, of course, we are totally enamoured by the French to start with because they took the chance on publishing our book and for that we are eternally grateful, but what has become glaringly obvious is the difference between the horror stories that you read daily on writers’ blogs about ogre publishers, non-compete clauses that rival any of Tolstoy‘s offerings and the age between the signing of a contract and holding a book in  your hands, and our recent dalliance with a publisher.

Well let me put that straight right here and right now:

With our publishers (MA Editions),  we had none of that. In fact, the polar opposite.

I have talked about how professional, friendly, approachable, flexible (shall I go on) and just downright awesome MA have been with us from the very first email contact we had in previous blog posts, but it won’t hurt to recap:

  • From first email requesting the MS to signing the contract approximately 4 weeks
  • Total control over the re-name of the book
  • Constant contact with the translator throughout that process
  • Frequent updates on release progress
  • Meeting in person in the UK with the Publishing Manager
  • Time from contract to print approximately 7 months
  • Arranging of promotional visit to France for myself and sorting meetings with publicists, bloggers and other influential literary persons

They have been brilliant! The owner of the Publishing company even turned up at le Gare de Nord to collect me from the Eurostar and drove me to my hotel, before staying with us all day throughout the meetings and translating for me during my interviews. Nothing has been too much trouble, honestly.

We couldn’t have asked for better treatment, even as total unknown/debut authors, they have treated us with the utmost respect and professionalism and we hope to continue and strengthen our relationship with them going forward.

Even now, with Paraphilia in its first week of official release in France, we are talking to them about our next projects and they are involved already. We are looking to  set the third book in the Rose Red crime series, Beauty & the Beast in Paris, so we checked with them on the legalities of mentioning place names in the book and asked if they knew of anyone who could help us with the French police procedural references.

Two hours later, we have a French lawyer to contact for the project and they are currently seeking out an English speaking detective to assist.

That’s what I call service.

The whole publishing system in France is completely different too.

In a very long (and slightly scary) drive to my hotel in Paris, I chatted with Eric and Valerie, who between them have over 45 years experience in publishing, about the UK’s reluctance to publish Sugar & Spice, the print v digital debate and the French pricing structure.

Eric could not get his head around the whole ‘we love your book but we daren’t publish it because it’s got the word paedophile in it and we can’t be associated with that’ saga, nor could he understand why you had to have an agent to get anywhere (or so some people think) these days. He also wafted away my concerns about the price of both the digital and print version of Paraphilia and explained that publishers have no (or little) control over pricing and that the margin for promotional/reduction purposes is not even as high as ten percent. Ergo, the French buying public expect to pay the prices set. Not a bad model. At least for the publishers and authors.

A week in to our release and we are awaiting reaction and reviews to come in, but sales are looking promising.

Today we charted on with the Kindle version of Paraphilia and we couldn’t be more thrilled:

























As for print sales, it will be some time before we find out how that is going, but one thing we do know is, our publisher will be doing everything within their powers to ensure the book is a success.

Our wonderful translator, Christophe Sisyphus even sent us this picture of Paraphilia in the Virgin store!

So all that remains for me to say to all you wannabe/new and disillusioned writers out there , is ‘don’t believe everything you hear’.  Most horror stories aren’t true or at least, not the ones you hear about publishers anyway. 😉

I leave you with the question: Why are the UK so far behind in just about everything?

Of course, if it comes down to England v France in the Euro’s at any point (I realise we have played them, but we COULD meet again), I won’t be quite so in love with the French, but I cannot deny, a little of the blue in the red, white and blue running through my veins, now belongs to Francais. 😉

Au revoir.


PS. If you are so inclined and can read French, you can get Paraphilia here:

Amazon UK print

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon FR print

Amazon FR Kindle

Vive la France! Sugar & Spice/Paraphilia goes European

Not many things shut me up.

In fact, it’s pretty hard to recall a time when I was ever lost for words (well, coherent words anyway).

I guess I’ve had a couple of jaw-dropping moments over the last two years; like when we first started out on this insane writer/publisher-thingy journey and we hit treble figures for the first time on Amazon (in a month) and when we saw our first five star review, or the Sunday we sat watching KDP and hitting refresh every five seconds to see our digital book sales for ONE DAY creep up to 857 in 24 hours.

Yeah, there’s been a few, but the whole ‘I guess I’m a real writer now’ realisation kinda crept up on me gradually, so much so, that it didn’t happen over night. I just morphed into it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s been many a time over the last twenty four months when I have had to pinch myself and shake the craziness outta my skull because not in my wildest dreams did I envisage the bumper-car ride that we have been on, but press and blog interviews, celebrity followers on twitter and seeing our book in the Sunday magazine charts kinda became part of every day life after a while. Awesome, but I sort of got used to it; gradually.

Until yesterday.

When I saw this:


That really was a sucker-punch (in the nicest possible way of course) moment.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I knew it was coming, but all the same, seeing our book up there, for pre-order, in all its glory, really did finally smash the ball out of the park.

I guess it’ll be a pretty similar experience when I hold the hardback in my hands for the very first time at the end of this month.

A real book.

A proper, printed, shiny, glossy (wiv pages and words and everyfink) goddang book!

Wow! 🙂

It’s an amazing (and totally surreal) feeling and one that I know, I will never tire of. I still feel like it is happening to someone else every time I see our books out there.

What has amazed (and delighted) me about this whole publication process with the fabulous MA Editions, is their professionalism. I have read more horror stories about ‘traditional publishers’ than I have read Dean Koontz books and that is going some, believe me! Unfathomable contracts with hidden pitfalls at every turn, unpaid or pitiful advances, lack of control over editing or covers and the interminable wait from contract to publication.

Uh-huh. No way, No siree, not on my watch. Didn’t happen.

It’s been a breeze and a pleasure and has restored my faith in publishing (well, French publishing at any rate).

Simple, clear contract signed in a matter of days.

More than respectable advance paid just as quickly, with favourable royalties agreed.

Efficient, swift and friendly translation services.

Regular contact.

Title and cover design a JOINT process and, the best bit:

Slightly shy of seven months from contract to print.

MA have organised everything from a whistle-stop promotional tour of Paris and Brussels, press interviews, blog videos and marketing, plus additional deals with other outlets. Advance review copies and digital pre-orders? Check.

They’ve done the lot. Absolutely can’t fault it.

But do you know what the best bit is? They TRUST in the book and in US. They DARED to believe in it. They took a chance. They are not scared to take that step. Oh and they’re European!

If I had a pound/dollar/Euro for every rejection email/letter that we have had in the last two years for Sugar & Spice that said something similar to this:

We LOVED this book, loved the pace, the short chapters, the characters. Read it in one whole sitting, was gripped from the start, appauled by its content blah, blah,blah, BUT, we’re sorry, we do not feel it is right for our ********** imprint at this time. I know we are going to be kicking ourselves and the sales figures they have achieved on their own are astounding, BUT…

I would be able to retire right now and write at my leisure.

MA Editions have seen past the controversy, the stigma attached to the books content (hell, they even used it to their advantage in the title!) and opted to let the reader decide.

What more, as writers could we ask for? After all, that’s what happened 18 months and 155,000 sales ago when we put it on Amazon.

Paraphilia is available for pre-order (released digitally on 6th June 2012) here. Of course, it would help if you can read French! 😉

We are thrilled to be on this journey with our publisher and eternally grateful to them for taking us this far.

Who knows what will happen in the future? I mean, so many of my dreams about writing a successful book have already come true, so I guess I have used all my wishes up. Right? 😉


PS. I will be blogging about my time in Paris & Brussels in the first week of June. Look out for ‘Lost in France’, coming soon!


  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy London’s Burning from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Buy ‘Awakenings’ – Book ONE of INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

%d bloggers like this: