Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
In this episode, I chat with children’s book author, Marie Robert, about her journey to publication while living in France, publishing in more than one language, and considerations for marketing children’s books.
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Hardcover – please email Marie: email@example.com
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Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 23: Publishing Children’s Books in Multiple Languages with Marie Robert
Jo: Hello, my friends, thank you for joining me again. This week I’m chatting with a wonderful children’s book author, Marie Robert. If you’ve ever considered self publishing a children’s book or publishing in multiple languages, then I think you’ll enjoy today’s show. Marie talks about her journey to publish her book, tips for publishing a more than one language, and considerations for marketing when it comes to children’s books.
I always find that regardless of the genre, there is so much to learn from the writing and publication journeys of others. So I really hope you enjoy this episode.
When you’re ready, grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.
Hello, my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. So today I’m chatting with author Marie Robert. Marie is an Irish speech and language pathologist and children’s author. Marie loves to travel and has moved around a lot. After living in Singapore for many years, she finally settled in Paris where she currently lives with her husband and three daughters. In her day job, Marie is passionate about improving the lives of children with language disorders, and she’s a firm advocate for bilingualism. Her children’s book Georgia’s Far-away Family can be purchased in either French or English and is for ages three to seven. So welcome to the show, Marie. I’m so happy to have you join me today.
Marie: Thanks so much for having me.
Jo: I would love if we could dive in and you could share a little bit about your author journey and what led you to write children’s books.
Marie: Yeah. So, as you gave in my nice, lovely introduction, I’m a speech and language pathologist by trade. And I’m a paediatric specialist, so I spend a lot of time around children and I have, three daughters and I’ve always written, when I was younger, I, you know, wrote like angsty poetry and, and as I got older, I wrote essays, and I always enjoyed that. And then when I had children, I wrote little stories for the children, but I sort of wrote them on my computer, read them to the children and then kind of put them away and did nothing else with them.
But I’ve always kind of had this little idea in the back of my head that it would be, that it would be nice to do something with that, and to sort of explore that. One day, I wrote a little story, which was called something else at the time, that later turned into Georgia’s Far-away Family, and I read it to my two elder daughters and they, loved it and they loved it because it was a little bit like them and things like that. So, uh, I’ll get into the story later, but it kind of just, it kind of set off this little spark, that like, oh, maybe, maybe this is the one that I’ll do something with.
And I think a lot of people have like a mentor or someone they look up to, and a friend, or an acquaintance at the time who, who is now a good friend, was self-publishing a children’s book at the time. So I had kind of been going through that process with her and loving listening to the process and how she was getting on and things like that.
And once I saw that she could do it and her book turned out beautiful and I was like, oh, you know, if she can do it, maybe I can do it. And that’s kind of what happened then, and then quite quickly then within the space was about six months, because the story was already sort of written, I kind of just dove right into learning about, the laws and things, because I’m in France, they’re very strict about children’s literature and laws governing it and things like that.
So there was a very big steep learning curve, as well as all the other things I had to do. Yeah, so I just dove right in and, uh, and it was a really exciting adventure and I’m, I’m really enjoying the aftermath.
Jo: Wonderful. That’s really cool because your book only came out earlier this year, is that correct?
Marie: Yeah, so I suppose it was sort of probably available so early May. I’m kind of just at the start of the promotional journey.
Jo: Ah. I think writing a book, that your first book, is so amazing because it proves to you what you’re capable of. It’s such a good feeling, knowing that you’ve brought something like that to completion, which is really cool.
I’m really interested just by something that you said, that the laws in France governing children’s writing are quite strict. What do you mean by that? Can you give a few examples?
Marie: Um, it’s that you, you have to be really carefully registered and things like that. So you, you can’t just write anything and publish it, you know, whatever you want, even if it’s self-published. So there are, there’s quite careful wording that you have to use in the copyright sections. There’s also copyright libraries here. So you are obliged to send anything that is edited or written in France. Or even abroad that will be sold in France, has to be sent to the copyright library or the national library of France. Yeah. And all sorts of things. And there’s this couple of laws governing, like how, how they can be published and, even rules about pricing, they’re really, really strict. You must have the price printed on your book and no retailer can charge any more than that. The like registration of things like that is, is really, really strict.
Jo: That is really interesting because when I think about indie publishing, one of the things that appeals to me about it is that you’ve got the control over things like pricing and that, so generally you can raise or lower your prices as you like. But with a children’s book, I see that you do have it available for eBook, but it’s probably, am I right in assuming it’s better sold in the physical format?
Marie: Yeah. There’s like no market for that, but because you can do it at the same time, I think a lot of people do, but I think we all sort of know that there’s very little market for that. So yeah. I mean, you certainly have the control, that remains with you. You can you set your price but because it has to be built into your actual cover, so afterwards you cannot change it without reprinting the book. And that’s to protect the consumer so that you can’t just up the price anytime you feel like it. There’s also laws about, like there’s a really low VAT to encourage people to read. There’s a really low VAT on books in France. So again, same thing that kind of takes into account that big bookshops that would be selling it are responsible for the VAT. But that is included into the price of the books. They cannot charge anything other than the price that’s printed on the book.
Jo: Wow. That’s so interesting. I guess in my narrow little world, I tend not to think about what it’s like in other countries and that, and all these kind of rules and things that come into play, because my books are primarily, I guess, so I’m in New Zealand, and so they sell here, but they sell in the US quite a bit. The UK, Australia, Canada, those tend to be my big areas of where I sell. And so far it’s been pretty straightforward with things which is good, but then also I primarily sell eBooks. So there’s a bit of a difference, I guess.
Marie: Yeah. So, so I guess the market is kind of different. But yeah, I mean I guess it really would, if I had, I mean, I’m Irish by birth, I suppose if I was doing it in Ireland, the laws would be different. It was just, I was lucky that I had this friend of mine who was also kind of going through it. So I had some heads up so she could show me where I needed to like read up, you know, you need to go and read this just to make sure that you’re within all the laws here. So she could kind of point me in the right direction. So I really appreciated that.
Jo: That’s awesome. So I’ve read a little bit about your story behind writing this children’s book and you yourself being Irish, but living in Paris, but can you tell our listeners a little bit more about the idea behind your story and what your story’s about?
Marie: Absolutely. So I’m what you might call a diplomatic child. So I grew up moving around. My father worked for the Irish Embassy, still does, and for the Irish Embassy or the Irish Foreign Service, so we moved around a lot. I changed house and school and country every couple of years. My brother and sister kept going then after I stayed in Ireland when I was 18 to go to university. And then after that, as soon as I got my degree, I left again and I went to work in Singapore for nearly 10 years in a big hospital there. Met my husband, who is French. And I had my first two children in Singapore. So that’s complicated enough for you. But as I said, my husband is French and we were very, very far away and we finally decided we would probably move back to Europe and I had my last child here. So Georgia’s Faraway Family is about a little girl who doesn’t live in the same place as her extended family. So her grandparents, her aunties, her uncles, her cousins, they all live in different countries. And they live in a different country from her. And I specifically didn’t give Georgia a country, so she doesn’t have a nationality. She doesn’t have a country that she lives in. So she could be either living in her own home country and the family are away, or she could be like me living somewhere else, or like my own daughters cause they have grown up like that as well, living with somewhere where the family is far away. And the idea was to give a little bit of representation, because I guess most children now-a-days, they do have their grandparents close to them or, you know, their aunties and uncles, and they see them very often. But I didn’t as a child, and my children don’t see one side of the family very often. And I know a lot of countries are very big, you know, so there are certainly people where it’s a bit different. But the idea was to give it a little bit of representation. So Georgia, who’s the character of the book, has her family members living in different countries and she doesn’t see them very often and that makes her kind of sad sometimes. And I know I certainly was sort of sad about that and, you know, sometimes when I was kind of young, and my children often say, oh, you know, can we, can we go and see the, the Irish side of the family? I’m like, that’s a long way away.
I remember feeling like that. And Georgia then has to do a project in school about her family. And she has to make a family tree, and she adjusts the family tree to include all the different countries. And her peers in school think that’s kind of cool and they’ve never, you know, their families aren’t like that. So in the end, actually the other children say, oh, you know, that’s, that’s quite cool actually. And she kind of has this work moment of like, acceptance. And when she goes to bed then she’s like, oh, you know, actually you’re still just a family and it doesn’t change the fact that all the family members love each other. Just the fact that you don’t see each other very often. And it was kind of, like I said, to give representation to kids like mine. And there are so many kids like that now because the world is much smaller than it was when I was young. So that was kind of the story behind it.
And then I really gave myself a headache because I decided we are a bilingual family and we operate in two languages. I live in France, even though obviously my mother tongue is English, so I decided I was gonna publish it in both of our languages to have it available for all the children, you know, like mine in our country and outside. So that was, that was the aim.
Jo: That is fantastic. And I think that type of book, the idea behind it is so relevant. I don’t have kids, but I have two nephews that, spent their first, well, seven years or so in Austria. So I didn’t really get to see them. It’s a little bit far from New Zealand.
Jo: They’ve moved to New Zealand, but now they’re moving to the other end of New Zealand. So, you know, I’ve had a year of them being relatively close and then they’re moving away. But for them too, it means that they’ve had their Austrian grandparents close for a good portion of their life. And now they’re quite far away and they’ve got their New Zealand Kiwi grandparents here now, and so it’s quite relevant.
Marie: Yeah. And again my nephews are like that, I don’t see them very often either. And it’s just the world is so cosmopolitan now, so global now that families like that, where okay, mine is particularly spaced out, all my family live in different countries and that’s particularly unusual, but to have somebody who lives faraway, is actually quite common for kids now. Yeah. And it was just really, really important to me. Like I said, it might seem sort of a funny idea to give representation to that, but that was important to me.
Jo: I think that’s amazing. And also that you didn’t give Georgia a nationality, which means that she could be anybody.
Marie: Right. And there’s nothing, like I said to say where she lives. There’s no identifying pictures for her. Now there are identifying pictures because the other family members, I did give them locations. Yeah. And that, it didn’t really matter. They could be anywhere, but I did give the other family members locations so that they would have pictures that would represent that. But for her, yeah, like I said, the idea was to be, she could be global. She could be you, you know, she could be your child. And that was the aim so that as many children as possible could see themselves like Georgia.
Jo: That’s cool. Oh, I love that. So can you talk a little bit more about what it was like then to publish your children’s book in two languages? Like how did you go about it? Were you the one that translated it into French as well?
Marie: So, yeah, that was also quite complicated. I did actually translate it myself, but I’m not fool-hearty enough to think that that was gonna be sufficient. So I translated it first and then I had it read by a proper and official translator, both the English version, and then my translated version. So she edited the translated version that I had written. So it was translated and that was fine. So we changed some names that didn’t work as well, you know, things like that. We also had to change the title because it just didn’t work at all in French. And I couldn’t get one that would get close. So in the end you had to change it to the French title, which is (in French): Georgia And Her Family Around The World. It’s not exactly the same thing. No, but it just didn’t, it just didn’t work. And no matter what I did, it sounded weird. So, we sort of worked on things like that. And like I said, some of the names needed to be changed and things like that. So we did that and then I kind of thought I was good to go. And I was like, okay, great. I’m done. And then I had a few other people read it and they were like, yeah, something is weird about this. And I was like, what do you mean it’s weird? Like, it’s perfect. It makes sense. It’s grammatically correct. Like what’s wrong with it? And they were like, yeah, some of the tenses are a bit weird. So I realized then that the French, in particular, have a thing about story tenses that does not at all translate directly from English. Cuz they use what’s called the (?), which is a different type of past tense from the one that I had translated the book into and the one that this translator had used as well. And it is only used in recounting stories and only used in print. It’s never used in speech.
Marie: So I suddenly found myself with this enormous headache where part of the book had to be rewritten because the imperative past tense did not work anymore. So then I roped in some more help, got a few other people to help me out and translated again parts, or changed the tenses in like certain passages. It’s not that long one, but it’s a lot of work. Yeah. To get it so that it sort of flowed correctly, because it wasn’t wrong before, there was just something that sort of sent bells ringing off in the native speakers, um, heads that I just didn’t really have, even though it was correct. So it was really, really interesting and the French turn of phrase is exceptionally beautiful. So it’s, it’s actually more poetic in French than it is in English because they use very flowery language with children’s books, quite complicated language. Yeah. And they use words that, you know, I wouldn’t actually have written in a children’s book. But they do. So I ended up really loving the French version and found it, like I said, almost a little bit more poetic than the English one. But yeah, it was really interesting.
Jo: That is so interesting. It’s just made me think about things so differently. I’ve had another children’s book author on this podcast and she’s based in the US and so she wrote it in English and she was talking about how you have to make sure that your language is really concise and to that readership. So hers was a picture book for, I think, three to five year olds. And so it had to be understood for that age group. And then listening to you and hearing that in French, it’s a little bit more flowery and a little bit more, sounds like almost a little bit more sophisticated for what we would maybe consider for that age group.
Marie: Yeah. I think they have a very big gap between what we would consider to be like a baby’s book. Yeah. And then, and then the ones that have stories and the ones that have stories start almost straight away, you have this tiny subsection for, you know, like, Toby’s first day in school and you know, that kind of thing. And those are those really simple ones, the procedural narrative. But as soon as you get into like real narrative, yeah, I’ve always been impressed actually, by the way, French children’s literature does that. And it would, like I said, it was, it was an entirely new learning curve for me having to write that. Like I said, I wound up needing some help.
Marie: Which I very happily accepted. It was really interesting and I loved vocabulary choices and I loved finding the right phrase. And I had people being like, yeah, this one is okay, but, you know, and they would suggest a different one. So I had, I ran it through a few people sort of to get it right. I hope it is right now. Yeah.
Jo: Well, that sounds absolutely beautiful. That sounds really great. So it sounds like you had quite a team around you or you needed to pull from the help of a lot of people around you all the way through this, a mentor or a person who had already published children’s books and then you’ve got a translator and then you’d called on other people as well, just to read through, can you talk a little bit about your kind of team or the people that helped you with this?
Marie: Yeah, so, I mean, I didn’t have much professional help. I mean, my friend who had already been through this was certainly extremely helpful. The professional translator, um, was a useful experience and that was obviously something professional that I paid for. But the rest were really, really nice volunteers. My family in-law checked it through, my mother-in-law is, is an exceptionally good copy editor because the French of a certain age are unbelievably meticulous when it comes to grammar, because they had it absolutely beaten into them with a steel rod. So her spelling and grammar are, are fabulous despite the fact that she was raised on a farm. Um, so she’s a great copy editor. She helped a lot. My husband was the one who originally flagged the thing. He’s like, yeah, I get it. But this is weird. And then I ran it by some friends who happened to be particularly literary. I did the same thing for, um, I have a friend who, same thing, a very good friend of mine who worked for a short period of time in a publishing house in Ireland. She looked at it for me and made some. She also has an English creative writing degree as well. So she, you know, looked at it, but these were friends who were kind of doing me a favor, which I really, really appreciated. But yeah, there was a lot of people that it went through before I was sort of happy with it. Or before I kind of felt like, alright, you know, like I can’t touch this anymore because anymore I do to it I’m just going to make it worse. Yeah. Um, I guess there’s no perfect, but like, this is good, and if I keep going, I’m just gonna ruin it. So it certainly went through a lot of people’s hands.
Jo: That’s wonderful. I think that’s really an important thing, because I think people starting on this journey of writing books and that don’t realize actually how many people it kind of takes to write a book. So as an author, we do the main bulk of the work. But then we need to seek out cover designers or illustrators or editors or family or friends or anybody else to sometimes read through and check over or be beta readers or anything like that, just to make sure that it’s the best product at the end of it.
Marie: Exactly. And there’s nothing more valuable than a fresh set of eyes. Mm. And I’ve certainly had that. I mean, it’s kinda one of those things, like, you know, before, but I certainly had that reinforced many times, over the process. And even the formatting process, you’re like how in the name of God did that one spelling mistake get through, you know, like it’s been read a thousand times, but, the fresh set of eyes just really, really important. And I kind of had to do it twice because I did the two completely separate versions because of the language thing. So it was, it was looked at a lot.
Jo: Yeah. And so I’ve seen the cover of your book and it’s beautifully illustrated, like it’s a beautiful cover. So how did you go about finding an illustrator and what was that process like?
Marie: That was also a really exciting adventure. It’s a part of the process that I absolutely adored, but also didn’t really see coming cuz I knew nothing about nothing. I basically knew I needed an illustrator but I mean I’m artistic literary ways, but I am not at all artistic. So I had no idea of what I wanted this to look like. But I knew what style I didn’t like. Mm-hmm. So I basically trolled through hundreds of hundreds of proper artists profiles, you know, real illustrators, people who have done this before. Some of them are folk illustrators, some of them make posters and all that kind of stuff, to try and find a few people that I thought, you know what, maybe you could do this for me. Of course, you end up contacting them, you check their price. It’s extremely expensive. Mm-hmm. As it should be, because it’s extremely detailed. And you need somebody, in my case because I couldn’t format the book myself, because this is the first time I’m doing it, I was not willing to, yeah, that would’ve been biting off way more than I could chew. So I also needed somebody who would be able to help me with the formatting in several forms because it’s hardback, paperback and ebook in two different languages. So there was all sorts of sort of constraints. And I ended up finding this woman whose name is Maryam, and from the first email I sent her, we realized that she has a far away family, too, and I just loved that. She’s Iranian. She currently lives in Canada and she moved around a lot as well, including a short stint in France. She even speaks rudimentary French. And the fact that her husband is from somewhere else as well. Like they’ve moved around. It was just awesome. And she was, as soon as she read the blurb for the project, she’s like, I’m so into this cuz it’s my story as well. And it was just, she was just wonderful. She was a wonderful person to work with. We went back and forth a lot. But I bet she said like, what do you want this to look like? I was like, I have no idea. Please show me. So she, she did all the drawings for me and she was like, this is how I see it. And I loved almost all of it straight away. I think I had like one page I’m like, this is the only page I want to like redo mm-hmm um, the rest were sort of small details. There were some things I wanted to include specifically. There’s a little boy who wears hearing aids in all the class scenes because, you know, speech and language therapist, I was like, how can I get that in there somewhere? You know, some kind little diversity, my little shout out to my work. But even things like I didn’t like the color of her hair to begin with, didn’t like the color of Georgia’s hair. And I was like, we need to change her hair color. But yeah, and she was just really wonderful. She was very gentle. She was very available in terms cause we were on two different time schedules. So, you know, we would meet, you know, once a week or once in two weeks to check the colors. And I just, like I said, from the start, I loved her style. It’s very soft. I didn’t want anything that looked cartoony, or a lot of books I think now, are often especially aimed at young children, so mine kind of straddles three to seven. Yeah. So the ones aimed at the younger children are often very like lurid colors and that’s very much the style and I just didn’t see it like that in my head. And hers is very soft and very gentle and it just, it just worked really well. And like I said, she was an absolute joy to work with. So, I mean, that was lucky for me.
Jo: Yeah. But it’s amazing, sometimes I think, when we have these kind of heart projects or projects that really come from our heart, it’s amazing how the right people seem to come to us. We seem to stumble over, across the right people who are just gonna help us on their journey. So that’s really cool. Yeah.
Marie: It’s funny. And Maryam and I talked about that. We still text to each other sometimes, it just because you know, we’ve never met or anything. Yeah. So we kind of were talking about it sometimes being like, you know, that this seems to be sort of fortuitous that this has happened like that.
So yeah, it was a really exciting part of the project and especially our children’s book, if it’s not pleasing to the eye, you will get nowhere. No matter how good the story is, mm-hmm so it’s really important. And I think indie publishers, because our aim, I know when we go is like, can we even break even on this, you know, that kind of thing, but for children’s book authors, the gap between breaking even, and that is even farther because good illustrations are extremely expensive, but it’s kind of one of those things, like if you want it to be out there and you want it to be appealing, that kind of is the way to go. So, you know, there’s this kind of pulling back and forth being like, ah, am I gonna do this? But in the end, I just decided like, if I’m gonna do it, I should do it. Yeah. Um, and like I said, I, I really do love the pictures. I loved them from the start and I love them. And I have to say everybody, so far who has seen the pictures, absolutely adores them. And I’ve had lots of comments to say that they’re really, really good. So I’m really happy about that because it, it helps the book stay in people’s minds. It helps the children remember the little details and things like that. So that was really important to me.
Jo: Like I said, the cover looks just absolutely beautiful. Beautiful. So do you have plans then to write more children’s books, to do this whole process over again?
Marie: So I would really love to do this whole process over again. But I have to get rid of the books in my storage first , uh, otherwise my husband would kill me. I would really love to do this again, all joking aside and I have some other stuff that I would, um, that I would really love to do. But I certainly would not want to do it too quickly because I want to give one, I want to give Georgia the time that it needs to get out there, and I’m new to the whole marketing business, I don’t really naturally do that. I’m a medical professional, I don’t have to sell my services. So this is new. But I’m enjoying it in some sense, but it’s certainly a lot of work and I have also a job and three kids as well. I definitely would do it again, but there are some stipulations that I need to do first. I’m gonna give Georgia, I’ve given myself two years to kind of do this and then we’ll see. And if, if I get to that point where, okay, you know what all the Georgia books are gone and it’s just out in the world doing its thing, um, yeah, I definitely would love to do this again. And I’ve learned some stuff too, so maybe I would even do it better.
Jo: That’s cool. That’s wonderful. So I have to ask this: so you are indie published, but why indie publishing? Like, was this your plan from the beginning or did you want to go traditional at any point?
Marie: So I did not have a plan about this at all. There was no plan. Actually, like I said, I kinda just sort of followed in the footsteps of, of this friend of mine that was already doing it. And also I did kind of want to do this quickly. I’m also well aware that the book, it’s niche in its own sense. Now it would work for everybody, I mean, it’s a children’s book, it’s beautiful, I hope all children would love it, but I wondered whether I might have a hard job of selling it to a literary agent.
The children’s market is, I mean, possibly even more saturated than the adult market in terms of trying to get a literary agent, you certainly can’t just go banging down publishing houses doors, cuz they won’t talk to you. So I don’t necessarily think I made like a very conscious decision about it. It was just kind of one of those things. Either I see it on this for 10 years and bang down the door of hundreds of literary agents until someone picks it up, or I just do it. And like I said, I’m lucky enough that I could just do it, and I had this little mentor of mine who was fabulous and she was doing it that way, and she had looked into the other options and kind of come to the same conclusion that if we’re gonna do it, we can just do it and do it our way. But I mean, I certainly wouldn’t close the door on doing a different book with a publishing house, I mean, that would be awesome. But I find access to those kind of things really, really difficult. And you have to already have an agent before you can get an agent, if you know what I mean. And like I said, I’m kind of time short. I do work and have children and have a whole other life and have a wonderful husband, that is, you know, also takes up time. So, so it was just, it was kind of one of those things like, look, this is probably the most efficient way I can do this and I’m lucky enough to have the resources to do it, um so I just did it.
Jo: That’s wonderful.
Marie: I just jumped off the ledge there.
Jo: That’s great. I can completely relate to that, and I think a lot of indie authors do too. When we get really passionate about a project, we just want it done. And that is an unfortunate thing with being traditionally published, is that it can be a very drawn out process. So if you’re lucky enough to get the agent and get the publisher, and then it takes a really long time to go through that whole process of the editing, the formatting, the cover design, the, when it’s finally gonna be released. Whereas when you’re indie published, you’ve got so much more control and you can do it to your own timeline. So if you want to publish sooner you can.
Marie: I do actually have a friend who is traditionally published here in France. Mm-hmm um. So I obviously spoke to her. She has two children. She’s many, many things, this wonderful woman, but she does have two traditionally published children’s books as well. So I did talk to her as well. And because again, the nature of sort of the children’s market, in the end she said like I did this and it was supported all the way and it was great and whatever, but then they did no, I mean, it was worth nothing to them nearly. She’s like they did no marketing, none, except that’s supposed to be part of the contract. So she, so I did all the marketing and, you know, and I went on TV and I was asked to talk about it, but, but I found all that myself, so they didn’t do it. And I was like, oh yeah, that’s, that’s really interesting. So I agree. I mean, there’s so many wonderful things about traditional publishing. Certainly the fact that it doesn’t cost people anything upfront. That’s the main thing that’s amazing, particularly for children’s books. Because again, like I said, the illustrations are then at the charge of the publishing house and that’s really wonderful. But yeah, in the end, it came down to being like, this is my story, and you know, this way, like you said, it, it was kind of a hard project as well as something else. I hope it will turn out to be something else as well, but, but it definitely was the way to go, I think for me in this instance. But yeah, I mean, I would definitely, I would try and do it both ways if, if I could at a later date, I mean, that would be really interesting also.
Jo: Yeah, for sure. So how are you going about marketing your book at the moment?
Marie: I have a hundred copies anyway, which is really good. I had the sort of, you know, publicity thing just before it was went out. People bought copies in advance, which then once I got them then I sent them all out. So that was really nice. People post about it. So there’s a hashtag and people look at it. But I think probably the main, oh, I also went down to my local bookstore here, my local bookstore here holds both versions, but obviously principally the French version. The rest, I think, will probably take place starting in September because obviously international schools and things like that will be a big market for this kind of book, and bilingual schools, and I do live in new Paris. So I intend to do that, but unfortunately, I mean, the timing on that one, wasn’t great. Because the school is over now. Really there would be no interesting in things like that at the moment. So I’ll probably start again in September. I’m hoping to do that, to go and speak at schools and hopefully have schools buy the book. That will be the aim and for the bilingual schools for to buy both versions. And apart from that I haven’t really done much else simply because I’m still trying to work out what the best thing to do is. So I’m not necessarily sit on it, I definitely will be doing sort of passive marketing during the summer. Yeah. But word of mouth for things like this is actually the best thing you can do because, uh, you know, there’s ads and stuff you can pay for, but they generate almost nothing for people like us, like in terms of the children’s market.
So actually word of mouth from parent to parent is actually the best thing that you get for children’s books. So, I will be doing more of that. And like I said, anyone who buys the book, it would be wonderful that they go and tell another parent, if they like it, go and tell another parent about it. Post it on your Facebook. Just tell somebody about it because that’s actually the best thing that people can do for indie kid-lit authors. If you enjoyed it, if your children enjoyed it, and this goes for my book and everyone else’s book, any indie published children’s book, tell your friends about it. Tell your kids teachers about it. Tell anybody who’s connected with children about it because that’s really the best thing that people can do. I’ve learned that in quite a short period of time. So I guess I need to work on that. That’s why I said I’m not ready to let Georgia go and do something else yet. I need to put some time and effort into this, but it’s a matter of finding the time.
Jo: Yeah. I love the concept of word of mouth. I think that is so, so important, but also connecting with schools and that. Do you already find that a little bit easier because of the nature of your job? Because I’d assume with your job, you’re working with schools all the time so you might already have some connections?
Marie: So actually no. That’s to do with the French health service. So I am registered. France is a social state, so most care here is at least heavily subsidized by the government, which means that we don’t have like a private service, but it also means that we’re not connected to the education service either.
So actually, no. I’m connected to my patients, all whom I adore. But the schools, for people like me who are registered on the health service, and I’m a bilingual therapist, I’m licensed to treat adult languages. Whereas most people with Anglophone degrees are actually not licensed to treat here on the state service because you have to be Francophone. It’s really very complicated to get through all the paperwork for that. So I managed to do it, but yeah, it’s to do with the sort of separation of the services. So I have yet to get my foot properly in that door. But I will.
Jo: Wow. Yeah, that’s really different. That’s really interesting because I know in a lot of other countries speech pathologists and that quite often go into schools. So yeah, that is quite different.
Marie: Yeah. And we, for the most part don’t. And like I said, it’s really to do with who’s covering care so that there’s many amazing things about that, which we are not here to talk about, but it means that people really go and seek treatment because, you know, they know they’re going to be reimbursed for it. So it’s really, really important in terms of that kind of thing. But it makes us very separate from the educational system itself because that’s a totally different system.
Jo: Yeah. Wow. Well, I’m wishing you all the best of luck, for when you do go into schools. Yeah. And so you’re looking at also doing some talks at schools if possible, that kind of thing?
Marie: Yeah. So, I’ve actually been asked as well because I do have a rather international connection I’ve been asked to give a talk in an international school in Lithuania cause I have some connections there, so that’s an English speaking school with obviously a lot of children who are not Lithuanians, that they do that. A lot of schools have authors days and things like that. So, I’m hoping that that will be something that I can do. And now that the world is so small, we can use zoom for that. And so that’s gonna be really exciting.
And I hope to do some things in person as well. I mean, usually, uh, for young children, these kind of things are really, really, exciting. It’s sort of about word of mouth, because like I said, you know, the children don’t buy the books. So it’s really about getting the foot in, seeing what the schools take the copies, and then seeing what else you can do to bring the story alive, to show the children that they’re represented. And like I said, there’s the French language or the English language and schools here. There are some schools that are bilingual schools that exist everywhere. So, you know, to do it in both language to show that it can be done in both languages as well, it’s always really interesting. So yeah, I have some connections in Singapore, I hope maybe to do that as well. So that’s the very basic plan. And so, like I said, I, I hope to hit the ground running in September.
Jo: Yeah. And hopefully too, having your book published in two different languages also means that it’s going to appeal to a greater market as well.
Marie: That’s true. And that’s a really interesting point because somebody asked me, oh, is it a bilingual book? And I was like, oh no, hang on. It’s not a bilingual book. It’s the same book in two separate languages. And everyone was like, well, why didn’t you just do it two languages? And I was like, well, when you do that, what you do is take it where your market is only people who speak both of those languages.
Mm. And for language learning, that’s really exciting, but there’s a very, very tiny, tiny market for that. So while it was a lot more effort to have all the different versions and all the different copies and everything like that, yeah, that was a really interesting like decision, you know, and I certainly did have to think about that in terms of bilingualism. But yeah, obviously, I mean, the idea was since I do have access to these two groups and I do speak the language, so I could at least control what was printed. It was important to me to do it that way. And then of course, yeah, other people have access to it.
Jo: Yeah. So would you consider then doing it in a different language, a language you maybe weren’t so familiar with just to extend that reach even further?
Marie: I think I personally wouldn’t because the amount of time it would take me to do that would be monumental. But, you know, that friend I was talking about, she has just done hers into a third language and this is something where she doesn’t speak. So I mean, it’s absolutely doable. Yeah. Um, but I think for me it would not be the right choice. It would split me in more parts than I currently can manage. Yeah. So I wouldn’t do that. But since it’s also part of my identity, like I said, I live in a bilingual family, we operate bilingually, it was really wonderful for me to be able to do that. But I think more than that, I think if you have access to a publishing house who will do that for you and you have the editors who can check it because I would be super uncomfortable if I didn’t understand it. What is it? I think for me it would not be the right step. But that said if I was traditionally published, then I would jump at that.
Jo: Yeah. Fair enough. So do you have any advice for somebody who is maybe starting out wanting to write a children’s book and wanting to go the indie publishing route? What would be your advice to them?
Marie: I think the main advice would be to just do your research? Like I said, I learned a lot. I would talk to people who have done it in your country or in your place. Find out what it will be like beforehand, because I gained a lot in terms of knowledge and troubleshooting from speaking to my friend, because she had had a couple of screw ups, and it took her longer than it took me. Because she didn’t have someone telling her, Hey, that’s a really bad idea. That was invaluable to me. So I would say find somebody who has done it and talk to them and really talk to them. Like we are in Paris, so, you know, you take people out for wine. So I took her out for wine twice, to like grill her about this process, and like, I think that’s the best thing I did in terms of the process. But if you have a story, tell it. If you have a story, tell it. And put whatever your budget is, don’t aim for the lowest, you have you know, a fork budget, don’t put the lowest into the pictures. If you have a top budget, that should be where they go. Because like I said, I’ve had a lot of feedback. And if you look on all the writing groups and you look at the kid lit groups it shows. So no matter how good, I’m a big believer, no matter how good the story is, if it doesn’t look nice the children won’t, I mean, they might like the story, but it will find it hard to get off the shelf or off the internet site. Look, do your research, talk to people and really, do due diligence when it comes to the illustrations. It will save you in the long run.
Jo: That’s such great advice. Thank you so much for sharing that. So now I know after listening to this, people are gonna want to connect to you and if they’ve got kids or have kids in their family, I’m sure they’re gonna want to check out Georgia’s Far-away Family as well. So how can they connect with you and find your book?
Marie: I have an author page on Facebook, so you can just look up Marie Robert Author. So you could find me, you can look up for Georgia’s Far-away Family. The book itself is available on Amazon, in both languages, in paperback. I will say that the hardbacks are really, really, really nice, but they’re only available from me because Amazon doesn’t print hardback children’s books. It doesn’t print hardback children’s books yet, but children’s books in hardback actually sell better. So there you go. That’s another piece of advice for kid lit people, because they’re hardy, and they stand up to small fingers that are not very delicate, and the printing also for those kind of things, tends to be of a much higher quality. Now they’re more expensive, but that’s, that’s the more advice to think about.
So the hardback copies are with me, and I have an email address, which perhaps you can link somewhere. But the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So people wishing to know something about the book or me are very welcome to email me at that email address, and the book can be sent to them directly from me via that address if they want the hard back copy.
And if people go for the easier version it’s obviously available on Amazon, and if you do buy it, I would love to hear what you think about it. Another really important thing to remember for indie authors is always review the book. Yes. Really important that people go and leave a comment. Um, it’s super hard for people to remember to do, which I absolutely understand. So yeah, if you do go check it out, tell a parent friend, tell your kids teacher, and do feel free to contact me. I love, I love getting feedback, I’ve really enjoyed that part. It’s been really wonderful. So yeah, I would love to hear from anybody that’s interested.
Jo: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming onto the show to talk about your book and to talk about the process and everything you went through. So thank you so much.
Marie: Well, thank you so much for having me.
Jo: So here are some takeaways from today’s episode:
1. When publishing a book in different languages invest in a professional translator and ensure you have native speakers of the language as beta readers to ensure the language and tense suits the expectations of that genre.
2. Do your research around your country’s requirements when self publishing.
3. Research and be willing to invest in a quality illustrator. Illustrations are essential to the success of your children’s book.
4. Children’s books sell well with word of mouth. Encourage your readers to share your books with others.
5. Getting into local bookstores and schools is invaluable for marketing your children’s book. Visit and do talks at schools to make sure your books are more visible.
6. Ensure your book is available as both paperback and hard cover to maximize your sales.
So I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, and if you publish children’s books, I hope this has inspired you to consider publishing in different languages to widen your market.
If you have little ones at home, or know of others who do, make sure you check out Marie’s books on Amazon and you can find the links in the show notes.
Now Marie talked a lot about the importance of reviews and word of mouth and so it would mean the world to me, if you’re enjoying this podcast, that you leave a review and let a friend know about it. It not only makes my day, but also helps me to reach a larger audience.
And if you haven’t already make sure you sign up to my Alchemy for Authors newsletter at www.subscribepage.com/manifestationforauthors. In doing so you’ll be given a free PDF of tips and tricks to help you manifest your dream author life.
Alright, my lovelies. So I hope you have a wonderful week and until next time happy writing.