Jo Parfitt talks to Véronique Martin-Place about her book, Finding Your Feet in Chicago
Véronique Martin-Place is an experienced expat spouse, who has already been relocated four times around the globe. She is a writer who specializes in topics such as expatriation, parenting abroad, expat women, and children’s books. I first met Véronique on-line when she signed up to take my Definite Articles on-line course. Later, she approached me with a pitch for her first book. Here, is her story.
JP: Tell me about your book. What is it about? Can you describe it in just a few sentences.
VM-P: Finding Your Feet In Chicago is a guidebook for expat families who wish to settle fast and well in the Windy City. This is NOT a guide for tourists but for families who intend to live several years in Chicago.
JP: Why did you write it?
VM-P: When moving to Chicago, my husband and I decided that our two daughters would attend an American school. We wanted them to be totally immersed. It was a unique opportunity for us and them. As a consequence, we experienced as a family an education and school culture shock. Everything was different and not always comprehensible even if I spoke the language!
After several cultural shock experiences at my daughters’ school, I noticed I was not the only one having troubles. Several families moved almost at the same time as us from different part of the world to Chicago. We all searched for the same information and advice. Therefore I started looking for a local guide for expat families and there was none. So I decided to write it!
JP: What qualifies you to write this book?
VM-P: I am an expat spouse and mother. Relocating to Chicago was our third move abroad after a move back home of three years in France. So I know what the up and downs of moving abroad are especially with kids. This book was written for expat families by an experienced expat mom of two Third Culture Kids. So I knew when I wrote it who my target audience was as well as their needs as parents but also as individual persons.
JP: Why do you think your book needed to be written? What will it do for other people? How will it help? Did you have any competition?
VM-P: There were no other book about Chicago for this very specific target, the expat families.
I strongly believe that it will help newly arrived families in Chicago because the book is also full of practical and cultural information. But most of all, what make the book strongest is the many testimonials of expat parents. Readers will understand that there are not alone to experience what they live and on the top of it, they will find useful tips for each topic.
JP: Who do you think will read your book? What made you think that there was a market for it? If your book has been out for a while, what proof do you have that you were right?
VM-P: On the one hand, I thought that mainly expat families settling in Chicago would be interested by my book. But the reviews I got on Amazon.com also show that readers living elsewhere in the US found it very useful and helpful.
I also think that American families moving from a very different part from the US to Chicago would also be interested by my book. Indeed, the US is such a big country that for instance an American family moving from LA or San Francisco to Chicago would experience a culture shock, too. And my book could definitely help them!
JP: It does not matter how good a book is, or how good your writing is if no one knows about it. What steps have you taken or do you plan to take to promote your book? Are you a speaker or trainer? Do you have a blog? A website? A newsletter? Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social media tools? What about press releases and sending out review copies and free articles? Have you had any other ideas? Which methods do you think work best and can you give me any examples?
VM-P: I have been promoting my book a lot on the social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Goodreads. I think Twitter is very powerful for authors like me. I have also created a Facebook page only for the book. Lately, I have been promoting Finding Your Feet In Chicagoon Goodreads where giveaways can be given easily to perfect strangers but passionate readers. It opens my readership to new people from very different locations and backgrounds. I also do regular giveaways on my blog.
Another very important thing is that I founded my website in 2009 and my blog in 2010. More than two years before the publishing of my book, I had started to build a readership online. People can also register to my website monthly newsletter, where I regularly talk about my book.
Last but not least, I do a lot of interviews like this one for websites specialized on expatriation. It is a good way to promote my book but also my blog and website.
JP: How did you publish your book? Did you find an agent, a publisher or did you publish it yourself? Please describe your process and tell us how you found the experience. Is there anything you would definitely do again or never do again?
VM-P: First I did some research about what was available on the market in terms of books and guides for families living in Chicago and also about the local expat community. I made a table of contents draft and I pitched a publishing company specialized within the field of relocation and expatriation. My idea was accepted and then I started to write!
JP: What was your biggest challenge regarding the writing of your book? How have you overcome that?
VM-P: My biggest challenge was to write in English since I am not an English native speaker. The beginning was difficult but after a while I just got the habit. The fact that I was also fully immersed in the local community helped a lot.
I also hired an editor who checked the full manuscript. And it was edited several times!!!
JP: Now you have written this book, what has writing it done for you, your family, your self-esteem or your business?
VM-P: Now that I have written this book, I feel much more confident in anything I am doing. I also know that I can write a book either in English or in French. This is very fulfilling and it opens new opportunity for me as a professional writer.
JP: If you were to give advice to someone else who is thinking about writing a book, what would be your number one tip?
VM-P: Writing a book does not stop when you put the final point. Promoting it is also part of your job as a writer. Therefore it is crucial to have a platform beforehand.
JP: And finally, how can people buy your book, in what formats, and what does it cost? Please include any links if you have them.
VM-P: Finding Your Feet In Chicago – The essential guide for expat families is available in paperback and Kindle Edition on the Amazon websites
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