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Log 2007

Estefania... From early 2000, this heroine has been an integral part of my life. It has been nine years now that I have been sharing with her the most wonderful adventure ever. Why? I don't know. It's how it is, that's all. This story I thought I was the only one to understand stands apart, and has been the trigger of everything that happens now and will happen in the future. So, to self-publish this novel, like a big girl? I can tell you that I freaked out playing with the idea. Because you're then even more conscious that you can screw it up. No more dreams, just do it. And that's scary. Very scary. Here is the recounting of this incredible adventure.

November 2006

I'm home, chatting with my best friend, we're laughing about this and that. When suddenly she asks me when I plan to publish my novel (The Arena Legend), which she has read and about which I've been talking since 2003. I tell her, with a deeply concerned look, that I'd need an editor for that. That nothing’s possible without an editor and that nobody wants the book even if everybody likes it. Sigh from the misunderstood victim. OK, she tells me. So what about self-publishing? I laugh. Because it's the scariest and the most exciting idea I ever heard. I don't have the resources to do that, I flatly reply.

Yes... But now my best friend is gone, I ask myself:

I do not have the resources to self-publish.
But you can find them, don't you?
Nobody will help me.
How do you know?
So, let's do it? It's about time!

December 2006

I dig out "The Arena Legend". First, since I haven't touched the saga for more than one year: reread it, to be sure I'm still excited by the project... Yes! So the first step becomes correcting the novel, pruning it, shaping it.

End of the month: done.
And now?
What's about building a small team?

January 2007

Team, team, team. I realise that solo work ends here. I need to build a team. But for that, I need to be certain of what I want. So I decide I'll release my novel in June 2007. I want a paperback book, or something like that. And I want to work with people I'm comfortable with, and who understand the novel.

Thus, predictably, I turn to Pierre Efratas, my teacher in creative writing at the UEE I have stayed in contact with. And I ask him point-blank to be my adviser for the novel. And he says yes. YES!!!

Second person: Jürg.
Well, that's another story. Because I love so much what he does that I wouldn’t dare asking him to help me. But since he is the only professional illustrator I know, I ask him if he couldn't recommend a junior illustrator who might be interested in my book. And there, a godsend. He tells me that if I can wait until March, he'll do my front cover. Am I hallucinating or what? Jürg will design my cover!!! Génial!

And then, I ask my brother, who is studying marketing, if he could help promote my book. YES!!! Now work can begin. We are four, that would do, wouldn't it? Now, what were you saying? Like, that nobody would help?
Shut up!

February 2007

While everybody focus on their own business, I continue preparing the release of my book anytime I can. For I study film directing, and I have a few shoots planned. I call a printer to ask about the cost and the way forward. But it's a traditional printer, and for what I want to do they are kind enough to redirect me to a digital printer, cheaper and quicker. I call them and jot down the pieces of information I'm interested in. I want the release in June? The book must be at the printer in mid-May, for the first proofs.
Mid-May? But that's very soon, isn't it?
Don't stress me out, OK?

March 2007

You will remember I'm preparing the release of my book? Well, right now I'm on set. I am art assistant on a short. So I have packed my textbooks to concentrate on the movie, since I will not get news from the others for a while... Jürg just sent me some sketches for the front cover. I have to choose the one I prefer, then we'll meet for the final decision. I love them all. One in particular. But we can't use it, because it doesn't fit a children book. Jürg and I agree on the same one. I am back on the movie set, while he begins drafting the cover.

April 2007

The shoot is finished, thank God. It was demanding. I can now focus on the novel again. The deadline is close. The cover is progressing well. We go through different steps, from rough sketches to the final draft to the colour proofs. Jürg can enter my mind like nobody else and, with his own style, is faithful to the universe I have created. In fact I knew from the beginning that if by a miracle he came on board, he will be the perfect illustrator for my novel. And our work sessions prove me right. As for Pierre Efratas, he is still working on grammatical, lexical and syntactical corrections. From his point of view, the story-line is excellent, and the story itself endearing. However the writing has to be reworked. Improved. I've got to flesh out the bare bones.

In the meantime, I've got a first video to direct, for one of my brother's friend. That prevents me from stressing out, for May is close now. At the end of April, Pierre Efratas delivers his verdict: for the best novel possible, the whole book has to be rewritten in the present tense and will need a copy editor.

OK, you can panic now.

May 2007

This is the end, this is the end, this is the end. I am now editing the video for my brother's friend. In the same time, I rewrite the manuscript in the present tense as quickly as a week and a half. But Pierre Efratas being away, where to find a copy editor to have a look at the manuscript before sending it to the printer, for the first proof? One day when I shamble into my preferred video store, I chat with K., who works at the counter. He tells me that his girlfriend is studying roman literature at the university and that she wants to become a copy editor. He arranges the deal. Thank God!!!

Isa works like crazy and after one week the novel is copy-edited. I do a first formatting, and I send it to the printer for the first proof. In the meantime, I tour the bookshops with copies of the novel, and let some here and there, except when people directly tell me no, without having read the book. My brother is beginning to reflect on the marketing buzz around the book. That's another issue.

The first proof is totally wrong. I reformat it and send it back to the printer. Bingo!!! The choice for the paper is good, the layout is right.
Cheer up guys, we're in the home straight now! Hold on!

June 2007

At last the cover is ready. Jürg has done the whole book layout. We have decided on the format, and we'll print a copy to see how it goes. Six bookshops are with me, and wait for the novel on June 29. With Charles de Trazegnies (my teacher in publishing), we have fixed a price that is affordable but still allow me to cover the cost.

Yes, that's one of the last problems. How will I fund the books? I wait and wait and wait.
You know very well what you have to do.
But I don't want to.
What make you think you have the choice?
I know, but I hate it.

At the end I resign myself...  I sell all my DVDs, chosen with so much care along the years. I feel sick. And when I see them go away, I almost cry. In the meantime, my uncle (the kind uncle who was typing my manuscripts when I didn't have any computer) makes his comeback and introduces me to "Captain" Jacques Goffin, a top-notch designer. Together with my brother, they design the posters, the bookmarks and, on top of that, some business cards for me.
When I receive the last proof of the book, I'm not satisfied. I still have to change a few things, and the back cover still has mistakes. We have to hurry up. In one week and a half I'll have to begin distribute the book and... I still lack a legal adviser. Just in case, you never know. I need advice on fiscal matters. During a dinner at my aunt's, she introduces me to a fiscal lawyer who previously worked in France and now has a practice in Brussels. Génial.

29 June 2007

I'm in the car of Audrey, a writer friend of mine. She is the one coming with me this morning, to distribute my books. Everything was ready in time. We begun a group of four and then others rejoined us: Pierre Efratas (advisor for style); Jürg (illustrator); Sese Bossekota (marketing); Isabelle Stricklesse (copy editor); Jacques Goffin (designer); Charles de Trazegnies (advisor on publishing matters); Didier Dibathitia (fiscal lawyer); the team of Maes Printing (digital printer); the six bookshops which help me promoting the book... my best friend (who is at the origin of all of that)... and me.


Of the 50 copies printed for distribution, 44 has been sold until now, without any publicity, and that's really cool.
Today, with my dearest webmaster, we plunge into the interactive adventure of the novel by creating the saga's website.