Thursday, March 28, 2013

How I published my first book for expats

Véronique Martin-Place is a writer who specializes in expatriation. She is the author of Finding Your Feet In Chicago – The essential guide for expat families, published by Summertime Publishing (2012). It is available in Paperback and Kindle Edition on Amazon. Her website is Writer Forever. She is also on Twitter (writer_forever) and Facebook.

In this guest post, she explains what the writing process was like for her first book and how she collaborated with her publisher.

Finding the idea
An expat guide to Chicago
One year after settling in Chicago I was hired as a ghostwriter to write a guide about Chicago for expats. The guidelines were extremely specific and they didn’t allow much space for creativity. At the same time, I was experiencing culture shock—and I was not the only one. Several families had moved abroad at the same time as we had and we were all searching for information and advice. Simultaneously, I had also started my own blog, Expat Forever, where I shared my experiences about expat life as a mom and active spouse. I received a lot of questions from future expat parents about Chicago, where to settle, which school to choose, culture shock, among other things. I knew that the guide I was writing as a ghostwriter didn’t answer these very specific questions either. I searched for a local guidebook for expat families and I found out there was none. So I decided to fill this gap by writing Finding Your Feet In Chicago – The essential guide for expat families.

Approaching my publisher
Summertime Publishing was the first publisher I contacted. I knew that this publisher specialized in “books by and for people who live or have lived overseas”. Moreover I had ‘met’ Jo Parfitt, the founder of this publishing company, through her online course Definite Articles. I had also read several of her books, including A Career in Your Suitcase. So in December 2010, I sent her a book proposal. Jo answered me in a timely manner. We then exchanged a lot of e-mails. Jo’s main question was: is there a market for your book? I did my homework and she was convinced by my answers. I received a publishing contract in April 2011.

Writing and editing the book
After agreeing on a detailed table of contents, I started to write the book. It took me longer than expected but she was rather flexible on the deadline. Writing in English was a challenge for me, since this is not my mother tongue. So I hired a professional proofreader and editor to check my work. One year after signing my contract, I sent my first draft to Jo. And then the process of editing the whole book again and again began. At the same time, I worked on the book cover with a designer recommended by my publisher. It took four additional months to finally hold the book in my hands.

Would I do it again?
I think so and for two main reasons:
-       Jo Parfitt is a well-known expat writer and now publisher. She is well connected to a large expat network. So as one of her authors, you benefit from her database of contacts (fellow authors, print and web magazines) and the Expatbookshop website. It is very helpful when the time comes to promote your book, even if this remains the author’s job. And believe me, promoting a book is more difficult and demanding than writing it. You benefit from professional editors and designers she has been working with for a long time. So you don’t waste time looking for the right person to work with on specific issues such as editing, book cover, and internal book design.

Despite my rewarding experience with Summertime Publishing, next time I might give self-publishing a shot. Especially since a new writing and publishing adventure is in the works.


  1. Congratulations on the publication of your book! I know Chicago and it would be fun for an American reader to read it and see Chicago from your point of view. Well done on your stick-to-it-ivness.

    1. Hello Karen and thank you for your comment. If your interested, I can send you a copy of my book and you will tell me what you think. Best,
      PS : you can contact me via my blog or my website

  2. That's great work Veronique! I'm working on an article series on the opinions and experiences of graduate expats. And as an expat myself, I would love to read your book.

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