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SPS-377: The French eBook Revolution – with Caroline Lutz

Caroline Lutz, an Author who writes under an American pen name in the French market, shares insights into her sucesses. Why does the French Market have less e-books? What sort of genres captivate readers? And why would a French author choose an American sounding name intentionally?

Show Notes

  • Caroline’s beginnings in writing.
  • Caroline’s readership and ebook sales in France.
  • The French market and it’s preferences.
  • Caroline’s team and how she manages her work.
  • Caroline’s speedy writing process.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SPS LIVE: Get your tickets to the best self-publishing conference in Europe on 20-21 June, 2023.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POST: The Best Indie Author Events for 2023

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-377: The French eBook Revolution - with Caroline Lutz

Speaker 1: Want to sell more books? Make sure you are at the Self-Publishing Show Live this summer. Meet the biggest names in self-publishing at Europe's largest conference for independent authors. Enjoy two days packed with special guests, an exclusive networking event, and a digital ticket for watching the professionally filmed replay, including bonus sessions not included at the live show. Head over to self-publishing show.com/tickets and secure your spot. Now, the Self-Publishing Show Live is sponsored by Amazon K d p

Speaker 2: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show.

Caroline Lutz: We want to focus more on how to get the reader to enter our universe. We don't want it to go from the top to the bottom only. We want to allow our fans to share contents and to build our universe with us.

Speaker 2: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers. No one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join Indie bestseller Mark Dawson and first time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello and welcome. It is The Self-Publishing Show with me James Blatch,

Mark Dawson: And me Mark Dawson

James Blatch: Bonjour, ca va?

Mark Dawson: Me oui, et tu? Mon ami?

James Blatch: Is that Latin, isn't it? Is that let us talk French because today we are going into, well, Les is probably the best we can do between us. We are going to talk about the French market. Really interesting interview, not just about if you are French but if you are American or uk, Australia, South Africa, Africa, wherever the French market is, want to keep an eye on. We've got some interesting news in this interview coming up about it. That's coming up in a few minutes. We've got a couple of things to talk about before then Marcus to keep the Latin going. By the way, it's the, ides of March, but Where're the, ides of March. I think it's the ides of March. Was it yesterday? Maybe the, it was yesterday, the first 15th. You are full part today. Although the calendars changed a lot. A lot of mistakes were made between then and now. So who knows exactly when it was. But I, I, I was reading about the murder of Caesar this morning, so it was someone must have thought was the ides of March. Anyway

Mark Dawson: Aha.

James Blatch: some very interesting episode. The, the man who wrote about it had some fantastic renaissance art to illustrate the points he was making of the murder of, of Julius in the in the Qi. But I thought he should have illustrated them with carry on Cleo Clips. Absolutely. Yeah. Infamy, infamy

In for me, . Okay. we are going to talk briefly about the self-publishing show because we are announcing you probably will have seen them already, our speaker lineup for the show in June the 20th and 21st of this year. We have tickets available for the live show at Self-publishing formula.com/spslive. And we have tickets available for the digital show, which will be a bit like attending in person, but done digitally, it won't be live because we're recording the sessions professionally as live streams are always obviously a little bit lower quality and sometimes quite hard to listen to. We are doing professional video production in the theatre at the time, but we are then going to stream them out in a Facebook group with everybody watching at the same time, including the speakers in there to answer questions to make it a really value added experience.

That will happen on August the fourth and fifth. But they'll be parked somewhere for you to watch in your own time as well. If you can't make the live streaming, that doesn't matter. You can watch them in your own time. And in addition to that, we're going to have extra sessions, value added stuff on the digital ticket to take away. So it'll really be worth having, let me say, as I we said last week if you have a ticket to the live show, you do not need to buy a digital ticket. It comes as part of that live ticket. So if you can possibly get to the show, that's definitely the best deal. But if you just want a digital ticket, get a self-publishing formula.com/digital. Just one word for that. So we've got some good speakers lined up. Mark, I mean, you've mentioned Bella Andre already. She is a rockstar and one of the very early interviewees. It's been a long time since spoken to Bella, but it was I think like interview two or three of this podcast.

Mark Dawson: Podcast. Yes. Three, three, I think so. About five years ago, six years ago. I dont know. Yeah, so I'm not, we're not going to announce him anymore. I think what we might do is Young Tom came up with an idea. No, it was actually, it was, Stuart came up with an idea that we might actually have a a Zoom call where we, you and I can go through the attendees, which I think is quite a nice idea, given that we are now using Zoom, which is much better than our previous Yes. Web, web, enough software in that it actually works. We, we, I think that might be quite a nice thing to do, is to kind of just have a go live. We, I don't think we can probably got announced a date yet cause we're not quite ready to do that. But as we recording this a couple weeks before this one goes out, are we all, I think this, this show goes out a week on Friday. What's that? What date's set up the 24th? says we could gamble and, and do actually yeah, we, we probably better know. We, we'll, we'll we'll make a mistake.

James Blatch: Keep an eye on the Facebook group and we will announce it in there and, I'm probably on email as well to Sean on our mailing list. Which you definitely should be. Yes. Okay. Yeah, we'll do that. That'd be a fun thing to do.

Mark Dawson: But what, yes, what we can do is see very naturally from Bella who'll be talking about translations and selling fiction in foreign markets. So Germany, French, and Italian I think mainly for Bella, put a bit of Spanish as well. And we can segue very comfortably into the interview today with

James Blatch: Said segue twice.

Mark Dawson: Did I, sorry, say segue Segway.

James Blatch: Unless it's the French, I dont know, maybe it's the French, I dont know.

Mark Dawson: Well, that's

James Blatch: Segue does sound more French and segue It does. Yes. That is our interview today. It's with Caroline Lutz. She actually writes under Jupiter Fatton. If you go to amazon.fr you will see her urban fantasy books there. It's a really interesting and surprising interview about the French markets. Look, I'm going to let this interview play out there, mark and I do have some talking to do about this Very subject to stay around after the interview. Here is Caroline.

Speaker 2: This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Caroline Lutz, welcome to the Self-Publishing Show from France here in Europe. Very warm, welcome. Nice to have you with us.

Caroline Lutz: Thank you. I'm very happy to be there.

James Blatch: Whereabouts in France? Are you Paris or?

Caroline Lutz: I was living in Paris, but I moved out when I started writing actually. And I'm in the south of France now.

James Blatch: Oh, the south of France. Spring will, spring will get there earlier than it gets to here. Good. Well that's a lovely part of the world and one of the beauties of being a writer is it doesn't matter where you are, you don't have to pay those Paris, those Parisian rents anymore.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, that's exactly why I've moved out actually.

James Blatch: . There you go. Perfect. Okay, well look, we're go. We've got a lot to talk about.

Why don't you start by telling us a bit about your background, your writing history into where you are today?

Caroline Lutz: I actually quit my job in June, 2018. I wrote a book in July and I published in August and I had six months to make a living out of it. Otherwise I was like bankrupt

James Blatch: Wow. Six months you gave yourself six months.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah.

James Blatch: Okay. Pressure

Caroline Lutz: A lot

James Blatch: What book did you write?

Caroline Lutz: It was a neuvent fantasy novel. It's called rieven and I was lucky enough to make a living out of it, so I kept going

James Blatch: In six months. You made a profit?

Caroline Lutz: The first month.

James Blatch: In the first month. Wow. Okay.

So did you write in French or English

Caroline Lutz: In French, I only write in French.

James Blatch: You only write in French. And so you market to dot fr I guess. Is Amazon dot fr Yes. and and other parts of the world, I mean, quite a lot of the world actually does speak French. They're like English. There's quite a few pockets of French speaking. Are they markets, are they significant markets for you as well as France?

Caroline Lutz: No, mainly France. Amazon has opened a market for Beijing. Oh yeah. But KDP hasn't yet. So we're waiting for KDP to get there. And you have Canada, French, part of Canada, but it's like five of my sales. So it's not that much. They use Cobo there.

James Blatch: Oh yes. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. well I'm fascinated in how quickly you became profitable. You wrote and did you have a grasp of the marketing aspect? Normally when people start out, they're a little bit clueless about everything, but you obviously hit the ground running, running

Caroline Lutz: I published and then I started looking for every bit of information I could find and they did everything wrong the first time.

James Blatch: Okay. Oh, well that sounds, that sounds traditional path for indie authors. So, so

is one of the aspects that's helped you here is that the market is not a com the e-book market in particular, not as competitive in France, do you think for French language books?

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, we we're not as mature as the English market. We have a few Indian authors that really make a living out of it. And if a foreign writer was coming to our market, I think he will like, kill the game because we don't have all of the tools you have. But if you can manage your advertising with Amazon, you are killing it on the French market.

James Blatch: So is Amazon ads the main

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. Am Amazon ad It's is really the, the main tool you can use here.

James Blatch: Okay.

Caroline Lutz: Also very important are traditional publishers. They are very, very anti Amazon. So they're not in Kindle Select. And they don't want to sell on Amazon. The e-book price for traditional publisher here is very, very high. So as in the author, we are really competitive for readers.

James Blatch: That sounds, if you don't mind me saying, that sounds a very French thing to be very, you know, for the big industry I used to work in in other industries and France was always treated slightly differently because they wouldn't do things unless they were kind of French homeland stuff. So yeah, I, well, so you can take advantage of that. Good for you. And you, you made a profit early on with your first book, but you, you've pretty prolific Caroline, looking at the number of books you've got here. We should say you write under Jupiter Phaeton if people want to look you up, Pheaeton is P H A E T O N.

But in a very short period of time, you have written how many books?

Caroline Lutz: More than 60 I stopped counting

James Blatch: Wow. And these are full length novels?

Caroline Lutz: Yes.

James Blatch: So

Caroline Lutz: Where we're talking like 90,000 words.

James Blatch: So just talking about the writing now, where did this come from? Had you done much writing before?

Caroline Lutz: Outside writing, I was 12 years old and I just liked it, but everybody told me you can't make a living out of it. So I never truly tried to, to be a full-time writer. And I don't know why, but I read a book in 2018 and it just, it hit me. I, I had to try. So I quit my job and I kept writing, but this time was really the idea that I had to make a living out of it.

James Blatch: So you really determined and urban fantasy all of your books, or have you changed genre?

Caroline Lutz: No. Urban fantasy.

James Blatch: And that's a, is that a, a well trodden sort of mature market in France, urban fantasy, particularly successful in France? Or is it just something that you like and you want to write?

Caroline Lutz: It is just something I like.

James Blatch: Okay. And we know it's a huge genre. You know, Shane Silvers is a, a superstar in the US with urban fantasy. And it's just one of a number of authors who, who make a very good living from from that area.

Tell us a little bit about the book sense. Cause urban fantasy spans quite a lot of different forms. What what's the setting?

Caroline Lutz: Mainly I have a female character, main female character. Usually my values and you have werewolf, you have empires. It's, it's what in France it's called Bitllit, and it's, it's funny because the term was invented by a publishing house in France that introduced urban fantasy novel in the beginning of the years 2000. And they try to make it sound English for biting

James Blatch: Ah, okay.

Caroline Lutz: Literature that bites.

James Blatch: Oh, so

Caroline Lutz: It's called bit lits.

James Blatch: I like it. Okay.

Caroline Lutz: And, and so you, you have werewolves, you have empires, everything that bites Yeah. In my stories.

James Blatch: And they're set in France?

Caroline Lutz: No. Oh, in the United States.

James Blatch: Oh, okay. That's interesting. So French writer. French language. French market. But you've set them in the US

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, because there is a marketing study that says that French people don't trust French authors when coming to fantasy genre. So my name, my pain name, I chose it because it sounded American and my stories take place in America because I know that French readers trust more American authors and French author in that genre.

James Blatch: So th this is interesting cause it leads on to the, the big question I think is going to be in the minds of quite a lot of authors listening to this is, would this has worked for you as a native French citizen speaker writer? Would this work if I translated my books into French? But by the sounds of it, yes. If they think you're, they already think you're American.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. Many readers, many French readers write to me in English thinking that I'm American native.

James Blatch: Ah. So that's interesting. I mean, I know Mark does very well in Germany and he says it's a, it's a key market for him. I think he's experimented with France, but I haven't heard Huge success stories from indie authors translating into French. And of course translation is expensive. So it's not something you do halfheartedly. It's you have to know there's going to be a market there. But you would, you would think for American and British and English speaking authors that France is a market we should take seriously.

Caroline Lutz: It depends on your genre. Like military science fiction doesn't do well in France. It's more of an English draw than a, than a French one. But romance have seen many foreign authors translated into French. And of course, well, romance is like number one everywhere in every country, of course on Amazon.

James Blatch: And we know the French are so romantic, But you invented romance. So okay, so you've written your first book in 2018.

Did you so what point did you discover paid advertising as an Amazon ad advertising?

Caroline Lutz: It, it wasn't available when I started in 2018. It came later in France. We only have in, I think it's 2021.

James Blatch: Okay.

Caroline Lutz: Or maybe 2020 right before Covid hit.

James Blatch: Okay. So from that moment onwards, you've been you've been advertising in, in the Amazon ads sphere.

Have you run Facebook ads at all?

Caroline Lutz: Yes. Yes, we have. Not with very much success, but I know that in romance, many authors have a lot of success in print with Facebook ads in my genre, not so much

James Blatch: In your genre. Okay. and since then, Caroline, you have grown into a little publishing house. I mean, you are a massive publishing house in your own right? Just with your 60 books, but you publish other authors as well?

Caroline Lutz: No. Only when I write with other authors, so four books.

James Blatch: Okay. So what are the, what are those series and how's that come about?

Caroline Lutz: It's really more to have fun with co-authors than to make money or how to think about that. Is, is worth really more of a fun game for us.

James Blatch: And this is all urban fantasy as well.

Caroline Lutz: Some are Romance book, but this is not I don't, I don't think I should advise anyone to change their genre. When they want to make a living out of writing. It's very important to stick to one genre.

James Blatch: Okay. So your, your final, your income, your revenue is your books, your 60 books?

Caroline Lutz: Yes.

James Blatch: And is that multiple series or is it all the same protagonist, your 60 books?

Caroline Lutz: No, it's multiple theories. I

James Blatch: Was going to say, that's a lot of books for one person. One, one hero.

So how many series do you have?

Caroline Lutz: I don't even know. I think I'm about to like 15 . Okay. I'm not even sure right

James Blatch: Now. And do you overlap with your series, or do you just write one to completion and move on to the next one?

Caroline Lutz: I write one to completion and I move on to the next one.

James Blatch: And you have a close relationship with your fans. Tell us about that. How does that work? Do you have Facebook groups or, or how do you communicate?

Caroline Lutz: Through my newsletter and through Instagram mainly they can come to me anytime. I, I was answering emails, like all of the email I was answering until very recently, I answered each one of them and I had to stop because it was taking me more than 20 hours per week.

James Blatch: Wow. I did notice, actually, when I emailed you the link for the podcast. I've got a, I was, I was trying to translate it, but I've got something in French and I think said I don't read emails anymore.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah,

James Blatch: I was slightly worried, but obviously you did read that one.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, of course. I, I read every email actually. My email my automatic reply says that I don't answer them anymore. Yeah.

James Blatch: Okay. Okay. I didn't get that far with the translation. My French isn't that good. Okay. Well this is, I mean, this is a fascinating start. Can can you give us an idea, you don't have to give us your figures necessarily, but an idea of, of what sort of income you're getting from this.

Is this completely replaced your working revenue salary?

Caroline Lutz: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We make six figures a year. Only five figures per month. But one day maybe we'll get to the six figures a month. And I started doing this full-time in July, 2018. And since then I have three people working full-time with me and many more that are freelances. But I, I I give them the main income for the months. So sometimes it feels like is they really work with people full time.

James Blatch: Yeah. And what do you,

how does your team work? What, what do they, what are their roles?

Caroline Lutz: We have a graphic assistant so she does everything, like she handles email from fans because I, I don't do that anymore. She take cares of what you call error error rrc, but we call it service press. It's when you send out copies. To influencers on Instagram.

James Blatch: Yep.

Caroline Lutz: And she does a lot of illustrations for us because we have a lot of contents for our readers on the side of the book that they can access any time for free. You have someone who takes care of my Amazon ads, which was like the most reliving Time of my life.

James Blatch: Yes.

Caroline Lutz: So it takes care of Facebook ads, of Amazon ads, it takes care. So of everything on a website everything that's need technology. I'm really not great at it, so it takes care of it.

James Blatch: I do want to ask you a bit about your writing process in a minute, but just on the, on the sort of marketing and technical setup. So you have you have Amazon ads, you say, as your main expenditure for, for paid advertising. Well, we're 60 books and 15 odd series. Where are you focused? Do you still, do you still advertise those early series or you just focus on the later stuff?

Caroline Lutz: We focused on the later stuff. The issue we have is that we only have amazing Amazon ads. So you you have Facebook ads of course, but we don't have like the content deal. It's not available in France. We don't have good reads. Good reads.

James Blatch: Good read. Yeah. Yeah. Good reads.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, good reads. It's, it's not something very used in France, so we cannot aver advertise on it. There is no traffic on the platform. In France, we have something similar called Book Nerd, but they don't even have a real process to get author to advertise on it. Like they don't even have an automatic invoice or stuff like that. So it's really, really hard to find new ways to promote your book.

James Blatch: Yeah. So you, but it does seem to be working for you, having the limited ways. I guess maybe there's fewer of you in France who've actually mastered this aspect of indie publishing.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. Because the market is not much at all.

James Blatch: Is there, you say there's resistance from the traditional industry about indie publishing and there's a bit of that obviously in the states and, and the UK as well, but perhaps it's more pronounced in France.

Is there a resistance amongst authors as well, do you think, to, to self-published? Would they, are they still in that mindset where they're not real authors unless they've been traditionally published?

Caroline Lutz: I think some of them still have that mentality, but many more are seeing the great aspects of self publishing. You control what you are sending to the readers. You can, you can really invest yourself in your success more than any publishing house would. I mean, what we're going to do with my next series, no publishing house will ever do it. So that's really the great part.

James Blatch: Yeah. You did outline in an email to me what you're doing with your next series. It sounded slightly crazy to me. Just explain how you've you've decided to launch this series

Caroline Lutz: So we have a prequel Yeah, I think she say prequel that's free and that's available for every readers on my newsletter. And we also made it a nod your book, of course registered by a professional recorded, recorded by a professional. I have a website with some riddles for the readers and if they finish each one of them, they get an Amazon card. We have five, 500 Euros. I, I believe so that's great for our readers. And we also recorded a song to launch the book. And we have huge, huge boxes to send to influencer on Instagram that are worth, like more than a hundred euros and took more than 80 hours to make. We, we went really crazy on that one, I think.

James Blatch: Did you say you rewarded your advanced readers with a 500 Euro Amazon card?

Caroline Lutz: No, that's for our readers. So there is a riddle through the first book of the series.

James Blatch: Oh, for the riddle?

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. And they can access it on, on the website dedicated

James Blatch: It. Okay, so there'll be a single winner of that.

Caroline Lutz: Yes. But we have we have many cards that they can get. So not, maybe not one, one winner, maybe three, maybe five. And we have other contests, fan fun arts contests, so they can wrote find fiction and we launch a contests to see which one went the best. And they also get an Amazon card. And we do that also with illustration fun arts

James Blatch: That's quite in imaginative and quite expensive way of of launching the series.

Where are you in that process and when, when will you know if it's been successful?

Caroline Lutz: I think in April. In April we'll know.

James Blatch: Okay. You'll have to let us know.

Caroline Lutz: Oh, I'll be happy to. I hope it works well.

James Blatch: Yeah, if it does work well, I can't imagine what your next series is going to be. It's probably going to be on MTV or something.

Caroline Lutz: We thought about it.

James Blatch: Okay. Let's talk about your writing process, because clearly you are prolific and and successful in terms of, you know, your readers obviously enjoy your books and there's a trick to being able to do that from a standing start almost in 2018. So

where do you write? Are you a discovery writer as they call it? Or do you plot every book and series?

Caroline Lutz: I'm a health health. I would love to plot every single books, you know, like I know everything that I'm going to write before writing it, but I'm not that great at the plotting, so no, I'm more in the discovery side. I have usually the general plot and I start writing and before putting my fingers on my keyboard, I must know what I'm about to write. So I think that's the process that allows me to write. I think now 5,000 words per hour. so it's very easy for me to write books very fast because I'm really great at typing on my keyboard. And so yeah, my process is this one. I, I have the general plots and then before my writing session, I make sure I know exactly what I am going to write. So I plan my chapter right before writing it.

James Blatch: 5,000 words an hour.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah.

James Blatch: Do you type continuously for an hour then? Do you, do you write an hour chunks or longer?

Caroline Lutz: An hour. Only an hour after my brain is done.

James Blatch: And do you do that once a day or do you do several?

Caroline Lutz: Usually once to twice a day.

James Blatch: What what, what does the writing look like when you're writing at that speed? Because that's fast. I mean, is it, is it clean or do you take, do you have to go back over it and

Caroline Lutz: It's It's pretty clean. It's pretty clean. Of course, we have editing after and we have proofreading process, but usually I only read my book once after that. Because along the way I make notes to everything that need changes after I read the first draft. But I, I don't need to read it that much. But mainly I, I think you don't believe how fast I am with my 10 fingers on the keyboard. I could write down everything we say at the same time.

James Blatch: Wow. So you write as fast as people talk.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah.

James Blatch: Sounds like you even write a bit faster than that. I mean, I think, I think if I do 25 minute sprints mainly, and I think I, and a good sprint is 800 words for me. So that's what, 16, maybe knocking on 2000 words in an hour if I already put my mind to it. But you are doing more than twice that. I mean, not, I was expecting you to tell me that you dictate, but you are typing. I

Caroline Lutz: Tried it, but I, I never really pastored it, so it took me more time to di dictate than to write it down.

James Blatch: How many books do you end up with in a series? Normally?

Caroline Lutz: Among between five to 10. Depends. Some are three, some are mainly five. We focus on five right now because we think that's the number of books. Readers are okay to follow. And after five we see a huge drop on sales.

James Blatch: Oh, okay. That's interesting.

And keeping a track of your characters and your timelines, you have some help with that? Or is it something you do yourself?

Caroline Lutz: I did myself with a very simple OneNote. Do you know OneNote from the Office Suite? Mm. It's a Microsoft tool.

James Blatch: Yes. Yes. Yeah, Ms. Yep.

Caroline Lutz: I, I use that and I use word.

James Blatch: Yeah. And then occasionally a reader who emails you and point something out.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, yeah.

James Blatch: which happens to all, which happens to all of us, I should say straight away.

So what's next for you? You, you go off and you do these little excursions with other people for fun but you've got more urban fantasy in you. 5,000 words a day, I can imagine. How many books a year is that for you?

Caroline Lutz: Actually you, we've slowed down the process this year to focus more on quality. Not to say that my books were poor quality before, but we want to reach a new level this year. So I used to publish 12 to 14 books per year. And this year I think we're going to end up at four or six, which is a big challenge because we want to make the same result financially speaking as the previous year. So we really need to hit hard on the sale with

James Blatch: And is that why you've put so much thought into the launch of this next series?

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, yeah, definitely. We want to make the same amount of money with the series we launched last year, but with much, much less book.

James Blatch: Yeah. Which would make sense all around because it must be exhausting the amount of writing and book production you've done over the last couple of years.

Caroline Lutz: It wasn't really exhausting. I, I love working. I'm a work so I really enjoy it. But I, I do believe we can do better and we want to focus more on how to get the reader to enter our universe. So what we have created around it. And we don't want it to go from the top to the bottom only. We want to allow our fans to share contents and to build our universe with us.

James Blatch: How would they do that?

Caroline Lutz: With fan fiction? With fan arts, with giving them the choice to change some plots in the story to come choosing the name of the main character and stuff like that. But the idea is really to focus on how can they participate in the stories.

James Blatch: And is your vehicle for doing that? Cause you say you don't, you read all your emails, we don't necessarily respond to them.

Is that, is that the Facebook group? Is that where most of this happens?

Caroline Lutz: I still answer some email. I must confess. even though my, my a automattic message says no I don't know. I I just, it's there. it's nice. And I want to to answer them, so I still do that. But no mainly my assistant sends my emails and also we have a huge platform on Instagram,

James Blatch: Right

Caroline Lutz: Where I still to answer through social media. I keep answering messages. It's only on my email that I'm not focused anymore.

James Blatch: I'm just thinking of a place where your, it sounds like your readers would, would talk to each other as well and have a place to interact about you. And that's, that sounds like maybe Instagram is the place they do that.

Caroline Lutz: We, we hope to get them to go to a Discord, a private discord, whereas they can exchange more. But right now it's not built. So still have to wait on that one.

James Blatch: And who in France, who are your competitors? Do you have are there authors similar to you doing similar things? Are you are you a vanguard? Are you out there at the front

Caroline Lutz: It'll be pretentious to say I'm, I'm, I'm almost the only one at the front. There are others who are doing really, really great in France, but as as you know, France love to be different. So they don't talk about money in France. And it's really, it's not that great to advertise that you're doing well in France. So my belief is that many authors are doing really great, but they're not talking about it. So it looks like there is not that many people at the top, but I believe there are like 10 times more.

James Blatch: They've still got that revolutionary air. They're going to, they're going to come for you if you're doing too well.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, yeah. Some, some, some are.

James Blatch: Well it's, it's a remarkable what you've been doing. And and going back to that point, I think people will be interested in, in the market if they're writing. So you think probably not military sci-fi. I mean, I write Cold War thrillers, which I think German Germany's always been a sort of military plain spotting kind of country. And I think they might like it, but I'm not sure about France. Maybe for my military thrillers probably not, but romance, urban fantasy,

Caroline Lutz: Thrillers.

James Blatch: Thrillers, yeah.

Caroline Lutz: Tho those are the main draw you can see on the top a hundred. Because in the UK I believe you talk about the top thousand. Yeah. And to, to see how our market is much smaller. We talk about the top a hundred.

James Blatch: Yeah, I did notice actually your books are all in like 395 and the entire store. I mean, that's a book, that's a really old book I clicked on, so you're probably higher than that. So yes, that's obviously in the.com store. That would be a very, very, yeah, that big seller.

Caroline Lutz: We, we actually hit number one of the Kindle of the top hundred, like every time we launch in book

James Blatch: Now. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I can imagine that. And the audio books,

how, how big a part of the market is the for you.

Caroline Lutz: So another French issue here, we cannot use a cx.

James Blatch: Ah,

Caroline Lutz: So if we want to have an audio book right now the only choice is that we give a rights to Audible and they�re the one recording it for us.

James Blatch: Oh, you can't, can you record it yourself and upload it?

Caroline Lutz: No, no, no. It's not possible yet. So this year because I have a publishing house, we found another way and we register as a distributor for Audible. Right. But like I'm the only Indie author that has done this, so it's not popular.

James Blatch: No. Well that sounds like that's something you could end up doing for other authors then if you've you've got a little window into

Caroline Lutz: I hope I I can help them. But for foreign author, it's very, very interesting because you can use a cx and you can have your audiobook in France.

James Blatch: Right.

Caroline Lutz: Whereas we can't,

James Blatch: You can't set up a.code.uk account and do it that way.

Caroline Lutz: We need a team number.

James Blatch: Ah, yeah. And then you have to pay tax in the uk you don't want to do that. Okay. Well, it's it's remarkable what you've done. You have an, I mean, the heart of your operation is your writing and your your production skills to get get so many books out, very prolific. But you've found your own way in a market that's emerging, which is I think you probably are in the vanguard. Caroline, you might not you might not like that expression or feel a bit modest about it, but I think you are. And it's it's been brilliant.

Caroline Lutz: Thank you. Thank you very much.

James Blatch: So if people want to check you out again, just say it's it is Jupiter Phaeton, which is a fantastic name by the way. Pen name though. Caroline. Thank you. Lutz is your actual name.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah.

James Blatch: Good. Well, Caroline, thank you so much indeed for joining us. I think we're only going to be talking more about France in the future because it's, I think it's been a market two years, two or three years ago people wouldn't even consider. But now I think people are starting to think more seriously about it. And by the sounds of it, from what you are saying in this interview, there is, there's money on the table there basically for authors who want to spend the time and get it right. But getting the translation right, of course is is is, is a key thing.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. And well, translation rights are actually cheaper in France than in many other countries. So even if, you know, we are smaller markets, you might not have to to spend as many money as on another market

James Blatch: Really to get it translated.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah. And even on Amazon ads, you, you won't pay the same as on other markets because you are, you don't have that many people using it.

James Blatch: I better start writing my romance books then.

Caroline Lutz: Yeah.

James Blatch: My bike. my bit lit

Caroline Lutz: Yeah, exactly.

James Blatch: It would be a strange turn of event to my Cold War thrillers if there was a, a vampire. Well, there is a vampire in my book, but it's a DeHavilland jet aircraft. But there you go. That's the different story.

Caroline Lutz: That's it. Yeah. It's, it's still a smaller market, so, so sales won't be you, you cannot have as many sales as in the uk. Our main issue right now is that we have actually hit the top of our markets, like we are running out of our targets. And it's funny because in everything I've learned, in every podcast I've heard, everybody was like, well, this is something that can happen. But usually it doesn't happen. You, you cannot run out of your targets. But France, the market is so small you can

James Blatch: Yeah. But it's growing, presumably must be

Caroline Lutz: Yes, of course. Yeah. every day. Yeah. We we can we can feel it. Yeah. In the same,

James Blatch: And you are in a prime position, aren't you? As a, as that platform grows.

Caroline Lutz: Yes. I hope, I hope in the next five years the market expands and many, many readers go through e-books instead of paper books and I'll be happy to be there. Yeah,

James Blatch: I'm sure you will. Caroline, thank you very much indeed for coming onto the show.

Caroline Lutz: Thank you, James. I had a great time.

Speaker 2: This is the self-publishing show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: There you go. I suppose the biggest takeaway, so I've, I, I mentioned in the interview in past lives I've dealt with French business in other areas. So we did video production for a while and I worked for the pharmaceutical industry and I got to know them quite well. And they were similar to the car production industry, which I worked for as well, that they all said, dealing with France is like a different experience from dealing with any other country. So you have the eu, they have something that helps them, you know, like a marketing department for eu. And then they have a team just for France, because France have always been a strongly independently minded country. And you can hear in the way that Caroline talked about their sort of prejudices about who's writing what. And the reason Indies not really taking off for the such snobbery and stuff that she's dealing with.

But, so I expected her to say, you know, basically only a French author's going to do well in this environment. And she said the opposite. So she pretends, doesn't pretend in a sort of du like never say that word in a deceitful way. She just gives herself a name that looks and feels more American than French. And that does really well in the French market. So if you're an American author, a UK author thinking, you know, would, would I go to the effort of translating my books of France? The, the Noises being made by Caroline and the figures that she's producing suggest that this is definitely a viable option.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, Bella as well. So I'm just looking at on the French store at the moment, and Caroline's looks like her best selling title is 242 in the store at the moment, which is, is pretty good. Actually since so I, I spoke to the, I dont know if this was mentioned in the interview, probably wasn't, but Caroline is having it's been on a show in Paris this year, and she asked me, well, she asked her Amazon contact whether they could help and he a guy called Andrea asked me if I'd speak to her. So we had a call about a month ago. And you know, I told Caroline about the experience we've had in putting a show on like, even that we've done it a few times now. And then we got talking about how she's getting on.

And I told her that when I first looked at translating books, I did I tested the Beatrix series in German, French, and Spanish, the three kind of self-contained books I thought it was worth just doing a, a little experiment, see how that went. And the the German books immediately did very well. And so hence I then concentrated on going into German, but the French and the Spanish didn't do quite so well. So I kind of put that on the back burner for a couple of years and I haven't looked at it again. And, but just speaking to her and also some of the Amazonians I know has made me reassess that. And it maybe it is time now to look at getting back into that market again. So I have been for the last two or three weeks finding translators, which is not easy.

But I've found maybe a dozen translators that have worked on bigger traditionally published authors. People like James Patterson, Peter James Scott Mariani, and I've, I've found their translators and been in touch with them. And we're, there's a couple I've, I've picked out now and I'm looking to negotiate with them so we can potentially start working on the Milton series, so see how they go. So it's kind of, you know, it's a case of maybe Amazon ads are more effective now than they were. Maybe Facebook ads are more effective. So I think it's worth a go. So if you come back to me in six months time, I'll tell you that if I've been able to do as well as people like Caroline and, and Bella have done in, in the French market, and if that works, I'll look at Spain and Italy as well.

James Blatch: Yeah. And as you said before the interview, a great opportunity to explore this in more depth either at our live show or in the digital version of the live show afterwards when Bella Andre dives deep into this subject. So just remind you again, if you want to come to the self-publishing show, tickets should still be available. We think they're probably going to end up going before the show, but they're available at the moment, self-publishing formula.com/sps live, and it's the same URL but slash digital for the digital only ticket. You do get a digital ticket as part of your live attendance. I don't have to buy it twice. Yeah. Interesting. I mean, it's on my radar definitely. And I do, my hunch is from what I know about the German market and German people, that my Cold War thrill is actually a quite a good fit for Germany.

But it's expensive. And another sort of project I'd have to manage. But I'm thinking about it, I suppose I could do what you did. So take, take my first book, just invest in that as a sort of experiment. It, it doesn't have to make a profit for me to know whether this is going to work, investing in the others. And in terms of translator, I guess this is what I need to listen to Bella for translation. Where do you get your translators from? Do you have a, a an agency or do you just happen to know somebody work with

Mark Dawson: No, I do all, I have research all myself. So, so there are agencies out there. But my, my problem was I didn't, I don't speak any of the languages into which high books are being translated, so I can't judge whether it's a good translation or not. So there are ways around that you can get them read by someone native in that language, not a bad idea. But the way I did it was to go directly to translators who've worked for big publishers in those markets on big titles. So the reason I do it that way is because if they've been chosen by a traditional publisher in France to work on Dan Brown's books, that's good enough for me that they must therefore be a good translator. So you basically take advantage of the filtering that the, the publishers done? Yeah. And then just kind of swoop in, maybe offer more money than they, you know, or, you know, offer.

I, I, you know, I find that generally speaking, at least in my experience in Germany, yeah, they, I've had three translators working almost full-time on my books for a couple of years. Cause I've got 45 books to get three. So, you know, they've, and we, they, they've all been great and, you know, really, really good experience with, you know, we need an editor as well and a proofreader just as you would in the uk. So there is a bit of organisation to do, but once you've got a system in place, it works quite well. Yeah. you know, and the good news for you is that my, my I've kind of coming to the end of the German books now, so I might even be able to recommend a translator for you.

James Blatch: Ah, excellent. Yes. dare, dare I ask how much?

Mark Dawson: Well, well that depends really. You mean you're probably looking for a reusable besides novel, 90,000 words all in, it's probably about 10,000 euros.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: That's everything. So kind of the translation, the editing and the proofing, maybe a touch under, but isn't that kind of ballpark.

James Blatch: And what about copy for adverts?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, you, again, you'll, everything you need blurbs, copy email to your, your German lists if you're building one, that all has to be translated. So some of the time things like, I mean Google Translate is quite good now, probably very good or deep l have something like that. But I, I have earned with my translators whereby one of them kind of on a, you know, on a complimentary basis will trans translate stuff for me mm-hmm. in a couple of days because I think the way he sees it is it's a good idea to keep me happy because I've, I keep sending the books this way. Yeah. so that's, that's worked quite well. But yeah, any, anything, anything that you write in English, you will need to get it translated. So there is, there's a lot to bear in mind as as you give side.

James Blatch: Yeah. Okay. You mentioned briefly AI there version four of chat g p t dropped a couple of days ago and I was testing it this morning. So I've plotted my, my current work in progress, obviously I'm writing, wait,

Mark Dawson: Where are you testing chat? T p t version four. I was three because you can only get four if you signed up.

James Blatch: I've signed up.

Mark Dawson: Oh, okay. Excellent.

James Blatch: Cool. Yeah, so I signed up. I think it's something we probably should be exploring, so I wanted to get my teeth into it a little bit. And asked a few things. Asked it to create a publishing contract for Fuse books and gave it some pointers and that wasn't a shot that wasn't, well because people have been posting that it's done good legal work for them, but it wasn't, it wasn't close to to usable. But I asked it to plot my book, which I've already plotted and I'm working on and asked it twice. And it was exponentially better than when the old version three exponentially better. It divided up into three acts. It thought about the character. I don't mind publishing them actually somewhere or you can do the same, your book. And I gave it the start that I had for the story and one or two beats I wanted to be included. Like going into East Germany, wandering accidentally East Germany being captured. And that very, very impressive actually plots. I definitely, I mean not not not the finished article, but certainly as a writer you would be able to start with that. Yeah, no I thought, I think Ford does look like it has leaped forward a little bit from, have

Mark Dawson: You tried the images yet?

James Blatch: I have not, no. I've seen someone on Twitter going around. Yeah,

Mark Dawson: Because I think you can have loaded images basically ask to describe it for you, can't you?

James Blatch: Yeah, I'm photographing it. I even describe what people are laughing about in it apparently.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it's is impressive. Yeah. I'm, you know, would occasionally use it to prompt me on, on bits and bobs that I'm working on. But I'll How much is, how are you? $20 a month.

James Blatch: 20 a month? Yeah. Well, yes it is 20 a month. Yeah.

Mark Dawson: Okay.

James Blatch: You can sign up as a business. So why don't I sign us up as a business and then we can have access to it. I think I'll look into that. I cancelled my personal

Mark Dawson: One. Yeah, yeah. Go for it. Yeah.

James Blatch: Yeah, there was, funnily enough, it was a non, it was starter's non-profit. I did see Edel Musk tweeting yesterday saying, how does this work? Cause I gave a hundred million to these people, this nonprofit that has now got a cap on the market of 30 billion. So

Mark Dawson: That,

James Blatch: That's interesting. Why do we all do that anyway? But why would you not monetize something like that? But I think my feeling about ai, these engines are going to become very common and accessible. So there'll be lots of competing ones and I suppose it'll come down to which ones, you know, they've got a better coding, but I dont know, as, as much as I know about

Mark Dawson: It, then eventually they'll turn us all into batteries and

James Blatch: Yes, that's it. And there's what's the picture one have I talked about? Is it called Mid Journey or something like that? Mid,

Mark Dawson: Yeah, mid Journeys one.

James Blatch: Cause I think there's a, yeah, there's a new version of that and somebody who uses Mid Journey or explores it and tests it. He, he did some before and after there too, the previous version. And that, that's also stepped up a level. I mean, some of the pictures you get from that are unbelievably realistic and absolutely no way you can look at them and think that's not a photograph. Certainly when they're sort of like this big, maybe if they're blown up more you would, but

Mark Dawson: Yeah,

James Blatch: Yeah. The robot's coming Now we should say about Mid Journey, there's an interview coming up with Stuart Bass where we, we do talk about this and there's lots of caveats involved in this more it, it's, it's there with all versions of AI with where they've learnt their stuff from and copyright infringements the rest of it. So the advice from Stewart's personal thing from him at the moment, his mid journey is definitely something to hold back on at the moment until this stuff's resolved and there was a case going through, but there's an interview coming up Yeah. On that shortly. Okay. I think that's it, mark. Yeah. I think so. Good. Well thank you very much indeed, Caroline Jupiter Fatton, what a great name. And to the team who helped put this podcast together and thank you very much for listening. Don't forget you can support us at patreon.com/soft Publishing Show, soft Pub show I think it is. And and yeah, that's it. We'll see you next week. That remains for me today. This is a goodbye from him

Mark Dawson: And goodbye from me. Goodbye.

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