Name: Georges Ugeux
Book Title: The Flying Dragon
Genre: Mystery Novel
Publisher: Archway Publications
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
I always wanted to do it but I have such a high esteem for literature that I thought I probably wouldn’t be able to write a novel. The evening I began writing my novel, I had just finished my non-fiction book, International Finance Regulation. It was a huge undertaking and a great relief.
What inspired me to write a few pages of a novel? Let alone, a mystery novel? I think I must have had something I wanted to communicate…and doing it under the fiction umbrella seemed like a great way to do it. After three chapters and a dozen pages, I printed it and read it. It didn’t sound that bad at all…and definitely felt the need to continue.
Another element of inspiration: my eldest daughter. She had a real gift as a writer but passed away when she was 35. She would have been a great French author. Maybe I wanted to carry the torch?
Is this your first book?
I wrote my first book in London in 1981. Floating Rate Notes was written for Euromoney Publications with a reedition in 1985. After my first publication, I began writing essays and articles. After the financial crisis, I published my first essay in 2009 with Odile Jacob in French: The Betrayal of Finance. It was translated in Dutch and English.
In addition to my books, articles and essays, I am also a regular blogger in France (Le Monde.fr) and in the United States (Huffington Post). I am interviewed often as an “expert” in global finance because in addition to being knowledgeable, I have an independent view and can see the broader picture (and sometimes the manipulation of financiers and politicians).
When I began teaching at Columbia Law School, I published International Finance Regulation, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc in 2014. I am currently working on a new non-fiction book on Central Banking.
The Flying Dragon is my first novel.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
For fiction authors, it is a daunting task to publish one’s first novel. I attempted to find a literary agent but almost all declined without reading the few pages I sent. I think many agents are limiting themselves to established authors and have become risk-adverse.
Without a literary agent, it is unlikely that publishers will look at a manuscript. They too are in the blockbusters business and seem to have little interest in new authors.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
I decided to self-publish and keep the rights. I chose Archway Publishing because they are a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster which gave me confidence in the quality of their service. They did a fine job.
I currently have a contract with a Chinese publisher who will be translating it in Chinese (the plot is set in Hong Kong). Additionally, the French version will be finished by the end of December. I plan to approach publishers in January and am targeting Easter as a publication date in France.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
The publishing industry in the United States is undertaking a serious revision and its future is unclear. It is shrinking and acquisitions are seriously reducing the diversity of choices. We live in a world of diverse formats. I am using Audible (an Amazon company) for my audiobook version of The Flying Dragon.
Publishers have sliced their offerings. Often enough they subcontract between editorial, publishing and marketing, and they even slice marketing. It is close to impossible to one human contact for the entire journey. I had to learn how to manage the various contacts and departments.
Writing can be a very solitary exercise. I feel fortunate to have had friends around me who were excited by the prospect of the book.
As a small publisher, it is extremely difficult to distribute a book. It has become very clear that distribution is direct result of great publicity, online presence and social media. Getting one’s book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble is nearly impossible (unless you are already an established author).
I chose to manage social media myself and to hire a traditional media publicist, specializing in the mystery genre. Working with a real person is extremely important to me. The US publishing industry is completely product-driven - the author and book are treated like products. Fortunately, my credibility in the world of finance (the world in which the plot takes place) gave me a bit of an edge and I was taken seriously.
With the importance of e-books, the industry will need to transform its culture and its practices. If they do not begin to focus more on the authors, we will all choose to self-publish.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
I would recommend it. There are very cheap ways to get published and it is not likely that one’s first novel will be published by one of the major publishing companies.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
It took me six months to admit that I had no choice but to self-publish. It is not as gratifying, at least initially, but in my opinion, it is a waste of time to focus on literary agents and major publishing houses.
The internet and social media make it both easier and cheaper to do it yourself.
Be sure you to have plenty of help on the editorial side. Creating a well written, succinct, and polished novel is not easy. If writing is truly a passion, just do it. Work hard and utilize all of your existing relationships and networks. If your manuscript is ready to go, launch it!