Diary of a little Vietnamese Girl in France – Story 1

I am sharing today a little piece of my heart. The text below is the first page of my children’s book. I am still putting the text and the illustrations together, it’s taking way longer than I thought. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever get it through. Making my own drawings and self-publishing my book are such big challenges. But it’s also my dream, so I will keep going until the day I feel the pages between my fingers and smell the cover of my book.



My name is Julie, I am 10 and I am French with an Asian face. I am French-namese (as in French and Vietnamese). My parents came to France a long time ago because something really bad happened in Vietnam and they had to run away from the country. They don’t talk much about it but I know it has something to do with war and stuff.

I have a big head, very dark hair and a funny fringe Mum loves to cut too short and uneven. I am very little and skinny. Everything in me is small. I am the smallest girl in my class. My feet never touch the ground when I sit.



Sometimes I spend hours looking at my face in the mirror. My eyes are smaller than my friends’ and I don’t really have eyelids. I do weird things like pinching my nose because I don’t want to have a flat nose.


I have a big brother, Christian, and a little sister, Ketty. I also have a cat, Lilo, who is black and white like Felix, a famous French cat who does TV commercials.

My favourite colours are navy blue and pink. I like grilled chestnuts, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and French fries. I like riding my bike, playing with my toys, my friends and rummaging in Mum’s wardrobe or anywhere where it’s messy. I don’t like onion and celery, I am scared of spiders, I am very scared of the dark and I get angry when people make fun of me because I look different.



Why I’ve decided to self-publish my book…and make my own illustrations

My publishing venture has been punctuated with ups and downs so far. More downs to be honest but somehow I expected it. That is what the reality of the publishing industry is about.

After a 7 month experience, the result is far from my initial hope. 3 publishing contracts from vanity publishers (aka scams), 3 rejection letters from trade publishers and I am still waiting for many other responses that might never come. I am checking my mailbox with less and less enthusiasm and the hope to receive any positive letters has seriously diminished.

It could be better, it could be worse. It is just what it is and that’s okay. Rejection is part of the publishing process. It does not mean I have to stop, it means I have to keep going and pushing, as long as I believe in what I do.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and my attention went to another publishing method which is called self-publishing. After thinking things over and weighing the pros and cons, I have decided to give it a go. It’s a long and difficult journey but I am not scared of the challenge. It’s exciting and most importantly, it will give me the freedom of creating the book of my dreams.

Gaining entire control of the creation of my book is, in the end, the most fulfilling part. Who knows better than me how I want my book to look like?

I’ve also made the decision to make my own illustrations. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t skilled enough to do it, but then I realised it was just a question of confidence and will (and lots of practice!). No one but me knows exactly what to draw and how to interpret my childhood memories. 

So I’ve started my drawings, picturing in my mind all the details that have made my memories so vivid and memorable. It’s hard and it’s taking me ages. I often have to start over again and do some research. But when it’s done and I contemplate the result with a big smile on my face, the feeling of happiness and accomplishment is worth the pain.

It’s a little piece of art that is taking shape. And it’s mine 🙂

More information about self-publishing: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/how-to-self-publish-a-print-book/


#Day 13: be aware! Vanity publishers = SCAM!

“A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. Additionally, vanity publishers have no selection criteria as opposed to other publishing models.

Because vanity presses are not usually selective (at least in the same way a commercial publisher would be), a publication by a vanity press is typically not seen as conferring the same recognition or prestige as a commercial publication.

The term “vanity press” is considered pejorative, implying that an author who uses such a service is publishing out of vanity and that his or her work would not be commercially successful.

This kind of publisher is also called ‘pay-to-play’ publisher (a company that will let the author pay for some or all of the costs associated with publishing the book, rather than taking on these financial risks itself as a traditional publishing house would).”

Damn. I wish I had googled that before!

The last few months I’ve been submitting my script to about 10 publishers, including 3 vanity publishers that I had no idea were of that kind. I’ve never heard that term before and If ONLY I’d known, I would have NEVER submitted my script to them.

The reason why I have such a bitter taste in my mouth is that these 3 vanity publishers have shown an interest in my book. A month ago, they asked for a full manuscript. I was on a cloud, brimming with optimism and joy, picturing my book on the shelves of major bookstores. The night I received an email confirming they wanted to publish my book, I could not sleep. I was dreaming big, my eyes fixed on the ceiling.

But my initial elation did not last long. The publishing contract of my dream turned out to be a contributed-based contract. Aka a SCAM. They wanted ME to pay THEM up front (thousands of $!) for publishing my book!

What an upside-down world we’re living in! The worst part is that they make it look logical and fair. They trick you playing on any new writer’s weakness: the desperation of getting our books published. They’ve dared to talk about “partnership” and “combining our effort” aka me, giving them an extortionate amount of money so they can sell a few copies of my book!

To sum them up, these publishers simply profit off desperation, from crushed hopes and dreams.

For a few minutes, I considered accepting the offer. That’s what we do when our dreams turn into desperation. But after doing some extensive research, I just accepted the fact that I got “legally scammed”. These publishers aren’t doing anything illegal. They claim their business model is a ‘halfway point’ between traditional publishing and self-publishing’.

The truth is, these vanity publishers are a threat to the traditional publishing industry. They are predators on the lookout for easy and vulnerable targets to take advantage of. They don’t believe in your work, I even doubt they fully read it. They just want to get money out of you, in the promise of vague sales! 

The publishing world is tough enough, we do not need disguised charlatans to make our journey harder. All writers should have respect for themselves and value the hard work they put into their craft.

No matter how strong we dream of publishing our book, never forget the ethics of doing it right. Accepting this kind of contract is more of a huge disservice for yourself and the writers’ community. There’s no glory or honour in paying a publisher to sell our books, and never should we pay a publisher to own our work. 

If we really want to invest in ourselves, the best thing is to self-publish. At least we’ll get to keep our royalties and we are in full control!

This Vanity Publishing experience obviously crushed me a little. What hurts me the most is that I truly believed my book appealed to a publisher. A publisher that genuinely wished to publish it because of its potential. I got offered 3 publishing contracts from Vanity publishers and none from legitimate publishers. It says it all.

Today I feel like I am paying for my novice’s mistake. I should have researched more the publishers to which I submitted my work to. I rushed my quest of the Graal and did not pay heed to the environment and its minefield. I was obsessed with the number of publishers I was submitting my work to and forgot about the quality and if they were legitimate.

But like I said before, the publishing world is a tough venture. I am actually grateful for experiencing its pitfalls because it’s the only way to get better and learn from my mistakes. It is part of the game, it is how I gain more experience, it is how I am able to share my journey and give my best advice:

  • Research extensively the publishers you’re submitting your work to.
  • Have a proper read of their submission guidelines and review their publishing process.
  • Make sure they’re legit, do not just check out their websites because they will look good! Go on forums, check the complaints.
  • Watch out, some bad publishers often return under new names! Vanity publishers share the same staff
  • Look up these helpful links:

Traditional publishers, subsidy publishers, vanity publishers, hybrid publishers, self-publishing–what’s the difference?:  http://www.sfwa. org/other-resources/for- authors/writer-beware/vanity/

Thumbs down Publishers Listhttp://www.sfwa.org/ other-resources/for-authors/ writer-beware/thumbs-down- publishers/

If you’ve been through the same experience, please share yours. For those who have questions, please do ask. Solidarity and sharing our journey is our only way to help each other in being aware of the publishing pitfalls!