Author Life

What happens when you finish a manuscript

That’s it. I’ve written the two last words of my book — the end. I have worked a long time on a nonfiction: a 4-year expatriation book, called “The Londoners”. And as of a couple of days ago, I finished it.

I don’t know how I feel, now that I’ve completed the draft I’ve been working on for months. It’s very complicated to explain, as you might certainly know if you’ve written a book yourself. But to those of you who’d like to understand but are not writers, I’ll do my best.

Finishing a book is sad, scary and exciting

I won’t lie: I’m super sad right now.

I moved from London to Belgium in March 2019. And as I started writing the book, the adventure of our expatriation didn’t really end in March. I was telling our story with words, I remembered things, I got over-excited by the fact that we had grown so much in the process. It was great to feel that I could eventually inspire people.

Every time I sat down to write, it’s as if it didn’t really end. But with those two words, it did end. I know I’m not in London anymore. I know we came back for good reasons and that our life’s adventure has not ended yet. But it’s sad all the same.

As for the scary bit, well, I’m scared people won’t like my book baby. 

I was talking about “The Londoners” with a couple of people in December. None of them where in the book industry, but they gave me some “advice” who was feeding my self-doubts.

  • The first advice was that I shouldn’t hire a developmental editor because it’s not worth the money. If the book is terrible, no editor would be able to fix it.
  • The other advice was that I should write in French, as English isn’t my mother tongue. 
  • And lastly, they asked me a question that will undoubtedly haunt me until the book is out and read by many readers (like, a LOT of readers). This question is: who’ll buy it anyway?

It’s scary enough to put a book into the world. It’s scary enough to write in a language that isn’t your mother tongue. Of course, I’ll certainly have more granularity or more vocabulary in French than I have in English. But you know what? That’s fine.

But I work in marketing, and the question of the target audience is certainly the hardest question of all. I wrote The Londoners for me. To remember the four years I have spent doubting of myself, enjoying every moment and grow as a person. I wrote The Londoners for you. To inspire you if you’re going through the same doubts as I’ve been, on the verge of moving countries. 

So yeah, it’s scary to birth a book without knowing if that will work or not. But did J.K. Rowling know Harry Potter would succeed? Did Victoria Schwab know Vicious would launch her career? No! They wrote those books for themselves first and foremost. And I think the scariest thing that would happen to me is if my readers don’t like it. Not just a potential reader but you, who already follow me.

But I’m also very excited because, finally, after almost a year of drafting and redrafting, the book is there! And my beta readers will start their readings. Okay, that’s a little bit scary too, because I’ll know if The Londoners pleases them. 

Update: it did please them! The reaction I got from them was all positive and constructive. I’m over the moon 🙂

What are the next steps when you completed your manuscript?

There are still so many things to do! I need to decide if I’ll go the traditional or self-publishing way. I’ll probably start with the first option (go traditional), which means:

  • Make a list of literary agents who cover memoirs;
  • Write a covering letter;
  • Send it to the selected agents;
  • Wait.

We’ll see how it goes! Finger crossed that someone picks it up, and give me a chance.

In the meantime, I’ll update you as much as possible. To get most of these updates, don’t hesitate to join the newsletter 😉

Talk to you soon!