I am honored to have Debra Borchert as a guest writer this month! She and I have worked together on the third book in her series, which is still in revision. Her books are sweeping sagas of the French Revolution. Debra’s love and knowledge of French culture and history are evident all the way through. She made the choice to self-publish and it is going well. Authors interested in self publishing may enjoy her insights about how to make it work. Like anything in publishing, it is not easy, but it is possible.
The first book in the series, Her Own Legacy is out, and you can find it at links later on in this post, and at Readerly’s Bookshop.org page in the footer. 🙂
When do you think you will be teeing up the next books in the series?
I plan to launch Her Own Revolution, Book 2 of the Château de Verzat series, on Bastille Day, July 14, 2023. I hope to launch Her Own Honor, Book 3, on December 2, 2023 which was the date in 1802 when Napoleon crowned himself emperor.
As soups play a big part in the series and I include recipes in the books, I’m also planning to launch the Château de Verzat cookbook in January, 2024, national soup month.
Would you tell us a little about your publication journey? What decisions did you make about the route you chose and why did you choose that path?
I worked on Her Own Legacy for ten years during which time I traveled four times to France to conduct research for all three books. I received many rejections on the first book, but kept writing, workshopping, and editing. I began to query the second book, and despite agent requests, I received three rejections. At that point, I decided to let readers decide if they wanted to read my books and stop querying all together.
I received a few offers from small publishers to print Her Own Legacy, but because I have an advertising and acting background, I thought I might enjoy the self-publication journey and having control over all aspects, including quality, working with professionals I chose, and marketing. I established my own publishing company, Le Vin Press.
I am thrilled with the three women I worked with: Lynn Andreozzi created the cover, Colleen Sheehan designed the interior, and Elena Saygo created my website. I learned to trust these women and each one of them patiently explained things I could not have known without their valuable insights. I was honored to work with them. And I am thrilled with the results of their skills and talents.
I have been overwhelmed by the positive publication reviews and readers’ reviews.
What would you most like readers to know about your book?
Her Own Legacy explores the moral conundrum of doing the wrong thing for the right reason, a paradox we all face at some point in our lives.
What advice would you give to writers that you wish you had gotten earlier?
I wish I had not been so persistent in querying. At a writers’ conference, an agent advised not giving up until you had queried four-hundred agents. I laughed at that. I had queried ninety-four. I wish I had stopped at fifty. I am grateful those rejections didn’t stop me or undermine my confidence. Now I use my persistence in marketing my book, something all writers need to do even if they have agents and publishers. I’ve been reading a newsletter about France, written by British author Janine March, since before I began researching and writing. I inquired about a book review, which now appears on the site. Janine also asked me to write an article about researching in France for The Good Life France, her online publication with more than 280,000 Francophile subscribers. That article is available here: : https://thegoodlifefrance.com/researching-hidden-history-in-france/
What is some advice that writers should ignore?
If someone offers a critique that does not resound within you, do a reality check with other writers and teachers you trust. A beta reader once told me my grammar needed work but provided no specific examples. This puzzled me, and so I asked two editors I had worked with. They immediately disagreed with the beta reader’s critique. The editors worked with hundreds of authors, and so I trusted their opinions and ignored the beta reader’s advice.
Where can readers find out about you and your next project?
Readers can learn about the Château de Verzat series on my website: https://debraborchert.com/
I also face a problem for which I need some insights. Readers have been raving about how much they love the characters in Her Own Legacy. My second book, Her Own Revolution, is told from a different point of view. I wonder if readers will be disappointed about that, even though they will still learn about Joliette and Henri through Henri’s letters sent to the protagonist in the second book. So, I invite readers to let me know their thoughts on the Contact Debra form on the website.
More About Debra:
Debra’s debut novel, Her Own Legacy, is the first in a series that follows headstrong and independent women and the four-hundred loyal families who protect a Loire Valley château and vineyard, and its legacy of producing the finest wines in France during the French Revolution.
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The ChristianScience Monitor, and The Writer, among others. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and independently. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, she incorporates her knowledge of textiles and clothing design in writing historical French fiction. She brings her passions for France, wine, and cooking to all her work. The proud owner of ten crockpots, she is renowned for her annual Soup Parties at which she serves soups from different cultures. She includes recipes in her books, on her website and in her newsletters.