I usually host guest posts from authors on my Books Are Cool website, but since this is a novel about expat life in France, then this website is definitely the best place for it! I’m delighted to welcome Steve Bichard who has just self-published his first book, Vantastic France.


Twenty years ago, which seems like yesterday, I started to write a novel about the 3 years I spent living in Portugal. I had always enjoyed reading novels about people starting a life in a new country, so I thought why not try it myself. After all, I had plenty tales to tell, from nearly getting gored by a bull in the street before a bullfight, to getting fined three melons for driving an overloaded lorry full of melons, taking them to the market across the Lisbon suspension bridge.

However that book is still on the back burner, but after spending time in France over the past four years, it re-kindled the fire as it were. I also wanted to try a different angle as opposed to the flowery versions of life in France so often portrayed, and thus Vantastic France was born.

Vantastic France the Novel

There are many ‘white van men’ that move to France, with no idea as to what they are letting themselves and their families into. Firstly French bureaucracy, secondly the friendly and not so friendly other ex-pats. One of the star characters that grew out of my fictional novel is Clarissa, who seems to be getting quite a fan base amongst my readers. She is a ‘love her or hate her’ type of character, a ‘Mrs Marmite’ some might say.

Clarissa has been in France for a number of years, so is of the old school style of thinking, in that France was a place to have a holiday or permanent home, for the slightly better off. To her this new breed of ex-pats has no intention of learning French, shout loudly in English to get what they want in a shop and expect to walk in to a job, or work on the ‘black’. Clarissa dabbles in antiques and naturally ‘pin money’ paid in cash is hardly worth declaring!

All my characters are totally fictional. However, upon reading the book you will probably recognise certain well-known traits of people that you might come across in France. In fact, one of my readers swears that Clarissa lives in her hamlet!

So enough about the book, or it might spoil it for those of you that might eventually get to read it. But please do not expect an epic novel; it is more a light entertaining holiday style of read, which will hopefully make you laugh and even shed a tear, as you follow the trials and tribulations of the Taylor family in France.

Publish your own e-book novel

 One thing in life that I really believe in is that what goes around comes around; this is why I am sharing my journey into the world of publishing on my blog www.stevebichard.com. I have learnt so much from other people’s blogs in a very short time, so it is only fair that I pass it on.

Now with the advent of the Amazon Kindle, it is so easy to publish an e-book, and the bonus is that it also costs you virtually nothing. There is also no rejection disappointment after having sent your synopsis to 20 or more publishing houses. You just upload your word file, create a cover or have one made. Then hey presto you have your very own published novel. If I can do it, trust me you can!

You can make 70% of the book price if you price it over $2.99 and 35% if it is under. If you sign up to Kindle Direct Publishing Select, then you can offer your e-book free for 5 days in 3 months. This is not as silly as it sounds. In my first month I sold one book a day, then I did a free promotion and after that ended I am now selling 7 to 10 books a day, because your ratings increase. There has been a hiccup with the sales stats so not all were showing. I am glad to say that now they have caught up. I have now had over 500 downloads in my first 5 weeks.

Paperback Versions

Another advantage of publishing with Amazon is that now you can also have a print on demand paperback version of your novel, through Create Space. Unfortunately the books are printed in the US, so your paperback will initially appear only on Amazon.com and is shipped from the States, making the postage costs quite expensive for UK readers. There are ways around this by ordering a large number of your paperbacks at trade prices and shipping them to Amazon UK for distribution. You will not make a fortune for each sale, but you will be making it far easier and less expensive for UK and European readers. Create Space is working on having the books also printed in the UK. This should happen later this year, so all is not lost. Again the cost is very low for publishing a paperback, I signed up for the better sales exposure deal, which cost about £100.

So for those budding authors out there, what are you waiting for? It has never been easier to get published!


Here’s where you’ll find Steve’s book on Amazon.co.uk; on Amazon.fr and Amazon.com.