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14 Jul

A photographer, social media blogger and trainer, meet Cendrine Marrouat…

 

JR: Tell us about yourself, and how would you describe yourself?

CM: My name is Cendrine Marrouat and I hail from Winnipeg, Canada. But I was born and raised in Toulouse, southern France.

I am a former English major with a bachelor’s degree in English-to-French translation. I have been a French instructor to adults since arriving in Canada, 14 years ago. I also work as a nature photographer, and social media blogger and trainer. For a few years, I also was a journalist and art critic; I interviewed hundreds of indie artists from all over the world.

 

JR: When did you first realise you want to be a writer? Who spotted that talent and what was the first thing you do knowing that?

CM: I have always written. Like many other kids, I penned (very bad and sappy) poems. And I had a diary until my mid-20s. I have a pen in my hands in quite a few childhood photos.

Nobody really spotted my talent. I just started writing poetry like a mad woman in 2005. I showed some of them to friends and they encouraged me to make a book. Et voilà!

 

JR: Do you have any formal education in creative writing? Do you think formal education in writing is necessary?

CM: I guess I do. For six years, I wrote literary essays and studied poetry and linguistics (among other things).

With that said, while literary education is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all of good writing. To be a memorable writer, you need to: know the rules of your language; allow your inner child to shine; understand what makes you unique; and never stop practicing.

Many prominent authors and thinkers in history did not have formal training.

 

JR: What is the greatest lesson you have learned and/or greatest achievement you have reached as a writer?

CM: One of the first and best lessons that I learnt in my career is that it’s always better to let actions speak louder than words. It is the reason why I celebrate every little victory.

My greatest achievement? In 2014, I showed the draft of my new ebook project to several trusted peers. Among them was a prominent social media professional, who bashed my work. For example, to him, my explanation of the reasons behind Fifty Shades of Grey’s bigger success in North America than in France was proof that I didn’t want men to read the book. And there were also my “boring personal stories”. Something was wrong on almost every page.

It took me a day to get over the comments. But it was a necessary wake-up call. I’m very grateful for everything that person said. I stepped away from the project for a while, which helped me see things very differently. When I started working on the book again, everything became suddenly clear: The format needed to change. Instead of writing something new, I built on what I already had. I got rid of some chapters and reshuffled and edited what was left. I also added more examples and takeaways. My efforts paid. Readers loved the result! A year after its publication, The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences (https://www.amazon.com/Little-eBook-Social-Media-Audiences-ebook/dp/B00KAQZJ28) landed its 10th five-star review on Amazon. It was also featured in a few blogs and won an award.

Not bad, eh? 😉

 

JR: Do you have habits in writing? Any specific time and/or place to write?

CM: I am one of the slowest writers in the world. It takes me an awful length of time to come up with a blog post, for example. And it has nothing to do with the fact that English is not my mother tongue. I have the same problem when I write in French.

So, I’m used to going with the flow. I work in spurts, when inspiration strikes me. I always have a piece of paper and a pen with me, just in case.

 

JR: Do you have professional editors to furnish your books? If you do, any recommendation you would like to share to fellow authors?

CM: I have two friends whose command of English is excellent. So I use them as editors. It’s too easy to miss typos and errors. And their suggestions have helped make my work more impactful.

If you cannot afford to use the services of a professional editor or proofreader, find a couple of friends who have mastered the rules of the English language, and have them look over your writing. Your reputation is at stake.

 

JR: Do you ever face Writer’s Block? If you do, how did you overcome the situation?

CM: All the time. Almost every day, actually. But for me, it’s an opportunity to grow and know myself better. I usually turn off my computer and go do something nice and relaxing. It helps.

 

JR: How do you involve in promoting your books? Any marketing technique you can share?

CM: Everyone can write a book; it’s easy. But marketing it is a very different story. I do everything myself and it’s a LOT of work. But as a social media coach, I apply the advice I give to my clients to my own situation. It’s all about strategy. Calling yourself an author is not enough. You may have the most inspirational book in the world, but there is absolutely no guarantee that you will sell copies of it. You have to earn people’s trust. You have to entice them. Marketing a book is a non-stop endeavour. But with social media, the opportunity to be seen is greater than ever. It was not the same when I started more than a decade ago.

Have a strategy in place with small, specific goals. And remember that the label “best-selling author” doesn’t mean much in this day and age. Don’t boast, treat your potential readers with respect, build relationships, and let your work speak for itself.

Authors, I recommend two things to build momentum for your books: advance reviews and book trailers.

 

JR: Give your thoughts about traditional publishing Vs. self-publishing?

CM: Many people believe that self-publishing is better than traditional publishing. It is, when you have done your due diligence and know what you are doing. But not when you cut corners.

As a former art critic, I have seen too many bad books from indie authors. The problem never was the stories. The number of typos and grammatical errors was just off-putting. One year, I made a list of the number of books I had refused to review for that reason. There were 50!

I chose self-publishing because I love working on my own. My attention to detail, my passion for research, and my partnering with select professionals have allowed me to create books of which I am proud. While I will never be able to please everyone, the comments from my ideal audience are a constant reminder that I’m on the right path.

Traditional publishers may have the proper connections, but when it comes to marketing a book, the amount of work that befalls an author is more or less the same as with self-publishing. You have to be able to be hustle like Gary Vaynerchuk to get the right kind of attention and be taken seriously.

To many traditional publishers, talent is second to marketability. As businesses, they are after the books that they feel will bring them the most return for their investment. That’s why rejection from them doesn’t mean your work is unworthy of attention.

Self-publishing is not for everyone; the same goes for traditional publishing. You just have to know what you want.

 

JR: How many books have you written (published and non-published)?

CM: I am the author of five collections of poetry, two social media ebooks, and three photography books. I also released a spoken word CD and wrote two plays, one of which I would love to direct one day.

 

Life's Little ThingsJR: Of all the books that you have written down, which book that you think the best one? And what do you think readers will find most appealing about this book? What’s the “real story” behind this book?

CM: If you had asked me this question seven years ago, I would have answered Five Years and Counting. A Journey into the Mind of Soul Poetry (https://www.amazon.com/Five-Years-Counting-Journey-Poetry-ebook/dp/B0054E7FZ0). I regrouped five years of my poetry and arranged my pieces according to life’s most important stages: birth, teenage years, adulthood, and elevation.

Right now, I feel that my best book is my latest one, titled Life’s Little Things: The Quotes. The idea behind it was to come up with inspirational quotes that go with specific images that my blog’s readers selected.

My personal experiences have always influenced my writing. And this year was particularly challenging. So, whatever you will find in the book is a reflection of that. I had to delve deep within me to share words of wisdom that I followed myself. And that’s why I think people will find this book appealing.

 

JR: What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?

CM: Good writing is not about reinventing the wheel. Actually, I believe that all the ideas in the world have already been used. It is the personal twist you put on things that makes a difference.

If you want your work to be as impactful as possible, always have a specific audience or person in mind. Imagine you are addressing a friend, for example. It has always worked for me and the people I have advised.

 

JR: How can readers discover more about you and your works?

CM: Feel free to choose any links in the list below.

Links:

Photography website: http://creativeramblings.com

Social media website: http://socialmediaslant.com

Books (poetry, social media, photography): http://creativeramblings.com/cendrines-books/

My latest book: LIfe’s Little Things: The Quotes: http://creativeramblings.com/book-3 or http://www.blurb.ca/b/8016212-life-s-little-things

Twitter: @cendrinemedia

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cendrinemedia/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/cendrinemarrouat

 

 Cendrine Marrouat