Interview with Doreen Pendgracs, International Award Winning Author, By Ellen Schoeman
“To all chocolate lovers, this is a travel book that you will not want to overlook.” Writes Lit Amri, Readers’ Favorite.
Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate by award winning author Doreen Pendgracs is the kind of book we can all agree on. Chocolate travel is awesome.
Chocolatour features our beloved (of course I’m referring to chocolate) in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The first in a trilogy, chocolate travelers impatiently wait for Volume II where the quest will continue. The Americas and the Caribbean will be featured, and Volume III will take the journey to Asia, Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.
Prepare for the most intense ‘chocogasms’ of your life with the amazing chocolate discoveries!
“On her quest for “the world’s best chocolate” Pendgracs went to France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. She discovered—and shares with us—the best places to find the exact chocolate we seek. She also points out places to stay and eat so you can get the best experience in each locale.” Writes Christine Peets, Flight NetWork.com
I was fortunate enough to speak with Doreen Pendgracs about her experience indie-publishing Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate. The travel writer and photographer also has these additional titles under her belt: Before You Say Yes … A Guide to the Pleasure & Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards, and is the co-author of The Manitoba Book of Everything, and the first volume of Frommer’s Newfoundland and Labrador.
Q Where in Canada are you from?
A I live in Matlock, MB. It’s an hour north of Winnipeg, where I was born and raised. I lived in the city until 1982 when we moved to the country.
With Before You Say Yes … A Guide to the Pleasure & Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards, published by Dundurn Press. The Manitoba Book of Everything, published by MacIntyrePurcell Publishing, and Newfoundland and Labrador produced by Frommers, Doreen Pendgracs has worked with both traditional and indie publishing. With my own novel indie published, I shared the same reason for choosing the indie path: our books were too costly for traditional publishers to produce.
“My chocolate travel book was extremely $$ to produce. It cost $15 to print each one in the first print run. I was able to reduce that to $10 each copy in the second print run. I refused to go with a publisher who would cut costs just to get the book out there. That has happened to me with previous projects and I went with the flow. But with this book, I wanted it to be full of colour photos (there are 61 in the 176-page book) and so we had to use coated paper, which is very expensive,” said Doreen. “I couldn’t get a publisher to accept the project as they knew how expensive it would be to produce. As well, they said I didn’t have a large enough ‘platform’ to support the required sales to recoup the publishing costs of the book.”
“A famous and often repeated piece of advice to writers is: The time to start working on your author platform is three years before your book is published.” Writes Joel Friedlander, the Book Designer. “That’s because a lot of writers have realized that it’s become their responsibility to market their books. Publishers are asking them to do it, authors are routinely submitting marketing plans along with their book proposals. I spoke to a book shepherd recently who told me they were hard at work on a 20-page marketing plan for an author-client.”
Question for readers to ponder:
How much of Marketing should be left up to the author when you’re making 5% to 15% royalties with a traditional publisher?
Q What is your take on indie-publishing? Do you have any concerns for its future?
A I am a hybrid author. My previous three titles were traditionally published, and I’m not saying I won’t go back to that model if I am presented with a fair and favourable offer. But in order to get the first volume of Chocolatour out in a timely manner, I chose to run a Crowdfunding Campaign to pay for the professional editor, designer, and print job and it all worked out quite well. Self-publishing (or more favourable, independently publishing) is empowering and enables the author to gather his/her own team of professionals to put together the best book possible. This model is definitely here to stay!
Q What has your experience with indie-publishing been like?
A It has unquestionably been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I conceived the idea for the book, had to travel extensively to research and photograph it, then write it, assemble the creative team to produce it, and am now in charge of the marketing! It’s a tremendous amount of work, but very worthwhile from an artistic perspective. And to win an International Book Award for the book has been an incredible affirmation of the work I have done. I am so very grateful for that.
Q What would you say is the biggest disadvantage of indie-publishing?
A Not having paid staff to do a lot of the work for you. The marketing team who works for the publisher who produced my previous book did a fairly decent job in promoting the book. I see that now, although I really didn’t get much of a financial gain from the book. I’m hoping that will be different with Chocolatour.
Q What would you say if the biggest disadvantage and advantage of being a Canadian author?
A You could take that one step further and ask what is the advantage/ disadvantage of being a Canadian author who lives in the boonies? That is a considerable disadvantage when it comes to planning book events. I’m fortunate that I’m a good speaker, so I’ve actually been making more from talking about my book and my research than I am from book sales.
Q Do you have any advice for fellow indie-publishers out there, or those thinking about indie-publishing?
A Be sure to align yourself with capable and professional creatives who will become part of your self-publishing team. If you try to do it on your own, it will show, and you will have an inferior product. You need a professional editor who has experience with your type of book. You need a professionally designed book cover. And someone who can do a professional layout and interior design of the book.
‘One thing industry experts all agree on: 2014 is an exciting time to be in self-publishing. Last fall, bibliographic information service provider Bowker revealed that self-published titles had grown by nearly 60% in 2012, and in 2013 it showed no signs of slowing. And while the industry continues to grow, 2014 may be the year of “maturing.”’ Writes Publishers Weekly (A Look Ahead to Self-Publishing in 2014)
Doreen’s advice is key. In order to be successful in indie-publishing, you must start with aligning yourself with a capable and professional team. With the right team, research, education, finances, and patience, authors everywhere can get their stories out, exceptionally, that might never have been brought to life otherwise.
Follow Doreen’s Awesome Chocolate Adventures on her Travel Blog:
And Find the Award Winning Travel Narrative, Chocolatour, at:
About the Author
Ellen Schoeman (pen name E. L. Schoeman) is the author of the award winning YA novel, Isabel. All in all I’m a YA writer. My second novel, Vienna, will be released in EBook November 2014. Apart from writing, I love to travel, eat chocolate, read too many books, and meet interesting people with interesting stories.