Your father founded Hugo et Cie—does it feel like you’ve been handed the greatest gift, or a very high mountain to climb? Maybe both?
Both… The greatest gift because I am working on what I like with people I love. But mountain because he was so charismatic and so talented that I do not want to deceive people with whom I work, and him from the sky.
You’re the CEO at Hugo et Cie. Describe a typical week.
Always running: many meetings with publishers, authors; many decisions to take on projects we can do or not; management in order that everyone feels important.
What do you love most about your job?
I love to see how a project from birth at the beginning to how it will live and how it will end. The publishing world is a creative world with authors, designers, communicators, press officers, many different people who are all creative people.
What are the challenges that you could do without?
The stress, and the risk of deceiving people.
How important is the Romance division of Hugo?
It is very important. It represents 20% of the turnover and a very important visibility for Hugo as publisher in France—our brand image.
Stu Reardon is your first male romance author? Why do you think that’s important?
In a world where women are fighting to be equal with men, it was important to show that man can feel very heavy feelings, and involved in the same problems as woman.
Do you foresee more men writing romance? Why do you think that is?
I think so because I am sure that before, men were shameful and did not want to assume what they feel and write it. The people and the society is evolving and it is important.
What is the piece of work of which you’re most proud?
I think it is to make known young authors who had not written before, before writing on Fyctia [similar to Wattpad]. Today, some of them are real stars, selling thousands of books in the world and translated in many countries.
Why did you start the Festival of New Romance? Tell us a little about it.
To make the customer experience different. Reading is not only buying a book and that is all. It is also meeting and speaking with the authors. I have always thought it was important to make the experience 360°. And the New Romance Festival is the physical meeting between the authors and the readers.
What is the main challenge for such a largescale event, with authors and readers from different countries?
The main challenge is to make everyone happy. To make the meeting between everyone unique and fabulous. Making so many people form everywhere in the world meet at one date in one place is the most difficult.
How do you handle ‘diva’ authors?!
Ahaah! Good question. Every author is like a friend, a friend for me and I always want to make them comfortable in France. If they are, they will smile, make the meeting with readers great, and come back to France again.
Traditional publishers face many challenges—e-publishing, piracy, changing reading habits, more ways to access entertainment. What do you think are the greatest challenges for Hugo & Cie?
I think it is to find how to make people keep reading, publishing popular books and trying to win their loyalty.
How do you see publishing changing in the next 20 years? Where do you see the greatest opportunities?
Ahaha good question. If I have the answer I will be very more confident ☺
I think the book will have to adapt itself even more quickly to follow the new generations which are very fast.
What do you want to achieve next?
To take care about my wife who is pregnant and to be a good dad, which I think is the most difficult job in the world.
What was the first book you remember loving?
Were you a bookish child, or did that come later?
That came a little beat later ☺. I read a lot when I was young, I stopped as an
adolescent, and came back later.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received: about life / about publishing?
Never give up. No one will judge you if you fail, but they have the right to judge you if you give up.
What is your philosophy in life?
Describe yourself in three words.
Ahaha not easy. I prefer leave it to others…
How would your best friend describe you?
Loving, stubborn, funny.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
An eagle, to see all over the world.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Red. Because it make me think of sexy lipstick.
When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
My wife of course.
What would be your ideal day? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
With my wife and my friends on a boat in the sea. Why not around Corsica?
Mountains and snow, or beaches and sunshine?
Both of course.
What message would you like to give to the people who read Hugo’s books?
Keep doing. It never ended. ☺