An Interview with Victorine Lieske, NYT Bestselling Self-Published Author

Victorine E. Lieske, Aleweb's Featured Author for August 2014This month’s Featured Author interview is with Victorine E. Lieske. I met Victorine at The Business of Writing International Summit in Louisville, KY, earlier this month. She was there as another speaker and presenter, and I found her credentials to be captivating.

Victorine self-published her first book, Not What She Seems, in April of 2010. In March 2011, the book hit the New York Times bestselling ebook list, where it stayed on the list for six weeks. By May 2011, she had sold over 100,000 copies.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing that we’re in agreement about this. We want to know how she did it!

She has shared her secrets in How to Find Success Selling eBooks, but has agreed to answer my interview questions in addition. So here we go!

Tara: What motivated you to write a book?

Victorine: My motivations were really quite superficial. I thought it would be fun to tell people I wrote a novel. Of course, with superficial motivations, I never got around to writing that novel until I injured my back and was on bed rest for a week with nothing else to do. Then I decided to get on my laptop and write the book.

Tara: What publishing options did you consider?

Victorine: Not knowing a thing about the industry, I thought I could just go to a printer, get some books printed up, and sell them to bookstores. It wasn’t until after I had researched how to get books into bookstores that I realized I needed a literary agent and a publishing deal with a large publishing house. I typed up a query letter and sent it out to a few agents.

Tara: Why did you settle on the option you chose?

Victorine: I settled on indie publishing after getting a few rejection letters and finding out how much time and effort it would take to get an agent, only to have a slim chance of actually getting a publishing deal. I also liked the control I would have over my cover, price, description, and every aspect of it. Plus there were authors reporting fantastic sales with the option to price their eBooks low.

Tara: How easy was it to get your book done?

Victorine: As I was on bed rest with nothing else to do, I finished writing my novel in one week. Luckily, I found an online critique group and posted chapters up there. I soon found out I knew nothing about writing, and spent the next four years re-working the novel until it was much better.

Tara: How did you distribute the book after publication?

Victorine: I published it first as an eBook only. It was available through Amazon’s Kindle store, and B&N’s Nook store. After it started selling well, I got inquiries about the print book, so I decided to have some printed up through CreateSpace. However, my main focus has always been on selling eBooks.

Tara: How are you marketing and promoting your book?

Victorine: At first I did everything I could to market the book. I started a blog. I tweeted and joined forums and put out a book trailer. But when the book started selling 1,000 copies a day, I looked at everything I had done and realized I wasn’t getting readers from my blog or my book trailer. They were hearing about my book because Amazon was promoting it. And with Amazon behind it, I sold over 145,000 copies.

Tara: What’s working best for you to generate sales? Are there things you’d recommend avoiding?

Victorine: After I realized Amazon was promoting my book, I decided it was important to realize why they were promoting it. I wasn’t able to sell large quantities by myself. I needed to know what I had done to deserve Amazon’s push. My best guess is that Amazon knows the sell-through rate of each book. They know how many people click on the book, and what percentage of those people go on to purchase it. If your sell-through rate is high enough, they will start to recommend your book to others (like in their “Also bought” recommendations).

Tara: Which social network do you use the most and why?

Victorine: I use Facebook the most, because I find it comfortable. I do not mind fans friending me on Facebook. I don’t post overly-personal things there. But I don’t keep it to all business either. I try to post interesting things, sometimes light and funny things, and I figure I’m not just selling books, I’m making connections with people. I’m making friends.

Tara: If you had one piece of advice for someone thinking about writing a book, what would it be?

Victorine: If you’re writing fiction, join a fiction writing critique group. Get that book into the best shape it can be. Make it appealing to the reader. Put a professional cover on it. Know your genre. Then join a group like the Writer’s Cafe on and read about the marketing that is working for fiction authors right now. These things change all the time, so it’s important to know what is working today.


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