To be successful, you need . . . to know how to act in a social network to attract people. Interacting with people and learning about them is one of the major keys to being successful. You’re not selling your book, you’re selling yourself. Be someone who people will want to get to know. – Author, Victorine E. Lieske
TWA: Where are you from? Tell us about yourself.
VEL: I live in Nebraska and am a mom of four. My husband and I manufacture rubber stamps, and we ship them out all over the world. I love to read, and I write the stories that I would love to read.
TWA: Tell us your latest news?
VEL: I made the NYT’s best selling e-books list, which was a total surprise to me. I had heard they were not going to count self-published authors. Since making that list I’ve been contacted by agents and editors asking about traditional publishing. I’m looking at all options, keeping in mind how much I could make selling my books on my own.
TWA: When and why did you begin writing?
VEL: I’ve always wanted to write a novel; even as a kid I remember starting novels. But I had never written anything substantial until I injured my back in 2007, and was on bed rest for a week. I had nothing to read, so I decided to write my own book. I wrote the first draft of Not What She Seems in that one week.
TWA: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
VEL: I considered myself a writer after finishing that first draft. That’s when I sought after some other writer’s opinions on whether what I wrote was good or not. It wasn’t very good. So I joined a critique group and learned a lot about writing.
TWA: What inspired you to write your first book?
VEL: I wrote it for selfish reasons. I wanted to read a book with suspense, a mystery, and some romance. I didn’t have a book like that in my house, so I wrote what I would have liked to read.
TWA: Do you have a specific writing style?
VEL: I think I do. I really get tired of reading paragraph after paragraph of description, so I try to keep stuff like that out of my novels. I give enough detail so the reader can form a picture in their mind, and then go on to the action. My novels are more plot-driven.
TWA: How did you come up with the title?
VEL: The title was one of the hardest things to come up with for this book. I tried on quite a few before this one. When I thought of Not What She Seems, it really fit right, and it does have a double meaning, which I loved.
TWA: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
VEL: I really didn’t write it with any deep meaning, although at one point in the book the MC has to decide between making a business deal and following after his love, and he chooses to go after the girl. People could take away from that the message that human relationships are worth more than acquiring more stuff.
TWA: How much of the book is realistic?
VEL: I tried to write it with as much realism as I could. It’s not a fantasy, so you don’t have to suspend belief in that respect.
TWA: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
VEL: No, the book is completely made up.
TWA: What books have most influenced your life most?
VEL: When I read, I like to escape. Most of what I read are light, fun books. I love to read YA, but I’ll pick up adult fiction too.
TWA: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
VEL: I read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark before I wrote Not What She Seems, and I think people could probably see her influence.
TWA: What book(s) are you reading now?
VEL: I’m reading two books right now, A Question of Consequence by Gordon Ryan, and Inevitable, by Jason Letts.
TWA: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, I am enjoying Jason Letts, Amanda Hocking, Imogen Rose, Vicki Tyley, DB Henson, and Holly Hook.
TWA: What are your current projects?
VEL: I’m working on a book titled The Overtaking. It’s another romantic suspense with a sci-fi backdrop.
TWA: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Why?
VEL: The other authors at Kindleboards.com have been very supportive. They are very free with sharing information, and are always ready to help each other out.
TWA: Do you see writing as a career?
VEL: I actually didn’t until I started seeing more money coming in from my book sales than my rubber stamping business. Now I definitely see it as a career.
TWA: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
VEL: I actually would try to add a little more at the end. I’ve had some people tell me that it ended kind of abruptly, so I would add one more scene with a happily ever after to it.
TWA: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
VEL: Yes, my interest in writing definitely stemmed from my love of reading. I can remember being so wrapped up in reading that eating was a bother. That experience of being transported to another world has stuck with me my whole life.
TWA: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
TWA: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
VEL: Yes, I see everything clearly in my head as I write, but sometimes I forget that readers don’t have access to what is in my head. I forget to describe things. But I’m trying to overcome this as I edit and reread what I’ve written.
TWA: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
VEL: I read a lot of different authors, so I would have to say I don’t particularly have a favorite.
TWA: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
VEL: No, I have not been active in book signings or trying to sell my physical books. I do most of my marketing online, in the comfort of my home. For self-published authors, selling a 99 cent e-book is much easier than selling a paperback that doesn’t compete in price with traditionally published books.
TWA: Who designed the covers?
VEL: I designed my own book cover. I did take graphic design classes in college and I felt relatively confident in doing my own design work.
TWA: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
VEL: Finding the time to write is my biggest challenge. With four kids and a home business, I’m pretty busy.
TWA: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
VEL: Yes, I learned that perseverance can get most anything accomplished.
TWA: What led to your decision to self-publish? Did you try the “traditional” route first?
VEL: I submitted eight query letters. When I got my first response back, I realized I was hoping that it was a rejection. I had heard about small advances for first time authors, and many authors spending their advance traveling to do book signings and heavy marketing, and I didn’t want that. When I found out people were having success selling on the Kindle, I rejoiced.
TWA: There’s many author blogs on the internet that warn writers, like you, regarding the pitfalls of self-publishing. Did these sites have any bearing or impact on your choices? Do you spend any time monitoring these sites?
VEL: Yes, I did extensive research before I self-published. I looked at all the pros and cons, and as much data as I could find. I’m a huge do-it-yourselfer anyway, so self-publishing fit me well.
TWA: What has been your marketing strategy? Can you comment on why you have been successful and why other authors fail?
VEL: A lot of authors think marketing means shouting “look at me, buy my book” everywhere they go. That’s not it at all. To be successful, you need an eye-catching cover, a description that pulls you in, a book that speaks to a wide audience, and to know how to act in a social network to attract people. Interacting with people and learning about them is one of the major keys to being successful. You’re not selling your book, you’re selling yourself. Be someone who people will want to get to know. Since I’m my own publisher, I’ve got a great relationship with myself.
TWA: Do you have any advice for other writers?
VEL: Do your research. Learn about everything before making a big decision about your future. Watch the successful authors and see what they are doing. Network with other authors.
TWA: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
VEL: I am so humbled that so many people have taken a chance on a new author. I get fan emails, and that totally is the best feeling in the world. I’m so grateful for all of my readers. Thank you.
TWA: Thank you for your time and granting us this interview! This is developing into a true success story for self-published authors. We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing more from you. You are certainly an author that exemplifies the need to have “The Write Agenda.” You certainly do! We appreciate your contribution to the self-publishing world. Your positive outlook is one that more self-published authors need to model.