Author Interview: Stacie Vander Pol
April 22, 2009 by Lillie
My guest today is Stacie Vander Pol, the author of Top Self Publishing Firms: How Writers Get Published, Sell More Books, and Rise to the Top: and Make Money Working from Home with the Best Print On Demand Self-Publishing Companies. That’s almost a complete book in the title.
Lillie: Welcome, Stacie. It’s a pleasure to have you here. As I mentioned in my review post, you and I define self-publishing differently. Explain what you mean by self-publishing and self-publishing companies.
Stacie: By self-publishing, I mean taking it upon yourself to get published (and pay for the expense) rather than leaving the fate of your book to someone else. You can self-publish with the assistance of an existing company or by setting up your own little publishing firm. I have pursued both routes and there are advantages and disadvantages to each, depending on the number of books you wish to publish and your inclination toward business.
Lillie: I notice that you have taken your own advice and published your book through CreateSpace at Amazon.com. Are you happy with the results?
Stacie: I have been very pleased with CreateSpace and will most likely use them again.
Lillie: I appreciate that you emphasize that a book must be well-crafted. Do you think it’s important for authors to have their work edited? If so, do the companies you evaluate in your book offer editing services?
Stacie: No matter who you are, how well educated, or how detail oriented, you must have your book edited, preferably more than once. It should be edited for content and flow, consistency in formatting, as well as grammar and punctuation errors. I am amazed at some of the things I overlook, even after multiple read-throughs.
Many of the companies in Top Self Publishing Firms offer editing services, but you can often find a student or acquaintance to do it for less money.
Lillie: Or you can hire someone like me. Your book is encouraging that self-published books can become commercial successes. Tell us a little about your research. You give examples of successful titles published by self-publishing firms and describe books as being in the top 2%, 5%, etc. The top 2% or 5% of what?
Stacie: Before I decided to write Top Self Publishing Firms, I was looking for a book like it and couldn’t find the information I needed compiled in a book, online, or anywhere else. I was curious about self-publishing companies, but I was only interested if I knew my book had a chance to succeed. I found plenty of information regarding publishing costs and distribution but nothing on sales performance. I started doing all of the cumbersome research on my own, and soon realized it would make a great resource for other writers.
To prove that self-published titles can succeed, I list hundreds of titles that are performing in the top 15% of sales on Amazon. This is based roughly on the 1.2 million titles ranked by Neilson BookScan. Using the top 1 million titles in the Amazon ranking system, one can draw a conclusion that books that consistently rank at 150,000 or better, are perfoming in the top 15% percent of books sold on Amazon. Several services are available that track and compile a title’s long-term Amazon sales rankings.
Because the industry is so tight-lipped about sales numbers, this method is the best one I know for determining a book’s performance.
Lillie: You provide a great deal of specific information about the services individual companies offer as well as the pricing options. How often do changes occur? Will you have to update your book to keep the information current?
Stacie: Likely because of the economy, the firms discussed in the book haven’t made many changes since the book was first published. I have noticed that several are offering promotions and special deals on their Web sites. In fact, when I published through CreateSpace, they were running a special that made it free to publish. I didn’t have to pay a dime to have my book published.
A book of this nature will need to be updated every year or two, depending on how quickly things change.
Lillie: You offer advice about leveraging Amazon.com that can be useful to all authors interested in promoting their books on Amazon.com, no matter how they are published. Give us a taste of some of the ways authors can increase their sales on Amazon.
Stacie: Start by ensuring your listing is accurate, and if it’s not, take steps to correct it. Next, take advantage of the ways in which Amazon allows authors to participate in the promotion process. For instance, you can submit search words relevant to your book that will help customers find your title. You can also create tags that do the same thing. Both of these can currently be accessed from your book’s detail page. The idea is to make your book easier to find and more likely to come up based on the search words most fitting to your title.
To give your book detail page a feeling of activity, set up a blog that will appear on the page and create at least one entry. A blog can make an otherwise, lonely detail page look full of life and interest. You can set up an Amazon blog through Amazon Connect.
Lillie: Amazon will even carry your existing blog on your book page. A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye appears on the page with Dream or Destiny. You set up the RSS feed to Amazon at Amazon Connect just as you would create an Amazon blog. What else do you suggest?
I also recommend getting as many reviews for your book as you can. This can be difficult and requires some time commitment, but if your book is well written, you will be rewarded. Amazon reviewers can be found on the Amazon Web site. Many of them list an e-mail address in their profiles. Most will say no or ignore your email, but you will eventually get a few yeses.
Additionally, you can list a Web address or e-mail address on the copyright page or in your back matter. When you receive praise for your book, ask for a review.
Lastly, the most important thing you can do to sell more books on Amazon is to sell more books on Amazon, meaning that the more copies you sell on Amazon, the more likely they are to put your title at the top of the search results page, which almost guarnatees more sales.
Lillie: Where can readers learn more about you and your work? Where can they purchase Top Self-Publishing Firms?
Stacie: Readers can email me at topselfpublishers at gmail dot com. They can purchase the book on Amazon.
Lillie: I’ve added an Amazon link at the end of this interview to make it easy to buy the book now. Thank you for visiting A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye, Stacie. Is there anything else you would like to share with us that I haven’t asked you?
Stacie: I would just like to encourage all of the writers out there to keep trying, to take a risk, and to put yourself out there. If you really want to be published, and you don’t want to wait years for it to happen, consider self-publishing. It’s an excellent option. If you write a great book, you can see outstanding sales results and often make more in royalties than you would with a traditional publisher.
I did, and I’ve been very happy with the outcome.
Stacie will be coming back throughout the day to respond to comments and answer questions. What would you like to know about Top Self-Publishing Firms?