Matthew 17:20, my favorite verse. "... If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Welcome Victorine Lieske to Faith of a Mustard Seed. Soaring to NY Time's Best Selling List for six weeks in a row with her e-novel, Not What She Seems, Victorine is here to share her story with us. Thanks for coming, Victorine.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I never started out to become an author. I’ve always loved to read and I had thought it would be cool to be able to tell people that I wrote a novel, but I was never very serious about it. It was always just a fun little thing in the back of my mind. I had started writing a novel several times throughout my life, but never got more than a few pages down.

What changed?

After having four kids and a home based business, life was too busy for me to think about writing, until one day when I injured my back and literally couldn’t do anything. I was flat on my back. I wanted to read a good book, but had read everything in the house several times and didn’t feel like sending my husband to the library. I’m a picky reader. So I decided, with the help of my laptop, I would write that novel I had always wanted to write.

How long did it take to write?

I completed the first draft in a week. After completing the first draft, I felt compelled to find out if it was any good. So I found an online critique group and began to upload chapters for critique. That was the best decision I have made during my writing career. I found out that while my story had good grammar, there were basic storytelling rules or conventions that I had not been aware of. In other words, my novel stunk.

I can relate. But you didn't give up, you kept working to make it better.

I spent four years working on that novel. I submitted it twice through the critique group, and critiqued many other writers. I found out that if you put your work aside and let it sit for a while, when you bring it back out you’ll find things you can improve. I learned a lot about writing in those four years.

Did you try to secure a traditional publisher?

After I felt my novel was polished up, I began to research the publishing industry. I found out that agents got thousands of query letters each year, and took on a very small percentage of them as clients. I also found out after getting an agent the odds of selling your book to a publisher were even smaller. And if you were lucky enough to get an agent and a publishing deal, the advances for a first time author were small and most likely your book would not sell because you were unknown. And after all that, your book would go out of print in a few short months.

And that's what led you to self-publish?

Yes. In April of 2010 I found out I could upload my book online and sell it on the Kindle. Other authors were having success with this so I thought I would try it. What could it hurt? The book was sitting on my hard drive gathering digital dust.

As a debut author, how did you draw attention to your book?

I joined some forums where other authors were, I submitted my book to book reviewers, and I did some giveaways. I networked with other authors and got to know people on the forums. Sales started out slow for me; I only had 7 sales in April. However, as I got to know people and as I was able to get book reviewers to read my book, word started to spread and my sales slowly grew.

By the end of June I had sold over 600 books. In July I raised my price to take advantage of the 70% royalty that Amazon was offering, which stalled my sales, but I wanted to leave it there for a while to see if I could market and get better results. After three months and sales slowing down, I decided to try lowering the price to 99 cents. That’s when my sales really took off.

By December I was selling several hundred copies a day. In February my sales peaked with an average of 1,000 sales a day across all sales channels. In March I made it on the NYT’s best selling ebook list, and stayed on the list for six weeks. I was stunned. I had never thought a self-published book would make it on the list. I began to get emails from agents wanting to know if I had representation. I signed with Rachel Vogel of Movable Type Literary Group.

I got an offer from a publisher for my second book, a young adult science fiction romance titled The Overtaking, but I declined it because I can earn higher royalties on my own. I have recently self-published that book as well and I’m beginning to market it. My third work currently for sale is a short piece I wrote over my vacation, a young adult romance story.

Amazing story. I especially like the fact that you decided to stay on your own, how inspiring!

I'm so thankful you could join us today, Victorine, and thank you so much for sharing your journey.

For those joining us today, Victorine also has another book available titled, THE OVERTAKING. Please feel free to leave a comment for Victorine. Also, she can be found at victorinewrites.blogspot.com.


  1. Victorine, I'm sure many people have been inspired by your publishing story. I'm impressed with your willingness to help other authors who are struggling to make sense of the self-publishing world. In fact, I might not have published my ebook, Learning to Lean, without your inspiration. Thanks so much! And thank you for helping get out the actual numbers. That helps!

  2. (I'm posting this for Jennette as asked since google is giving her problems-Regina)

    Victorine, as a fellow author, marketing is always the bear to overcome. What marketing tactics do you feel helped your sales most? From the article, it sounds like lowering your price to .99 cents was a big factor. However, were there blogs or forums that you visited that you feel helped your sales significantly as well?

    Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated! :)


  3. Thank you, Mildred, I'm so glad to help!

    @Jennette - I really feel it was a culmination of a lot of things. I was persistent in doing something to market the book each day. I submitted the book everywhere, to all the review blogs that would take it, to anyone that wanted an interview, and was very active on Goodreads and Kindleboards. I think all of these things together helped the book get the attention it did. :)