I started AuthorsXP.com – a book promotion site determined to keep authors from getting ripped-off! (Aided by my unique background as a WSJ/USA Today best-selling author, former East Coast Editor of Surfer Magazine, serial entrepreneur, web development firm owner and marketer. Whew!) Ask Me Anything!

Amy Vansant
Apr 11, 2018

I know what it’s like to be an Indie author — sometimes it feels like trying to climb Mt. Everest with a Sasquatch tossing snowballs at your head. I know about struggling to market books and falling prey to the money-sucking rats out there using our dreams against us. The publishing and marketing landscape has changed a lot in just the last few years.

Frustrated with the ever-narrowing opportunities available for authors and the likelihood of losing money at every turn, I started Authors Cross-Promotion (AuthorsXP.com) to provide authors (Indie, otherwise and ME) a safe marketing haven. Because I’m an author myself, I know what authors need and constantly add options. Daily Deal promotions, author spotlights, mailing list building, book fairs, read & review, newsletter swaps, beta reading services, web design, book launch… Have a need? Let me know and either I or my army of 50k + enthusiastic readers will find a way to help!  And because I’m an author, I keep prices affordable and try my best to provide ROI at every turn. Authors can email me any time if they have questions. I want to build a place where authors can feel safe and use their collective power to move books!

As an author, I write cozy(ish) mysteries, romantic suspense, romantic comedies and urban fantasies. (four different series-all with healthy doses of humor). Oh, and I still also really, really want Kathy Bates to star in a television adaptation of my Pineapple Port mystery series (non-oscar winning actresses also encouraged). And still try to write at least four novels a year. And I still run my web development firm. AAAH!

So whether you have questions about writing, marketing your writing or AuthorsXP… Ask Me Anything!

(and use coupon code AMA to get 50% off your first service at AuthorsXP.com)

Follow Me!  

AuthorsXP.com | Personal Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads 

Check Out My Novels   Amazon US  | Amazon UK  | Barnes & Noble   | iTunes  | KOBO   | GooglePlay  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon Australia  | Amazon UK 

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How long has your firm been in business? How big is your team?
Apr 17, 1:07AM EDT0

Since 1997-It's just me, a programmer and my husband now. I downsized after the recession and realized I could get things done by myself. 

Apr 17, 5:09AM EDT0
What do you like least about being an entrepreneur? Does it get tiring often?
Apr 16, 10:32AM EDT0

It's hard knowing you're responsible for everything. There's a certain joy, I'm sure, doing your job and then going home and not caring about it anymore until you go back the next day. My job is in my house with me 24/7.  Also, there isn't a steady paycheck of X amount you can always count on - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's nothing and only YOU can fix it. AAG!

Apr 16, 10:37AM EDT0
Do you also promote e-books?
Apr 15, 12:25PM EDT0

I pretty much ONLY promote ebooks. Print and audio are only occassional events.

Apr 15, 2:25PM EDT0
Many authors have either no fanbase or very small following. In your opinion, what’s the best way for an author to build their fanbase?
Apr 15, 12:14PM EDT0

Mailing list builders like the one I do at AuthorsXP. I took my own list from about 2000 to 30k in about a year and a half. 

Apr 15, 2:32PM EDT0
Most writers battle with doubts over the quality of their writing. How do you help those writers?
Apr 14, 1:12PM EDT0

All you can do is keep asking for feedback, attend workshops etc... and then actually listen to the feedback! Not everything, but you'll spot trends. I've read things by 12 year olds and knew that with some experience they'd be great and I've read things by published adults that made me cringe. If you keep trying to get better you probably will. Don't let fear stop you - just don't think you're "done" at any point.

Apr 15, 6:38AM EDT0
How important is it to keep the understanding of Amazon algorithm? Will it really help authors sell more books?
Apr 14, 1:12PM EDT0

There are some basic rules that you should follow, yes.  David Gaughran has a great book that covers the basics and more I think you can get free on  his site: davidgaughran.com/

Apr 15, 6:15AM EDT0

Which of your many services do you think will provide the best payback for me:  Newsletter growth: I only have 140 peeps.  99 cent deals (I've over 40 books published) or something else in your vast bag of possibilities.   Just so you know, I publish a book a month, so my life is rather full.

Apr 14, 10:00AM EDT0

Particpating in a mailing list builder will add 500-3000 emails - BAM! so that's always good! With 40 books, you could also crush a Series/Author Spotlight, where I send a newsletter dedicated to you out to all my readers. With that many books you should have promos running all the time but I know how lack of time makes that tough. You need an assistant!

Apr 15, 6:13AM EDT0
How do you recommend writers keep up a slow trickle of sales in between their spike days?
Apr 14, 6:13AM EDT0

Regular promotions can have lasting effects - and writing more books in a series helps quite a bit! Many of us only really sell during promos...so it is a matter of keeping them rolling one way or another - by buying spots or sending specials to your own newsletter list, etc.

Apr 14, 7:08AM EDT0
How does one become aware that you want to become a writer?
Apr 13, 3:31PM EDT0

I  honestly don't know. I just always did it - even when I was small. My first grade teacher took a paper to my mother accusing her of helping me write it and she didn't. If you feel it, you feel it.

Apr 13, 8:02PM EDT0

Do you have a site for paperback or hardcover books?

Apr 13, 1:42PM EDT0

Do you mean for giveaways? I'm planning one of those soon for AuthorsXP... If you mean just for purchasing no, because Amazon doesn't really offer us ways to lower the price of paperbacks without eating it. We can buy them wholesale ourselves, but the shipping kills us.

Apr 13, 2:04PM EDT0
Do you think that self-publishing online is a good step forward to publishing paperback someday?
Apr 13, 12:42PM EDT0

Absolutely. First, you CAN publish paperback as an Indie, but I know what you mean - you mean that publishing where you show up on the shelves in airports and bookstores. If you do really well as an Indie, a big house might notice you. AND, I held on to Angeli for a year or so sending out letters to publishers and finally realized I could do it myself. If I had done it myself right away, I would have gone on to writing my next book instead of sitting around waiting for a  publisher to love me.  Don't wait. Write, publish, write again... you can keep looking for publishers along the way. Just don't wait for them.

Apr 13, 1:22PM EDT0
Is being an entrepreneur something you always dreamed of?
Apr 13, 6:43AM EDT0

I think that's just something that is. I've only worked for other people a handful of times and never liked it. I was lucky that I learned web design at a time web design wasn't flooded with people the way it is now. I like to think I could have found a way to pay for my life without that luck, but who knows. 

Apr 13, 1:19PM EDT0
What is the genre you feel most comfortable with?
Apr 13, 6:12AM EDT0

It's actually hard to say. My Angeli series (urban fantasy) is the one I think about the most. There's something special about creating an alternate reality. But my mystery series sold better, so I put more time into that ultimately, and now those books practically write themselves, which is also nice.  I'm hoping my Kilty series is a nice combination between the two.

Apr 13, 1:17PM EDT0
With all of your experience now, what do you wish you could have known then at the start of your career?
Apr 13, 12:34AM EDT0

That's a big one. First, don't stop writing for 13 years when you know it's what you want to do. Second, I wish I'd built my web company up a little more when the time was right. I was right there when things started but I didn't invent Amazon or Ebay... I was too worried about taking care of little things instead of thinking big picture. Ah well!

Apr 13, 6:09AM EDT0
What skills and technologies are you the most interested in the candidate while hiring for your web development firm?
Apr 12, 8:27PM EDT0

I haven't hired in years... but it used to be just love of doing it. We'd get people coming in saying they had college degrees in web design who didn't seemed to actually like it much. The ones who taught themselves and did it becaused they loved it were my favorites.

Apr 13, 6:07AM EDT0

Hi Amy,

Thanks for all that you offer to indie authors.  Every time I see your "weekly author update" in my inbox, I feel good.  Do you have any advice on key words?

Apr 12, 11:33AM EDT0

That's so nice of you to say -  Thank you, you just made my day!

Keywords in your Amazon description?  Check what keywords Amazon thinks is important by seeing how people can drill down, like "small town" "suburban" "beach" for locations under mysteries and romances - things like that. Then you can use all of them in your keywords by grouping them. Like for the seven you get, don't just use "small town" write "small town suburban beach" to get them all to work and only take one spot!

Apr 12, 11:59AM EDT0
How many team members do you have in your Web development company?
Apr 12, 6:10AM EDT0

I had about 10 back in the day but now that I've paired down that portion of my life it is me, a programmer and my husband who isn't a professional nerd but does a bunch of other things that save the nerds time to be nerdy!

Apr 12, 6:54AM EDT0
Did you get an opportunity to meet serial entrepreneur like yourself in the recent past? If so, what did you discuss about?
Apr 12, 6:10AM EDT0

We generally talk about the places where our businesses overlap, things we have in common and what we've learned in the hopes we can help each other. I'm always open to hear ideas and suggestions from others.

Apr 12, 6:53AM EDT0
How many reviews should an author have before submitting the book to your site for further promotions?
Apr 12, 5:27AM EDT0

I don't have any minimum, because when you want to do a big launch being shackled by review counts is ANNOYING. (though you can use AuthorsXP.com to build a great list/street team, so then reviews are never a problem again! :) )

Apr 12, 5:35AM EDT0
By what specific criteria do you judge the quality of your writing and have you ever been completely satisfied with what you have produced, why or why not?
Apr 12, 1:27AM EDT0

I've been tickled pink by passages...(made myself laugh when I reread something after writing it) or felt particularly good about a book...but I don't know that I've ever been perfectly thrilled with a whole story/novel since I was a kid and still thought perfection was possible.  Even if I was, I know all I have to do is wait a year to read it again and be less thrilled. But that's a good sign I'm still growing!

Apr 12, 5:13AM EDT0
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