Interview with WaveCloud Co-Founder, Bill Van Orsdel

WaveCloud_logo_CMYKWaveCloud is a newish self-publishing company offering a variety of book publishing packages. We sat down with CMO and co-founder Bill Van Orsdel to find out a little more about the company.

Self-Publishing Review: What is WaveCloud and how long has it been online?

Bill Van Orsdel: WaveCloud provides editing, production and marketing services to authors that want help bringing a book to market. We don’t ask for any rights, and we don’t ask for a percentage. Our services are a la carte, and as we deliver the work, we also deliver all of the files to the author, so that they can use them wherever they want. Our goal is to help authors produce a book that will be competitive with traditionally published books, but with as low an investment as possible. Some authors use us for just a few services, others ask us to manage the whole project.

We’ve been focused on helping authors since 2012, but we launched our original indie book store in 2011.

SPR: How does WaveCloud compare to services like Smashwords and Bookbaby?

BVO: WaveCloud typically provides a wider range of services than other author-services companies, but I’d say our key difference is attitude. One of the reasons that we’ve been having success with authors is our focus on delivering more than just an isolated service. We also deliver education, advice and help with strategy. We spend a lot of time on the phone with authors talking through their goals, their target audience and their plans. In the course of those conversations, we get invested in their journey and success.

SPR: What sort of marketing help does WaveCloud offer?

BVO: We view marketing as the most frustrating step in bringing book to market. Frankly, we’re skeptical of the value of most “book marketing programs”. Not because a given program is good or bad, but because it is almost always applied too early in the lifecycle of a book release. Many authors that we work with come to us with a sense of urgency. They want the book editing and production steps completed right now. They want to see their book up in the Amazon store immediately. They want to start marketing right now.

But, we counsel authors to get the basics of their market introduction right BEFORE spending a dime on marketing. Things like a proper book cover, correct pricing, a strong book description and most importantly: social proof. After those elements are in GREAT shape, then we help with launch strategy. Things like social media review, anchor site improvements, email marketing campaigns and social media penetration. Our best advice to authors is to make your initial marketing spending slow and deliberate, measuring results along the way.

SPR: You also have books by non-WaveCloud authors on the site. Why?

BVO: We don’t believe that self-published books should be segregated from traditionally published books. We’re planning on re-focusing our site to do a better job of promoting self-published book, but for now, we consider them to be just as good as traditionally published ones.

SPR: What are the biggest mistakes you see authors making in e-publishing?

BVO: The number one mistake most authors make is to jump in to self-publishing without doing enough research on how to make their book competitive in their market. The reason it is the worst mistake is that it typically costs them egregious amounts of money and often hampers their book’s chances of sales success.

If they’ve educated themselves on how to do self-publishing right, then most of the mistakes we see are mistakes in execution. Things like: a nonfiction book without a benefit promise on the front cover, or poor book cover typography, or marketing their book before they have a dozen reviews, or failure to do an independent proof-read.

Most of the authors we work with have poured their heart into their book. It means a lot to them. We simply counsel a deliberate, considered, and measured approach to all aspects of producing and marketing their book

SPR: What do you see as the future of traditional and self-publishing?

BVO: It may be controversial, but here is our view: Self-Published books will continue to improve in quality and self-published authors will continue to increase their collective share of the publishing industry’s revenue. Conversely, traditional publishers will begin to improve their contract terms for authors and learn how to teach authors to market their own books. We predict that self-published authors will improve their product and their success faster than traditional publishers will re-engineer their business models. As a result, the future is very bright for authors; they should expect more power, more money and more influence in the industry that they fuel.

SPR: Who’s behind WaveCloud?

Actual wave cloud.
Actual wave cloud.

BVO: It would be neat to say that WaveCloud is run by a bunch of publishing industry veterans who’d seen the light and had now decided to come over to it. But the truth is, we are a bunch of technology people who looked at an industry in turmoil and said, “Maybe it should be different”. Publishing has a lot of parallels with the evolving music industry, but the biggest one for us was how poorly the content provider (author/musician) is treated. We operate under the idea that if we offer valuable, moderately priced, transparent, easy-to-access help for authors, we can help more authors successfully bring a book or two to readers. Those successes in turn might cause more people to read, which in turn might create a better world. It’s crazy, lofty, and a little frightening in scope, but there it is.

SPR: Why the name WaveCloud?

BVO: One of our investors is a pilot, and suggested that we incorporate using the name of a unique and beautiful weather phenomenon. We did, and after our ad agency couldn’t come up with a better two-syllable, easy to remember, easy to spell name with a matching URL, it stuck.