How author Florence Osmund “never lost money” on a promotion

Sandra Hutchison interviews indie author Florence Osmund.

Osmund Photo 250X250Florence, you mentioned in a recent helpful blog post for new novelists that you had “never lost money on a promotion.” My ears pricked up at that, since I’m sure I’ve had some losing promotions (or, at least, promotions without an immediate, verifiable profit). What do you think is the secret of your success there?

The way I look at it, there are six basic rules when it comes to launching a successful book promotion.

  1. Make sure you have a good product. An article that I wrote for The Book Designer last September talks about what book reviewers expect in a well-written book: professional editing; a beginning, middle, and ending that carry the story forward; a consistent POV; an engaging writing style; a good balance of action, dialogue, and description; an appealing plot; accuracy of stated facts; and a cover that grabs attention. These are all elements of a good product.
  2. I have found that readers look at the Amazon author page even when considering downloading a “freebie.” Get the most out of it by including testimonials and interesting facts about yourself. For your Amazon book pages, create descriptions that are intriguing and thought-provoking.
  3. Use book promotion websites that have been vetted and are relevant for your book. The shotgun approach seldom works.
  4. Go all the way. Whether you choose one big promoter such as BookBub.com or one or more less expensive ones, don’t rely on just them to get the word out. Post your promotion on every free site you can find. Here is a link from my website that lists sites that I’ve used in the past: http://florenceosmund.com/linkedwheretopromotefreeand.html. Promote it on social media as well. On Twitter, to reach as many relevant people as possible, I use these hashtags (no more than three in any one Tweet) when I promote a book: #amreading #amazonkindle #bookaddict #booklovers #bookworm #ebooks #eReaders #fiction #freebie #freebooks #freereads #kindlebargain #kindlebooks #kindledeals #novels #readers #readfree #whattoread and #weekendreader.
  5. Share, share, share. Once your free or discounted book has been posted on a promotion site, share it on your own social media pages. Ask your friends to share it on their pages. It’s all about exposure.
  6. Take advantage of your e-mail subscriber list. If you don’t have one, you may want to consider developing one. Announce the promotion to your subscribers and ask them to spread the word too. I have found that people who are fans of your books are happy to help promote them.

It doesn’t matter whether I pay $200+ for a BookBub promotion, $25 for an www.fkbt.com one, or anything in between, I have never lost money. And the more I pay for the promotion, the better the return on investment. The first time I ran a BookBub promotion and paid $220 for it, I feared that I wouldn’t even break even. But after I gave away 76,769 freebies and then sold (or readers borrowed through Kindle’s lending library) 4,648 copies during the thirty days following the promotion, my fears were quickly allayed. You have to spend money to make money.

You mention at your web site that you had a long career in business before taking up writing. How has that impacted your practices as an author? And what would you say was the single most useful aspect of your previous career when you came to writing?

In my previous career in administrative management, I constantly sought out challenges—ways to improve my skills, someone else’s skills, departmental performance, or my own job performance. Things haven’t changed much as an author—challenges still motivate me. The most useful aspect of my previous career is the importance of communicating the written word in the right manner to the right audience. As an author, you may have an interesting story to tell, but if you don’t communicate it well (that’s why we have editors) to the right people (your target audience), you will have missed opportunities.

I write women’s fiction and your lovely covers strike me as fitting that genre, although your subject matter doesn’t, exactly—at least two of your novels are focused on a man’s emotional journey rather than a woman’s.  How do you think about genre and your covers, and your work? Has there been any evolution in that?

I’ll get this out of the way first—the covers for my first two books were going to be renditions of my family home no matter what. I had just lost both parents, and I wanted to dedicate my first two books to them with their home on the covers. Not the best marketing decision, but something I had to do.

I find that genre descriptions are fairly subjective and somewhat overlapping. That being said, I strive to write literary fiction, which I define as having characters with depth and complexity and thought-provoking plots that challenge readers as to their own values and beliefs. But at times others have pegged my books as women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and even cozy mysteries. My goal is to create covers that reflect the literary fiction genre while portraying the essence of the story and providing enough intrigue to cause the reader to turn the book over and read the back cover.

The conversation that led to this blog post was held in an Awesome Indies group. How much has networking through various writer’s groups impacted your career? Do you have advice for other writers in this regard? (I also notice that you don’t use your various seals of approval from these curated groups on your covers. Is there a reason for that?)

When I was new in the industry, I joined every social media writer’s group I could find, and while it was time-consuming keeping up on all of them, what I learned from my fellow authors was invaluable. Now I’ve narrowed the list down to a few where I believe I can contribute the most. The writer’s groups that have had (and still have) the most impact on my career are the closed social media groups where members share their experiences and knowledge with a known faction of authors, Awesome Indie Authors Facebook group being one of them. Members of closed groups tend to share details of their successes and failures more freely than in open groups, making each closed group a great learning venue.

With regard to using group seals of approval on my covers, I’m embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me. I typically note the award/honor in the book blurbs I post, and I have affixed physical stickers to paperbacks when they’re made available, but I could also incorporate them on the covers of the Kindle versions of my books. I’ll have to look into that.

I notice your web site includes some rather entertaining comments from agents who passed on your work before you self-published. Is it safe to say you’re completely satisfied with your life as an indie author-publisher? Would anything ever entice you to switch?

The only scenario that would entice me to switch from self-publishing to traditional publishing is if I could make more money and spend less time with promotion. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Tell us something about you that might surprise an audience of readers and writers.

I am often asked how I conceived the story line ideas for my books. I knew that I wanted to write novels when I retired, so for years prior to that, I accumulated an assortment of ideas that I thought could be useful in my writing later on. Whenever I heard an interesting conversation that could potentially lead to a plot or sub-plot, or observed an incident that would make an effective scene, or saw a movie that inspired me in some way, I jotted down the thought on any scrap of paper that was handy. Then, when I was ready to start writing my first book, I emptied the large shoe box that contained these hundreds of scraps of paper, categorized them, and put them in separate piles. When I was finished, three distinct story lines had emerged that later culminated in four books.

'You have to spend money to make money.' Florence Osmund on indie book promotions. #interview Click To Tweet

Learn more about Florence Osmund, and how you could win a free e-book!

After a long career in the corporate world, Florence Osmund retired to write novels. “I strive to write literary fiction and endeavor to craft stories that challenge readers to survey their own beliefs and values,” Osmund states. Florence’s website offers substantial advice for new and aspiring writers, including how to begin the project, writing techniques, building an author platform, book promotion and more. Florence lives in the heart of Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan, where she continues to write novels. You can learn more about her at her Facebook page, on Twitter, or at LinkedIn.

WIN a copy of RED CLOVER!

Florence Osmund will be giving away an e-book of RED CLOVER to someone who responds to this post (and she might just give away some of her other titles, too). If you’re having trouble finding the comments, make sure you’ve scanned down the page all the way, or click the little conversation bubble up next to the headline.

Red Clover cover Amazon 200 X 300He had felt like an outsider in his own family his entire life. Now twenty-six—confused and emotionally bankrupt after suffering a childhood fraught with criticism and isolation—Lee leaves his dysfunctional upper-class family to find his true self.

Determined to cultivate a meaningful life, Lee discovers a world poles apart from the one he had left behind and an assortment of unforgettable characters to go with it. But just when things start falling into place, he is made aware of an alarming family secret that causes him to question who he is and where he’s going.

What do you do when the people who had been entrusted with nurturing you during your formative years are the same ones responsible for turning your world upside down?

Remember: Leave a comment below and you might win a free copy!

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