Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing Susan Osborn. Her name is familiar to most Christian authors due to her books on writing, handy pamphlets (I have at least one), and her manuscript critique service. Susan is also a multi-published author of nonfiction books for women.
Susan, how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
31 books. My latest titles are Wounded by Words, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, and Breaking Invisible Chains, co-authored by Jeenie Gordon and Karen Kosman, published by New Hope Publishers.
You were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?
I’ve learned that sometimes life throws curves at you, and you have to be willing to adjust. My co-author and I had almost put together a proposal for our next book when my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma cancer, in January, 2014. I put my book on hold, farmed out all the business that came into my critique service, and became a full-time caregiver for six months. Family has to come first in my opinion. God chose to spare Dick, and he has been cancer free for the last eight months. Then this January, Dick had major back surgery. He is now recovering from that, and I’m back putting book proposals together.
I’m so glad he’s doing well! What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since then?
The Internet is becoming more and more important in promotion. I basically use my website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I understand that in proposals now publishers want to know how many followers you have on these and the other social medias.
What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?
I have a blog on my website on which I put a writing tip each week. This drives business to my website for my books on writing, my critique service, my email course, and pamphlets I offer. This has been quite effective. Electronic versions of my 7 pamphlets on writing are now available on my website for $1.99 each, and my book on writing, Just Write! is available electronically on Kindle for $2.99 as well as the actual book on my website for $12.00.
What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?
I’m not sure that radio programs, especially if they are local to one location, help sell books. However, when you are discussing topics like the women’s issues I have recently written on, the radio audience seems very interested. I’ve recently done interviews on suicide prevention and domestic violence. Both of these continue to be huge problems that are growing every day in our society.
What a wonderful and vital ministry! What’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?
I basically have two audiences: one for my women’s issues books and one for my writing materials. My favorite way to connect with people is in person. That’s why I love to speak at writers’ conferences and give private lessons in my home. I’m a people person, which I think puts me in the minority of writers.
What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you tried?
This isn’t exactly crazy, but for the past 28 years I have attended CBA’s ICRS. I always take bookmarks of my books with me and hand them out to anyone with a green badge, meaning they are associated with a bookstore. I think getting the individual bookstores familiar with you is a wonderful way to spread the word about your books.
What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?
Again this wasn’t funny, but rather an excellent opportunity. CBA used to do a winter show called Advance. One year I had the privilege of having my book, A Special Kind of Love: For Those Who Love Children with Special Needs, featured at the autograph party in the Broadman and Holman (now B & H) booth. The other person featured was my dear friend, John Trent. Everyone flocked to get his autograph, and ended up getting mine too since I was standing right next to him. I think I signed 200 books that night, and what wonderful publicity for a very special book.
Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books?
Another perk that happened on A Special Kind of Love is Focus on the Family co-published it, featured it in their January issue of the magazine, and as a result, sold 15,000 copies. Anytime you can get a ministry on board of one of your books, it will certainly increase your sales. I was thrilled because the parents of children with special needs often do not have time to go into a bookstore, but many of them to listen to Focus radio or subscribe to the magazine.
What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?
What you want to keep foremost in your thoughts is your readers’ felt needs. Instead of promoting your book, promote the subject that it deals with. For example, in my latest interviews on Breaking Invisible Chains, I focused on teaching people how to recognize abusive situations, in their own homes and in those of their friends. I also gave tips on how to get out of those situations safely. These came from my co-author who is a family therapist, a detective who heads up the domestic violence unit of a local police department, and the head of a shelter in Birmingham, Alabama. When you do your homework on the book, it makes you an expert on that subject with the help of the experts you interview.
Great advice, Susan! Thank you for sharing.
Writing for Him,