Sunday, November 3, 2013

Interview with Florence Osmund

My guest today is the amazing Florence Osmund, who, aside from being an exceptional author, devotes her free time to offering advice to aspiring authors. She is also very active in the literary community.

After more than three decades of working in corporate America, I retired to write books. I earned my master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and built a career in administrative management that culminated with a senior management position in a major insurance company. I currently reside in Chicago where I am enjoying all the things this great city has to offer, and (of course) reading and writing.

I devote my website primarily to new and inspiring writers where I offer substantial advice on writing techniques, the pros and cons of self-publishing, getting started, how to avoid scams, and promoting and marketing your book. Itʾs advice I wish I had received before I started writing my first book, and itʾs all free. Please visit

Do you have specific genres that you review, and what is your favorite one? 

    My favorite genre is literary fiction, but I will also review young adult fiction, dramas, mysteries, and womenʾs fiction.

On average, how many books do you review each month?

    I average about one book a month, sometimes more depending on what else I have on my plate     at the time.

Do you accept unsolicited review requests, or do you only review books you select yourself? 

    Occasionally, as a favor I will review a book for a fellow author if asked. However, the vast majority of books I review are for indieBRAG, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Book Readers Appreciation Group recognizes self-published authors by reviewing their books and judging each oneʾs merits based on a proprietary list of criteria, the single most important one being whether three out of three of their reviewers would recommend the book to his/her best friend. Less than 15% of the books submitted receive this honor. When Iʾm ready to review another indieBRAG book, I am given a short list from which to choose.

Considering the recent surge of self-published books on the market, what is your experience with self-published titles?

    Unfortunately, I see an alarming number of self-published books that have not been professionally edited or proofread. It doesnʾt matter how skilled a storyteller you are, if your book violates standard writing rules, or worse yet, contains grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, it will not be very marketable. Based on an obvious lack of professional editing, more than 30% of submissions to IndieBRAG are rejected before they even reach a reviewer.

    Professional editing is expensive. The cost to have an 80,000-word manuscript professionally edited (content, line, and copy edited) is a minimum of $2,500. Not everyone can afford that, especially if itʾs their first book and they havenʾt realized any revenue yet. Itʾs a frustrating situation to be in—you have this compelling story to tell, but you donʾt have the upfront money to make it marketable. This, of course, is one of the disadvantages of self-publishing—you have to front all the expenses.

As a reviewer, you have to state your honest opinions. Do you publish all reviews regardless of the rating?

    If a book has at least some redeeming qualities, I will publish the review on both Amazon and Goodreads. I always begin with what I thought to be favorable about the book, and then I talk about what I found lacking. My experience has been as long as I state the criticism constructively, the authors appreciate the feedback, even if itʾs negative.

Is there any particular book or author that sets the benchmark for you in a specific genre?

    I really admire the way Dennis Lehane crafts a story. The one that stands out for me is Mystic River in which he does a remarkable job developing a unique cast of characters. The way he unfurls the plot is genius, and his ability to evoke a wide array of emotions from his readers (at least this reader) is powerful.

What was the catalyst for you to become a reviewer, and what keeps you going?
    If you visited my website, you know one of my goals is to help new authors, especially self-published ones. Being a reviewer for indieBRAG helps me achieve that goal.

In your opinion, do you find the new titles original and creatively executed, or do you see more of a repeat of the same (think Hollywood's surge in remakes)?

    I see significant creativity and originality in the books I review, especially from authors who dare to be different. But I also believe a truly talented author can take an old concept, reshape it so to speak, and still produce a compelling story.

Out of all the books you've read, are there any particular books or characters that stayed on your mind?

    Searching for Lincolnʾs Ghost, is a book I reviewed last year for self-published author Barbara Dzikowsky. Itʾs the story of a young girl who is faced with adult social and philosophical issues that many grown-ups would have difficulty managing, and it is her innocence and unrelenting drive to understand things that help her get through them. This heartwarming coming-of-age story, expertly crafted by Dzikowsky, will stay with me a long time.

What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why? 

    One of my Amazon reviews includes strong criticism of the bookʾs lack of any meaningful action in the first half, causing the story to get off to an incredibly slow start. The author publicly responded by thanking me for taking the time to provide an honest opinion and for including what I felt she did well instead of merely focusing on the negative.

You can find more about Florence Osmund by visiting her website:
Or visit her Amazon page to learn more about here amazing titles: Amazon  
Also visit indieBRAG to learn more about what they do. It's a great organization: indieBRAG

Please show your support for my quest by visiting their links and leaving a comment. 
If you would like to see someone featured here, drop me a line. 

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