Ted Oswald Signs With Amazon Publishing, Haiti NGOs To Benefit

becauseweareOkay, this might be my favorite ever blog post. Remember that guy who wrote that book set in Haiti, the one I was raving about, the one where he was giving all the profits to charity? Well, I have him back with some big news. Here’s Ted Oswald:

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I’m a first-time author. I’m a self-taught writer. I crafted the best book I could, tried to follow the best self-publishing advice I could find. And last week, I concluded a book deal with Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing’s mystery and thriller imprint.

How? I suspect divine intervention. I of course don’t have a five-point road map to offer to getting a deal, but I can at least share some of my stops along the way. I hope they’re encouraging for those who aspire to a deal, or hope to carve out a hybrid career straddling the realms of traditional and independent publishing.

Some of you have seen David’s prior posts about my book and its background: Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti is a murder mystery set in the slums of Port-au-Prince with two remarkable children in the lead. It also happens to be a “nonprofit novel,” so that all net proceeds are donated to advocacy and development organizations in Haiti.

I crowdfunded the book on Indiegogo, and did a few KDP Select giveaways to modest results. David found Because We Are during one of those promotions, and he’s proved a huge help both directly (through giving advice about putting together a “Big Push”) and indirectly (through my poring over Let’s Get Visible).

I set everything in motion for the Big Push, a promotion that would try to jump start sales across retailers. I let the book slide out of KDP Select and distributed it to B&N, Kobo, and Apple via Draft2Digital; I pushed the price up to $3.99, readying .99c promotions through BookBub, Book Blast, and Ereader News Today; I prepped tweets and posts via Hootsuite during the promotion period; David featured the book on his blog. Everything was set.

The result? Drumroll……seemingly not too much! It had a day or so high on the various retailers and gained some traction in Amazon’s literary fiction and international crime and mystery charts over the following week. It didn’t sustain sales on the other retail channels and I ultimately broke even on the expenses for the various listings. By now, it’s back to selling slowly.

But here’s where that providence kicked in: a few days after the promotion, an acquisitions editor from Thomas & Mercer contacted me. She let me know several things. She: (a) had seen the book in the international crime and mystery chart when it was riding high; (b) liked the cover; (c) liked the blurb; (d) enjoyed the sample; and (e) proceeded to read the full book. Two days later, she finished it and immediately reached out. Two months later, the deal is signed and Because We Are should be republished next year.

I’m excited to partner with Amazon. I’m convinced they can help me improve my book further and help it reach a wider audience. I hope the relationship leads to a future writing career for me.

But I have to be honest: right now, I’m most excited that I’ll be able to donate thousands of dollars more to organizations impacting lives in Haiti, hopefully for years to come. The prospect of thousands more readers around the world encountering Because We Are, reading it, and being impacted by it comes in at a close second.

HeadshotIf there’s any encouragement from my story, I hope it’s this: I haven’t sold thousands of copies. My book has a website but I don’t blog. My followers are few. My platform is about an inch high. But I was confident I had a compelling book on my hands. I promoted it as best I could following sound advice. And doors opened. Thanks so much to David and everyone here that either purchased the book or helped spread the word—this exciting news wouldn’t have been possible without your help!

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A huge congratulations to Ted!

I was bouncing off the walls when I first heard the news, then had to keep quiet until today’s announcement, which was… difficult.

kings nothingIf you haven’t read Because We Are and want to see what all the fuss is about (and you really should), you can pick it up at Amazon, Nook, Apple & Kobo, and you can grab the paperback here. In addition, Ted’s short Kings of Nothing (a prequel) is free on Amazon until October 14, but owners of other devices won’t miss out as they can grab an alternative free short, Bloodied Birds, at the usual places.

There are so many things I love about this story, but knowing that a whole bunch of grassroots NGOs in Haiti will benefit hugely from Ted’s success is my favorite part. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and Ted deserves all this for a more fundamental reason: he wrote one hell of a book.

The promotion we put together for the book went perfectly (the playbook was Chapter 23 from Let’s Get Visible, for the curious). I think Ted shifted around 1,000 copies over the weekend we were targeting. On the other hand, the post-promotion sales were a bit of a disappointment.

I was either on vacation, or just back, and didn’t get a chance to stalk Ted’s book, but post-promo bumps can fail to materialize for a number of reasons, such as glitches where you lose one or both of your categories when processing your price change (thus costing you crucial visibility when back to full price), the Popularity List freezing for days on end for no good reason, or getting caught in price-matching hell, leaving you stuck at 99c.

But even with less-than-expected post-promo sales, Ted still broke even on the costs, grabbed some visibility, and got his book into the hands of a thousand new readers. One of whom, of course, happened to be a Thomas & Mercer acquisitions editor.

The story of how Ted’s book first got into my hands is not that different: a free run which placed him nicely on a list, and I just stumbled across it. I don’t think Ted viewed that free promo as a blowout success at the time, but it was the first falling domino which led to the offer from Amazon.

Or, to put it more simply, Ted got the deal because he wrote a great book, and marketed it in a smart way.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

21 Replies to “Ted Oswald Signs With Amazon Publishing, Haiti NGOs To Benefit”

  1. I have just started blogging and so far the two books that have been talked the most about have been stories of hope and generosity, as well as love, compassion and perserverance. This is a community of writers and when writers and/or artists collaborate, the impossible becomes possible
    Congratulations, Ted Oswald, I will put your book on my to-read shelf on Goodreads tonight! And thank you David, the spirit of creativity has a clear conduit when you share your knowledge and become involved with the success of another writer.
    Yahia Lababidi, a wonderful writer and friend, put it all in perspective for me when he told me it was “Cause before applause.”
    That is the muse enlightened when both occur, and a cause for celebration!.

  2. I truly can’t thank David enough for this platform to share about my book and journey, and I so appreciate everyone’s sentiments here as well, especially those of you who have read Because We Are–it means a lot!

  3. Congratulations Ted! I’m one of the many fans of Because We Are, and I couldn’t be more happy for you. Congratulations to David as well for being part of the domino effect. Well done gentlemen, well done. 😀

  4. Congratulations Ted! And David this is wonderful for you as well. I love your blog and picked up a copy of Ted’s book when you initially told us about him simply because I trust you. You’ve helped me so very much with your Let’s get Digital/Let’s get Visible books and I can always count on you to be on top of things in the indie publishing world. You are the voice of reason and whenever i get overwhelmed or confused I can always stop by and your blog calms me. Thank you for shining the light.

  5. This is so exciting! Read the original post here, got the book — and haven’t read it! But now I will. What a worthy cause. I hosted some wonderful young people from Haiti as they toured New England with a singing group after the devastation.

    It’s great when good intentions meet with good luck. And part of that is because everywhere along the line, people are moved to help.

  6. Great story, I had tears in my eyes reading because I love charities, writers and people who make a difference! What a nice little story! I’ll grab a copy and review it on my website!! Thanks for helping writers David!

  7. I saw the book on your blog David and bought it. was happy to donate some money, whether the book was good or not was irrelevant. I have to say it’s a great read and I hope many more people buy it. Well done Ted.

  8. I loved the first post about it when I saw it, and read the moral into a book for critical charity, as a lesson for those of us who just want to be read. But, as you say, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy and THAT is the secondary moral. An inspiring story for those of us wending a weary way. Great post.

  9. Congrats, Ted. I bought BECAUSE after reading about it here. It’s wonderful, in my top ten favorites for this year. Tragic and hopeful, and beautifully written with amazing characters. I recommend it to everybody. I’m not surprised at all Amazon snatched it up. I wish you much success.

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