What is Responsive Web Design (RWD)?

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

According to Wikipedia, responsive web design (RWD) is: “an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

Typically a site designed with RWD adapts to the layout of the device being used (including the orientation of how it is being held—either horizontally or vertically) by using fluid, proportion-based grids (think Windows 8-10), dynamically-proportioned images, and CSS3 media queries. As RWD layouts becomes more sophisticated, the “grids” of earlier iterations of RWD are becoming more and more “invisible” and what is left is an enhanced user experience that looks fantastic, and acts the same, across any type of device.

Naturally there are some design challenges, considering that a desktop monitor can be over 2000 pixels wide while a mobile phone in portrait orientation is as little as 200.  This is very apparent on sites NOT designed with RWD in mind, since smart phones will typically shrink the entire website proportionally, often rendering the text too difficult to read.

So significant was/is this problem that most websites have “mobile versions” solely for the purpose of looking good on smartphones and/or tablets.  Of course, the challenges of designing something to look equally good at 2000 pixels as 200 often means the mobile versions look significantly different from the “normal” versions.  Good-bye branding.

page-2_img01-1An RWD website offers the solution to this issue by ensuring that the website looks as similar as possible across all devices.  It also eschews the need for an entirely different “mobile version”, which can save on development and on-going maintenance costs over the long haul. Developing and maintaining one RWD website is more efficient than developing and maintaining both “normal” and “mobile” versions of a website.  Additionally, Google “rewards” mobile-friendly (and particularly RWD-enhanced) websites by improving their organic search result rankings.

So what does any of this have to do with self publishing with Outskirts Press?  We are deep in the process of migrating our website to RWD to further enhance the publishing experience for our clients; so you could say it is on the top of my mind.  Over the next several posts, I’ll get into more details about that migration.

The Outskirts Press CEO is rendered Speechless by a self-publishing author

September 16, 2015 Leave a comment

The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards are over for another year. Congratulations again to all our EVVY nominees, winners, and Best Book finalists.   I received a gracious email from the winner, Andrew Ceroni, who expressed both his excitement and his appreciation. It’s always great to hear from our award-winning authors.

In fact, a little over a week ago I also received an amazing email from the author of Speechless, which was one of the Best Book of the Year Finalists. This was while the Best Book voting was still occurring at the Self Publishing News website.  It was so touching, I asked her permission to share it on my blog after the final votes were in and she granted that permission while simultaneously expressing an interest in congratulating Mr. Ceroni for his win.   Thank you, Ms. Brown, for the email below.

Dear Mr. Sampson,

I am writing to thank you for the journey I never expected.

I am the author of Speechless. You know me as E.J. Brown, my kids know me as mom, and the rest of the world knows me as Melissa. I started writing Speechless eight years ago to fill a void and to teach the world about autism. I remember the first phone call I had with Laura Neal, we discussed pricing and I told her I wanted to give the book away. After a moment of silence she calmly explained how pricing worked and I conceded, realizing that “reasonably priced” would have to do if I couldn’t give it away for free. After Speechless was published I did no marketing at all and sold very few books. I already have a full time job, this was just a hobby, and my full-time job was recovering my autistic son. I am his teacher and he is mine. We spend every day together as he gets closer to recovery.

When I received the EVVY nomination, I was floored. I had fallen into this profession because of a passion for my children as I had falling into teaching years ago because of a love of history and the world. My life has taken me some very interesting places when I followed my heart; places I could never have dreamed of.  After I won the EVVY I was again delighted and floored. A panel of writers read Speechless and decided that it was well written and worthy of first place. That tickled my heart like you will never know. That was not the end of the road though, still there was more. You continued to push me further down this path as your team nominated Speechless for Book of the Year. For the first time I have to sell myself, something I have never been very good at but for the first time I was up for the challenge. Out of my seclusion I have learned so much, and most important of all is that my story is the story of so many others that I hadn’t realize.

Social media, Facebook, Instragram– it all frightens me but I willingly jumped in with both feet. I was a high school teacher a little over a decade ago. I was in my mid 20’s and my students were 14-17 years old. As I was sending my pleas for votes I received a friend request from a student I had almost 15 years ago. I am 41 years old today and she is just ten years younger. I accepted her request and learned that she has two boys that are also on the autism spectrum. She told me she read my book, loved it, and felt less alone for the first time in a long time. Another friend of mine told me her daughter loved Speechless so much that she wrote a book report about it for school. I could never imagine a teenager loving something I wrote so much that they would write a book report about it for school!

SO I have to say even though there are two days left to vote I want to take a moment to thank you for the journey and the chance to tell my story and for forcing my hand, pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me sell myself. I just finished my second book with Outskirts Press, A Fervent Hope. It is in pre-media right now and I am anxious to share it with the world in just a few short weeks.  I am going to do it differently this time.

So thank you again for the opportunity to be a star, if just for a little while. I am so thrilled to just to be nominated. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out on Sunday.

                                                Thanks again for the opportunity,


Congratulations to Andrew Ceroni, author of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year

September 10, 2015 Leave a comment

The votes are in, and Andrew Ceroni has walked away with the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award! Or perhaps I should say, sprinted away.  As mentioned previously, a public poll held on the Self Publishing News blog between three EVVY-winning books determines the final winner, which means, the marketing prowess of the three finalists is what ultimately crowns the winning author. Mr. Ceroni and his book, “Snow Men” accumulated 63.51% of the votes.

Andrew Ceroni accepts his 1st Place EVVY Award at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association awards ceremony.

Even before the public poll went live, but after he was notified as one of the finalists, Andrew was engaging his Facebook friends with custom-made graphics of his award-winning book and seeking votes.  The temporary closeness of the poll demonstrates how engaged all three authors were in the marketing aspect of securing this award, since at one point, all three finalists were “neck and neck” with mere percentage points separating them. But at the bell, Mr. Ceroni prevailed.

That’s not to take anything away from the two other finalists, both of whom penned impressive books, garnered 1st Place EVVY Awards, and secured an impressive number of votes themselves.  Congratulations to “Dust to Dust” author John Hudson and “Speechless” author E.J. Brown (more about her in the next post); you both have much to be proud of.  Being a “Best Book of the Year” finalists from approximately 1,500 published books is an amazing accomplishment in its own right!

And a hearty congratulations to Andrew Ceroni, author of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year, “Snow Men.”

I met Andrew at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association a number of weeks ago as he picked up his 1st Place EVVY Award for “Snow Men” and I cannot imagine a friendlier, more down-to-earth, and humble person.  Way to go, Andrew. You earned it!

EVVY Award Winning Authors From Outskirts Press

September 4, 2015 Leave a comment

Every year, Outskirts Press nominates less than 5% of the books it publishes for submission to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards, an independent 3rd party book award contest that is both competitive and “strict” (for lack of a better word).   Each book is judged by three different judges.

Not only are books compared against all other books in their respective categories by each EVVY judge, but they’re also compared against a 100-point grading scale. A  book must secure at least 90 points to be awarded a 1st Place EVVY Award; 80 points to be awarded a 2nd Place EVVY Award, and so forth. Yes, this means that in some categories, it is conceivable that not a single book wins an award, even if there are multiple books in that category.

So, in other words, it is no small feat to win an EVVY award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Outskirts Press won eighteen of them.

Congratulations to all our EVVY Award winning authors below:

Family & Relationships       Speechless by E.J. Brown                                 1st Place
Fiction/Science Fiction       Dust to Dust by John Hudson                            1st Place
Fiction/Action Adventure    Snow Men by Andrew Ceroni                             1st Place
(Important Note: These First Place EVVY Award winners above are the three finalists for the 2014 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards. Voting is taking place through September 6th at the Self Publishing News blog. Vote now. )

Andrew Ceroni accepts his First Place EVVY Award for his book “Snow Men” at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association ceremony.

Academic/Reference         What’s Wrong with That Door? by John Quist    3rd Place
Children’s Story Books       Big Albert the Camel by Dr. Peggy Turnage      3rd Place
Fiction/Mystery&Detective  Out of Reech by Adam J. Beardslee                 3rd Place
Poetry Dreams to               Dance in Moonlight by Peter C. Stone               3rd Place
Religion & Spirituality         The Astrology of Success by Jan Spiller            3rd Place
Family & Relationships       Growing Up Ugly by Fritzie von Jessen             3rd Place

Fritzie von Jessen accepts her Third Place EVVY Award for her book “Growing Up Ugly” at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association ceremony.

Autobiography/Memoirs      Peeling Back the Layers by Lawayne Childrey                         Merit
Family & Relationships       The Back-Up Mom by Laura K. Wagner                                    Merit
Fiction/Action Adventure     A Holiday From Time by John Mero                                          Merit
Fiction/Historical                 More Stories of the Rich and Famous by David M. Tavernier    Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Oliver Ornament by Michael Burns                                             Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Pinos Altosby John Koski                                                            Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Pluto The Starfish by Bonnie M. Anderson                                 Merit
Religion & Spirituality         Keys to Armageddon by KaMuLanS                                           Merit
Self Help                            The Garden of Life by Todd Michael Putnam                             Merit

When authors cannot accept the award personally, I am honored to accept the award on their behalf, as I’m doing here for John Hudson and his First Place EVVY Award-winning book, “Dust to Dust”.

Congratulations to all our EVVY award-winning authors, and EVVY nominees!

What makes the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards so special?

September 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Today marks the beginning of the public poll to determine the 2014 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. This is the only book award contest I am aware of that rewards both an author’s writing ability and marketing ability.

The writing ability is recognized and rewarded by the requirement that every Best Book of the Year finalist must win an EVVY Award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

The marketing ability is recognized and rewarded by putting all three finalists head-to-head-to-head to see which tenacious marketer can secure the most votes in a publicly held poll.  That poll is happening right now over on the Outskirts Press Self Publishing News blog at http://selfpublishingnews.com

As I write this, it’s a three-way race, with all three finalists currently receiving between 30% and 36% of the votes.  Not only does the ultimate winner gain acclaim as the author of the best book Outskirts Press published in 2014 (from over 1500 contenders), but he or she will also receive the $1,500 Grand Prize.  No wonder all three writers are so actively involved in this public poll!

Voting is open to everyone. The poll ends at midnight (Mountain Standard Time) on Sunday, September 6th.

Does September 2015 seem like an odd month to recognize our best book from 2014, nine months late?  It is, and that’s due to ensuring every finalists’ very important, award-winning status, courtesy of the Colorado Independent Publisher Association and its independent EVVY Awards.  Those EVVY Awards were just announced last week, and the picture of me above was taken during that ceremony in Denver, Colorado. I’ll cover more of that next time.

In the meantime, congratulations to our three Best Book of the Year finalists:

New Year’s Resolutions

They say the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight (publishing a book is #2).  At the beginning of November I started the “Month of Living Dangerously” (#MonOLivDa) where I would attempt to write 50,000 words to my new novel (in association with National Novel Writing Month) and lose 20 pounds (in association with not eating anything).

I successfully wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. I wasn’t successful with my 20 pound goal. I only reached 13 pounds lost in 30 days.  However, today I’m happy to report I finally crossed that 20 pound finish line (21 pounds, actually).  And with 50,000 words written, I estimate I have about 30,000 more to complete Idle Hands.  And I estimate I have about 7 more pounds to lose to get to my ideal weight.  I doubt I’ll complete both of those in January, but perhaps…

So, in other words, New Year’s Resolutions continue long after the first of the year.  And if publishing a book is among your New Year’s Resolutions, check out this month’s promotion at Outskirts Press (three times as many free author’s copies).


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Merry Christmas from Outskirts Press

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

To your family from ours, here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Categories: Brent Sampson Tags: ,

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