With a 99% author satisfaction rate, Outskirts Press faces 1 or 2 complaints a month from our published authors. That’s bound to happen, statistically, when you publish books by roughly 150 different authors a month. So I thought over the next few posts, I would address the Top 5 “Outskirts Press Complaints” that arise, along with what leads to those complaints and what Outskirts Press does–and is doing–to mitigate similar complaints in the future.
It is my hope that by discussing these complaints with transparency that future Outskirts Press authors will be more familiar with issues that have caught an author off-guard in the past. Because, ultimately, that is what a “complaint” is — catching a client/customer off-guard. I’m a writer. I love helping writers. So I hate receiving complaints, and we take steps to receive as few complaints as possible, which is difficult given the emotionally-charged nature of this industry in general.
These complaints will not be presented in order from “greatest number of complaints received” to “least number of complaints received” because that implies that the #1 issue has received many more complaints than the #5 complaint. That may not be the case. In fact, I actually had to stretch to come up with 5, but who’s ever heard of a “Top 4” list? In reality, the number of all these complaints is statistically low.
I’ve numbered them 1-5 for the purposes of identifying them in the blog headline, and I will discuss each of these Outskirts Press complaints alphabetically over the next 5 postings.
Outskirts Press Complaint #1: Annual Storage Fees
These fees fall under different names, depending upon the firm. Some call them annual fees, or storage fees. Others call them maintenance fees or distribution fees. No one likes paying fees, but especially no one likes paying fees when they don’t know why. Here’s why many self-publishing firms charge an annual fee.
All print-on-demand self-publishing firms that distribute via Ingram are charged an annual fee by Ingram for every book uploaded into Ingram’s POD/distribution system. This system is what allows a book to be printed on demand, and what allows a published book to appear in Ingram’s database so it shows up on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s website (among many others). The amount self-publishing firms pay for each title depends upon how many total titles the self-publishing firms have published.
There are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors transparently (clearly), and there are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors subversively (hidden). Outskirts Press passes along this annual fee transparently, meaning we disclose this cost up front. It’s mentioned on our website and in our Agreement. We bill for it clearly every January. Outskirts Press is among only a handful of self-publishing companies that pay 100% of the profits of the book to the author, and as such, there is very little opportunity to “hide” this storage fee from the author. The other firms that also pay 100% royalties to their author also charge this annual storage fee transparently for the same reason we do– the author’s profits cannot go towards the fee because the author’s profits go to the author.
On the other hand, self-publishing firms that pay 80%, 50%, 35%, and yes, even 20% of the profit to the author obviously have no need to charge an annual storage fee because they are getting much more from the authors by taking so much of the book’s profit. What’s even more troubling with this procedure is that successful authors with these firms are subsidizing unsuccessful authors. A successful author’s profits are being used not only to pay her own fee, but the fees of an author whose own book sales don’t cover the firm’s annual costs. Ouch.
Outskirts Press Kudos #1
To offset the tone of these 5 postings about Outskirts Press complaints, I figured I would also include a comment from one of our published authors at the bottom of each posting. We receive so many positive comments each month that we rarely have a “place” to put them all, so by adding some to my blog, we’ll create another opportunity for our authors’ wonderful success stories to be shared. We post many more testimonials on our website here every month.
“When I came to Outskirts Press I had a story I needed to tell. Joan took that story and turned it into an incredible book! She walked me through each step with unbelievable patience, explaining every detail along the way. She gave me accurate timelines throughout the process. Joan went above and beyond anything I ever expected or imagined possible. My book wouldn’t be what it is if not for her unbelievable effort and attention to detail. I can’t thank Joan or Outskirts Press enough!” – Glenn Skinner