Start marketing your book as you are writing it

For the last month and a half, my posts have focused on my participation in National Novel Writing Month, which tasks writers to compose 50,000 words to a book within the 30 days of November.  During the month, as WriMo’s (as they are called) write their books, they also converse with “buddies” online, commiserate in forums,  and some even attend local “Write-Ins” in person, where they can write alongside other NaNoWriMo participants. And all of this helps them do something that ALL writers should do — market their book AS they are writing it.

This is good advice regardless of whether you are writing a book in a month, or in a year; and Outskirts Press has recently published a book by one of the best social media marketing authors, Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, who uses multiple social media platforms to engage her audience for both her acting career and her writing career.

Author and actress Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol is perhaps best known for her roles in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and the upcoming film, “AWOL-72.” Her first book of poetry, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, was released by Outskirts Press in June of 2014 and quickly climbed through the bestseller ranks. In a recent interview with us, Mirtha Michelle credits much of her success to a quality relationship with what she calls her “social media family.” In her own words, here are four simple tips she offers to the newly published author:

  1. Diversify your platform. Mirtha Michelle keeps readers up-to-date on her activities and poetry through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram-a rigorous and diverse digital platform that ensures her words reach as many people as possible. “Social media has helped me get to know my readers and my audience,” she says, and it is important that she reach her readers wherever they are to be found.
  2. Create original content, and regularly. “Two years ago,” Mirtha Michelle tells us, “I just posted about my life a little bit-my outfits, if I went out somewhere exciting, and so on. But after a while, I started posting quotes I liked, and I started to see that social media was an outlet to express myself and show what I was working on.” She began posting more intentionally about her ongoing projects, with the intent of bringing her followers alongside as her work continues to evolve: “I see it as a job, to be honest. I pay close attention to my social media.” She makes a point of posting new and original content several times a week, including artistically and professionally shot photographs of her poetry.
  3. Positivity helps. Mirtha Michelle’s initials make up a personalized hashtag, #MMCM. This hashtag helps her readers connect across social media platforms, and has become a bastion for positivity and healthy relationships. In their comments on her blog, fans often cite her work as instrumental in helping them through difficult times. “I wish I could reply to every single person who writes a comment,” she says, “and I wish I could thank every person.” It can be challenging to keep up with every follower, but Mirtha Michelle goes to great lengths to ensure they know she’s listening: “I try to respond to everyone on Tumblr, because I really, really care.” Readers return to Mirtha Michelle’s blog, and her poetry, again and again-in large part because of her optimism and her genuine interest in their lives.
  4. Be authentic. “Write your heart,” Mirtha Michelle advises. “Imagine you’re meditating with your computer, with words. Really listen to your soul, so you can express what it wants to say.” Even on social media, she tells us, “I don’t try to be anything I’m not.”

Mirtha Michelle’s book, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, is available through iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Outskirts Press Direct bookstore.

My NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 5, 2014:

Average Per Day 1833
Words Written Today 2371
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 9165
Words Remaining 40,835
Current Day 5
Days Remaining 26
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,571

Open Letter to Brent Sampson from a Self-Publishing Author

I received this letter from one of our authors recently. I didn’t change a word (although I did insert the links).  It’s long, but there’s a lot of informative stuff in here for authors considering their self-publishing options.  

Mr. Brent Sampson
President and
Chief Executive officer
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, 515
Parker, CO 80134

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Last week, I sent Anna Ely my approval of the final revisions for my novel, Prayers of God [232894A]. I appreciate very much the help and good counsel that I received from Anna, Jamie Belt and especially Brie Curtis. I want to mention them early in this long letter because their assistance directly created the warm feelings that I have for Outskirts Press. As their boss, you need to know how splendid they have been for me, and I hope my saying so will benefit them in whatever internal processes you have for rewarding competence and empathy that went well beyond my expectations.

I think, by the conclusion of this letter, that you will understand more of why I feel that way. A little backstory. I’m 71 this year. After starting out as a reporter and columnist for my hometown paper (in Roanoke, Va.), I lived in New York City for 34 years, working primarily as a staff editor for a maritime union publication (eight years); Colonial Homes (12 years), a Hearst home shelter magazine; and American Shipper (11 years), an international shipping and logistics magazine. I also edited a journal for the American Montessori Society for 16 years, as well as doing regular freelancing for other employers. I’ve taught writing workshops for NYU’s School of Continuing Education and lectured about logistics for both military and civilian college classes. I edited an anthology of essays by Marya Mannes, a pioneering media commentator, published by a former Doubleday editor under his own imprint, and had rapport with two literary agents, Jay Garon (who launched John Grisham) and John Hawkins (who worked closely with Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates and Gail Godwin). Both men are sadly gone – I learned much from them.

In 2001, American Shipper’s New York office was in the World Trade Center. I was nearly killed by falling concrete, a life-altering event described in Prayers of God.

In 2006, I retired to live near Ithaca, N.Y., to be closer to my grandkids. I have always been a cynic, snark-mouthed and foul-witted, keeping well clear of churches, ministers and (especially) priests. So it came as a huge shock to find myself writing a novel about what might drive a deity to pray, why and how. It started with short stories that grew into each other and then became a coherent if broad tapestry. In the summer of 2011, an old mutual friend persuaded a well-known Cornell professor of comparative literature, William Kennedy, to read Prayers of God in manuscript. I had (and have) no connection to Cornell, and had never met Kennedy, who ranks with Harold Bloom in the upper strata of literary appraisers. Kennedy really liked my work, saying that it was as good as anything he taught, and told me what he has permitted, using his name, to be printed on the back cover of Prayers of God.

Professor Kennedy’s reaction shook me to the bone. If the manuscript is that good, I thought, then I must really go to work on it. Twenty months later, I reached the point of knowing I’d done all that I could.

There were three serious hurdles ahead. According to sources within major-house publishing, editors and agents play a very neat game. The former, as a rule, read no transom submissions, while the latter are not taking on new clients. That’s a convenient closed circle that can be penetrated, but not easily. Even well-known authors have trouble placing new work.

The second hurdle was the fact no agent or editor, despite Kennedy’s appraisal, was likely to scroll down the 109,000 words of Prayers of God on a computer screen.

This is a book you must have in your hands to appreciate its intent. Given the hermetic circle cited above, even a bound manuscript ($50 from Staples) would likely be tossed at the door.

A third problem would be the reception awaiting my novel if it were actually accepted in manuscript form by a major publisher. There’s a lot of satire that stings, very black humor, and enough sex to vex prudes on patrol. I would be urged, probably required, to soften if not mute the text.

If you doubt me, I recommend a new book, Hothouse, by Boris Kachka, about the goings-on inside Farrar, Straus & Geroux since that firm’s founding. This is one of the few tell-all accounts of the American publishing world, printed – interestingly enough – by Simon & Schuster. I can think of no other book on that subject in which the dust jacket copy refers to S.I. Newhouse as “that dwarf” and agent Andrew Wylie as “that shit.” Although there are delectable tales within, such as Maurice Sendak sending Roger Straus a Christmas drawing of Snow White about to be ravished by her seven helpers, the general content of Hothouse would drive any sane writer to consider self-publishing.

That is what I did last May. I researched six self-publishing companies online. When I came to Outskirts, I began by reading all of the unfavorable comments about your company that popped up on Google. The more I read, the more I liked Outskirts, since the complaints and such were clearly made by people who had unrealistic expectations. Whatever alleged lapses they were barking about seemed to me quite reasonable behavior on Outskirts’s part. So, I rang up and was put through to Jamie Belt. In our first talks and then subsequent e-mails, I began to think that I was in a kind of publishing Brigadoon. There was no arrogance, no bluster, just straightforward information. I picked your Sapphire option, figuring that if I didn’t like the result, I wouldn’t be that much out-of-pocket. I had decided by then that the only hope for Prayers of God was for it to appear first in a precursory paperback edition, which could then be sent as bait to selected editors, agents and sources of writing grants. I knew that critical and merciless eyes would be reading it, and that even small flaws would have the effect of gravel in a sandwich.

Given some of its content, I was very happy when Outskirts agreed to print Prayers of God, but (unsurprisingly) required that I accept your private-label terms. For my publishing company’s name, I picked that of an outfit called ‘Omniscient Neutral Intelligence’ in the book. (It looks marvelous on the cover – I expect NSA contracts forthwith.) Professor Kennedy, who remains a fierce partisan, doubled-down on his previous comment, even insisting – when my serious marketing starts in January – that I use his Cornell e-mail should anyone want to contact him. The only major qualm I had was what the book would actually look like. Brie Curtis helped me with the cover options. She was remarkably intuitive in guiding me toward what might work best within my budget constraints. I chose a black military-style script appearing on a pure white background. Seeing that on the galley screen gave a real jolt, love at first sight. Although extraterrestrials (who may be angels) play a part in the text, I was pleased to see that the tag at the top of the back cover read FICTION / Christian / Classic & Allegory. Prayers of God really isn’t science fiction per se.

The back-cover copy went as follows:
WOULD EMPATHY FOR HUMANS EVER COMPEL GOD TO PRAY?
IF SO, TO WHOM AND FOR WHAT?

In almost every religion sustained by fear-mongering, shamans dissuade their faithful sheep from contemplating the countenance of whatever deity they worship, citing abiding damnation as a well-deserved punishment for anyone who is reckless enough to do so. Exodus 33:20-23 suggests an alternative, albeit one that divinity students are advised never to quote publicly. The Hebrews’ Lord tells Moses that “while my glory passeth by, I will cover thee with my hand. And I will take away my hand and thou shall see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen.” Yet all caveats about viewing either end of a divine construct seem one-sided. Who warns God about looking too closely at humankind? This novel, a mosaic tapestry in which timelines and genres interweave, suggests how a modern-era deity would cope with the trauma surely induced by such exposure. According to its author, Prayers of God developed from “an odd trinity of catalysts: Rabelais, Martin Luther and Wikipedia.”

“Terrific, superbly paced, pitch-perfect, wonderful in so many ways.”
– William John Kennedy, professor of comparative literature, Cornell

Despite Brie Curtis’s assurances (well-founded, as it turned out), I remained concerned about how the proofs would look. There were traps a-plenty awaiting any designer setting my pages. Prayers of God is a mix of prose, scenes from a play, scenes from a screenplay, free-standing scripts of dialogue, and counterpoint called ‘antiphons.’ I had indicated in the text files what had to be in boldface or italic type. Much was not optional. One character speaks entirely in italic, another all in capital letters. Stylistically, it could have been a shambles.

Except that it wasn’t. The galley pages surpassed what I had hoped for. The chosen typeface was easy on the eye and yet not clinical-appearing. Brie Curtis’s design team had made all of the right aesthetic choices. The overall format of the text was absolutely on target. (The eventual look of the published book is stunningly effective.  A friend who had brought her copy to read while waiting for a medical appointment had it yanked out of her hand by her doctor, who demanded to know what it was.)

What happened next was basically my doing, since I had not taken Outskirts’s editing option. I had sent the text in two Word files. For reasons that Outskirts could not be blamed for, there were numerous line drops and a slew of typos. There were 94 edits before the first publication run. It’s amazing what you see that didn’t register before when your work actually goes into type. After publication, I had to go through two tranches of revisions: 18 more edits in the first go-round, and a final five corrections in the second. Those post-publication revisions cost $305 that I would rather not have spent, but they were necessary. Outskirts’s correction fees are certainly not unreasonable. My total outlay thus far, for the paperback’s initial printing and subsequent corrections, is $902.50. That, in perspective, is less than the cost of a replacement tooth.

That is also an interesting commentary on the supposed high costs always cited by major publishing houses in justifying their alleged overheads, usually at an author’s expense. I was particularly interested to see what Outskirts would charge for substantial reprint orders, let’s say, for so many thousand copies. I don’t have to repeat in this letter figures that you know very well, but they certainly suggest that major publishers cite amounts greatly in excess of actual printing costs.

One other point. In the word count cited – over all of Prayers of God’s 470 printed pages, I found on my first reading only six unacceptable hyphenations on the justified right-hand margins. No one that I’ve told in the traditional print world will believe me, but it’s true.

Thus far, I have not pursued your marketing options because at this point, bookstore or online sales are not my prime concern. It’s certainly a plus to have Prayers of God up on Amazon, but – as I’ve explained – this paperback edition is basically bait for a hardbound sale. If I need Outskirts’s options, they are available to me. What I’ve read from your marketing coaches sounds helpful for authors in general, just not applicable to me at the moment.

So, we’ll have to see what happens now to Prayers of God. Meantime, I do have some recommendations for other writers who might be contemplating using Outskirts, as well as two suggestions that pertain only to your company. Let’s start with my advice to authors:

(1) Have realistic expectations. They will be met. I took Outskirts’s next-to-cheapest option and received a level of support that truly surprised me, as well as a fine-looking paperback in the end.

(2) While the company seems to accord the same respect and diligence to all of its authors, you will most appreciate Outskirts’s efforts if you have actually had substantial publishing experience.

(3) If you haven’t had that, a fair question would be ‘so, what is realistic?’ My answer: Keeping your focus on the book you want to be published: its content, internal format, outside cover. Once you’ve decided what you want done from the options available, Outskirts will not try to nudge you toward an upgrade.

(4) If you are genuinely uncertain about what you want, your Outskirts representative will offer counsel, but not as a personal trainer. Don’t expect vanity stroking. Also, Outskirts does not employ psychiatrists.

(5) Understand the logic of Outskirts’s processes. Initially, you’ll want phone contact. After that, e-mail works faster for everyone, although my phone calls were always returned within 24 hours. Two notable points: The company’s online proof-correcting procedures are writer-friendly, not daunting to use. Also, an author’s account history can be easily accessed and printed for off-site files, which can be very helpful for tax-preparing purposes.

(6) Make certain that the manuscript you send online to Outskirts is as clean as possible. You don’t have to right-justify margins, but you should check for any dropped sentences that may have occurred online which might not appear if you’ve been working from the same text in printed form. Try to send your work to Outskirts in one Word file. Also, what is sent should be your final version. You’ll get a reasonable number of free line and word edits at first, but any substantial shifts of text, or moving content around, will incur delays and extra expense.

(7) You will not be the only author on your Outskirts representative’s radar. Accept that reality, and work within it. Patience and a willingness to be flexible are also learning tools. Whatever your ego, or your belief in your book, you will have to work with other people to achieve the best final product. Yes, you are paying Outskirts to print your book, but publishing in any venue is not an instant gratification business.

(8) Finally, authors frequently complain that publishers don’t do enough to market their books. Outskirts offers a number of outreach and marketing options that will give your book a kick-start if you use them, but there’s no guarantee of success. There never is. If you care enough about your book to pay to have it published, then I think that in today’s world you are better positioned to maximize its chances. The hard truth is that no one knows why certain fine books become bestsellers and others do not.

Here’s my advice for Outskirts:

(1) The only internal procedure that I think you should improve is the way that corrections are made after an initial printing. My frustration – only with myself, as I’ve made clear – at having to go through two tranches of further revisions flared into real angst only when I saw the narrow-lined spreadsheet of ‘errors to the left’ ‘corrections to the right’, which was very different from the side-by-side ‘error’ and ‘correction’ boxes that made proofing the first galleys easy on the eyes. Also, the narrow lines on the spreadsheet didn’t allow for indicating dropped sentences. And, to top it off, my computer (which uses LibreOffice) will accept Word files for reading but not editing.

Fortunately, Anna Ely assured me that I could send the revision corrections to her directly by e-mail. I did so following the format used for proofing the first page galleys: listing each error and then its correction with enough space to show a dropped line or to make a comment to the designer in brackets.

It would be easier if you could have the same proofing format for initial page galleys available to make post-publication revisions.

(2) My second suggestion concerns how Outskirts could attract substantial new business. Without knowing who most of your other authors are, I run the risk of preaching to a crowded choir here, but bear with me. Your website seems designed to attract first-time writers. I’m sure saying that does an injustice to many professionals who already publish with you, and no offense is intended. After all, Prayers of God is my first novel, so who am I to complain? It is commendable that you treat all authors the same, whether they intend a family memoir, a gardening book, a volume of poetry, a remembrance of a lost loved one, their take on history, whatever – no matter if the project is their first or tenth foray into print.

A close friend of mine has counseled troubled children for many years for a Western state agency. On occasion, he receives a grant from that state to print a journal of peer-approved essays. The publisher he uses has routinely charged five times what Outskirts would, even at the level of your most expensive option. When I told him how well Prayers of God had turned out under your auspices, and on Outskirts’s next-to-bottom option rung at that, he went to your website and was put off by what he called its “obvious pitch to amateurs.” He may yet come around when I mail him the novel.

I’m also told, on excellent authority, than university presses [and I’m not speaking of Cornell here] are rejecting books by distinguished professors who have had no trouble in the past in placing their wares. A number of those rejected, once they’ve swallowed their indignation, are beginning to self-publish. I suspect more than a few have come your way already. I also know of blue-chip public relations firms that increasingly outsource their clients’ printing needs to far-flung vendors, even billing a client in full for such (beyond their own service fees).

So, my suggestion is that you create a quadrant on your website specifically pitched toward academic (or collegiate-oriented) authors, and other professionals in government, public relations, law, health, etc. This would in no way detract from your approach to people interested in more personal projects. I think you would be astounded by the inflow of new business. Most professionals in those fields want no-nonsense turn-arounds (which I certainly obtained from you). In my experience, your delivery time (less than five months) would be more than agreeable for anyone implementing a well-planned publishing project. (I’m not speaking of CEOs who wants fast overnight printing for a board meeting the next day – Kinko’s you are not.)

Finally, I realize that Prayers of God does not qualify, because of its Sapphire option and private-label lineage, for consideration of awards – or attention being called to it – within Outskirts. That’s quite all right. My satisfaction comes entirely from knowing that the first edition of what others say could become a world classic has been handled so well. Again, I want to congratulate Jamie Belt, Brie Curtis, Anna Ely, Michelle (I only know her first name) and others in the Outskirts production department for their fine work. My thanks to you, as well, for setting the standards you have, and for reading through this long letter. Feel free to quote from any of this for your own purposes.

Sincerely,

Robert Mottley

Outskirts Press Self Publishing has an A+ Better Business Bureau Rating

In the immortal words of Sally Fields, “You love us. You really love us.”  Or… paraphrased at least.  Such is our Valentine’s Day hug to our friends over at the Better Business Bureau and their recognition of Outskirts Press as an A+ caliber business in terms of business ethics and customer service.

The grade point system the BBB uses is largely dependent upon a formula that, for simplicity’s sake, I will reduce to this equation:  The number of customers/divided by/ the number of complaints. Sure, there are other variables, such as the company’s responsiveness to officially registered complaints, and other factors, but ultimately, the larger the gap between your total number of customers and your total number of complaints, the better your score is.  Makes sense, right?

So this may sound strange for me to mention, especially in light of our A+ rating, but there is a flaw with the BBB’s system and it stems from this basic fact: it was created before the Internet, during a time when the acquisition of new customers took months instead of seconds. Since the formula being used by the BBB to determine grades uses variables that can change drastically within 24 hours, you can see how it quickly becomes out of date. This is why, if you closely watch any Internet business’ BBB ranking, it often slowly declines over time since the number of customers being calculated by the BBB stays constant (because they don’t update their records as quickly as Internet businesses acquire more customers), while the number of complaints rises statistically in accordance with the actual number of customers.

For example, until January 2013, the BBB hadn’t updated our records at Outskirts Press for years… and in that span of time, our customer base basically doubled over the numbers they were using for their formula.  It doesn’t take a mathematician to see how that could negatively affect a BBB grade, based upon their equation, if the top number of the equation stays erroneously static while the bottom number continues to dynamically climb. Or… maybe it DOES take a mathematician to understand that.  But I’m an English major, and that flaw in their system has always bothered me.

Nevertheless, thank you to the BBB for updating their records to reflect our growth over the past several years, and bringing our grade to its accurate reflection of the self publishing industry. And speaking of which, Valentine’s Day love also goes out to Top Consumer Reviews, who also has Outskirts Press as the #1 self publishing company.  More on that next time…

Guy Kawasaki Step 2 to Enchantment

When I attended the Inc. 500/5000 conference last month my favorite presenter was Guy Kawasaki, who (along with being incredibly witty) offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients (or in our case at Outskirts Press, authors).  So over the next few weeks I will summarize each of the steps Guy discussed, along with how it is applicable to our self-publishing company, Outskirts Press, and perhaps it will also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).  And, in the meantime, you should get Guy’s book, “Enchantment” for the total skinny.

Step 2 is to achieve trustworthiness.

People, by their general nature, tend to be initially leery of businesses and especially of “sales people.”  People are so leery of “sales people,” in fact, that often those positions are the most difficult to fill from a recruiting stand-point. That’s right, you can’t even pay people to be sales people in some cases! Businesses have counteracted this fact by arriving upon a whole host of other words for sales people: consultant, adviser, waiter, advocate, specialist, etc.  Guy’s point during the conference was that if salespeople made initial steps to achieve trustworthiness, their goals of “selling something” would be easier.  His position is that one accomplishes this by finding common ground, finding something upon which both the sales person and the customer can agree.  It does not even have to be related to the product or service. It can initially be about anything.

You also achieve trustworthiness by helping people without receiving anything in return. Social media is showing us that a common and effective method for achieving trustworthiness is to operate with transparency and give away valuable information for free. “Social media specialists” have even arrived upon formulas for success that suggest for every blog posting or status update in which you sell something, you should provide between 3 to 7  postings/updates containing free, valuable information or advice.   At Outskirts Press, we try to maintain this balance on our Facebook page,and our blog, and while there are months where the balance is more even than others, I feel that we accomplish this step relatively successfully.

Is Outskirts Press the most successful self-publishing company?

Is Outskirts Press the most successful self-publishing company? Certainly it depends upon who you ask, and by what parameters “success” is being judged, but Inc. Magazine seems to think so, if their list of the top 5000 privately held companies in America holds any merit (which many would argue it does). For the fourth year in a row, Outskirts Press finds itself on this very prestigious list, which ranks the success of private companies (as defined by profitable growth) across a three year span of time.  I won’t delve into the mathematics or business logistics for why accomplishing this feat four years in a row is difficult and, instead, I’ll just post the press release.  We couldn’t have this ongoing (unprecedented in the self-publishing industry) success without the continued support of our amazing authors and our talented production, sales, accounting, IT, and marketing folks. Thank you!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Outskirts Press Makes Inc’s 5000 Fastest Growing List for the Fourth Year in a Row 

Inc. Magazine again named self-publisher Outskirts Press one of the fastest growing private companies in America, marking the self-publisher’s fourth straight year on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list. 

September 4, 2012 – Denver, CO – Outskirts Press, the fastest growing, full service self-publishing and book marketing company, was again recognized  by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the country when it landed on the Inc. 5000 list for the fourth straight year.  

Inc., Magazine’s annual list represents an overview of the most robust companies in America, despite the current, less-than-robust economy.   Whatever these companies are doing, they’re doing it right.  Their median growth rate was 97%, they created more than 400,000 jobs, and they grossed nearly 300 billion dollars.

Placement on the prestigious list is based on revenue growth from 2008 through 2011, and Inc’s tally reads like a roll call of America’s business powerhouses.  Over the years the list has included such notables as Intuit, Go Daddy, Timberland, Microsoft, Patagonia and Oracle, to name a few.

“We’re honored, of course, to be included once again in such a stellar collection of entrepreneurial stars,” said Brent Sampson, CEO of Outskirts Press.  “Inc. Magazine’s acknowledgement of our continued expansion is a testament to our commitment to  our quality, customer service, and value, and just goes to show what is possible when you bring highly-talented authors together with highly-talented publishing artisans.”

Outskirts Press first appeared on the Inc. 500 list in 2009 as the 268th fastest growing company in America.  In 2010 Outskirts Press was on the Inc. 5000 list again at number 1266 and again in 2011 at number 3088. For the fourth year in a row, Outskirts Press ranks in the top 5000 at number 4530 and continues a healthy annual growth rate of twenty percent.

Outskirts Press’ four straight years on the Inc. list shows the company’s continuing vanguard status in the self-publishing industry, an industry that is itself doing more than its part to buoy up the economy.  87 percent of all books produced today are put out by small presses or self-publishing companies.  The number of non-traditional books produced in 2011 increased by 169 percent, while the growth of traditional publishers was only 5 percent.  In fact, 8000 to 11,000 publishers enter the market every year, and most of them are self-publishers.

Within this competitive field Outskirts Press has maintained its sturdy and stable growth and continues to be the top company authors choose when they decide to go the high-quality, full-service self-publishing route. Learn more at http://outskirtspress.com.

About Outskirts Press: Outskirts Press offers high-quality, full-service self-publishing and book marketing services for writers and professionals who are seeking a cost-effective, fast, and flexible way to publish and distribute their books worldwide while retaining 100% of their rights, 100% of their profits, and 100% of the creative control. www.outskirtspress.com.

# # #

Outskirts Press, Inc., 10940 S. Parker Rd. – 515, Parker, Colorado 80134

http://outskirtspress.com  1-888-OP-BOOKS

Self-Publishing Verdict: EXCELLENT!

I seem to have started another series of postings in the middle of the longer series I was writing about our Self Publishing Facebook Achievement awards. I’ll continue with that topic next. But in the meantime, here is one more direct communication I received from an author recently that I wanted to highlight because it once again establishes something what I feel is one important difference between Outskirts Press and the other firms out there: we like cultivating professional relationships with our authors and it is important to us that they succeed. This one comes from Paul Binford, who recently published The Shademakers.

“Hi Brent,

You sent me an welcome e-mail back in March. Since then my book, The Shademakers, has been published and I have received my author’s copies. The package arrived only a week after I ordered them. Thanks for the speediness on your part.

I’ve just filled out the survey – What do you think? – which I was happy to do and I gave all “excellent” responses. I think you guys did a great job. The whole process was user friendly and I’m impressed with everything. The cover photo was picked out from somewhere, and I would say it does just what a cover is supposed to do. The short summary on the back cover was revised a bit, for the better, by the design staff, and I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out.

The Outskirts representatives, Jodee and Elaine, were very efficient and timely with replies to various questions. Kudos also to your webmaster. I usually have trouble with computers but your website is seamless and it works! No glitches.

I’m way behind in the marketing part of it, there’s about a hundred e-mails backed up. It’s at the end of the semester at my school, my wife and I just moved, all of that has added up to a hectic pace which hasn’t allowed for much time. I’ve just gotten to the “ripple effect” e-mail, which seems to be going well. I’m surprised at the support I’m getting from my friends here in Japan. They’re promising to read my book, write a review on Amazon, share it on Facebook, things like that. I still have a lot of work to do in that department.

Just wanted to say thanks for the great job at Outskirts Press.

Best regards,
Paul Binford”

Congrats, Paul! Your book looks great!

Paul mentions a few things here that give a little “behind the scenes” on some of the other intangible advantages of self publishing with Outskirts Press — the benefits that naturally happen but that are difficult to “market” to new authors. The first is the “What did you think” survey that all our first-time authors are presented with within the first month after publication.  We ask them to rate our performance on a number of different categories so we can see how we’re doing and if there is any room for improvement.  Most survey responses, like Paul’s, are all excellent, and that’s always good to see.

The second was Paul’s reference to our service.

The third was his reference to the marketing emails which are backing up due to his travels.  This is our Marketing COACH program, which helps focus authors on productive marketing tactics and options after their book is published.  No other publisher offers anything like it, it’s free, and it’s only available with Outskirts Press. Just sayin’…

Self Publishing Reviews

In my last post I set out to compare self publishing companies based upon 4 of the top 5 self publishing reviews. I applied a numeric value to each company based upon their relative ranking in each source, and that resulted in the following result totals for the top 5 self publishing companies ranked side by side (out of a possible 34 points):

Outskirts Press 30 Points
Company 3 24 Points
Company 5 19 Points
Company 2 13 Points
Company 14 13 Points

Upon looking at that data, I realized that some sources were weighted more heavily than others, since each source didn’t share the same value system. One had a 13 point value system while another had a 4 point value system. So for the purposes of this next chart, I will apply a 10-point value system to each of the four sources to give each source equal weight and therefore arrive at a more accurate total:

The way one does that is as follows:

TopTen Reviews already has a 10 point system, so the points there remain the same.

Top Consumer Reviews has an 8 point system, which means each point is worth 1.25 points to reach a 10-point system.

Top Self Publishing Firms has a 13 point value system, so to bring that into a 10-point system, each point actually is worth .77 points.

Previously I applied a 4 point value system to the categories in The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, but since one of those values was a negative number for the “publishers to avoid” category, in reality it was a 3 point system with an exception so now each point in that book really becomes worth 3.33.

And that leaves us with this chart below, which, interestingly enough, is not significantly different from the previous chart. Value is value. Good self publishing companies are good self publishing companies.

TopTen Top Consumer Fine Print Top Firms Total
Outskirts Press 8 8.75 6.66 10 33.41
Company 2 3.33 9.24 12.57
Company 3 10 5 -1 8.47 22.47
Company 4 3.33 7.7 11.03
Company 5 7 10 6.93 23.93
Company 6 6.66 6.16 12.82
Company 7 -1 5.39 4.39
Company 8 3.75 -1 4.62 7.37
Company 9 2 3.33 3.85 9.18
Company 10 9 -1 3.08 11.08
Company 11 4 -1 2.31 5.31
Company 12 10 1.54 11.54
Company 13 -1 0.77 -0.23
Company 14 6 7.5 3.33 16.83
Company 15 5 2.5 3.33 10.83
Company 16 3 3.33 6.33
Company 17 1 1
Company 18 10 10
Company 19 6.25 6.25
Company 20 1.25 1.25

Out of a possible perfect score of 40 points, the top 5 self publishing companies according to the combined data from these self publishing reviews are:

Outskirts Press 33.41 Points
Company 5 23.93 Points
Company 3 22.47 Points
Company 14 16.83 Points
Company 6 12.82 Points

As stated in the last posting, I don’t name competitors. Even so, this analysis seems somewhat indicative of the value we offer at Outskirts Press, according to the combined views of four 3rd-party self publishing review sources.

As you compare publishing companies when it comes time to make your publishing decision, keep these 3 tips in mind:

1. Consider the source. How biased is it? How rational? How knowledgeable? Does it seem like a rant, or a legitimate, valuable piece of information that you can apply your own, personal viewpoint to?

2. Consider the date of the information. Is it out of date? Years old? No longer applicable? Since people are becoming accustomed to the immediacy of blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, they forget that information is available “forever” on the Internet. As a result, they assume information they read today was written today, when in reality, you may be viewing information that is years old, was written on April Fool’s day, or in some other way is no longer informative or important. You can typically find a date for all information if you look hard enough.

3. Investigate multiple sources. As you can see from the combined scores of the 4 sources above, no company is absolutely perfect. That’s because they’re run by human beings. Some sources you uncover will love one company and hate another. And a different source will have exactly the opposite opinion. That’s because sources are run by human beings, too, and everyone has an opinion. So find multiple sources of information and apply the statistical analysis method suggested above.