The Best Book of the Year process begins today

Last Saturday, the 2016 EVVY Awards took place in Denver, Colorado, and I was present (along with other Outskirts Press authors) to receive awards on behalf of our authors who were unable to attend in person.  Pictures from that evening will be posted on my blog soon.

Outskirts Press won 22 awards that night, and they are posted on our Outskirts Press blog here.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that only 21 winners are listed. That’s because Action/Adventure 1st Place Winner Meridian, by Andrew Ceroni, also won 2nd place in the Science Fiction category!  Andrew was one of the Outskirts Press authors in attendance to receive his award personally.  An interesting side-note is that Andrew’s previous book, Snow Men, was also a First-Place EVVY Award-winner last year, before going on to win last year’s Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award and its $1500 Grand Prize.

self publishing . self publishing

Which brings me to the subject of this posting:

How the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards are determined.

Winning an EVVY Award is a prerequisite to winning our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, now in its 6th year. From among the winners announced last Saturday night at the CIPA ceremony, Outskirts Press selects three finalists. Those finalists will be announced at the beginning of September.  And then a public poll (open to everyone) will be posted at SelfPublishingNews.com where everyone gets to cast their vote for the actual winner.

So how are the Best Book of the Year finalists determined from among the EVVY winners?  Since they’ve won an EVVY Award, a lot of the technical and artistic components have already been taken into consideration and recognized, so choosing three Best Book of the Year finalists is admittedly more subjective.

For one, we do not simply go in order of EVVY awards (First, Second, Third) for two main reasons:

1) Each category of the EVVY awards is judged separately and independently, meaning a book that receives a 3rd place in one category is not automatically “worse” than a book that receives a 1st Place in a different category; the first category could have simply had higher caliber books, overall.

2) Unlike the EVVY judges, we have more context to apply to our decision for the Best Book of the Year finalists.  We know the authors. We are more familiar with their writing career and talents and aspirations. We know if they have published previous books and, if so, how THOSE books have performed in various contests. We know how their royalties are stacking up against other Outskirts Press authors and, more importantly, against the self-publishing industry on average.   CIPA judges take none of these factors into consideration when judging individual EVVY Awards (nor should they) but we do when choosing finalists from among all the EVVY winners.  That’s because the winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year is not only the author of a fantastic book, but she or he is a consummate marketing and writing professional (as detailed below).

self publishing award

The first thing we do is seek the opinions of various people at Outskirts Press in regard to the EVVY Winners. “From among this list, who do YOU think should be the Finalists, and why?” We collect those answers and add those variables to our consideration.

Next, we look at the EVVY Winners in order of placement (I realize I just said the decision doesn’t simply depend upon the order of the prizes, and it doesn’t, but the order of the EVVY awards are taken into consideration), and from that order we basically ask ourselves, “Is there a reason this book should NOT be a finalist?”

Finally, we look at the authors themselves– their career, the number of books they have published (and plan on publishing in the future); their royalties, their marketing initiatives, their social media presence.  Which authors from among the EVVY winners do we believe have the marketing chops to go head-to-head-head with their fellow finalists for an exciting public poll that determines the ultimate winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award and its $1500 Grand Prize?

Stay tuned…

 

 

The “O” is for Outstanding, Part 2

We’re in the middle of the blog series about the “upgrade” or “relaunch” or “face lift” that Outskirts Press is receiving throughout the summer, most notably on August 1, when a whole new website for new clients debuts.  My June 23 posting introduced a screen shot “mock-up” of the new RWD-enhanced website for the first time.  I followed up with some of the branding improvements, and then in my previous post, discussed the “O is for Outstanding” element that will start to play a subtle and not-so-subtle role in our *New* Outskirts Press.

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A perfect example of this is the new graphic appearing on all our social media channels today, July 1, announcing our most spectacular discount of the year — an instant 20% savings on our industry-leading ultimate Diamond package or our full-color Pearl package. It’s only good through July 5th.

Just enter promotion code SAVE20 in your shopping cart at check-out. Since the new Outskirts Press on August 1 introduces new packages and new prices, this is absolutely your last chance to get the best deal we will ever offer on two of the best publishing services in the business.

 

Winning National Novel Writing Month and Saving $200

I did it! I wrote over 50,000 words in under 30 days for National Novel Writing Month. When I validated my word count, I was lucky enough to witness this video from the NaNoWriMo crew:

 

Along with the following words of recognition:

You, brave authorial knight, have officially slayed 50K during NaNoWriMo 2014. Now, claim your dragon’s cave worth of treasure!

And the following certificate:

certificate

 

And a picture of a t-shirt (which I have to buy if I want one, and I would… but, I’m sorry to say, it’s just not very appealing):

shirt

And some winner’s “web badges”.

badges

In addition, some “winners-only” codes for offers from the NaNoWriMo sponsors will be available to me soon, which I discussed in an earlier post.  A better offer comes by way of a non-NaNoWriMo sponsor (they told us they were ‘full’ when we offered to give them money), where you can get a FREE Amazon Extreme Marketing Package when you start publishing your book with Outskirts Press.  This marketing package includes a free Amazon Kindle edition of your book once it is published, submission of your book to Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” program, an Amazon cover enhancement for your Amazon listing, and a free copy of my bestselling and award-winning book Sell Your Book on Amazon.  And all our publishing packages always include between 3 – 10 free copies of your book (which is better than 2, right?). All the details of this offer, including the necessary promotion code, can be found here: http://outskirtspress.com/promotion.html.  Hey, look at that: you don’t even have to get to the “Winners” page on NaNoWriMo to get this offer!

Or…. if you prefer saving money instead of receiving free stuff, today also happens to be Black Friday (what great timing!), so if you order your Diamond or Pearl full-color publishing package today only, you can save an instant 20% (that’s an average savings of over $200) on the cost of your all-inclusive, full-service book publishing. Simply enter the promotion code: 20DSCT2014 into your shopping cart at check-out.

I’m sure I’ll be seeing the rest of my mentorees and writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site crossing the finish line soon.  Way to go, fellow WriMo’s!

 My NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 27:

Average Per Day 1857
Words Written Today 1613
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 50,158  WINNER
Words Remaining 0
Current Day 27
Days Remaining 4
At this rate, you’ll finish 27-Nov
Words/Day to finish on time 0

 

What is the best self publishing company?

With so much competition in self-publishing nowadays, how are writers supposed to determine the “best self publishing company” for their books? This is a particularly important question during National Novel Writing Month when 500,000 participants are going to have to choose a publisher for their book come December 1st.

It comes down to statistical analysis of multiple sources and reviews. This beats relying upon any single source (whether it be positive or negative) since it’s important to realize that single sources may lack knowledge, integrity, or applicability. Now that the Internet is replacing newspapers, we are bombarded with more information than ever before, but unfortunately, most of the Internet lacks one component that made newspapers and journalism valuable — the vetting process. You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet; you must do your own homework, and that involves researching numerous sources and then combining that data into a value system you can actually use.

And that brings me to a posting I originally wrote in 2010 to help authors with the process of statistically analyzing 3rd-party sources when making a self-publishing decision. I introduced 4 such sources to help writers compare the “best self publishing companies” in a logical, mathematical way.  By combining these various “reviews” together to arrive upon a “sum total” you are better equipped to see an accurate “average score” of the best self publishing companies for your book.

Here is a link to that December 20, 2010 posting, titled “Compare Self Publishing Companies“.

In the meantime, here are my NaNoWriMo stats for November 20:

Average Per Day 1841
Words Written Today 1582
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 36824
Words Remaining 13,176
Current Day 20
Days Remaining 11
At this rate, you’ll finish 28-Nov
Words/Day to finish on time 1,198

Best selling self published author

A week ago I mentioned one of our best-selling authors at Outskirts Press, Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmo, and her success with using social media.  The Self-Publishing News blog recently interviewed her, and here are some helpful excerpts from that interview for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo (and for all writers, come to think of it):

OP: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of becoming a published author?

MMCM: The most rewarding part is and will always be the ability Letters has to touch people. It’s crazy because I didn’t think people really read books anymore. But for me, having these girls go and buy my book, and spend their twenty dollars or so on Letters–it’s amazing, that someone believes in things still. People say my book has helped them heal, and that it has touched them, and that they have read and reread the book five or six times. It’s not a long book, but still! That’s the best feeling. A lot of girls and guys have hit me up, saying I inspired them to write again. It’s so great, because I’ve had people inspire me throughout my life, so it’s kind of like I’m paying it forward. I love showing people that things are possible. When I first saw Jennifer Lopez in a movie, you know, I was like–wow, a Latin girl on screen! I was being represented. It was so powerful. If I can be an inspiration to someone to write, to publish a book, that’s beautiful.

OP: What advice would you offer new authors?

MMCM: Go with your gut. Don’t write for what you think people want–write your heart. People receive honesty well, unless they’re your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Just be honest in your writing, and then publish it. Don’t go to the coffee shop where people are writing scripts and things like that when you’re trying to write something heartfelt; the city noise and the distractions will prevent you. Take that time for yourself. Imagine you’re meditating with your computer, with words. Really listen to your soul, so you can express what it wants to say.

OP: What does the average day look like for you, as a writer?

MMCM: I make time to write, and obviously I also write whenever I feel something specific move me. I’m constantly thinking of new material, so I’m constantly on my phone. Some people might think I’m texting, but I’m actually writing. Discipline is super important. With acting as well, you want to go to class–you want to make sure you stay on top of your game by auditioning. It’s an entire job just to get the audition, and another job to book it, and then another job afterwards. The same discipline I follow as an actor I bring to my writing. I wake up early every day and try to write something, whether it’s one paragraph or a chapter. Each morning at a given time, I’m writing.

You can read the whole interview at Self Publishing News.

Mirtha Michelle Castron Mármol’s book, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, has been one of Outskirts Press‘s Top 10 Bestselling Books every month since it was published in June.  Mirtha Michelle Castron Mármol is known for her roles in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and the upcoming film, “AWOL-72,” and she keeps her fans and readers up to date on her activities through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Check out her hashtag, #MMCM, to learn more about her work.

I hate to change so abruptly from such an inspiring post to such a depressing statistic, but I didn’t get ANY words written to my book yesterday, so my NaNoWriMo stats for November 12 look like this:

Average Per Day 1628
Words Written Today 0
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 19545
Words Remaining 30,455
Current Day 12
Days Remaining 19
At this rate, you’ll finish December 1
Words/Day to finish on time 1,603

For the second time this month, the Stats are tracking me to finish AFTER the deadline.  I’d better pick it up!

 

Get a free Amazon Kindle ebook edition of your book

Judging from all the NaNoWriMo sponsors and all the “free” stuff those sponsors are giving away (ranging from 1 free book to 2 free books!), it’s clear that WriMo’s are like everyone else – they love a deal! During the days in October, when I began posting about my participation in NaNoWriMo, I mentioned the FREE CUSTOM COVER promotion we were offering at Outskirts Press if you began your self-publishing process before Halloween.  Well, that promotion may have expired, but November’s deal is just as good.  Whether or not you are participating in National Novel Writing Month, you are eligible to receive our free Amazon Extreme Package when you start publishing with our Diamond or Pearl full-color publishing packages during November. Among other goodies, the Amazon Extreme Package includes a free ebook edition of your book specifically formatted for the Amazon Kindle and distributed via Amazon.   Get all the details, and the necessary promotion code here: http://outskirtspress.com/promotion.html

My NaNoWriMoStats for November 9, 2014 are below. I passed 15,000 words to my novel, Idle Hands.

Average Per Day 1756
Words Written Today 1378
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 15808
Words Remaining 34,192
Current Day 9
Days Remaining 22
At this rate, you’ll finish November 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,555