What’s New with the New Ultimate Book Publishing Package?

It’s been a full week since we unveiled the All-New Outskirts Press with its new RWD website for new clients and its new publishing packages for everyone.  Last week we offered an introductory special on our new One-Click Suite for Non-Fiction books with an instant savings of $500 off.  Saving money is all well and good, but the benefit of the One-Click Suite of services (and, really, all the book publishing services with Outskirts Press) is the amount of inclusions and value you receive. I went over all that value in a rather long posting last week, including some top-secrets benefits that almost no one knew about (shipping subsidies and sales tax savings, anyone?).

This week we are unveiling another Introductory Offer, this time on our amazing Ultimate Publishing Package.   Does it offer as much as the One-Click package? Of course not. Is it more affordable? Of course!  And that’s another benefit of working with Outskirts Press; our range of services and range of prices mean that everyone can publish a high-quality professional book, no matter their budget.  In fact, what savvy authors on a budget can do is examine all the additional inclusions and services within the One-Click package of their choice, and then start with the Ultimate package, and add-on services as you go.   That’s one of the benefits of all our a la carte, custom publishing services —  pricing flexibility (yes, that double-meaning is intended, because everyone knows that Outskirts Press is already one of the few publishers that gives the author so much control over the retail price of their book!).

Of course, listing ALL the benefits is a long list, but that’s what this posting is for — providing the level of detail and advice some authors are seeking when making a publishing investment into the manuscript they worked on for months, years, or even decades.  We know you’re passionate about your story, and we’re passionate about helping you turn it into the book of your dreams.

The Ultimate Package delivers everything you need to accomplish that goal! Here’s the list:

  • Paperback publication is included with all our packages, and Ultimate clients have the option of adding a hardback edition (with or without a dust jacket) for a little bit more. In fact, all told, Ultimate clients have the ultimate in customization options, with over 30 different trim and format options to choose from.   It’s an embarrassment of riches, actually, and … frankly, all these decisions are one reason authors elect for us to handle ALL the details with a One-Click package instead.
  • An ISBN.  This stands for International Standard Book Number and is the unique identifier for every “real” book that is published.  I stress real, and put it in quotes, because so many books nowadays (primarily ebook-0nly books) are being published without ISBNs.   Anyone “in the know” in the industry knows ISBNs are required for all publications, and especially for paperback and hardback publications.
  • A price-embedded bar code.  Look at the bar code on most of our competitor’s books and you’ll see a 9000 where the price should be. This is because they don’t include price-embedded bar codes.  Why not? Because it’s easier for them.  But Outskirts Press books make it easier for you and the merchant to marketing and sell your book, and that requires a price-embedded bar code.
  • Standard interior black/white book formatting.  One of the main advantages of choosing Outskirts Press (or, really, any full-service self-publishing company) is that your book is going to look like a book on the inside when it is published.  This might sound like a small thing — but it’s not.   Frankly, a computer cannot format a book very well – and when you start adding links or graphics or charts or anything “nice” to your book, forget about it; computer’s choke. In fact, the nicer you want your book to look, the more difficult it will be for a computer to deliver what you want.   That’s why professional authors seeking high-quality professional book publication, use services like ours.  Can some authors get away with formatting their own book themselves?  If they’re proficient in inDesign, then the answer is … maybe.   Otherwise, forget about it. So if you’re considering submitting your manuscript to a do-it-yourself place, or submitting a pre-formatted PDF file to anywhere, ask yourself if you’re proficient in InDesign. If the answer is “no” or “kinda” then do everyone a favor (especially your readers) and leave it for the professionals.
  • Customizable covers. The Ultimate package offers 20 all-new “themes” to choose from and further customize with different colored backgrounds and images from a image library  of literally hundreds of thousands to choose from.    I’ve seen some customizable covers that I can’t distinguish from a custom cover design — they’re THAT good. It really depends upon the artistic and creative abilities of the author, which are, let’s face it, probably pretty subjective.   Do you know what isn’t subjective? The excellence of our professional custom covers. And that’s why we recommend them.
  • New with the Ultimate is the inclusion of 20 optional image insertions.  Ask any professional book designer and she will tell you that properly and professionally inserting images into a book manuscript is a pain.  (Anyone can do it, but not very many people can do it well).  In reality, any page that contains an image becomes a custom-designed page, and those can throw off all the remaining pages in either direction if a substantial change is made to the text (which authors often do as late as the galley-revision stage).  But, the all-new Outskirts Press is passionate about publishing the book of our clients’ dreams, so this Ultimate package includes 20 free images if the authors have some to include. We analyzed all our books over the past 14 years and determined that 20 images was a high enough number to satisfy the needs of over 80% of our clients publishing in black/white.  The other 20% had LOTS and LOTS of images, and in those cases, yes, image insertion fees still must apply.
  • Speaking of galley-revision fees, the Ultimate package includes 3 free rounds of revisions. When we first launched Outskirts Press in 2002, we were naive and thought one round of galley revisions was sufficient.  We were wrong.  We’re all perfectionists around here, so now Ultimate clients receive 3 free rounds.
  • Worldwide distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, with global on-demand availability through retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, Books-A-Million, and thousands more.  In fact, ANY bookstore with a relationship with Ingram will be able to order and sell your book.
  • Marketing services.  While the Ultimate doesn’t hold a candle to our One-Click Suites in terms of book marketing inclusions, it certainly out-shines the majority of our competitors in the self-publishing industry.  A publication announcement press release will be composed and distributed via Newswire when your book is published.  The Book Marketing RoadMap will share a variety of guidelines and best practices for marketing your book, ranging from the “Top 15 Book Marketing Steps” to “Navigating the Social Media Landscape.” And, of course, the Book Marketing COACH still provides creative assistance, coaching, and help via email for years after publication. In fact, in the coming months, the COACH is going to become more diverse and capable, by proving genre-specific suggestions and help for non-fiction, fiction, spiritual, and children’s books.  More on that improvement to our book marketing support at a later date.
  •  Responsive author webpage.  All new clients publishing on August 1, 2016 or after receive fully-responsive author webpages with social media integration. And the Ultimate clients have the included option of recording an audio excerpt which automatically appears on the author’s webpage in a “Media” section.  I wrote an entire blog post about our amazing new responsive author webpages here. 
  • And of course, you receive 10 free paperback copies of your book when it is published, with the option of saving up to 50% on your author’s copies (which are already way below wholesale).

Whew.  As if that wasn’t enough, right now, this week only, all new Ultimate Clients can save $25o instantly when they order their Ultimate Package securely online from our website. Here’s the link to the promotion code, deadline, and details.

 

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

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…

Self-Publishing Verdict: UNBELIEVABLE!

Please allow me to momentarily interrupt my discussion of our Facebook self publishing achievement awards to share an author’s story.  This is more than just a testimonial; it is an example of the rewarding, professional relationships we foster with our authors and how that engagement begins long before the production process, and long after the publication of the book.

Ellen Cumbess is just such a professional, and you may recall I wrote about her in a blog not too long ago when I shared the Tale of Two Custom Covers.  Ellen came to us with a pretty clear idea of the cover she wanted (she already created it with a graphic software program). With our recommendation she selected the custom cover design option and then used our Social Media Market Research option to solicit industry opinion for assistance in selecting her final custom cover design from among the two professional options our designer created for her based on her own design.  She was pleasantly surprised with how our designers took her initial concept and helped it blossom into a truly professional book cover. She proceeded through production to publication and then followed up with me personally with the following email, one that simultaneously communicates joy and the fact that publishing is not always a completely smooth journey– and that’s okay as long as the road is paved with mutual respect and professionalism.

Brent,

Ok….The jury is back and the verdict is in!  UNBELIEVABLE!

 Jodee was very helpful in the beginning – explaining the process and my choices.  Then, I got the cover choices and my anxiety began to diminish.  Then, Jennifer took control of my production.  I asked her twenty questions (a week)….she patiently responded to them (despite my having asked many of them previously).  We went over and over with edits.  I feel pretty confident in saying that I jerked them around a bit – and they didn’t shake loose.  Instead, they delivered.

Please commend my “team” for a beautifully executed project.  The books arrived Friday and they are better than I had hoped.  As I mentioned to Jennifer; I have started the sequel and I will be back!

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

– Ellen Cumbess

As I said, our relationships with our authors don’t end at publication. Just this week, Ellen’s book was recognized as the Autobiography Custom Cover of the Week selection on our Facebook Page, where she received even more exposure in support of her excellent cover and ongoing marketing efforts.  Keep it up, Ellen!

Brent Sampson hears from another self-publishing author

Last week I shared a recent correspondence I had with one of our authors about his self publishing experience with Outskirts Press.

Here’s another one, beginning with the initial email we received from her, followed by my email to her seeking her permission to share it, and then followed by her response:

“Hello, My name is Thurston Gray. I recently published my book The Pendant Project: My Journey to Awareness Through Art with Outskirts Press.  I wanted to let you know just how much I enjoyed my publishing experience…

Before I contacted Outskirts Press, I did my research.  I spent hours online looking through the various companies that publish for independent authors.  One of the things I most appreciated about Outskirts Press was the huge amount of information–clearly written–available on their website.  The three free ebooks, explaining all of the publishing/printing options available, gave me detailed information (and pricing) for the options I was looking for. So when I did make contact directly I had a clear idea of the package and the additional a la carte items I wanted…that helped tremendously on planning my budget.

My first contact with Outskirts Press was with Jodee, my assigned Publishing Consultant.  Amazing woman.  I had thought I was all prepared but I still needed to learn a lot about self publishing.  Jodee patiently answered every. single. one. of my questions in a professional, prompt manner.  She has amazing skill at ‘settling’ a newbie author. In short time, Jodee transferred me (and my book, no longer just a manuscript, hehe) to Jennifer, my Author Representative.

Jennifer worked with me on the details of a printed book.  Meaning that she walked me through the actual layout of the book.  Finalizing the cover, notifying me when I submitted my images in the wrong dpi, then working with me when I decided to change the layout of the book-last minute.  Again, just like with Jodee, Jennifer was thoughtful, patient and very willing to answer and explain, if needed, my questions.  Jennifer helped me to find the best layout to make my book profitable, sellable.  She worked with the production team and, together, they came up with beautiful layout which truly made my book, with it’s 100 images, make sense and flow for the reader.  Genius!

Dana did all of the paperwork to facilitate my Unique ISBN and the Library of Congress listing. And then she sent me an email confirming the registration. Big day, holding my ISBN number in my hands.

I am incredibly proud of my book.  It looks great. When my author copies were delivered, I opened the box and promptly burst into tears.  In my hands was a beautiful version of my dream.   Thank you.  My book is my personal journey of healing from trauma.  My audience, my reader, is very specific.  Within the covers of my book are words of encouragement, understanding and support.  Words that I did not receive. My motivation for publishing was to let other survivors know they were not alone.

My book has been listed on Amazon for three weeks now.  I have received many emails thanking me for telling my experience.  That I offered support and understanding; they were touched. They felt connected.

I hope that all of the good people at Outskirts Press get this…because you show up, and simply do your job, you touch people’s lives. You make a difference.  For me, certainly.  I wouldn’t have a book without you.  But also for every. single. person. who reads it. Your work connected us, the reader to me. Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.

Thurston Gray”

 

We receive a lot of emails like this from our authors, but this one struck a chord with me because it offered such an insightful summary of the process from her perspective. I thought it might help other authors who were nervous or anxious about taking the self publishing step, so I wrote Thurston the following email:

“Your email about your experience publishing with Outskirts Press was forwarded to me. It’s wonderful.  I think other authors would find it particularly helpful because it describes the process from an author’s point of view.  Would you mind if we published your email on my blog at brentsampson.com and perhaps on our Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com?  It might help other newbie authors feel more at ease with what to expect…”

 

In true gracious form, she wrote back:

“Brent, I am glad you were forwarded email about my experience with Outskirts Press. I wanted everyone there to know how much I enjoyed it and how much each member of my Publishing Team participated in making my dream, my book, come true. Thank you.

Yes, you have my permission to use my email in any way you feel it would benefit other authors. I really appreciate the opportunity of lending my voice to the experience of self publishing with Outskirts Press!”

And, on a side note, her book really is wonderful… Congratulations, Thurston!

 

 

Self Publishing Production Files

What happens during the Production phase at Outskirts Press?  A lot, but ultimately, printing comes down to the creation of two documents, the interior file and the cover file. Granted, creating these files properly is where our skill and expertise comes into play, and is also what separates us from so many of the other online “self publishing” companies, many of which use computer programs to automatically generate the production files.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel comfortable having my book generated by a machine. And if you’ve seen the “output” of those machines at those places, you’ll have a better understanding as to why the “stigma” of self-publishing persists.

While production files are necessary for printing, it is important to realize that when an author purchases publishing services, they are purchasing publication and distribution of a book; they are not purchasing the means by which you get there. If we included these files into the prices of our publishing services, our most affordable package would cost over $1000 (instead of $199).  And if you look around at other self-publishing companies who make a “big deal” out of giving away their production files, you will notice that their least expensive packages are all in excess of $1000!  In other words, they’re charging you for the files whether or not you want them (and most authors don’t).   Creating these production files properly requires the expertise of publishing professionals — and expertise is expensive, but since the vast majority of all authors (theirs and ours) do not need or request these files (99% in our case), we decided it was unethical to charge 100% of our clients such high prices when only 1% would benefit.

On the other side of the extreme are self-publishing companies offering prices under $1000, like we do, and in those cases, their production files are either extremely expensive (particularly if you request them within 1 year of publication) or not available at all.

For authors who do want the production files, Outskirts Press offers the option of purchasing them separately.  That offers choice and value for authors who want them, without universally charging (and penalizing) the vast majority of authors who don’t. When you do the comparative math, the files still cost about 50% of what they would cost elsewhere. Either way, it all comes down to the Outskirts Press niche — navigating the middle of two extremes for the ultimate in flexibility and value for our authors.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to discuss the next phases of the publishing process at Outskirts Press, now that we have thoroughly covered the pre-production process. And as I did with that information, I will present the next section in reverse chronological order, too. To see why, click here.

The funniest self publishing contractual clause

For three weeks I have been examining the top ten funniest self-publishing contractual clauses from competitors and dissecting what the legalese means and why each clause is “funny.”  What is perhaps funniest of all is that all ten of these clauses have been from the same single competitor.

#1 Funniest Clause from the Competitor’s Contract – You acknowledge that you have no input or control over the price at which your Titles are sold.

What it means: It seems pretty clear what it means.

Why it’s funny: What’s “funny” (i.e., worrisome) is that some authors are willingly relinquishing control over their own books to such a degree.

Wouldn’t you rather publish a book with Outskirts Press, where the sixth clause in our author-friendly contract is: “AUTHORS SET THEIR OWN RETAIL PRICE to any price ending in .95 cents, provided the Retail Price exceeds the Wholesaler’s Price.”   (And between you and  me, if you don’t want your book ending in .95, it doesn’t have to).