All this week I’m discussing the New & Improved Outskirts Press, which began on August 1 with the unveiling of our new RWD website for new authors (see below), new packages for everyone, and new inclusions with all new services (like more free galley revision rounds, more free image insertions, Publishing Tip Sheets, the Book Marketing RoadMap, and a responsive Author Webpage for every new author).
I’ll discuss all the new packages and new inclusions, beginning with the One-Click for Non-Fiction Suite tomorrow, but in the meantime, this new branding effort extends past our own website at OutskirtsPress.com and incorporates all our social media channels and platforms, all of which are available @outskirtspress on their respective sites, with the exception of the Outskirts Press blog, which is at http://blog.outskirtspress.com. And, the exception of Google+, which for some reason insists on making their naming convention different from everyone else by adding a + sign.
In case the message isn’t clear, we passionately believe your book matters, and we’ll make it your way at Outskirts Press.
We still have Pinterest and Instagram to go. But as they say… Rome wasn’t built in a day. Stay tuned!
As followers of this blog know, I’ve been detailing our migration to RWD (responsive web design) at Outskirts Press for the past several posts. In my last post on the topic, I introduced our upcoming new Author Webpages, which are designed in full RWD and feature a slew of new features when compared with the “old” author webpages.
Among those new features are the author’s ability to connect his/her author webpage with various social media channels (like Facebook, etc.). See the top-right corner of the sample image below:
In order for each author’s webpage to be able to go to each author’s Facebook feed or Twitter account, or Pinterest board, etc., the author simply needs to add that information into their author account. Since January 1, authors have been able to EDIT their Author Profile information and supply us with the URLs to their respective social media channels so that when the Author Webpages are made available soon, those social media buttons will work perfectly.
A new “Social Media Details” section has been added to the Edit Author Profile screen. The Author Profile screen is where every Outskirts Press author can manage their Author Information (like their email address, their password, the method of receiving their royalties, and now — their social media preferences!)
The first field for “Facebook Awards Member” controls the author’s opt-in/opt-out preferences for our Facebook Achievements, which I’ve blogged about before. Basically, it allows an author to keep his or her Facebook followers apprised of publishing and marketing accomplishments and milestones automatically. It’s not a new field, but it is in a new place on the screen because it’s more appropriate under “Social Media Details.”
The other six fields are new, and this is where Outskirts Press clients can enter their personal URLs for six different social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linked-In, and Pinterest.
If an author doesn’t have a specific “presence” on any of those specific sites, he or she simply leaves it blank and that specific social media channel is omitted from the author’s new RWD author webpage. Of course, a preferable strategy from a marketing point of view would be to make sure you DID have a presence on each of them.
Speaking of having a social media presence, our January publishing promotion at Outskirts Press is giving away a FREE Author Platform Set-Up, which is a fast, convenient way to jump-start your social media marketing for when Outskirts Press has published your book. All the details of this amazing publishing giveaway can be found on our promotions page through January 2016.
Of course, for our already-published authors, the Author Platform Set-Up option is also a great marketing choice and is available from the Marketing Options screen in your Publishing Center.
On this blog I have often discussed the topic of marketing & branding, particularly as it applies to self publishing and social media (sites like Facebook and YouTube, etc.). In fact, in some specific posts in the past, I displayed graphics presenting the way in which Outskirts Press brands itself on multiple social media channels in an effort to market our brand consistently. Previously, these graphics featured the tagline: Write Anything, Publish Everything, Market Everywhere along with three individuals in the act of writing, publishing, and marketing, respectively.
As is so often the case, Facebook and YouTube then decided to change their “look” once again. And at roughly the same time, Outskirts Press added Pinterest to our list of active social media channels. Plus, we wanted to concentrate more specifically on the monthly promotions and discounts we offer. Self Publishing is becoming more competitive than ever before, and even though Top Consumer Reviews has rated Outskirts Press the #1 self-publishing company (more on that in the near future), we still have to compete aggressively for those authors who shop based solely on price (rather than high quality and service).
So our promotions became the focal point of our branding considerations. And we wanted to continue to carry that branding & marketing across our growing family of social media sites which now includes Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube, various blogs, Google Plus, and Pinterest.
Like everything, branding and promotion begins on our own website, where we hold the most control over look and functionality. So here is an example of how a monthly promotion appears on our home page:
Facebook was next. We wanted to utilize the “Cover” graphic Facebook allocates for branding purposes to visually connect the same promotion, while still simultaneously mentioning other monthly events occurring on our Facebook page AND continuing to remind new visitors to “Like” us:
Since Facebook superimposes a square Avatar graphic in the lower left-hand corner of the Cover Graphic, our Facebook graphic also attempts to incorporate that into the overall design aesthetic by using a “lifestyle” image of people engaged in the act of reading and/or writing (typically with large smiles on their faces). Facebook Terms of Service prevent us from placing our actual URL in this cover graphic (although if you look around at other Facebook pages, there are plenty of companies doing it anyway), so we simply say “Visit our website for details” and then include a link to our site in the “About” box directly below the Avatar graphic.
This “Visit our Website” wording is also helpful on YouTube, which also superimposes a URL over whatever Cover Graphic you upload. YouTube’s Channel lay-out changed recently by “borrowing” the same “Cover Graphic” concept from Facebook. In their case, however, the cover graphic specifications are more demanding because YouTube accounts for various platforms, resolutions, and even high-retina displays like the iPad 2+. All of this falls under the realm of “Responsive Website Design” which, if I find time, I will begin to blog about more in the future as Outskirts Press begins to make that design transition for all our online properties. But, in the meantime, just know that creating the cover graphic for YouTube requires an initially HUGE graphic that is then dynamically cropped to appear correctly on multiple devices. Easier said than done, but we ultimately end up with this.
You can see that the actual “content” of the graphic is respectively small in this sample due to the requirements of the Responsive Website Design specifications for this graphic. In other words, this graphic has to look just as good on an iPhone being held vertically, which decreases the width of this graphic substantially.
Next comes Linked-In, which fortunately, doesn’t yet concern itself with Responsive Website Design specifications for its uploads (although I imagine that is simply a matter of time), so we’re safe uploading a fairly cut-n-dry image of a set height and width:
Pinterest is next, and given the constraints set out by their “Boards” we’re unable to use optimal graphics for the Board page, leaving us with this:
That leaves three other self publishing social media channels for Outskirts Press: Twitter, Self-Publishing News, and Google +. They don’t fall so easily into the above branding category, so I’ll discuss them next time…
Back in April, I wrote this paragraph in the closing moments of one of my blog postings: “And speaking of best, over the course of the next few posts, I’ll write more about the 3rd annual Fandemonium Anthology, the 3rd annual Best Book of the Year awards, the 5th placement (hopefully) on the Inc. 500/5000 list, and our 10-year anniversary.”
And in the following posts, I covered the publication of the 3rd annual Fandemonium Facebook Anthology and the winner of the 3rd annual Best Book of the Year awards. That leaves us with the Inc 500/5000 list and our 10-year anniversary, but I’m also going to throw in a big milestone Outskirts Press hit yesterday. But first the bad news. After 4 consecutive years appearing on the Inc. Magazine 500/5000 list of American’s fastest-growing private companies, a run that began back in 2008, we did not qualify for the list a 5th consecutive time. Last time I checked, less than 1000 companies have appeared on the list five times in a row, much less consecutively, so 4 consecutive years is something to be proud of. And this means we get to work even harder through 2013 and 2014, delivering to all our clients continued stellar service and quality at competitive prices.
And now the good news! Yesterday, Outskirts Press reached 10,000 Fans on its Facebook Page, a milestone we are all very proud of. We’d like to thank the writing and reading community for their continued support and friendly participation in one of self-publishing’s growing online communities. Now, all 10,000+ of our Facebook fans are in the running for a free Apple iPad we will give away in a random drawing we hold very soon. More details will be forthcoming on the Self Publishing News blog.
And everyone will want to stay involved with our Facebook page for the drawing we hold once we pass the 25,000 milestone. Stay tuned!
That still leaves the topic of our 10 Year Anniversary, which we officially celebrate in October of this year. I say “officially” because Outskirts Press was “up and operational” in 2002, but didn’t officially incorporate as a corporation until 2003. So you could say we’re already smack dab in the middle of our 10th year, and there’s lots more to come. Our talented editing, writing, and designing artisans along with our passionate authors (and IT/accounting and administrative folks) are all to be thanked and congratulated. Here’s to many more!
Speaking of 10 years, my lovely wife and I are celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary this month. Happy Anniversary, Jeanine. I love you.
For the past three years, Outskirts Press has collected original short stories and poems from its Facebook community at http://facebook.com/outskirtspress for free publication in an annual anthology titled Fandemonium. This exercise offers writers a chance to interact with Outskirts Press in a fun, fast way without cost or obligation while experiencing the joy of publishing (and seeing their work published) in a first-hand way. To top it off, the proceeds from all Fandemonium sales go toward the American Red Cross, which was the charity chosen by our social media community back in 2011 when we published the inaugural edition.
Over the years, the charity (American Red Cross), retail price ($16.95), title and cover (see below) have all remained branded and consistent — another important facet of self-publishing a series of books:
Congratulations to the writers included in all three volumes, the table of contents for which can be seen by visiting each respective bookstore page by clicking on the cover image above (which, incidentally, is also where one can enjoy the 10% discount!) This is also the first year we’ve been including Pinterest in our social media efforts, and a collection of our anthologies can be found on our Self-Publishing Anthologies board on Pinterest.
But not when you publish for free in the 3rd annual Fandemonium Facebook anthology, exclusively from Outskirts Press. With this yearly anthology we give 40-50 talented writers the opportunity to publish some of their copyright-protected content for free in a collection of work that allows them to experience first-hand the benefits of working with a high-quality, full service self publishing firm. Each contributor keeps all the rights to their respective work and the royalties go to the American Red Cross. Free publication and helping a worthwhile cause? No wonder each issue is such a hit with our Facebook friends.
Here’s how it works…
Now Accepting Submissions for the Third Annual Fandemonium Anthology from Outskirts Press
It’s that time of year again! Fandemonium 3 is coming and you are invited to be a part of it!
Have you written a poem or short story that you would like to enter for a chance to be published for free in this new anthology featuring our talented Facebook fans?
Each year, Fandemonium brings Outskirts Press Facebook fans together to experience the joy of publishing with Outskirts Press first-hand, benefiting a great cause along the way.
Submitting your work for consideration is simple. Here’s what to do:
Become an Outskirts Press Facebook fan by “liking” our Facebook page. If you’ve already liked us, great!
Post your submission as a Note in Facebook. Then tag the Outskirts Press Facebook Page in your Note.
Be sure to submit your entry before April 30th, and remember to tell your friends to vote for your submission by “liking” it.
Submissions with the highest number of votes will be considered for inclusion in our upcoming Fandemonimum Volume 3 anthology. Submissions can be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Short entries are best for anthologies, so submissions under 5000 words will be considered first.
You will retain 100% of the copyright to your material. By submitting content, you confirm that you are the sole copyright holder to the material you are submitting and that you grant us a non-exclusive right to use the materials you submit through our social media channels and within the Facebook Anthology when it is published and distributed. Furthermore, you understand that royalties from the sale of Fandemonium are not split among the contributors but rather go to the American Red Cross.
As we continue discussing the third category in our examination of our Self Publishing Achievement awards, we’re going to briefly touch upon the proposed award in this category.
The slated award in this category is a “Bestseller” achievement. While the exact details are not yet solidified, my expectation is that we will reward 10 of these achievement awards every month, to our Top 10 Bestsellers in each month. Here’s an example of our most recent top 10, so once this award is live, these authors would have achieved this award for instance.
Even less clear is another award we may (or may not) make available in this category, with an even more temporary name of “Money Bags” (working title) — and this award, as its name implies, would be awarded to the top royalty earners in a given quarter. We wouldn’t reveal the amounts (those figures are private), but by receiving this award, our authors would know they were among the financial elite. Several factors play a role in determining whether we will actually launch this 3rd proposed award in this category: 1) We’ll ask our authors what they think of the idea and that feedback will play a significant role in whether we launch it or not (people are “funny” about all things money-related). 2) Technically we may not be able to pull it off. Certainly, anything can be done when enough resources (usually money) is thrown at an issue, but businesses have to weigh the return on that investment to determine if it’s worthwhile. Just because something can be done, doesn’t always mean it should be done. So, given that, even if we do launch this third achievement award in this category, don’t expect to see it for quite a while…
Now we’re on to the third category in our examination of our Self Publishing Achievement awards, which automatically help our authors “brag” about their publishing and marketing accomplishments to all their Facebook friends (and thereby market their books to their friends as well). We’ve already covered the Production Milestones and Production Achievements. Now we’re going to discuss the Publishing Awards.
This is perhaps the most “important” category from an author’s perspective – the actual category that includes the award for being published! – and it’s also the “smallest” category in our Achievement program, with just one achievement award slated, and another one proposed. It may also be the category that launches last. As I’ve demonstrated in a couple of previous posts, we are rolling these awards out incrementally, and some of them have already gone “live.” Others are still being developed, and that includes our “Publication” achievement, which every author will earn with the publication of a book. Multiple publications receives multiple awards. We’ll discuss the “coming soon” award in this category next time.
Another production achievement award is the award for Custom Covers. Unlike the award for editing, the custom cover achievement award is still being rolled out deliberately and slowly to our authors. Such is the case with complex technical roll-outs that involve real time interaction with social media sites. Internal “alpha” testing is difficult because of the immediacy of social media, so precise beta testing on a small scale with measurable results is more appropriate.
Custom covers share many similarities with copyediting. It’s an important, yet often overlooked, investment that all authors would be well-served considering. And, much like editing, I believe more authors would select professional custom cover design if they were SHOWN the advantages and benefits of it. At Outskirts Press, we recently created a short ebook to do just that — we show side-by-side comparisons of free Standard Covers and their Custom Cover counterparts. Seeing these samples side-by-side, it’s difficult to argue in favor of Standard Covers. Click the ebook cover below to flip through the samples…
Last time I focused on the Publishing Achievement Award categories in our Facebook Self-Publishing Awards & Achievements. Since editing was one of the achievements, this is a good time to discuss (or rather, show) how the Self-Publishing Achievements are incorporated into the Outskirts Press website, and also talk a little bit more about the value of professional editing for self-publishing authors. This screen shot below from our website does both.
The circled box shows how certain options can lead to an achievement award. Our web developers have done an amazing job of making it seamless for our authors. In fact, if an author is already signed-in to their Facebook account when they come upon a potential achievement award at Outskirts Press, our site will display their Facebook Avatar. In other words, our site performs that “handshake” with Facebook behind the scenes, making the achievement awards unobtrusive. You also see the Achievement award icon that can be earned, and a small description of the achievement you are earning.
Also on display on the “Product Detail Page” for this option is our short editing ebook, which provides some examples of “before & after” sections in a variety of genres (fiction, non-fiction, children’s, cookbooks, poetry, etc.) Not all authors can immediately recognize the value of investing in professional editing, so this ebook helps put a clearer picture on it.
Such is the case for custom covers, too, and we’ll discuss that option, and it’s place in our Facebook Production Achievements, next time….