Announcing the Outskirts Press Book Launch Kit

Over the past six months we’ve been covering a lot of the new improvements at Outskirts Press on this blog, and nearly all of those improvements came by asking our clients (potential, new, current, previous) what a self-publishing firm should be, what makes Outskirts Press #1 in this industry according to Top Consumer Reviews, and what we can do to make our authors even happier, more successful, and more satisfied.

From their answers came technical updates to our website, changes to our publishing services, and a lot of improvements to our marketing services.

You see, one of the major things we discovered is that while the DIY (do-it-yourself) and full-service self-publishing industry has gotten really good at helping authors publish books, most full-service companies (and basically all DIY platforms) aren’t very good at helping authors market books after publication.

Authors at Outskirts Press are statistically more successful selling books via wholesale channels (like Amazon) than authors from other self-publishing firms. Ingram tells us so!  And we want to continue that trend.

That’s why we’ve just announced the Outskirts Press Book Launch Kit, a free marketing kit that we mail to all our One-Click, Ultimate, and Full-Color authors at the time of publication. Other publishing companies charge hundreds of dollars for their “book launch kits.”

But Outskirts Press authors who started publishing under our new packages after August 1 receive Book Launch Kits absolutely free.

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Each Book Launch Kit includes:

  • An official gold-sealed Certificate of Publication, recognizing and acknowledging your accomplishment
  • The 7 Tactics of Successfully Published Authors, which outlines 7 major marketing considerations
  • A congratulatory letter outlining your next steps and how to take full advantage of all the free marketing assistance in your Publishing Center (like access to the new Book Marketing Bookshelf, which I discussed in a previous post)
  • An example of a custom bookmark, which details on how you can create your own branded marketing materials
  • Details about the Personal Marketing Assistance available at Outskirts Press
  • The 28 Day Book Launch Calendar — The first month of publication can be the most important, and sets the stage for long-term book marketing success, so we tell you exactly what to do every day for the first 4 weeks.
  • The Book Marketing RoadMap – an infographic to hang up on the wall of your office as you check-off important marketing milestones like identifying your audience, creating a marketing plan, hosting a book launch party, acquiring book reviews, attending author events, and so much more.

Nowadays, you can publish your book just about anywhere. But successful, professional, high-quality book publishing & book marketing begins and ends at Outskirts Press.

Don’t just take my word for it. Thousands of writers  say the same thing.

 

Book Reviews in Publisher’s Weekly

Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to get your independently published book reviewed (for free) by Publisher’s Weekly, as demonstrated by just this small sampling of Outskirts Press titles (click on each cover to jump over to the PW review):

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Since Publisher’s Weekly is an industry news periodical, timeliness is of utmost importance, so the more recently your book was published, the more likely your chances are for a review.  Check out the submission guidelines on their site for more information.

Marketing & Publishing Success

I’ve been quite busy over the past couple months, appearing at the CIPA EVVY Awards, the Colorado Book Festival, the Mountain & Plains Show, and most recently (this past week) at the Author University in Los Angeles.  A premier event for marketing & publishing success (it even says so on its banner!), this bi-annual publishing seminar and trade show educates published and soon-to-be-published authors on publishing, marketing, and publicity options all designed to help writers make great decisions and become more successful.

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There were two common themes at this year’s event:  Change, and author-dependent marketing.

Change:  All the speakers, panelists, and exhibitors agreed that the publishing industry continues to undergo radical changes, and we all recognize the challenges such changes present both service-providers and their clients (authors). While the publishing traditionalists continued to stress the importance of agent-representation and traditional publishing, they were far out-numbered by modern approaches to publishing, marketing, and publicity (as evidenced by the many presenters who focused largely on marketing platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube).

Author-Dependent Marketing: In spite of these recognized changes, what we all agreed was not changing was the necessity of an author’s participation when it comes to marketing a book. If anything, this is becoming even more important, as even the traditionalists admitted that without a strong author platform, securing traditional publication (and selling books after-the-fact) is next to impossible.

As such, the publishers that excelled in helping authors market their books after publication were the ones that created the most excitement for all the authors in attendance.

Speaking of which, in follow-up to my last posting, two new Marketing Guides have been added to the Outskirts Press Publishing Center for our published authors in your Book Marketing Bookshelf.

  • The Top 7 Marketing Elements to Include in Your Book – If your book contains one (or more) of these seven common elements, you already have a distinct advantage. Read this white-paper in your Publishing Center to discover what they are and plan accordingly to include as many as you can with your next book.
  • The Book Marketing Guide – The definitive book marketing bullet list that takes the complex exercise of book marketing and simplifies it.

And, of course, as always it was great meeting all our current and future authors in person, including John, Greg, Gina, Francine, Dominic, Ken, Rick, Rita, Roger, and others.

Here’s to your great success!

What do you value most about publishing with Outskirts Press?

Leading up to our August 1 re-launch as the New & Improved Outskirts Press we conducted some market research by asking a select cross-section of our published authors what single thing they valued MOST about publishing with Outskirts Press.

Here are the top five answers:

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Nearly one-third of them said they most appreciated the ability to publish their story exactly the way they wanted.  So overwhelming was this response that we made it a part of our new brand-promise: “Your book matters, let’s make it your way.”   You can see this brand message across many of our social media platforms, including Facebook, our blog, Google+, and YouTube.

In close second, our authors indicated they highly valued the publishing team that was provided to them to help them throughout the publishing process.  This has always been one of our core offerings, as you can see here, so it was nice to see it so well appreciated by our clients.

Coming up third was our book marketing advice and support.  And while nearly 20% of the respondents indicated it was the single most important component of publishing with Outskirts Press, we made a commitment to offer even more!   All new authors who begin publishing with the One-Click Suites, or the Ultimate or Full-Color after August 1st receive a Book Launch Kit, which contains:

  • The 7 Tactics of Successfully Published Authors
  • The Book Marketing RoadMap
  • An Official Certificate of Publication
  • The 28 Day Book Launch Calendar
  • The Book Marketing Bookshelf

I’ll discuss each of these Book Launch Kit components in future postings, beginning with the all-new Book Marketing Bookshelf, which, beginning today, becomes available for all our published authors inside their Publishing Center. You heard it here first, and more details are coming up next time…

 

 

Congratulations to our 2016 Best Book of the Year award-winner!

Every year Outskirts Press recognizes 3-5% of our best books for official EVVY Award Nomination, to submit to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s EVVY Awards.  From those winners, we select three finalists for our annual Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards.  Those three finalists then compete head-to-head-to-head in a public poll (the results of which you can see here) to recognize the writer with the best “author platform” and marketing prowess in order to earn the esteemed title of Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year.

In short, it’s not easy.  So, when an author accomplishes it twice, that is truly a remarkable achievement!

Congratulations to Andrew Ceroni, author of 2016’s Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year, Meridian!

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In this prequel to SNOW MEN, CIA agent Pete Novak is racing to Europe with orders to stop Laszlo, to kill him if that’s what it takes. Several agents have already died trying. Novak’s dedicated security escort, J.T. Brannon, former assassin unmatched in the art of killing, is leery of Novak’s assignment and warns him of its danger. As Novak unravels the alarming secrets behind the MERIDIAN program and his path converges with Laszlo’s desperate pursuit to annihilate his demons, Novak and his family are swept into the crosshairs of rogue Agency assassins. Only Brannon can save Novak’s family, and he is committed to sacrificing his own life to do so. The final confrontation and profound revelation of MERIDIAN explode into a deadly struggle over what may be the very future of mankind itself.

It is the biggest of America’s big secrets—MERIDIAN, the deepest black and most intensely protected program since the Atom Bomb. The MERIDIAN program contains the furthest leading edge of weapons technology and with origins more profoundly startling than the technology itself. Governments will stop at nothing to get it. Laszlo Csengerny, a Russian–controlled spy, a man haunted by demons from his past, has uncovered the key to destroying the program.

Makes you want to read it, doesn’t it? Andrew Ceroni is not only a master story-teller, and an excellent marketer, he also happens to be a hell of a nice guy! I’ve met him twice. Most recently, at this year’s EVVY Awards when he accepted his 1st Place EVVY Award for Meridian (in the Action/Adventure Category), and his 2nd Place EVVY Award for Meridian (in the Science Fiction Category).  And I met him at last year’s EVVY Awards when he accepted his 1st Place EVVY Award for Snow Men.  Snow Men went on to win last year’s Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year. Buy it here.

Winning the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award comes with a number of perks, including extra exposure throughout social media (such as blog postings exactly like this), the option of adding a permanent “Best Book of the Year” graphic emblem on the book itself, and of course the $1500 Grand Prize added to his author account at Outskirts Press.

Now that Outskirts Press has been updated and upgraded, the Best Book of the Year winner also receives prime “real estate” on the Outskirts Press direct bookstore, where one of the rotating “slides” promotes the book, with a direct link to buy it. This graphic will remain on the bookstore until the NEXT Best Book of the Year is determined.

I’m going to ask Andrew if he’s willing to be interviewed about his process, his books, his tactics for dominating the Best Book voting, and his plans for the future.  With any luck, he’ll say yes. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, congratulations to all our Finalists (that’s an amazing feat in its own right) and our Grand Prize Award-winning author — Andrew Ceroni, author of this year’s Meridian!

 

 

The New & Improved Outskirts Press Newsletter

Last week when I blogged about our Best Book of the Year process, I mentioned that some pictures from the August 20th EVVY Awards would be posted on my blog soon.  The pictures I referred to were those taken by the CIPA photographers (I smiled for so many pictures as I accepted our authors’ awards that my jaw was literally beginning to hurt), and I figured they would be made available any day. I spoke too soon.

So rather than wait for their pictures to be posted, we used some of our own photographs that we took that night to complement our September 1st Newsletter article about the Best Book of the Year Awards.  It was a fitting debut, since this is also the edition that is unveiling our new & improved newsletter, with a better format and better content. You can see the new newsletter here.

“New & Improved” is a phrase we’re throwing around a lot lately, as we improve our branding, our messaging, our packages, our website, our communications, and now our newsletter.  But I feel in every instance of “new” those elements of our company have also been significantly “improved.”

  • Our branding is improved by being more on point with clearly defined colors, fonts, and language.
  • Our messaging is improved by being more helpful and author-orientated instead of “sales-y.”
  • Our packages are improved by including more elements our clients over the past decade have asked for.
  • Our website is improved by being responsive to all devices, being less cluttered and more cutting-edge.
  • Our communications (namely email) are improved by being more focused, more helpful, less sales-y, and responsive.
  • And our newsletters are improved by bringing all those previously listed improvements together.

The first newsletter is a good example of this, where you can clearly see the results of the brand and messaging overhaul. You can also see how we are providing free tips (in this case, an article about creating the perfect book title), and sharing more details about the amazing people behind the scenes at Outskirts Press, beginning with our Director of Operations, Wendy.

Noteworthy perhaps, is what the online newsletter doesn’t include.  The emailed version includes other articles and advice that are only available by subscribing to it or publishing with us (we send out two different versions — one for potential authors and one for published authors; and of course, the content is different, because a published author requires different information than a soon-to-be-published author). The online version, on the other hand, includes only portions of each emailed newsletter for the general public.

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And now that we’ve officially announced the upcoming Best Book of the Year awards, it’s time to choose our 3 finalists! They’ll be revealed next week on our blog. Stay tuned!

 

10 Best Practices For Your Responsive Author Webpage

Now that every Outskirts Press author (past, present, and future) receives a free responsive Author Webpage for every book you publish with us, it’s time to share some “best practices” for making that webpage all it can be.

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A responsive author webpage is more than just a “pretty face” on mobile devices and desktop computers.  It can also be a powerful sales and marketing tool; and you will increase your chances of getting the most out of your author webpage if you follow these 10 best practices:

  1. Be Loud, Be Proud!

Many Outskirts Press authors publish their books with our Private Label Imprint option. This means, we work our magic behind the scenes, and our publishing name is not on their book anywhere.  Well, that’s all well and good, until it came time to use our “old” author webpages, which still featured our logo and our publishing name.

The NEW & IMPROVED responsive author webpages recognize our Private label authors.  If you published under an independent publishing name, YOUR publishing name will be on YOUR responsive author webpage.  Now you can proudly aim your customers to your author webpage with your publishing imprint on it!

  1. Add an Excerpt!

The “menu bar” along the top of your new responsive author webpage makes navigating to the individual sections a snap, and did you know the menu bar is dynamic? That means, if you don’t have content in a particular section, that menu selection won’t appear on the menu bar.  This occurs most frequently with the “Excerpt” and “Media” sections, since those sections are optional.

But just because they are optional doesn’t mean you should ignore them.  If you don’t have an excerpt on your author webpage, add one by accessing the “Sales Tools” of your Publishing Center.  Around 250 words work best. Just cut-n-paste them into your “Excerpt” field.

  1. Format Your Excerpt!

Here’s an important tip for cutting and pasting your excerpt:   Since your author webpage accepts HTML (to allow for colored fonts, image-insertions, etc.), you MUST identify paragraph breaks in your excerpt.  There are TWO different ways to do this:

  1. Surround the contents of each paragraph with the <p></p> paragraph tags, by putting a <p> in front of the beginning of every paragraph and the </p> at the end of every paragraph. This will ensure that paragraphs don’t run together.
  2. Or, alternatively, you can add two line break codes <br><br> which is the same as “hitting the return key twice.”

By adding these simple codes to your excerpt you can make sure your words look just as good on your webpage as they do in your book.

  1. Format Your Synopsis and Biography!

See those formatting suggestions above, about adding line breaks or paragraph breaks to your excerpt?  They work for your synopsis and biography boxes, too.  Read your summary/details, your excerpt, and your author biography on multiple devices and make sure you’re happy with how everything looks. (Don’t forget to spell check your work!) If you want to add some line breaks or paragraph breaks, follow those rules above to make your webpage look as good as possible.

Suggesting HTML code is a double-edged sword.  It can help make your webpage look great. It can also “break” your webpage if you’re not careful.  So keep that in mind, as we list some other “codes” you might be interested in:

<strong>This makes words bold!</strong>
<em>This puts words in italics!</em>
<font color=”ff0000″>This makes words red!</font> (although WordPress doesn’t let me make them red).
<strong><em><font color=”ff0000″>Yes, you can stack them!</font></em></strong>

  1. Add Some Audio!

The other “optional” menu item is for the “Media” section, specifically book video trailers or audio excerpts.  The audio excerpt is included with many of our packages, so if you have recorded your audio excerpt, it is available from your author webpage already.  Check to make sure it is working correctly by visiting your author webpage from multiple devices (your phone, your tablet, your computer).  Sometimes you might discover that your audio plays fine from a desktop, but doesn’t play at all from an iPhone, for example.  Isn’t technology wonderful? If that’s the case, just let us know and we’ll fix it for you.

If you had the Audio Excerpt option but never took advantage of it, now’s the time. You’ll find the instructions in your Author Toolkit.  Just find that option, click the “more” link and instructions for how to record your Audio Excerpt will open up for you.  Read an excerpt from your book, or make a general comment about why you wrote your book.  Buyers love hearing from authors, literally!

If your package didn’t include the Audio Excerpt option, you can always add it from the Marketing Options screen of your Publishing Center.

  1. Add Some Video!

The other multi-media component of the Media section is your book video trailer.  This is a very popular marketing option that we offer, so chances are, your book video trailer may already be in your webpage’s Media section.  If you didn’t order a book video trailer with your publishing package, you can add one now from the Marketing Options tab of your Publishing Center.  In addition to being added to your author webpage, we will add it to our YouTube channel and other video distribution services. You will also receive the file for your additional marketing efforts.

But here’s a little known fact — if you have a book video that you did NOT order through Outskirts Press, you can still add it to your Author Webpage.   Just contact Chris at chrisk@outskirtspress.com with the embedded code (or the YouTube URL), and we will be happy to add your independent book video to your author webpage for you.

  1. Work the Discount!

The hardcopy books (paperback and/or hardback) available for sale from your Author Webpage always have a 10% discount, to encourage your webpage visitors to buy your book.   Don’t worry – you still receive your full royalty!  But knowing about this discount may give you confidence to send customers to your author webpage instead of to Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website (where your customers may or may not receive a discount at all).

Speaking of formats, make sure you’re selling your Digital Download edition at the proper price. If you have the Digital Download edition (and many of our authors do), and if you did not set a specific price yourself, our webpage will default to a price of $5.00.  But the best practice is to match the price of your Kindle or Nook ebook editions (you added those formats, right?)   You can modify your Digital Download price from same screen of your Publishing Center where you manage your author webpage.

  1. Like Your Book!

Your author webpage features a Facebook “Like” button under your book cover.  Make sure you like your own book! When you do, you’ll have a chance to write a post on your Facebook feed.  We recommend asking your Facebook friends to “like” your book, too. After all, your Facebook Friends & Family are the most likely people to click on your Author Webpage link and “like” your book, but they may only do it if you ask them to.

9.Get Social!

Speaking of Facebook, you HAVE a Facebook account right?  If you don’t, go to Facebook right now and start one.  Every author must have a Facebook account. It doesn’t hurt to have a Linked-In account, either.  Those are the two “must-haves” for every author.  If you’re more experienced with social media (and have a bit more time on your hands), you may also have  a Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and/or Pinterest account.  That’s great! And guess what?  Your new responsive Author Webpage can link to ALL those social media accounts directly from your “About the Author” section — but ONLY if you tell your webpage how.

Here’s how:

  1. Click on the “Edit My Profile” in the upper right-hand corner of your Publishing Center. Or, alternatively, you may have a “My Account” link.
  2. In either case, clicking that link will open up your Profile Page, where you can Edit Your Profile, provide Social Media Details, and set your Royalty Payment Details, among other things.
  3. You want to focus on the Social Media Details section, which looks like this:edit-profile
  4. Enter in the URL for each of your social media profiles. The easiest way to do that is to go to each of your active social media platforms and go to your “home” or “main” page of your account, and then cut-n-paste the URL from the Internet Browser and place it into the appropriate field of this form. Don’t forget to save your changes.
  5. Then, when you re-visit your Author Webpage, your About the Author section will automatically add links to each of the social media accounts you added. Click on each one to make sure you entered the proper link. If it doesn’t go to the right place, make adjustments accordingly.
  1. Market All Your Books!

If you’ve published multiple books with Outskirts Press (and many of you have), then your Author Webpage automatically features an “Also by” section in which all of your other book covers appear, each of them clickable to their own responsive webpage.  It’s a proven fact that readers of one of your books are more inclined to be readers of your others books, so be sure to publish multiple books to automatically add this cool section to all of your Outskirts Press author webpages. All you have to do is click this button…

… and, well… write the next book, of course.  Here’s to your great success!