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!


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!


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

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.

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Outskirts Press, Inc., 10940 S. Parker Rd. – 515, Parker, Colorado 80134  1-888-OP-BOOKS

8th funniest self-publishing contractual clause

All this week I’ve been examining the top ten funniest self-publishing contractual clauses from competitors and dissecting what the legalese means and why it’s “funny.” I’ve already done #10 and #9…

#8 Funniest Clause from the Competitor’s Contract – We may, in our sole discretion, at any time, and without notice to you remove, or refuse to list or distribute any Content on or from any sales channel, but you will remain liable for all fees and other amounts that you may owe under this Agreement in connection with any Title or Promotional Clip we remove because of a violation of this Agreement or our Content Guidelines.

What it means: They can remove your book from their store or from distribution at any time (or elect never to sell it in the first place) but you still have to pay them.

Why it’s funny: This clause is funny for two different reasons. For one, it’s kind of absurd to ask customers/clients/authors to pay for something that isn’t delivered. But, this clause is funny for another reason, too, since it recognizes that this particular publisher does not review books before publishing them — therefore, this clause allows them to terminate books after-the-fact when a self-published book’s subject matter causes their customers to want to boycott their company entirely.

Next time, #7…

Outskirts Press Comments

We receive Outskirts Press comments from authors all the time — before, during, and after publishing their books (although the majority of them come after publication). So, to offer a new perspective, here’s an email that I recently received from one of our authors who was just starting the publishing process with Outskirts Press.  With a 99% author satisfaction rate, we receive a lot of wonderful emails like this, and I enjoy reading all of them. Thank you, Steve:

Dear Mr. Sampson:

Over two months ago,  after viewing your website to explore self-publishing my book, A Guide to the Psalms of David, I called Outskirts with a number of questions such as what  made you different from, say, {competitor}. I was connected to Jodee. Frankly, I was prepared for the worst, since much of the time I engage with corporate America, I am met with “customer service” representatives who have little knowledge, difficulty in communicating,  and often a “who cares” attitude.  Within a couple of minutes, however, I perceived here was someone special. Not only did Jodee answer my questions articulately and to the point, but was courteous and patient, as one question led to another.

I was so impressed I decided that I did not really need to check out your competitors, but would use Outskirts as soon as my budget would allow it.  When I signed on, Jodee graciously consented to be my AR, and my initial impression was borne out. I cannot say enough about her  professionalism, courtesy, knowledge, encouragement, etc. in what is not necessarily an easy process for new authors.  Like the consummate navigator, she guided my ship safely into Port Production avoiding the reefs and sandbars of the publishing sea.

I might also compliment you relating to the Outskirts  “culture.” Thus, if  I call a plumber or electrician I pay them for their service, but there is no relationship, let alone one of an emotional nature. But, however other POD companies operate, with Outskirts, it appears to me a relationship does exist—on both levels. And although the author is the one who gives ” birth,” your staff are the attending physicians, nurses, orderlies, midwives, etc. And while a fee is paid for services, I sense the experience of Outskirts “attendees,” like those attending to the birth of a new-born, is very much different than installing a new sink or upgrading amperage. 

I imagine with your phenomenal growth, you personally no longer have the time to know each author individually or the details of each book you publish, but I would like to make you aware of my particular project, which is best done via the attached cover—designed by my wife, a gifted graphic designer, who worked for a number of years at McGraw Hill and designed many covers for their educational series.   

I am looking forward to working with Outskirts in what I hope will become a long-term relationship.

All the best!



Top 5 Outskirts Press Reviews – TopTen Reviews

Self publishing authors are often left with the question of where to go to investigate self-publishing options from impartial, unbiased sources. Therefore, over the previous and upcoming posts I have been, and will be, discussing five 3rd party self publishing review sources. 

I already discussed the Self Publishing Review site run by Henry Baum, Top Self Publishing Firms written by Stacie Vander Pol,  The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, written by Mark Levine, and Top Consumer Reviews.

This next source is a large, highly regarded review website called TopTen Reviews.  They don’t just specialize in self publishing reviews. They specialize in reviewing just about everything.  But I will focus on their “2011 Online Book Publishing Comparisons.” Here, they have put the top ten self-publishing firms (in their mind) side by side for a comparison of price vs. value.  Outskirts Press is ranked #3 and receives their Bronze Award, with the following summary:

Outskirts Press takes a well-balanced, affordable approach to book publishing-offering a fairly robust publishing package, a decent bookselling reach, strong help support and the freedom to set your own royalty rates. Outskirts has a variety of options and a versatile solution for most authors needs.”

What’s interesting here is that the #1 and #2 self publishing firms appearing above Outskirts Press on this list are both owned by the same company (and basically offer the same exact thing). More interesting still,  both the #1 and #2 firms are among the “Publishers to Avoid”  in the previous self publishing review source I discussed, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

In fact, only one other publisher other than Outskirts Press appears on BOTH the TopTen Review list AND either the “Outstanding Category” or “Pretty Good” category in The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. And where does that other publisher appear on Top Consumer Review’s Top 8 list of self publishing companies (where Outskirts ranks #2)? It doesn’t.

And that brings us to perhaps the most important step of analyzing self-publishing reviews, and I’ll discuss that next time.

As I mentioned at the top of this posting, the comments from our authors hold the most value for us, and I’d like to share one we received below:

“I can’t recommend Outskirts Press enough.  It’s the marketing phase of my book that has really opened my eyes.  The publishing phase is only one step with a book, but what happens later, is another.  Since I am a new author, I only began to see the bigger picture at the marketing point.  Upon thoroughly enjoying my first seminar conference call with enormous marketing information and feedback from some well-seasoned authors, I see that my Diamond package–which includes a press release and an e-book option, is valued well beyond the great price I paid.  I ended up with great quality and a cover that I am extremely happy with.  I can’t say enough about the friendly and accommodating representation of my finished product. Outskirts Press has lots to offer with prices and options that can’t be beat!” – Christine Rhay

Top 5 Outskirts Press Reviews – Top Consumer Reviews

Outskirts Press receives a lot of positive reviews  and we publish many of our authors’ comments on our website every month. Interestingly, the most vocal critics of self publishing services in general are either individuals who have never published, or they are publishing competitors criticizing each other, or they are so-called “book coaches/shepherds” with a vested interest in having writers pay THEM for help  (in other words, a different type of competitor).  Biased sources, one and all. 

As a result, authors are left wondering where to go for impartial, unbiased self publishing reviews.  I have been providing a few self publishing review sources and here is another, called Top Consumer Reviews.

According to their website, Top Consumer Reviews “is an independent organization dedicated to bringing you unbiased reviews of the top products available for online purchase today.  As a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, we support honesty and fairness throughout the business community.”

Top Consumer Reviews has reviewed and ranked what they feel are the best self publishing companies available today. They have reviewed the top eight self publishing firms, and provided them each with a star ranking, a la Amazon, with 5 stars being the best.  Interestingly, among the eight firms they review, which according to them are “the best self publishing companies available today,” half of them receive a star ranking of 3 stars or less.  

Only two self publishing companies receive a ranking above 4 stars, and only one of those offer services under $1000 — Outskirts Press.  In fact, our most expensive package is less than their cheapest package.

Outskirts Press receives 4.5 stars (out of 5) on Top Consumer Reviews, along with this summary:

“If you can’t afford the all-inclusive fee charged by our top-rated selection, Outskirts Press offers a number of affordable programs while still giving you a high level of service. Ranging from only $199 all the way up to $1,099, these levels let you choose which services can fit into your budget, while still letting you keep 100% of your royalties.”

As I mentioned at the top of this posting, the comments from our authors hold the most value for us, and I’d like to share one we received below:

“Outskirts Press made my fantasy a reality.  My author rep was a great help. He was very informative and gave me the support I needed.  He also helped me find an illustrator since I was writing a children’s story. I was impressed with the color layout–bright and eye-catching. Anyone interested in getting their works published should check out Outskirts Press.” – Theresa Gage

Top 5 Outskirts Press Reviews – The Fine Print of Self-Publishing

Outskirts Press receives a lot of positive reviews  and comments from the people we care about pleasing the most — our authors. We publish many of their comments on our website every month, but the fact is, we receive more kudos than we have time to post online.

Nevertheless, authors are often left with the question of where to go to investigate self-publishing options from impartial, unbiased sources. Therefore, over the previous and upcoming posts I have been, and will be, discussing five 3rd party self publishing review sources. 

I already discussed the Self Publishing Review site run by Henry Baum and the Top Self Publishing Firms book written by Stacie Vander Pol. This next source is a book, too, titled The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, by Mark Levine. It is currently in its Third Edition.

It is important to realize that the author of this book is the president of a competing self-publishing company, and therefore has a financially vested interest regarding the type of information he presents in his book.  While I state who I am in my books and clearly state that I believe Outskirts Press is a good choice for many writers, Mr. Levine takes a different approach and omits this biographical tidbit from his author biography.   In fact, in an effort to appear impartial, Mark’s own company is absent from his own book. Nevertheless, the business model on which he bases all his analysis of his competitors is based upon his own company’s business model. As a result, a disproportionate amount of weight is applied to some details he considers personally important, regardless of how important they are in the overall scheme of things.   This discrepancy is further exacerbated when one considers that his company’s prices are in the thousands of dollars while he is ranking and analyzing companies with service fees that are much lower, and yet judging those companies upon the same expectations.

I realize all this sounds like I may harbor some sort of animosity toward this book and its author, and that is not the case. We get along very well. In fact, in the First Edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Outskirts Press was among the “Outstanding Self Publishing Companies” analyzed and ranked.  Our ranking in the current 3rd Edition is “Pretty Good” (the level directly below “Outstanding”) and if you closely read the book, this decline would appear to be based upon a hypothetical situation whereby Amazon no longer carries our books — which, of course,  is absurd.   

By Mark’s own admission when I spoke with him about this error, he admitted this 3rd edition was composed when Amazon was in the middle of their “strong-arm ultimatums” with all the self-publishing firms, including his.   Amazon’s monopolistic exercise failed, along with this book’s resulting conclusions, which interestingly, only degraded Outskirts Press and not any of the other firms that would have been equally affected.  But alas, the book had already gone to print.  Why a corrected edition hasn’t been released nearly three  years later is anybody’s guess.      I guess I could do what some other publishers have apparently done, and threatened him with lawsuits, but I have better things to do, and so does he.   Mark will correct the book when he has the time.

Considering the financially vested position of its author, all the information in the book should be viewed with a grain of salt (and that goes for all of the companies being examined). Even so, Outskirts Press comes out looking pretty good, particularly considering this is the most biased source of the five “Outskirts Press reviews” I’ll be looking at. 

As I mentioned at the top of this posting, the comments from our authors hold the most value for us, and I’d like to share one we received below:

“The decision to pursue the publication of my first novel by way of self-/custom-publishing was easy. The hard part was choosing which company to go with. After researching several companies on-line, I ultimately chose Outskirts Press because of the extremely detailed package comparisons on their very informative Web site. Other sites were less informative and left a lot of questions unanswered. After looking over the Outskirts site, I had no doubt the Diamond package offered was the route to publication I was going to take. I also chose to go with Outskirts Press because I was left with the impression I would be more than satisfied with the personalized and dedicated approach being advertised, and I was.

The entire process from submission to acceptance to final publication went well. Any concerns or questions I had were promptly answered and any issues that arose were quickly resolved. Outskirts deserves high marks for its professionalism and quality output. I am more than pleased with the final hard copy of my book, and can’t thank Chris, Jeanine, Cheri and my Author Rep Deni enough for all they did in helping me to realize my dream of becoming a published author!” – Brian M. Gelinas

Top 5 Outskirts Press Reviews – Top Self Publishing Firms

Over the next several posts I will be discussing impartial, unbiased sources where an author can go to investigate self publishing options.  As reliable sources go, this beats relying upon the comments of competitors or individuals who have either never published before or have some obvious vested interests.

Of course, we feel the best way to learn about our services is by listening to our authors. Outskirts Press receives a lot of comments from the people we care about pleasing the most — our published writers. We publish many of their comments on our website every month, but the fact is, we receive more kudos than we have time to publish, so I will include another one at the bottom of this post. 

Last time I discussed the Self Publishing Review blog/website. Now I turn to a book, titled Top Self Publishing Firms by Stacie Vander Pol.

Top Self Publishing Firms is the only book on the market that dares to evaluate self publishing companies based upon the sales results of their books. In other words, statistically speaking, how successful are the authors who publish at the companies you are looking at?   For instance, did you know that among the top 10 performing authors at Amazon’s publisher you will find authors like Jane Austen and Sun Tzu? That’s because Amazon’s publisher’s best performing books are found in the public domain  — famous books like The Art of War and Pride or Prejudice, by famous authors who are also dead.

Not exactly apples to apples, is it? 

How about comparing the sales results of books by authors who are actually, you know, alive? That’s what Ms. Vander Pol does in her book. Top Self Publishing Firms analyzes the self publishing companies based upon sales results, Amazon royalties, bookstore royalties, distribution, and other factors. Ms. Vander Pol then divides the companies into two categories: those in the “Large and Medium Sized” category and those in the “Small Firms” category.

The companies in the “Large and Medium Sized” category feature all the heavy-hitters, including Outskirts Press, and among these companies, Outskirts Press is ranked #1 with “Excellent” rankings in:

  • Sales Results
  • Amazon Royalties
  • Distribution
  • Overall Value

We received an “Above Average” for Bookstore Royalties, although no company in the Large to Medium category had an “Excellent” rating, so I’m not sure what type of analysis was used.  Nevertheless, the book summarizes Outskirts Press with the following praise: “Outskirts Press does everything well. They receive an overall value of excellent because they exceed expectations in every measurable category. You can’t go wrong here.”

Thank you, Stacie.  Thank you, also, Bobbie Jo Thompson, published Outskirts Press author, who has this to say:

“I would like to thank you for all of your support and help that you have given me. My experience with Outskirts Press has been wonderful. I am glad that I chose Outskirts to publish my first book. I am currently working on my second book and hope for it to be out in the spring. I will be using Outskirts for all of my publishing needs. Michele has been wonderful as well as everyone else who has helped me. I would like to thank them all for the wonderful work they have done.”

Top 5 Outskirts Press Reviews – Self Publishing Review

Outskirts Press receives a lot of positive reviews  and comments from the people we care about pleasing the most — our authors. We publish many of their comments on our website every month, but the fact is, we receive more kudos than we have time to publish. Interestingly, our most vocal critics are often individuals who have never published with us (and in some cases, have never published at all). Either that or they are competitors — hardly impartial sources. 

Nevertheless, authors are often left with the question of where to go to investigate self-publishing options from impartial, unbiased sources (rather than relying on the comments of competitors or overzealous individuals/consultants who have both a vested interest and a suprising amount of time on their hands to devote to nay-saying). 

Over the next five posts I will discuss five 3rd party review sources. 

The first review site is Self Publishing Review, run by Henry Baum. 

The site used to review the services of self-publishing companies on a consistent basis, although now has veered away from that.  It also refers people looking for reviews to Mick Rooney’s Self-Publishing Review Blog, which to date has reviewed 32 self publishing companies, including Outskirts Press.  Of course, my favorite excerpt from Mr. Rooney’s review is this: “Overall, Outskirts Press is run by a CEO with a thorough knowledge and background in self-publishing and marketing, and in a few short years they have established themselves as a leading POD solutions provider for authors. One only has to browse reputable POD writer forums in the United States to see how popular this publisher has become with authors looking to utilised [sic] the print on demand publishing option.”   Why, thank you, Mr. Rooney.

Okay, back to Self Publishing Review.  When SPR was reviewing self publishing services, Mr. Baum’s take on Outskirts Press was fairly accurate, as demonstrated by this excerpt: “Outskirts Press isn’t necessarily obscure, but it’s certainly not as well known as some of the bigger self-publishing outfits.  But Outskirts Press offers complete self-publishing services for a lower price than competing publishers: including book design, distribution, and marketing.”

The review goes on to summarize our five publishing packages and then covers some of the details of our cover design and marketing options before ending with this summary: “All told Outskirts Press is full-featured and affordable when compared to better-known self-publishers.”

As I mentioned at the top of this posting, the comments from our authors hold the most value for us, and I’d like to share one we received below:

“For over twenty years now I have had a story buzzing around in my head. Like others, I’m sure, I would read a novel and think: I can do that – even better! So I started to write this story back in 1997 after spending a week in Holland for research. I finally finished about a year ago and thought: Now I’m on my way!  But I wasn’t. I spent nearly a year trying to find a literary agent, using all the published guides on how to get one and became totally frustrated! I was rejected time after time based on a cover letter and maybe a few sample chapters (and I sincerely doubt that much of anything I submitted was ever read). I was pretty depressed at this point and then saw an advertisement for Outskirts Press in a writer’s magazine. I decided to make a move and have never looked back. Today I have a book to show for my efforts and OP has been great in helping me every step of the way. Now I start the marketing phase and I feel good about having OP in my corner. The book is beautiful and the cover image was exactly what I wanted. This is a book that can be judged by its cover! I am thankful to all of the fine people I’ve worked with at Outskirts Press.” – Frank Ridgley