Celebrate the 4th of July by saving 20%

For the past several posts I’ve been discussing the NEW Outskirts Press with all new packages starting August 1. But as the thousands and thousands of satisfied authors who have published with Outskirts Press since 2002 can attest, the “old” packages are pretty stellar, too.  And right now is your best, last chance to get your best deal on the best publishing packages in the industry, with our explosive 20% discount extravaganza!

Outskirts Press helps authors develop and publish high-quality books by offering exceptional design, printing, publishing, distribution, and book marketing services. Top Consumer Reviews ranks us #1 because we deliver outstanding customer service, affordable pricing, industry-leading royalties, and a team of hands-on, US-based publishing experts (many of whom are writers themselves). In short, we take the complexity and guesswork out of publishing, and our passion is helping you publish the book of your dreams.

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When you start your publishing journey from July 1 – July 5, you’ll receive a 20% discount when you purchase the Diamond or Pearl package! Simply enter the promotion code SAVE20 during check out. It’s that easy!

The Outskirts Press CEO is rendered Speechless by a self-publishing author

The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards are over for another year. Congratulations again to all our EVVY nominees, winners, and Best Book finalists.   I received a gracious email from the winner, Andrew Ceroni, who expressed both his excitement and his appreciation. It’s always great to hear from our award-winning authors.

In fact, a little over a week ago I also received an amazing email from the author of Speechless, which was one of the Best Book of the Year Finalists. This was while the Best Book voting was still occurring at the Self Publishing News website.  It was so touching, I asked her permission to share it on my blog after the final votes were in and she granted that permission while simultaneously expressing an interest in congratulating Mr. Ceroni for his win.   Thank you, Ms. Brown, for the email below.

Dear Mr. Sampson,

I am writing to thank you for the journey I never expected.

I am the author of Speechless. You know me as E.J. Brown, my kids know me as mom, and the rest of the world knows me as Melissa. I started writing Speechless eight years ago to fill a void and to teach the world about autism. I remember the first phone call I had with Laura Neal, we discussed pricing and I told her I wanted to give the book away. After a moment of silence she calmly explained how pricing worked and I conceded, realizing that “reasonably priced” would have to do if I couldn’t give it away for free. After Speechless was published I did no marketing at all and sold very few books. I already have a full time job, this was just a hobby, and my full-time job was recovering my autistic son. I am his teacher and he is mine. We spend every day together as he gets closer to recovery.

When I received the EVVY nomination, I was floored. I had fallen into this profession because of a passion for my children as I had falling into teaching years ago because of a love of history and the world. My life has taken me some very interesting places when I followed my heart; places I could never have dreamed of.  After I won the EVVY I was again delighted and floored. A panel of writers read Speechless and decided that it was well written and worthy of first place. That tickled my heart like you will never know. That was not the end of the road though, still there was more. You continued to push me further down this path as your team nominated Speechless for Book of the Year. For the first time I have to sell myself, something I have never been very good at but for the first time I was up for the challenge. Out of my seclusion I have learned so much, and most important of all is that my story is the story of so many others that I hadn’t realize.

Social media, Facebook, Instragram– it all frightens me but I willingly jumped in with both feet. I was a high school teacher a little over a decade ago. I was in my mid 20’s and my students were 14-17 years old. As I was sending my pleas for votes I received a friend request from a student I had almost 15 years ago. I am 41 years old today and she is just ten years younger. I accepted her request and learned that she has two boys that are also on the autism spectrum. She told me she read my book, loved it, and felt less alone for the first time in a long time. Another friend of mine told me her daughter loved Speechless so much that she wrote a book report about it for school. I could never imagine a teenager loving something I wrote so much that they would write a book report about it for school!

SO I have to say even though there are two days left to vote I want to take a moment to thank you for the journey and the chance to tell my story and for forcing my hand, pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me sell myself. I just finished my second book with Outskirts Press, A Fervent Hope. It is in pre-media right now and I am anxious to share it with the world in just a few short weeks.  I am going to do it differently this time.

So thank you again for the opportunity to be a star, if just for a little while. I am so thrilled to just to be nominated. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out on Sunday.

                                                Thanks again for the opportunity,


Winning word-count confirmation begins today at NaNoWriMo

“Winners” begin being crowned today on the NaNoWriMo website for successfully writing 50,000 words in … 20 days (10 days faster than required!). If you’re one of those overly-ambitious few, first of all, congratulations; that’s impressive! And secondly, reaching 50,000 is no reason to stop writing. I know I’m sounding like a broken record (do people even know what a “record” is anymore? ) by constantly repeating that we should all keep writing after 50,000 words, but I’m mostly doing that to encourage me to continue writing once I reach 50,000. I know it’s going to be hard since Idle Hands is on pace to be about 90,000 words,  50,000 words just isn’t going to cut it.  And like I said the other day, but it bears repeating again– one doesn’t publish 50,000 words.  One publishes a book.   And once you finish your book, where should you publish it?  Well, I’m glad you asked. Tomorrow we’ll talk about comparing the top self-publishing firms in an analytic way.

In order for NaNoWriMo to accept your word count you need to cut and paste your manuscript into their word-count validator.  Sounds easy enough, but I’m surprised so many writers are so willing to give their hard work to an organization without a second thought.  Perhaps I speak from experience, but some of the writers I’ve worked with exhibit hesitancy about sharing their work;  and that’s even AFTER a contract has been signed expressly protecting them and their copyrights.  No such agreement exists on the National Novel Writing website (at least, not what that I’ve seen, or agreed to).

I personally don’t have those reservations, because I know how official US copyright “works”, but if a certain percentage of our writers have expressed that concern (and that number is lower than the 500,000 writers NaNoWriMo claims to be participating in this year’s adventure), it surprises me that this isn’t more of an “issue” for National Novel Writing Month and its organizers, too.

It’s clear that it has come up from time to time because on their forums, they provide a link to another website that “scrambles” your manuscript for the specific purpose of only providing your word count to NaNoWriMo, rather than a book that makes any sense.  But that’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul — or, in this case, giving your manuscript to 3rd-party Website X in order to scramble it for NaNoWriMo.  Frankly, I’m surprised that’s even a suggested solution since an author who is worried about such things (which I already said I am not) is probably more likely to trust NaNoWriMo than some nameless third-party “scrambler” website.

Anyway…. here are my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 19:

Average Per Day 1854
Words Written Today 2231
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 35242
Words Remaining 14,758
Current Day 19
Days Remaining 12
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 27
Words/Day to finish on time 1,230

My estimated day of completion moved one day sooner, to November 27th.  Of course, now the goal is to to keep it there, or at the very least, prevent it from moving later than the final deadline again…

Under 20,000 words to go on the novel

If you’ll look at my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday (posted below), you’ll see that I’ve crossed over 30,000 words written, which leaves less than 20,000 words to go.  So does that mean I only have to write 20,000 more words to finish my book? Well, no. It means I only have 20,000 more words to write in order to “win” National Novel Writing Month (they consider it “winning” if you write 50,000 words in 30 days). Whether or not you actually FINISH your book is not of much consequence to them.

But that seems like a pretty arbitrary goal, doesn’t it?  Writing 50,000 words in 30 days?  So, yes, while I’m on track to write 50,000 words in 30 days (in 28 days, actually), I’m afraid I’m not on track to actually finish the book.  You see, I just got to the point in the plot where Fenderson takes Brad on a road trip to Las Vegas on their way to the port to get on the cruise ship.  If you’ll remember the posting that introduced the original outline for Idle Hands, you’ll see that Las Vegas wasn’t even mentioned, and you’ll see that by November 17th, Fen was supposed to have already killed Jacob.  And, here I am, on day 18 and they haven’t even gotten to the cruise ship yet.

That’s okay, rarely are today’s modern works of fiction only 50,000 words. Idle Hands was always going to be longer.

But the point of this is to realize, for all of us WriMo’s out there, that writing (and finishing) a novel is the real goal, no matter how long it takes. They just put a 50,000 word number on it, and an arbitrary starting and ending date, to put us all on the same page (pun intended).

So if your book is less than 50,000 words and you finish it before the end of the month, start writing a new one. And if your book is going to be longer than 50,000 words, and therefore not finished by November 30, keep on writing, even if you “won” NaNoWriMo.

You don’t publish 50,000 words.  You publish books.

My NaNoWriMo stats for November 17:

Average Per Day 1792
Words Written Today 2236
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 30,473
Words Remaining 19,527
Current Day 17
Days Remaining 14
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,395

Freemium Self Publishing

The November 5th episode of South Park, titled “Freemium Isn’t Free”, finds the boys addicted to “freemium” mobile apps.  According to Wikipedia, “freemium” is a term coined in 2006 and is the pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge; but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods.

Apple and its iTunes app store received so much heat over “free” mobile apps that, in reality, are not free, that they had to re-identify them as “freemium” apps and disclose the manner in which those apps actually made money. It makes one wonder when other businesses are going to have to disclose the same thing?

What does this have to do with self-publishing? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Many large self-publishing companies use this exact same business model, although the population at large hasn’t quite identified the similarities between mobile apps that do this, and businesses in general that do this. But if you look closely enough, you can identify all the same practices, because some of the largest self-publishing companies are actually “freemium” in nature. They tout “free” on their website, but once you’ve drank the Kool-Aid, or downloaded the app, or whatever you want to call it, writers are discovering what they probably suspected all along: Nothing is free.  And suddenly they’re paying $999 for custom covers at Company C*, or $3,199 for book video trailers at Company L* —  services that they can get for under $299 and $499, respectively, at Outskirts Press.

Some of the most popular freemium mobile games right now are Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and The Simpsons, and it might surprise you to know that the average amount of money those companies make per user exceeds the $0.99 they would make if they simply charged for the game in the first place. The way freemium mobile apps manipulate you into paying is by wasting Earth’s most precious resource: time.

Freemium self-publishers use tactics that aren’t quite so obvious, but include overcharging for additional services (like the custom covers and book videos), overcharging for author copies, and the coup-de-grace: manipulating you into actually giving away your e-book to their customers under the guise of “marketing” (but, you only “earn the right” to do this if they have an exclusive on your book, thus preventing you from making money elsewhere). Talk about adding insult to injury.

Most authors are so attracted to the “free” part that they don’t bother to investigate their long term costs; if they did, they might be surprised to know that the average amount those companies make per user exceeds the $999 they would make if they simply charged for self-publishing in the first place.

There is no such thing as “free” self-publishing.  But there is freemium self-publishing. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

My NaNoWriMo stats for November 16th are:

Average Per Day 1764
Words Written Today 1611
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 28237
Words Remaining 21,763
Current Day 16
Days Remaining 15
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,451

*I don’t name self-publishing competitors on this blog, but it’s not terribly difficult to guess the culprits.

Start marketing your book as you are writing it

For the last month and a half, my posts have focused on my participation in National Novel Writing Month, which tasks writers to compose 50,000 words to a book within the 30 days of November.  During the month, as WriMo’s (as they are called) write their books, they also converse with “buddies” online, commiserate in forums,  and some even attend local “Write-Ins” in person, where they can write alongside other NaNoWriMo participants. And all of this helps them do something that ALL writers should do — market their book AS they are writing it.

This is good advice regardless of whether you are writing a book in a month, or in a year; and Outskirts Press has recently published a book by one of the best social media marketing authors, Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, who uses multiple social media platforms to engage her audience for both her acting career and her writing career.

Author and actress Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol is perhaps best known for her roles in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and the upcoming film, “AWOL-72.” Her first book of poetry, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, was released by Outskirts Press in June of 2014 and quickly climbed through the bestseller ranks. In a recent interview with us, Mirtha Michelle credits much of her success to a quality relationship with what she calls her “social media family.” In her own words, here are four simple tips she offers to the newly published author:

  1. Diversify your platform. Mirtha Michelle keeps readers up-to-date on her activities and poetry through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram-a rigorous and diverse digital platform that ensures her words reach as many people as possible. “Social media has helped me get to know my readers and my audience,” she says, and it is important that she reach her readers wherever they are to be found.
  2. Create original content, and regularly. “Two years ago,” Mirtha Michelle tells us, “I just posted about my life a little bit-my outfits, if I went out somewhere exciting, and so on. But after a while, I started posting quotes I liked, and I started to see that social media was an outlet to express myself and show what I was working on.” She began posting more intentionally about her ongoing projects, with the intent of bringing her followers alongside as her work continues to evolve: “I see it as a job, to be honest. I pay close attention to my social media.” She makes a point of posting new and original content several times a week, including artistically and professionally shot photographs of her poetry.
  3. Positivity helps. Mirtha Michelle’s initials make up a personalized hashtag, #MMCM. This hashtag helps her readers connect across social media platforms, and has become a bastion for positivity and healthy relationships. In their comments on her blog, fans often cite her work as instrumental in helping them through difficult times. “I wish I could reply to every single person who writes a comment,” she says, “and I wish I could thank every person.” It can be challenging to keep up with every follower, but Mirtha Michelle goes to great lengths to ensure they know she’s listening: “I try to respond to everyone on Tumblr, because I really, really care.” Readers return to Mirtha Michelle’s blog, and her poetry, again and again-in large part because of her optimism and her genuine interest in their lives.
  4. Be authentic. “Write your heart,” Mirtha Michelle advises. “Imagine you’re meditating with your computer, with words. Really listen to your soul, so you can express what it wants to say.” Even on social media, she tells us, “I don’t try to be anything I’m not.”

Mirtha Michelle’s book, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved, is available through iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Outskirts Press Direct bookstore.

My NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 5, 2014:

Average Per Day 1833
Words Written Today 2371
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 9165
Words Remaining 40,835
Current Day 5
Days Remaining 26
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,571

How to Plot a Novel


In 2007 I attended the annual Florida Writer’s Association conference to accept the “Book of the Year” award from the Royal Palms Literary Awards for my book, Sell Your Book on Amazon.

While I was there, I gave a seminar titled “How to Plot a Novel” and it proved to be so popular that I’ve since given that same presentation many times to writing groups and conferences around the country. And I am using the basis of that presentation to plot the novel I will be writing in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month.

So, for those of you that I am mentoring from NaNoWriMo, or those of you in general who are writing a novel (that means you’re writing a fiction book since non-fiction books are not called novels, although, confusingly enough, you ARE allowed to write non-fiction even during National Novel Writing Month), I’ve condensed the content of that hour-long presentation into one easily digestible blog posting.

I will use my novel, Idle Hands, as the example for this posting and you will get an inside, behind-the-scenes glimpse of how I’m preparing my book. Sorry for the horrible penmanship.  Then, tomorrow we will discuss the mathematical logistics required to actually, physically WRITE 50,000 words within 30 days.  Don’t worry, it’s not as boring (or as scary) as it sounds. But first, the plot!

The basic concept of my How To Plot a Novel presentation is creating a visual outline comprised of 9 “blocks” which is my own personal continuation of a standard “three-act structure.”  So if you wish to play along, get an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and fill it with a Tic-Tac-Toe grid (or pound sign symbol, if you prefer).  Then enclose the lines with an outside box and you are left with 9 blank squares (see below if you want to see the boxes, although in my example, there’s lots of notes).

For the purposes of sharing this information in an orderly fashion, number the boxes from 1 – to 9 starting at the top left corner and going from left-to-right on each row.

Here’s mine, along with copious (barely legible) notes, some of which have been obscured and all of which are difficult to read, since I don’t want to reveal too much of the twists and turns of my plot. But for the purposes of this blog/presentation, I’ve left in the important elements to discuss below:


The easiest box to read is right smack in the middle in box #5: Fen kills Jacob on the cruise ship

Novels are about characters and relationships, but plots are about something that happens. When using my 9-block visual plotting device, you put the single major incident that happens in the center square, box number 5.  And since everything that occurs in a novel should somehow be connected to that one major event, this blocking scheme will help you place (and pace) appropriate characters, events, and twists in the appropriate parts of the story.  Boxes 1 -4 (the beginning portions of the novel) all must lead up to that major event.  Boxes 6-9 (the ending portions of the novel) involve the fall-0ut, climax, and resolution from that event.

Box #1 in the upper left hand corner is titled “Brad & Grace” for my book, Idle Hands.  This is where the protagonist (Brad) is introduced, along with auxiliary characters.  Each box doesn’t necessarily HAVE to involve a separate chapter, but it could.   Above Box #1 I have written “3 Days, 7000 words, 10 pages” and in the bottom of box #1 I have written “November 1, November 2, November 3.”  Those involve my personal milestone goals for WRITING the story in 30 days, and I will discuss those logistic notes in tomorrow’s blog posting, so ignore them for the time being.

Box #2 in the middle of the top row is titled “Brad & Fen”. This is were the antagonist (Fenderson, aka Fender or Fen) is introduced, along with other auxiliary characters.  You will also notice that since Block #2 is directly touching Block #5 directly below it (in the center, where the major plot event takes place), that Fenderson takes a lead role in both Blocks 2 and Blocks 5. In fact, he also takes a lead role in Block 8, directly below 5, although I neglected to title that block and should have. It would have also been titled “Brad & Fen”.

Box # 3 in the upper right is titled “Brad & Melody”. This is where the third major character and major love interest in this love triangle is introduced.  And speaking of plot connections, you will notice that Melody is also a key character in Blocks #6 and 9 directly below Block 3 in a column.

In fact, let’s discuss the columns and rows as a whole for a moment before moving on to the second row.

Idle Hands is a character study disguised as a dark comedy/thriller within the conventions of a love triangle.   The three major characters are Brad, Fenderson, and Melody, and you will notice, not coincidentally, that each major character “owns” their own column.  Brad owns the left-most column (Blocks 1, 4, and 7) with squares titled “Brad & Grace”, “Brad & Fen”, and “Brad & Melody & Grace”, respectively.  Fenderson “owns” the middle column (Blocks 2, 5, and 8) with squares titled “Brad & Fen”, “Fen kills Jacob” (the major event), and “Brad & Fen”, respectively.  And finally, Melody “owns” the right-most column (Blocks 3, 6, and 9) with squares titled “Brad & Melody”, “Fen & Melody”, and “Brad & Melody” respectively. Block 3 is also where the first major turning point of a novel should take place. For Idle Hands, this is where Brad meets Melody.

Okay, okay, Brad plays major roles in the majority of all these blocks, but that stands to reason since he is the protagonist.

It could be argued that the center column (Fen’s column) is actually the most important, because that is the column where the major event takes place in Block #5.  Part of the point of this 9-block device is to ensure a book is properly paced, with sufficient build-up (ie, motivation), and sufficient fall-out, and all the emotional highs and lows that result.   But it would be a mistake to assume that just because the major event is in Block 5 that nothing happens until half way through the book.  The opposite is true.  Something notable must happen in EVERY single square (otherwise, why write about it?).  I’ve happened to title my squares around characters, but you could just as easily title your squares around events that occur, all of them connected to their adjacent squares, and all leading toward (or coming from) the Major Event in Block 5.  In fact, more traditional, plot-oriented novels would probably do exactly that.

Now let’s discuss the rows. The top row involves the beginning of the novel, and if you’re a 3-act structure traditionalist, you would say Row 1 is Act 1 (and Row 2 is Act 2 and Row 3 is Act 3). In row 1 you introduce your characters (Brad, Fen, and Melody, in my case), and lay the ground work and emotional motivations for everything that takes place in Row 2.  The plot-outline-blocks of this 9-Block device can help you determine where in the story each character should be introduced based upon that specific character’s involvement with the plot.  The middle row is arguably the most important (for the same reason column 2 is the most important) because it involves the major event of the story.  This is different from a turning point or “twist” (which I will discuss below).  Block 5 is really the answer to the question, “What happens in your book?”  You wouldn’t reveal the plot twists or turns when answering that question would you?  And finally, the bottom row (Act 3) involves the character’s lowest point, the turning point, and the dénouement (the final resolution), respectively.

Now back to the individual blocks…

Block #4 in the middle-left square is titled “Brad & Fen on the cruise ship”.  Since Block #5 tells us that “Fen kills Jacob on the cruise ship”, we can see that Block 4 involves specific build-up and motivations to that Major plot event.

Block #5 is the centerpiece of your plot. For Idle Hands, that is when the antagonist, Fenderson Quinn kills Jacob Hardy.  Block 5 is also the one square among all of them that is connected to the most adjacent squares, so important characters or events leading up to this plot must be present in Block #2 and Block #4, while important consequences must be present in Blocks #6 and #8.

Block #6 in the middle-right is titled “Fen & Melody”. This is where another major turning point of your novel should take place, which is further complicated (and motivated/caused) by the major event that just took place in Block 5. In the case of Idle Hands, this major turning point is when Brad discovers that Melody and Fen are actually husband & wife.

That turning point in Block 6 should lead to the “emotional low” of your novel, when everything is at their darkest in Block #7, which I have titled “Brad & Melody & Grace” for Idle Hands. A character driven to his (or her) lowest point is sometimes driven to drastic measures and this is where events and characters introduced in Blocks 1 and Blocks 4 make another appearance, thus fulfilling requirements of foreshadowing, and demonstrating you are well in control of your craft as a novelist.

Typically a major twist leads to an epiphany and is what motivates the final climax (often some sort of emotional or physical confrontation), and this all occurs in Block 8. Given its direct proximity below Block 5, it’s probably no surprise that the epiphany or twist, as well as the climax, are all directly related to the event that takes place in Block 5.

The final block #9  in the lower right hand corner is where the dénouement begins and all the plot points are resolved, not out of the blue, but by connecting dots left in adjoining Blocks 6 (the second major turning point) and 8 (the results of the climax). Characters and/or events introduced in Block 3 must also play a major role in this resolution as well.  Resolutions cannot occur without the proper foundation.

Now that we’ve discussed pacing and plotting a novel, tomorrow we will discuss the pacing of writing a novel… in 30 days.

Celebrating 10 years of self publishing with Outskirts Press

In the category of Better Late than Never : Happy New Year.

Our company profile page at Outskirts Press gets updated the first month of every year to update our total title counts and summarize how the previous calendar year’s accomplishments fit into the overall picture of our company, and the industry of self publishing in general. I’ve posted the 2013 updated profile below.  2013 was a banner year for us and our authors. We published more titles by more writers than ever before, launched our mobile site for cell phones, mailed exciting royalty checks to our authors, and welcomed our first-ever Executive Vice President (Kelly Schuknecht, who was promoted in January).  Here’s the updated profile below; and you can see the entire thing, in all its glory, on our website by clicking here.

Here’s to a great 2014…

Over ten years ago, Outskirts Press was founded as a better way for authors to write, publish, and market their books. Outskirts Press incorporated in Colorado in 2003, and through strategic partnerships, exemplary customer service, and unmatched quality, Outskirts Press quickly became the fastest-growing full-service book publishing and book marketing firm.

The years between 2004 and 2006 marked a growth rate in excess of 1,500%, an accomplishment that was recognized in July 2007 by The Denver Business Journal when Outskirts Press was honored to be the 3rd fastest-growing privately held company (in any industry) in Colorado.  By the end of 2006, Outskirts Press had nearly 1,000 books in print,  all of them available worldwide through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble online, among others. And by the end of 2007, Outskirts Press more than doubled its title totals again to more than 2,000 total titles published.

self publishing books

In 2008 The Denver Business Journal once again recognized Outskirts Press as the fastest-growing publisher, and in fact, the fastest-growing privately held small-to-medium sized company in Colorado (in any industry), boasting growth of over 500% for the years between 2005-2007.

In 2009 Outskirts Press published its 5,000th title and became the only self-publishing company to appear on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing privately held companies.

In 2010, 2011, and 2012, Outskirts Press repeated its appearance on the Inc. 5000 list three more times, and became the only self-publishing company to appear on the list of top 5,000 fastest growing private businesses in America for four straight years.

2012 also marked the 10-year anniversary of the company’s founding and the publication of its 10,000 title. What took seven years to accomplish (publishing 5,000 different titles) was repeated in less than three.

Ten short years after its incorporation in 2003, 2013 was a celebratory and banner year for Outskirts Press, and heralded the maturation of an industry success story. Outskirts Press published more books in 2013 than in its first five years combined, and, in fact, more books in a single year than ever before, continuing to exceed industry averages with double-digit percentage growth of new titles and authors.

Now, more than ever, self-publishing writers are recognizing the value of high quality production, superior customer service, and the continued necessity of hard copy books to differentiate their contributions to the literary world from the masses of unfiltered, unprofessional electronic-only books.

So how does Outskirts Press remain the fastest-growing full-service publishing provider?

  • It begins with our Mission Statement: To exceed the expectations of every author we help publish.
  • It continues with our commitment to conservationism and recycling. Our most popular book sizes offer a recycled paper-stock option, featuring 30% post-consumer.
  • It grows with our authors.  Just ask Gang Chen, who earned over $100,000 in 180 days; or Sally Shields, the stay-at-home mom-turned-2-time Amazon.com bestseller; or Ronnie Lee, who has become one of the most prolific published authors of our generation with the assistance of Outskirts Press.

As we look toward the future, our commitment to produce high-quality books and offer high levels of support to our authors in all three phases of their journey (writing, publishing, marketing), only grows stronger.

For instance, to complement our authors’ hard copy printed paperback and hardback editions, we have embraced digital e-books with three a la carte digital publishing options to make electronic readers even easier to reach for our authors:

 We have embraced social media to help our authors further promote their books and enhance their careers:

  • Our author community on Facebook is the most popular and most active among all full-service self-publishing firms.
  • Our author channel on YouTube features the most book videos among all full-service, high-quality firms.
  • Our company blog keeps our authors informed on industry news, exciting promotions, and marketing tactics.
  • Our Twitter account keeps our authors up-to-date, sometimes up-to-the-minute.
  • Our Pinterest boards keep authors and readers apprised of Top 10 monthly bestsellers, our most prolific and successful writers, and genre collections/themes to celebrate holidays and special events.

By publishing our own series of books, we help authors navigate the sometimes tricky waters of book publishing. And by offering free publication in various anthologies through the year, we demonstrate how easy, fast, and fun it can be to publish with Outskirts Press.

Through it all, Outskirts Press authors have remained our main focal point. With over 10,000 published titles, Outskirts Press continues to pour development dollars and resources into further improvements to the Outskirts Press website and its growing list of writing, publishing, and marketing services/products to further support our authors’ goals and dreams.

What does success mean to you? By any measure, you will find it here with Outskirts Press and we look forward to helping you on that journey.

Many of us, and some of our family members, took a moment during a summer picnic to pose…

Are you ready to get published? Click here to visit Outskirts Press Self Publishing now.

Self Publishing Bad News & Good News

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.

Self Publishing Award Winners on Pinterest

I’ve spent a lot of posts talking about the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards over the past few months and even though we announced the winner on the Self Publishing News blog, I realized I hadn’t mentioned the winner here.  This gives a good opportunity to also discuss another way Outskirts Press is using Pinterest, as a way of further promoting our Best Book of the Year winners and finalists with their own board.  We “pin” the three finalists and then the winning author’s photo is also pinned, along with some biographical information.  You can see our self publishing finalists and the winners from 2010, 2011, and 2012 on Pinterest by clicking here. And in doing so, you’ll learn the recently crowned winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year for 2012.

The Pinterest board that focuses on our winners and finalists is different from many of our other boards in that it continues to grow and evolve, with four new pins added every year. In reality, this is how most Pinterest boards should be (albeit, perhaps “pinned” more frequently).  Highly successful Pinterest Boards (from a social media perspective) should categorize “pins” and then constantly add new pins within that category. These are the boards that receive the most followers and activity.   Most of our boards are static, in that they announce a specific collection of books at a specific period of time (self publishing bestsellers in a particular month, for example), and as a result, those boards never change.  That is admittedly defeating much of the advantages of Pinterest, because why would someone bother to “follow” a board that never changed or expanded?

On the other hand, our monthly self publishing bestseller boards do allow us to collect a diverse collection of books that all share one trait (best selling status), and that makes it easier to point to them as a collection when discussing them on other sites or blogs. For example, if I want to mention our top 10 bestsellers from the month of May, I can simply say “Click here to see them” rather than having to generate 10 different clicks with 10 different images.  Pinterest has already done that work for me.

Ultimately,  both static boards and dynamic boards have their place on Pinterest.