Brent Sampson analyzes the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Finalists and Public Poll Results

It’s been a number of weeks since Susan Mercer won the 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award with her workbook, Pathway to Math Proficiency: Mastering Equivalent Fractions, Decimals and Percents…with Ease. She was up against two other Outskirts Press finalists: Bolko Zimmer, author of Angelic Warfare: The Stones of Fire; and Glenn Skinner, author of The Keya Quests: The Battle for Shivenridge.

Since part of winning the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award requires the author’s tenacious book marketing efforts, it was interesting to watch the behind-the-scenes efforts these three authors employed in order to win, including email campaigns, Facebook “calls to action,” tweets galore, and professional urging within their career- and hobbyist-circles.  While both Susan and Glenn had published previous books with Outskirts Press before, this was Bolko’s first.  As a result, both Susan and Glenn had already established their “author platform” for their first books while Bolko had a lot of work to do to catch up — book marketing is not an overnight ordeal; it takes time to build your promotional platform so you can successfully call upon it when necessary. Yes, it’s true that self-publishing can appeal to the “instant gratification” seekers, because submitting a manuscript and hitting “publish” is so fast and easy nowadays.  But successful self-publishing takes time, perseverance, and professionalism.

Knowing that makes it easier to see why the public polls between the three finalists turned out the way they did, and demonstrates the importance of establishing an author platform and social media presence as soon as possible in your writing career.     Both Susan and Glenn’s previous books with Outskirts Press were also EVVY nominees and award-winners with various contests and those successes became building blocks toward a strong, foundational online presence, as well as a strong presence in their fields (education/math and fantasy fiction, respectively).  Our third finalist, Bolko, has already taken very important steps to establish his author platform.  He started immediately upon notification that he was one of the finalists.  Yes, perhaps a little too late in this particular case, but his book demonstrates all the characteristics of a talented writer – I’m confident he will be back in the running in the near future; and then, with his marketing prowess flexing its muscles, he will be prepared to shine. Congrats to them all!