5 Years of Author Testimonials

Over five years ago (On April 9, 2011 to be exact), we started publishing author testimonials on our “Author Testimonials” blog at http://selfpublishingauthor.wordpress.com.

Jeff & Shirley Lawrence published their book, Hollywood Be Thy Name in 2006 with Outskirts Press, and, like most of our authors, enjoyed the experience so much they gave us a glowing review:

“We did a considerable amount of research before selecting Outskirts Press. We cannot tell you how pleased we are with the outcome. The book is beautiful. There is a big difference in on-line publishers. They are NOT all the same. We know other authors who made wrong choices and regretted it afterward.”

In the years between 2006 and 2011, we published thousands of additional books and received thousands of additional testimonials from happy authors. But it wasn’t until the launch of our Author’s Testimonials blog in 2011 that we could easily share those comments with other writers.

Now, the Author’s Testimonials blog offers published authors a platform to spotlight their book and their publishing experience, while also offering prospective new clients a chance to hear first-hand how publishing a book with Outskirts Press is a rewarding, and often life-changing, experience!

In the shadow of the imminent Outskirts Press Upgrade on August 1, the Author Testimonials Blog received an update this week, like my blog did a number of weeks ago. I think you’ll agree the new “blog theme” makes it extremely fast and easy to scroll through the thousands and thousands of satisfied Outskirts Press authors and see their amazing books and hear their amazing stories.

And isn’t that what a blog geared toward highlighting author success stories should do?



Self-Publishing Verdict: EXCELLENT!

I seem to have started another series of postings in the middle of the longer series I was writing about our Self Publishing Facebook Achievement awards. I’ll continue with that topic next. But in the meantime, here is one more direct communication I received from an author recently that I wanted to highlight because it once again establishes something what I feel is one important difference between Outskirts Press and the other firms out there: we like cultivating professional relationships with our authors and it is important to us that they succeed. This one comes from Paul Binford, who recently published The Shademakers.

“Hi Brent,

You sent me an welcome e-mail back in March. Since then my book, The Shademakers, has been published and I have received my author’s copies. The package arrived only a week after I ordered them. Thanks for the speediness on your part.

I’ve just filled out the survey – What do you think? – which I was happy to do and I gave all “excellent” responses. I think you guys did a great job. The whole process was user friendly and I’m impressed with everything. The cover photo was picked out from somewhere, and I would say it does just what a cover is supposed to do. The short summary on the back cover was revised a bit, for the better, by the design staff, and I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out.

The Outskirts representatives, Jodee and Elaine, were very efficient and timely with replies to various questions. Kudos also to your webmaster. I usually have trouble with computers but your website is seamless and it works! No glitches.

I’m way behind in the marketing part of it, there’s about a hundred e-mails backed up. It’s at the end of the semester at my school, my wife and I just moved, all of that has added up to a hectic pace which hasn’t allowed for much time. I’ve just gotten to the “ripple effect” e-mail, which seems to be going well. I’m surprised at the support I’m getting from my friends here in Japan. They’re promising to read my book, write a review on Amazon, share it on Facebook, things like that. I still have a lot of work to do in that department.

Just wanted to say thanks for the great job at Outskirts Press.

Best regards,
Paul Binford”

Congrats, Paul! Your book looks great!

Paul mentions a few things here that give a little “behind the scenes” on some of the other intangible advantages of self publishing with Outskirts Press — the benefits that naturally happen but that are difficult to “market” to new authors. The first is the “What did you think” survey that all our first-time authors are presented with within the first month after publication.  We ask them to rate our performance on a number of different categories so we can see how we’re doing and if there is any room for improvement.  Most survey responses, like Paul’s, are all excellent, and that’s always good to see.

The second was Paul’s reference to our service.

The third was his reference to the marketing emails which are backing up due to his travels.  This is our Marketing COACH program, which helps focus authors on productive marketing tactics and options after their book is published.  No other publisher offers anything like it, it’s free, and it’s only available with Outskirts Press. Just sayin’…

Getting video testimonials for your business

While we were in the middle of the Outskirts Press Pre-Production series of blog postings in February, our Outskirts Press blog over at http://blog.outskirtspress.com introduced a video contest in association with Valentine’s Day, titled “Show Me the Love” where we asked our satisfied and successfully published authors to record a 1-3 minute video about either being a published author, their experience with Outskirts Press, or why they loved working with us.

The videos we received were great!  We posted them all on Facebook as we received them. Then our Facebook friends “liked” them or commented on them in accordance with normal social media behavior.  This allowed us to determine 6 “finalists” based upon the number of likes and/or comments each video received.

We then posted those 6 video finalists on our blog along with a poll, asking our blog readers and members of our social community to vote on the video they liked the best.  The winner would receive a free Apple iPad 2.  It was an interesting race, with two finalists battling back and forth in the polls up until the last hour, at which time, one was crowned the winner.

At the bell, Patricia A. Hawkenson, author of Magnetic Repulsion: 100 Poems From Desire to Disgust, was named our Video Valentine for 2012 for this creative video she submitted:

Video testimonials like these are valuable components to running successful online businesses nowadays, because people on the internet are now more likely to “watch” the Internet than they are to “read” it (and yes, I recognize the irony of making that claim in a manner that requires it to be read).

So how do you acquire video testimonials for your book or business? Well, our process worked pretty well, and it went something like this:

1. Use your social media community to solicit participation in a transparent, Web 2.0-friendly way
2. Encourage participation and comments
3. Yes, you may have to offer an incentive to participate.  As popular as Skype may be, it’s still a taxing procedure for most people to create a video, and the likelihood of it being spread across YouTube and the rest of the Internet is not for the faint of heart — particularly for writers, the majority of whom are often introverted. In our case, we dangled an Apple iPad 2, but your gift could be something as easy as a signed copy of your book, for example, or a product or service that you deliver. For instance, our runner-up, received a free iPad edition of her book  (which actually has approximately the same retail price as the iPad 2 itself, so they were both big winners).
4. Once you have video testimonials, use them. Nothing is quite as persuasive as seeing real people making really great comments about your product or service.

So, with that said, take a look at all six of our video finalists by clicking here. Pretty good arguments to use Outskirts Press, wouldn’t you say?

Self Publishing a Book? Three points of view

I haven’t always been an easy person to reach at Outskirts Press.  Even to send me kudos, some authors in the past were forced to write me an actual letter and mail it to my attention through the post office.  It worked!  I always received those, and I still get a letter from time to time.  But in this day and age, it seems silly to ask our valued customers to go through such effort just to say nice things about us or to contact me about something.  So, toward the end of last year I started contacting every new author who started publishing with us, just to make sure they were satisfied with our services. It’s been a blessing and I wish I had done it years ago.

For example, here’s a very recent email I received, completely unsolicited, from one of our authors:

Dear Brent,
      Greetings to you and I wish you all continued success.  I could not be more pleased with the great job that Natasha Quick, and the production team, are doing with my novel, AFRICAN SKIES.  I am so delighted that The Outskirts Press is my publisher for this book and all my future books.  The professionalism, courtesy and attention to detail exhibited by Ms. Quick has been exceptional.  Great good luck to you and to all at Outskirts, and all the best,
Mike Tucker

Now that’s an email that puts me in a great mood.  Another wonderful email I received recently wasn’t from one of our authors, but was from the owner of Reader Views, Irene Watson.  Through Reader Views, Irene comes in contact with a LOT of books from a LOT of self-publishing companies.  With her permission, she said I could post this unsolicited email she sent me recently:


Geesh..I’ve been meaning to write this email for quite some time but one busy day runs into the next one.  This is what I want to say:

I’m very impressed with the quality of books that come from Outskirts Press.  We get a lot of self-published books and many are horribly (that’s the most gentle word I could find) produced. The quality just isn’t up to par.  Yours match any large traditional publishing company to a T. Occasionally we do review a book that hasn’t been properly edited but we know that’s the choice of the author.  If only, if only…there was a way to instill into the authors the importance of editing.

In fact, I am so impressed I recommended Outskirts Press to my assistant for her book. It’s in production now with your company.


The last message I want to share was the email I received from the winner of our free iPad.  Last year during the holidays, our monthly promotion offered a free Apple iPad to one of our talented authors.  We notifed the lucky author, Vince, the first week of January. Here was his reply (I waited until now so I could also link to his book, which was just published this week):

Happy New Year, Brent!

I want to thank you for this gift from you and Outskirts Press.  It hasn’t gotten here yet, but I happily await its delivery.

  I’ve written for many years and it is always gratifying when one actually finds evidence of people who appreciate the hard work a writer puts into his work.  Like all art, as you well know, writing produces the most fickle and varying opinions, irrespective of the inherent talent or worth of the work.  This always leaves one wondering precisely what a ‘Great work’ of fiction actually is.  Since my undergraduate degrees were in Psychology and English Literature, and having started writing stories at the very young age of 8, I always tried to fathom what it was that made a piece of fiction a great work of art.  After many years of education, and hundreds of books read, I concluded that one can’t really know that, unless he waits a hundred years or so and sees how history treats it; and even then, he couldn’t truly KNOW.  What we’re left with is to give our best effort, which I try in every book I write, and keep in mind that I want to engage the reader and not disappoint him or her.  As an author, I want to pull that reader into the story and get them involved, and as a Psychologist I want the readers to know the characters, feel they are real, empathize with them, and feel the drama is truly happening.  In Science Fiction, the story and action have to be plausible, so you don’t leave the reader thinking, ‘That can’t possibly happen, it’s ridiculous,’ which makes it just a little bit harder task, but one I enjoy doing since I love sci-fi myself.  I diligently endeavored to employ these principles with Star-Crossed, and I think it is perhaps the most believable heartfelt of the 9 fiction books I’ve written.  All 11 of my books are published in electronic format already, and sell fairly well; half of them are out in print form.  I hope with this book, published at Outskirts, I will begin an even more profitable era in my writing life, that I will publish more successful books in the future, and that Outskirts can aid in that vision.

  Thank you again,

   Vince Riccio

Thank you, Vince…

And speaking of the iPad, we’re just a few weeks away from launching our iPad Edition option… more on that in the near future…