What makes the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards so special?

Today marks the beginning of the public poll to determine the 2014 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. This is the only book award contest I am aware of that rewards both an author’s writing ability and marketing ability.

The writing ability is recognized and rewarded by the requirement that every Best Book of the Year finalist must win an EVVY Award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

The marketing ability is recognized and rewarded by putting all three finalists head-to-head-to-head to see which tenacious marketer can secure the most votes in a publicly held poll.  That poll is happening right now over on the Outskirts Press Self Publishing News blog at http://selfpublishingnews.com

As I write this, it’s a three-way race, with all three finalists currently receiving between 30% and 36% of the votes.  Not only does the ultimate winner gain acclaim as the author of the best book Outskirts Press published in 2014 (from over 1500 contenders), but he or she will also receive the $1,500 Grand Prize.  No wonder all three writers are so actively involved in this public poll!

Voting is open to everyone. The poll ends at midnight (Mountain Standard Time) on Sunday, September 6th.

Does September 2015 seem like an odd month to recognize our best book from 2014, nine months late?  It is, and that’s due to ensuring every finalists’ very important, award-winning status, courtesy of the Colorado Independent Publisher Association and its independent EVVY Awards.  Those EVVY Awards were just announced last week, and the picture of me above was taken during that ceremony in Denver, Colorado. I’ll cover more of that next time.

In the meantime, congratulations to our three Best Book of the Year finalists:

Outskirts Press Book of the Year thoughts

Last week the three finalists for the Outskirts Press Book of the Year were announced. Congratulations to Sharon Rhodes for her novel, It’s a Family Affair; Whitney J. LeBlanc for his book, Blues in the Wind – Revisited; and Basil Pallis for his true experience brought to the pages of 46 Days in Ukraine.  Last Friday, these three finalists were put into a public poll on our Outskirts Press blog to determine the winner of the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year.  We are accepting votes until tomorrow.

Sharon jumped out to an early lead last Friday, quickly capturing over 90% of the votes.  As of today, her vote percentage remains in the mid 80’s.  Whitney and Basil have their work cut out for them if they wish to end the reign of female authors winning the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year prize.  Last year Susan Mercer won the 2011 prize for her book, Pathway to Math Proficiency: Mastering Equivalent Fractions, Decimals and Percents…With Ease and Doris Kenney Marcotte won the 201o Best Book of the Year award for her novel, The Beads of Lapis Lazuli.

It’s strange writing “last year Susan Mercer won the 2011 prize…” because that makes it sound like it’s 2012. That’s always been one of the problems with book awards.  Typically the year of the Award doesn’t coincide with the year of publication.  For instance, our CIPA EVVY finalists were just awarded their 2013 EVVY Awards, even though those same books were in the running for the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award.  Yes, the 2013 EVVY contest was concluded before the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards. What kind of sense does that make?

But it is important to note that our awards are for a specific year in which the book was published. So I think we’ll slightly change the way we mention our award. Instead of calling them the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards, it may be more effective to say the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year for 2012.  A small matter of semantics, yes, but that’s what a writer worries about–semantics.

In any event, a new board on Pinterest has been created to recognize our Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year finalists and winners and you can see them here: http://pinterest.com/outskirtspress/best-book-of-the-year-winners-finalists/

When the public poll on our blog determines the winner for 2012, he or she will be added to the Pinterest board.  Good luck to them all.


More details about the Outskirts Press 2012 Best Book of the Year Awards

Today on the Self Publishing News blog, we announced the first finalist for the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards.

Congratulations to Sharon Rhodes, author of It’s a Family Affair, which is the second novel she has written and published with Outskirts Press.   We will be announcing Finalist #2 and #3 in the coming days and then public voting will commence to determine the winner this coming Friday.

Winning a CIPA EVVY Award is a pre-requisite to winning our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, now in its 4th year. In 2010 we published a book called The Beads of Lapis Lazuli, by Doris Kenney Marcotte, which went on to win a 2011 EVVY Award for Fiction and become a finalist for our contest.   Doris was up against The Key to Job Success in Any Career, by Frank B. Leibold, Ph.D and Psych Consults by Robert J. Mignone, M.D. In the weeks following the finalist announcements, Doris engaged in some aggressive “author platform” leveraging and social media marketing efforts, which paid off — her book was named the 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year, recognizing the best book we published in 2010, written by the author who demonstrated the best marketing muscle. Her interview is here.

In 2011 we published a book called Pathway to Math Proficiency:Mastering Equivalent Fractions, Decimals and Percents…with Ease, by Susan Mercer, which won a 2012 EVVY Award for Workbooks. She went on to win the 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, after competing head-to-head with the other two finalists: Angelic Warfare, by Bolko Zimmer and The Keya Quests: The Battle for Shivenridge, by Glenn Skinner.  And like the 2010 contest, the 2011 public poll was a close call, going right up to the wire.

I summarized my thoughts about how the public polling panned out here. In that posting, I shed some light on the aggressive marketing efforts the winners must make to secure the award.  It may also help to know what process determines the three finalists in the first place.  Logistic and creative elements  have already been taken into consideration and recognized (given the fact that all finalists are already EVVY Award-winning books), so determining the three finalists are admittedly a more subjective decision making process.  While the “order” of the EVVY Awards (first, second, third, merit) play a role in determining our finalists, there are other considerations we take into account that EVVY judges do not.  We know the authors. We are more familiar with their writing career and talents and aspirations. We know if they have published previous books and, if so, how THOSE books have performed in various contests.  The CIPA judges take none of these factors into account when judging individual EVVY Awards (nor should they) but we do when choosing finalists from among all the EVVY winners.

That said, Finalist #2 will be announced on Wednesday and Finalist #3 will be announced on Thursday.   But, readers of this blog know they sometimes receive some news early, so allow me to say this:  This upcoming poll does give us an opportunity to witness a little social experiment first hand.  You may have noticed from the paragraphs above that our previous two Best Book of the Year winners have been female, even though they were each competing against two other men in the Finalist rounds.

Without revealing TOO much about the next two finalists, I will give a hint and say that we have that same situation again.  Sharon Rhodes will find herself head-to-head-to-head against two male finalists when the voting begins on the Outskirts Press blog this coming Friday.  Let’s see if she continues the trend started by Doris and Susan before her, proving that in this digital day and age of social media marketing and online book promotion, female authors are not to be trifled with.   Or will our first male Best Book of the Year author finally take a crown.  We’ll find out this week!

2013 CIPA EVVY Award Winners

The 19th Annual EVVY Awards took place last Saturday night in Denver.  Our Outskirts Press blog will make the official announcement of our EVVY winners this week, but one of the benefits of reading my blog  is that sometimes you get information early.  So without further ado, here are the EVVY Award-winners from Outskirts Press:

First Place Winner

46 Days in Ukraine,  by Basil Pallis (Non-Fiction/Experiences)

Second Place Winners:

Blues in the Wind – Revisited, by Whitney J. LeBlanc (Fiction)

The Cloudy Corners of Creation, by Mark Tate (Religion/Spirituality)


Third Place Winners:

Family Likeness, by Wilson Awasu (Religion/Spirituality)

It’s a Family Affair, by Sharon Rhodes (Fiction)

Living Between the Line, by Eulus Dennis (Autobiography/Memoirs)

Merit Award Winners:

To Know You by Rebecca Del Reye  (Fiction)

On the Hole by Jeff Bacot, (Fiction)

EVVY Finalists:

Bahotep and the Stone of Edyn, by Ayden Eschen

Death at Willow Creek Mine, by J.D. Savid

Grateful Life, by John Fields

Obibini Blackman, by Kwasi Boadi

Shadows and Fire, by Jennifer Fales


One of these books will be recognized in the coming weeks as the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year for 2012.  Congratulations to them all!

2012 Best Book of the Year qualifiers

Our third annual Best Book of the Year Award winner is going to be announced the first week of June.  Leading up to that announcement, a few things need to take place.

1) The books we published in 2012 need to be qualitatively narrowed down to roughly 50 or less (that’s about 2%, so yes, we do cut deep).  We do this process throughout the year by considering factors like editing, front cover design, back cover content, retail price, subject matter, interior design, interior content, etc.  The books that make this cut are officially invited to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards. Those invitations were sent out earlier this year to our EVVY nominees.

2) The EVVY submissions are judged by an independent panel of judges on behalf of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. The judges are judging not only Outskirts Press books, but all the books submitted to this contest by publishers and self-publishing authors from around the country.  The EVVY judges arrive upon a selection of “EVVY Finalists” and notify all the participating publishers.  These EVVY Finalists were determined within the past 2 weeks.

3) The EVVY Awards Banquet takes place to announce the First, Second, Third Place, and Merit Award winners in each category from among the EVVY Finalists.  This Awards banquet and reception occurs this coming Saturday night in the Denver Tech Center. I will be on hand to receive awards for our authors who are unable to attend in person.  Joining me at the EVVYs will be Rob M. from our marketing division,  Lora G. from our tech & analytics division, and of course my beautiful wife.

4) From among the Outskirts Press EVVY winners, three Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year finalists will be announced on May 20th.

Since we know every EVVY Finalist wins an EVVY Award, and since we know winning an EVVY 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or Merit Award is a prerequisite to being an Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year finalist, then we know that our three finalists, and the ultimate Best Book of the Year for 2012, is among our 12 EVVY Finalists.    And those finalists are below.

One of these books will be the 2012 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year.  Which one will it be and which author will win the $1,500 prize?    Stay tuned in the coming weeks to find out (and to vote in a public poll to determine the ultimate winner).  Congratulations to all our contenders.

Longevity in business (and self-publishing)

A few posts ago I discussed the second annual “Share the Love” video contest that Outskirts Press held for our published authors on Facebook. This month we have been collecting submissions from our Facebook fans for our 3rd annual Fandemonium Facebook Anthology.  In May, we will announce the winner of the 3rd annual Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award. This summer we will find out whether or not Outskirts Press is awarded its 5th placement in a row on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies. And in October, we officially celebrate our 10-year anniversary.

All this goes to show that there are many ways other than “anniversaries” you as a business owner can use to celebrate longevity in your respective industries. And communicating longevity is important, because longevity speaks volumes to potential clients, customers, and consumers; deep down most people understand that a business which has succeeded for a long time in this dog-eat-dog world is a company they can have confidence working with.

Yes, there are always exceptions to prove the rule, such as the case of Vantage Press, a sort-of-competitor of ours that “ceased business operations” at the end of 2012 after a long and storied history. Sadly, when they closed, their authors were left in something of a lurch – with many authors not receiving royalties due to them and authors in the middle of the publishing pipeline being left out to dry without refund.   I’m an author myself, as well as a business owner, so I empathize with all sides involved. No company plans to fail, but it’s not the customer’s responsibility or obligation to bear the brunt of that failure if it happens. Being prepared for that possibility is the responsibility of the executives at every company.  That’s why, at Outskirts Press, we have a cash-flush savings account devoted solely for our authors exclusively for this purpose, so that all outstanding royalties would still be paid to them and any remaining authors in the pipeline would receive refunds.

Of course, all business owners work extremely hard to ensure it doesn’t come to that.  Every day we  share a new comment from one of our authors and many of our authors voice the same common sentiment — that they feel “lucky” to have discovered Outskirts Press. That is always gratifying to read, and what may feel like “luck” to them is the result of a lot of preparation and hard work from all of us at Outskirts Press.  Like most successful companies, we are prepared for the worst, but plan for (and anticipate) the best.

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.

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!