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!

Brent Sampson interview on LA Talk Radio

Before I get back to updating everyone on the recent happenings at Outskirts Press (Facebook Achievements, Book Your Trip to Hollywood options, the 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year contenders and winner, our new full-color illustrations, etc.), I wanted to provide a link to my recent appearance on LA Talk Radio, where Max Tucci (of Max & Friends) interviews me about self-publishing.

I even got a chance to put out some props to our Best Book of the Year winners (Doris from 2010 and Susan from 2011), which I always enjoy doing when possible.

Anyway, give a listen at this streaming audio link:  http://www.latalkradio.com/Players/Max-062412.shtml

How the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year finalists are determined

In the past week we have posted the results of the 18th Annual EVVY Awards, which is the contest held by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Outskirts Press won 15 awards, the most among all participating Colorado publishers. Winning an EVVY is a pre-requisite to winning our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, now in its 3rd 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.  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. Her interview is here.

We’re at it again. From among the 15 EVVY winners announced last Thursday at the CIPA ceremony, Outskirts Press selects three finalists. Those finalists will be announced next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And then the public poll (open to everyone) will be posted on Friday, June 1st at SelfPublishingNews.com where everyone will vote upon the winner.

So how are the Best Book of the Year finalists determined from among the EVVY winners?  Since they’ve won an EVVY Award, a lot of the technical and artistic components have already been taken into consideration and recognized, so the three finalists are admittedly a more subjective decision making process.  We do not simply go in order of EVVY prizes awards (First, Second, Third) for two main reasons. 1) Each category of the EVVY awards are judged separately and independently, meaning a book that receives a 3rd place in one category is not automatically “worse” than a book receiving a 1st Place in an alternate category; the first category could have simply had a collection of a much higher caliber of entries.  2) Unlike the EVVY judges, we have more context to apply to our decision for the Best Book of the Year finalists.  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.

So with all those factors in mind, we first seek the opinions of various people at Outskirts Press in regard to the EVVY Winners. “From among this list, who do YOU think should be the Finalists, and why?” We collect those answers and add those variables to our consideration.  Next, we look at the EVVY Winners in order of placement (I realize I just said the decision doesn’t simply depend upon the order of the prizes, and it doesn’t, but the order of the EVVY awards are taken into consideration), and from that order we basically ask ourselves, “Is there a reason this book should NOT be a finalist?”  For example, the 1st place EVVY winner, Opting In, is not eligible for a 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award because that book was published in 2012 (which is also the reason we didn’t nominate it specifically and instead the author nominated it herself since she was personally a member of CIPA, also). It’s a great accomplishment and we love to see authors take their destiny in their own hands. Congratulations, Molly.

So that leaves us with the 2nd, 3rd, and Merit award winners to consider. Using the parameters and considerations outlined above, we arrive upon the three finalists.  And those finalists will be announced next week in preparation for the voting to begin on June 1. Stay tuned…

Outskirts Press 2012 EVVY Award Winners

Last Thursday I attended the 18th annual EVVY Awards, held annually by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association and this year introduced by Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse fame. Of the nominees we announced last December, and the finalists we announced last week, here are the results of the awards ceremony. Congratulations to all the winners.  In the coming weeks, this list of winners will be narrowed down to three finalists for the Outskirts Press 2011 Best Book of the Year Award. In the next post, I’ll go into more detail about how those three finalists are selected.

But in the meantime, here are the EVVY winners, including the Outskirts Press sweep of the Autobiography/Memoir category:

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

2nd Place

2nd Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

Merit Award

Merit Award

Merit Award


2nd Place
Juvenile/Young Adult

3rd Place
Juvenile/Young Adult

Merit Award
Juvenile/Young Adult

Merit Award

Merit Award

Get featured on our publishing app by winning book awards

All last week and this week we’ve been discussing marketing methods to get featured in the “Blog” category of the Outskirts Press app. We have established that the best way is to focus on being featured in one of these blog categories from our Outskirts Press blog:

Author Spotlights
Book Spotlights
Monthly Bestsellers
Virtual Book Tours
Award Winners
Book Fair Participants

So far we have already discussed Author and Book Spotlights, bestsellers, and Virtual Book Tours.   Now we’re going to talk about winning a book award.

Winning a book award is kind of like getting on a “bestseller” list. There are so many “book awards” and so many “bestseller lists” that the sheer number of them have watered down their prestige and value.  It may be true that appearing on the New York Times bestseller list is just a wee bit more impressive than appearing on the Outskirts Press bestseller list.  No doubt.  And it may be true that winning “Gold” in the Reader’s Choice awards is less impressive than winning the Nobel Prize in literature.  No argument.

But do you know what is even less impressive than winning a “Gold” in the Reader’s Choice awards?

Not winning one.

Nothing against the Reader’s Choice awards, or the Writer’s Circle Awards, or the Ben Franklin Awards, or the Indie Awards, or the Best Book Awards, or the CIPA Awards, or the IPPY Awards, or the….. I could go on and on.  All these awards have merit and value because there are WAY more people who do not win any book awards than people who do.    And once you accomplish something that only the minority accomplish, it’s worth bragging about.  Isn’t that one of the cool things about publishing a book?

We think so, and that’s why we feature many of our award-winning authors both on our blog and in our iPhone app.  We love bragging about our authors’ successes.   We realize we’re never going to publish a Nobel Prize winner. And that’s okay.  But we do publish statistically more award-winning books than any other self-publishing firm, and as a self-publishing firm, that’s worth bragging about, too.

So, that’s another way to get featured in our iPhone app: Win a book award.    We make it easy for our authors to enter six vetted awards all at once with our Book Award Submissions package, but, as I mentioned above, there are literally hundreds of awards to pursue independently.

Speaking of which, we have our own book award (why wouldn’t we?) and authors who publish with Outskirts Press can be automatically eligible for the $1,500 grand prize, just like our 2010 Best Book of the Year award-winner Doris Kenney Marcotte.  For details about the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, click here.

How many votes did the Best Book of the Year winner receive?

Needless to say, our winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award was beside herself when she received the official news. It was a well earned victory.  After all, another finalist was leading the way with the votes through the final days.

But thanks to an 11th-hour campaign, this tenacious promoter pulled back into the lead just before the polls closed at midnight on April 30th.

It was close! Kudos go out to all three of our finalists. They all have something to be very proud of.   Doris’ book The Beads of Lapis Lazuli garnered 1,379 total unique votes, while The Key to Job Success in Any Career was a close second with 1,269 total unique votes. 

Here’s how Doris did it, in her own words:

“The first call for votes went to everyone in my address book with two requests: please vote, and please ask relatives, friends, and friends of friends to vote.  A large number of enthusiasts really got into the voting and launched individual campaigns.  I posted a notice about the competition on Facebook with the request to involve friends and friends of friends and a few special people worked very hard: one at university, two in retirement homes, and two medical professionals.  Without networking the voting would have been very different.  Persistence, begging, pleading, and follow-up were what pushed the vote over the top to a nail-biting end.”

Congratulations, Doris Kenney Marcotte, author of our 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award-winner, The Beads of Lapis Lazuli.

Best Book of the Year analysis

Yesterday I showed this graphic, which is the stat of unique visitors to the Outskirts Press blog by month:

April was the month in which we opened up the voting for the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards.  Part of publishing a “best book” should depend upon the author’s own marketing prowess, so once we determine the three finalists, we put their destiny in their own hands. The finalist with the marketing moxie to generate the most votes for his/her own book is declared the winner.  After all, publishing success isn’t ONLY about publishing a beautiful, well-written and well-edited work. It’s also about promoting that book after publication. 

The 3 finalists rose to the occasion. In fact, it was neck and neck between two of them throughout most of the voting period, which was April 15 – April 30.  And April 30th marked the single highest visitation day to our blog since its inception. The two finalists each received in excess of 1000 votes and when the polls closed,  a mere 110 votes separated them.

So, who won? We’ll talk about that tomorrow…