ForeWord Book of the Year Finalists

I always enjoy comparing the success of our authors with the success of authors from our competitors.  And fortunately, ForeWord Reviews makes that pretty easy with the announcement of their Book of the Year Finalists for 2010 at http://www.bookoftheyearawards.com/finalists/2010/ – You can search for any publisher and see how they perform.

Competitive analysis is something I don’t spend an enormous amount of time on, but I do try to keep up with other self-publishing firms as much as I can.  In general, I only bother to keep a close eye on our five major competitors and they are, respectively, Publisher A, Publisher C, Publisher L, Publisher U, and Publisher X.  

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I don’t mention other publishers by name in my blog, but it’s not difficult to unravel my super secret naming convention.  Of course, if you were to agree with one rather vocal member of our Board, we don’t actually compete with Publisher C or L. To paraphrase:  “That’s like saying Perrier competes with swamp water.”  Meow.

But he has a point. Publisher C has a grand total of 3 finalists and if you are to believe their marketing claims, they publish roughly 1 trillion books a day (slight hyperbole), making for an award-winning percentage of approximately 0%.  Similarly, Publisher L publishes so many books the Library of Congress had to open a whole another wing just to accommodate their volume (if you’re to believe a press release from April 1 that they distributed a few years back), and yet they published exactly zero ForeWord Book of the Year finalists in 2010.   Their April Fool’s day release notwithstanding, that’s not a very high winning percentage.  Perhaps this goes to show that publishing with one of those cheapo do-it-yourself outfits isn’t exactly the route to an award-winning book…. And interestingly, if you actually look at the “services” they’re starting to offer, they’re becoming pretty expensive, which is basically like adding insult TO  injury.

More on the Book of the Year finalists and our other 3 competitors in a few hours…

How to Win the Best Book of the Year Award

Personally, if I were a finalist for the Best Book of the Year award, where my chances of winning were dependent upon the votes I received from other people, here’s what I would do to try to increase my chances.

5 Ways to Win the Best Book of the Year Award (or, 5 ways to get people to buy your book)

  1. I would make sure my author webpage was pristine, and loaded with content about the benefits of my book.
  2. I would make sure my webpage had a video that visitors could watch.  Statistics are telling us that nearly 50% of the time people spend on the Internet they spend watching videos.
  3. I would make sure I had a Facebook Profile/Page and that I was actively pursuing “likes” leading up to the vote. That way, on the day of the vote, I could broadcast a message to all my “fans” about where to go to vote for my book.  After all, if nearly 50% of the time is watching videos, the other 50% is probably spent on Facebook. All authors should have a Facebook account.
  4. I would have either an audio excerpt of a section of the book, or, if I wasn’t pleased with the sound of my own voice, an enhanced audio excerpt of a professional reading an excerpt.  People are more likely to vote (or buy) if they “like what they hear.”
  5. I would make sure I had some positive reviews (5-star reviews) on Amazon.  Some people may buy the book and make their vote based upon receiving and reading the book. That is ideal. But the reality is that most people will make their decision based upon other factors other than the book itself — those other factors might as well be as encouraging and positive as possible.

You may notice that these steps for winning a popularity contest don’t differ all that much from the steps required to sell a book — people make the decision based largely upon the same set of criteria: How much they can learn about the book in advance, and how much they like/respect the author.

It’s hard enough finding success in this world. If you have the power to move many things in your advantage, shouldn’t you?

Best of luck to the finalists. The polls open Friday on our blog and we’ll be accepting votes through the end of the month.

Best Book of the Year Finalists

Here’s more about each finalist to the 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award. Find more details on our blog, where we are highlighting each of them on the 11th, 12th, and 13th, of this month.

The Key To Job Success In Any Career, by Frank B. Leibold, Ph.D.

 After a distinguished 30 year business career with three multinational corporations and nine jobs-culminating in the position of Group President, Frank B. Leibold, Ph.D., re-tooled himself by returning to school and obtaining his Ph.D. Frank then became a nationally recognized university professor of marketing while founding his own global management consulting company. He and his wife reside in South Carolina and spend time traveling to visit and spoil their nine grand-children- two in Australia.
Psych Consults, by Robert J. Mignone, M.D., F.A.P.A.
 
For decades, Robert J. Mignone, M.D., F.A.P.A., has helped people bounce back from all kinds of crises. A top-ranked psychiatrist in southwest Florida, Dr. Mignone has been called a gifted and inspirational speaker—in person and on TV. A two-time cancer survivor, Mignone shares his experiences in Ordinary Valor: How Cancer Saved My Life, Not Once, But Twice. He is also the author of Psychiatric Injury: Evaluation and Treatment of Psychiatric Impairment and Damages.

The Beads of Lapis Lazuli, by Doris Kenney Marcotte

Doris Kenney Marcotte has turned decades of studying Minoan civilization into two novels. She has researched at the Athens National Museum, the Heraklion Archeological Museum on Crete, and the British Museum in London, among others. She lives in River House in New Richmond, Ohio, and Hilltop House in Wyoming, Ohio.

Now, between you, me, and the bedpost, I think I already know who is going to win.  The votes will be open and public and available for everyone to see the results from April 15th through April 30th… But based upon my experience with Outskirts Press since 2002, and the respective tactics already being put forth by these three diverse authors, my experience points toward a winner. I don’t want to taint the votes by stating my guess here, but we’ll see if I’m right when the final votes are counted on the final day of April.

That perspective and that experience is one of the benefits of publishing with Outskirts Press (or any self-publishing company, actually) — but it’s only valuable if one chooses to listen to it and act upon it.    I’m always surprised at the number of authors who don’t listen to any advice or suggestions at all.  Yes, it’s your book and yes, we’ll do exactly what you want, but…. part of what you’re paying for is that perspective, that experience, and that expertise.  Just sayin’…

 And that brings us to the final post of the day, coming up later, where I share the 5 steps to winning the Best Book of the Year Award (or, in other words, the 5 steps to selling a book).

Self publishing book awards

The finalists for the Outskirts Press 2010 Best Book of the Year Awards were announced on our Outskirts Press blog on March 31st.

They are:

The Key To Job Success In Any Career, by Frank B. Leibold, Ph.D.
Psych Consults, by Robert J. Mignone, M.D., F.A.P.A.
The Beads of Lapis Lazuli, by Doris Kenney Marcotte

All three finalists have an equal chance to win the $1,500 Grand Prize and receive the honor of publishing the Best Book of 2010 at Outskirts Press.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow on our Outskirts Press blog at http://blog.outskirtspress.com we are highlighting each author and their respective book, including any multi-media or additional marketing efforts they have put forth, in the way of extra editions (hardbacks, Kindle, Espresso, etc.), book videos, teasers, or audio recordings, etc.    A successful book means a sound marketing plan.

Then, on Thursday of this week we will summarize the finalists and encourage members/readers of our social media networks to vote on their selection in an open poll that will start on Friday, April 15th. More on that process later today…

Picking the Best Book of the Year Award winner

From among the three Best Book of the Year finalists – which I blogged about last time – the winner is determined. Here’s the fun part: It’s up to you who wins.  Well, more accurately, it’s up to everyone. And it is especially up to the three finalists themselves.

Each finalist will be showcased in our newsletter and throughout our social networks.  Then an open vote will take place to determine the ultimate winner of the Best Book of the Year Award and the $1,500 prize.  Everyone can vote, and everyone can see how the votes are falling.  The authors themselves have a great amount of control over their own destiny since they can call upon their marketing prowess to get friends, family members, and associates and all members of their social network circles on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn to vote.  You know, these are the same people authors often contact about buying their books.   So, in essence, we have tried to establish an Award that not only rewards a talented writer, but recognizes a talented marketer as well.

We would like to continue to hold this award each year. Only time will tell. Just like any Hollywood executive will tell you, green lighting the sequel always depends upon the success of the first one.

The Best Book of the Year Award selection process

When it comes to awards, our authors are already pretty prolific.  From the Benjamin Franklin Awards to ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards and the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, Outskirts Press is often represented with talented winners and finalists. Since we understand the value of our authors being recognized by these contests, we do our best to encourage them to submit their book(s) for as many awards as they can.  Winning an award or being recognized as a finalist is a great reason to send out another press release, initiate another PR Publicist Campaign, create another book video and upload it to YouTube, etc.  In fact, being a finalist or winner in a book contest can breathe new life into all book marketing efforts.  And it should.  Depending upon which source you believe, there are upwards of 500,000 books published every year in America.  A statistical handful win awards.   That’s the true quality gatekeeper; not the publisher and not the reader.

Our close relationship with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association also means that many of our authors are familiar with the CIPA EVVY Book Awards, which recognizes excellence in independently published books.  Each year we officially nominate approximately 5% of our published titles for submission to the EVVY Book Awards.  To help us narrow down the manuscripts, only books published with the Diamond and full-color Pearl packages are considered for nomination.  It’s also an unwritten rule — there, I just wrote it — that the books should feature a custom cover design and be professionally edited.  After all, we want our official EVVY nominated books to shine, and shine they do: Since beginning our participation in the EVVY Awards, Outskirts Press has been the winningest publisher each year among all participating publishers.  Each year we win approximately 10-15 EVVY Awards.

So, in other words, we already have an established method for determining the top 1% of the books we publish each year at Outskirts Press — our EVVY Award winners.  The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award goes a few steps further.  From among all the EVVY-winning books Outskirts Press will select three finalists, in much the same manner we determined the winner of our December Best Book Promotion, Irv Sternberg and his book The Persian Project.

From among those finalists, a winner is determined. How? That’s the next blog topic…

Outskirts Press Sponsors Colorado Humanities Colorado Book Awards

My last two posts have mentioned our recent “Best Book” winner, Irv Sternberg, and this post is no exception.  The December promotion in which we sought one amazing manuscript to publish for free provided a wonderful opportunity to reward a talented author.  And Mr. Sternberg provides a nice segue of sorts to this posting’s topic – which is about the Colorado Humanities and their annual Colorado Book Awards.  You see, Irv’s prior book, Neptune’s Chariot, was a Colorado Book Awards finalist last year.

Tomorrow, the Colorado Book Awards are being awarded at the Doerr-Hosier Center in Aspen on June 25th, the last day of the week-long Aspen Literary Festival.   Outskirts Press is a premiere sponsor of the Colorado Center for the Book and its Colorado Book Awards and I will be on-hand at the event to assist with the distribution of the awards.  For a full list of the finalists, please visit the Colorado Humanities website here. Congratulations to them all!