EVVY Award Winning Authors From Outskirts Press

Every year, Outskirts Press nominates less than 5% of the books it publishes for submission to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards, an independent 3rd party book award contest that is both competitive and “strict” (for lack of a better word).   Each book is judged by three different judges.

Not only are books compared against all other books in their respective categories by each EVVY judge, but they’re also compared against a 100-point grading scale. A  book must secure at least 90 points to be awarded a 1st Place EVVY Award; 80 points to be awarded a 2nd Place EVVY Award, and so forth. Yes, this means that in some categories, it is conceivable that not a single book wins an award, even if there are multiple books in that category.

So, in other words, it is no small feat to win an EVVY award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Outskirts Press won eighteen of them.

Congratulations to all our EVVY Award winning authors below:

Family & Relationships       Speechless by E.J. Brown                                 1st Place
Fiction/Science Fiction       Dust to Dust by John Hudson                            1st Place
Fiction/Action Adventure    Snow Men by Andrew Ceroni                             1st Place
(Important Note: These First Place EVVY Award winners above are the three finalists for the 2014 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards. Voting is taking place through September 6th at the Self Publishing News blog. Vote now. )

Andrew Ceroni accepts his First Place EVVY Award for his book “Snow Men” at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association ceremony.

Academic/Reference         What’s Wrong with That Door? by John Quist    3rd Place
Children’s Story Books       Big Albert the Camel by Dr. Peggy Turnage      3rd Place
Fiction/Mystery&Detective  Out of Reech by Adam J. Beardslee                 3rd Place
Poetry Dreams to               Dance in Moonlight by Peter C. Stone               3rd Place
Religion & Spirituality         The Astrology of Success by Jan Spiller            3rd Place
Family & Relationships       Growing Up Ugly by Fritzie von Jessen             3rd Place

Fritzie von Jessen accepts her Third Place EVVY Award for her book “Growing Up Ugly” at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association ceremony.

Autobiography/Memoirs      Peeling Back the Layers by Lawayne Childrey                         Merit
Family & Relationships       The Back-Up Mom by Laura K. Wagner                                    Merit
Fiction/Action Adventure     A Holiday From Time by John Mero                                          Merit
Fiction/Historical                 More Stories of the Rich and Famous by David M. Tavernier    Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Oliver Ornament by Michael Burns                                             Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Pinos Altosby John Koski                                                            Merit
Juvenile Fiction                  Pluto The Starfish by Bonnie M. Anderson                                 Merit
Religion & Spirituality         Keys to Armageddon by KaMuLanS                                           Merit
Self Help                            The Garden of Life by Todd Michael Putnam                             Merit

When authors cannot accept the award personally, I am honored to accept the award on their behalf, as I’m doing here for John Hudson and his First Place EVVY Award-winning book, “Dust to Dust”.

Congratulations to all our EVVY award-winning authors, and EVVY nominees!

How Outskirts Press EVVY Nominees are determined

A week from today we will know the results of the 18th Annual EVVY Awards, which are taking place May 17th in Denver, Colorado (well, Lone Tree, actually, which is a sub-division just south of downtown Denver) at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The EVVY Awards are an annual event put together and hosted by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. I will be on hand to receive the awards Outskirts Press authors win on their behalf. Of course, those authors are welcome to attend themselves, although historically I have accepted the vast majority of our EVVY Awards myself since most of the finalists are rarely within travelling distance of Denver.  Of the thirteen EVVY finalists that were published by Outskirts Press last year (the most among all participating publishers), just one of them lives in Colorado.

The EVVY Awards are a big deal for us at Outskirts Press for two reasons. For one, it’s nice to have such a longstanding event so close to home. And two, winning an EVVY Award is a prerequisite to winning our own contest, the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award.  After winning a First Place EVVY Award in the Fiction category last year, Doris Kenney Marcotte went on to win the 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award for her novel The Beads of Lapis Lazuli: A Greek Mystery.  Her road to this accomplishment and its $1,500 Grand Prize began when she accepted our official EVVY Award nomination in the fall of 2010.

Well, actually, it started long before that, which brings us to the subject of today’s post:  How our official Outskirts Press EVVY Nominees are determined.

At Outskirts Press, we publish approximately 1,500 new books a year. Sometimes it’s more (and with the recent addition of the Kindle, Nook, and iPad editions, it is promising to be way more heading into the future – although those editions are not eligible for our EVVY nomination), but 1,500 is a good average.   Our goal in any given year is to send less than 100 titles to the EVVY Awards as official Outskirts Press nominees.  Therefore, the quickest, least subjective way we limit EVVY contenders right off the bat is via the publishing package the authors choose. Only Diamond and full-color Pearl books are eligible for consideration.

So, let’s perform a little math. Approximately 60% of the books we publish are Diamonds and approximately 10% are Pearls.  S0 70% of the 1,500 books we publish each year, on average, are automatically eligible for EVVY Award consideration. That’s 1050. Let’s round it down to an even 1,000.   Out of 1,000 books published each year, we are looking to officially nominate less than 100 to send to the CIPA EVVY Awards.  That’s 10%.  It gets interesting when you examine how 1000 eligible books become 100…

Throughout the year, the production department is “on the look-out” for contenders.  Our consultants remember particularly promising books at the beginning of the process; our book designers remember particularly beautiful books during formatting; our cover designers remember the custom covers they, personally, are most proud of; our copyeditors remember particularly important or entertaining works; and our author representatives remember particularly impressive books throughout the entire process.  When it comes time to determine the Outskirts Press official EVVY nominees toward the end of each year, we solicit that feedback from the consultants, formatters, designers, editors, and representatives.

Sometimes these decisions are subjective (as all book contests ultimately are), but there are some logistic steps a savvy author can take to significantly increase the odds of receiving an official EVVY Award nomination at the end of the year, and when one looks at the process (and the statistical likelihood in general), these steps start to make more sense:

1. Get a custom cover design – We offer a wide variety of cover choices for our authors, from free pre-designed themes, to custom covers, to the flexibility allowing an author to submit her own cover.  And while there are exceptions to every rule, almost without fail, our official EVVY Nominees are comprised almost exclusively of books featuring custom cover designs by Outskirts Press designers.  I discussed a little bit about that reality a few posts ago.  Also, remember, our cover designers are asked their opinions of ALL the books they work on.  Which is more likely? That they’ll remember/recommend a free, pre-designed style, or that they’ll remember/recommend a custom cover they poured their heart into?

2. Get an enhanced or custom interior – Even our standard, free interiors are excellent, and sufficient to garner an EVVY Nomination. In fact,  I cannot remember an instance where a standard interior, on its own, was the reason for dismissal, but the fact remains that an enhanced or custom interior is never going to “hurt” the author’s chances, and it could even help.

3. Have your book professionally copyedited – This shouldn’t just be a requirement for EVVY Award consideration, this should be a requirement for publication.  Of course, in this day and age of POD printing, ebooks, and self-publishing, it’s not a requirement for publication, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.  So, book contests and awards are the industry’s way of REWARDING authors who take this very important step.  We only nominate books that have been professionally edited.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  Our nominees are personally and manually selected because we want to sweep the EVVY Awards, and we know the CIPA EVVY judges are not going to recognize a book littered with mistakes.  While it can be argued that the “strength” of specific covers and interior designs are subjective, most typographical errors are not.

Final considerations to bring the total number of nominations down to a reasonable number are much more subjective, I’ll admit, and they involve things like reasonable retail price for the genre, marketability, and the author’s own professionalism. After all, we know that one of the EVVY Nominees is going to be our Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award-winner, and we want that author to be ahead of the game when it comes time to sell the book, market the book, and work with other people.

4. Accept our nomination – This is an easy step to complete but some authors still miss this one even after they successfully accomplish the other ones. There is a belief among a few writers that book contests shouldn’t cost money to enter.  Let me set that misconception to rest:  Most book contests cost money to enter (and if they don’t, you have to ask yourself what the catch is).   Our official EVVY Nomination requires the submission fee to the EVVY Awards, along with the cost of printing the necessary copies for the EVVY judges and shipping them, and completing all the entry forms, etc.  Simply put, entering book contests is kind of a pain in the butt (and so is administering/judging them, which is why book contests cost money).  It’s true just being nominated is an honor (less than 10% of our books are), but in order to be an Outskirts Press official EVVY Award nominee, you have to accept our invitation and agree to let us submit your book to the CIPA EVVY Awards on your behalf, just as our most recent official nominees did late last year. And from that list, we’re down to our thirteen finalists.

So how do EVVY Finalists become EVVY Winners? I’ll discuss that next time…

Outskirts Press Award Winning Books*

Yesterday I introduced our affiliation with the EVVY Awards. Last March, Outskirts Press won the most awards by a publisher. Below are the winners.


Building a Champion Character: A Practical Guidance Program
Primary Version
by Susan R. Rose, M. Ed.
Category: Workbooks
Judge’s comment: “Perfect for counselors and parents.”

Defending Liars
In Defense Of President Bush And The War On Terror In Iraq
by Howard L. Salter Category: Political/Social
Judge’s comment: “The author put a lot of time and research into this book.”

RV Rentals
A Vacationer’s Guide
by Dave & Kay Corby
Category: Travel
Judge’s comment: “Packed with information.”


Christmas Tree Advent Calendar
A Country Quilted and Appliquéd Project
by Ruthy Sturgill Category: How to
Judge’s comment: “Well organized.”

The Struggle Among Ideas
A Tourist Guide to the Natural World and the Human Predicament
by J. Ivey Davis Category: Political/Social
Judge’s comment: “Nicely woven history of philosophies.”

The War Chest
by Gary W. Buehner Category: Business/Finance
Judge’s comment: “Brilliant!”


Blue Max
Missions & Memories
by N. G. Brown Category: Non-Fiction/Experiences
Judge’s comment: “Very realistic view of the Vietnam War.”

See Sally Kick Ass
A Woman’s Guide to Personal Safety
by Fred Vogt Category: How to
Judge’s comment: “Very clear, very straight-forward.”

Simple Successes
From Obstacles to Solutions with Special Needs Children
by Rachelle Zola Category: Parenting
Judge’s comment: “Professional, through and through.”

Wake Up with Fleas
by Carla Kienast 
Category: Fiction
Judge’s comment: “Well paced and entertaining.”


Aidan’s Shoes
by Brent Sampson
Category: Children’s
Judge’s comment: “The storyline is truly wonderful.”

Fly Me to the Moon
Bipolar Journey through Mania and Depression
by H. E. Logue, M.D.
Category: Fiction
Judge’s comment: “Beautifully designed and immediately intriguing.”

Full-Bodied and Peppery
Chronicles of a Western Colorado Wine Wench
by Christine Feller
Category: Fiction
Judge’s comment: “A delightful book.”

Into the Light
A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Debra P. Whitehead
Category: Fiction
Judge’s comment: “Loved it!”

The Literary Six
by Vince A. Liaguno
Category: Fiction
Judge’s comment: “Maintains interest and suspense from page one. I had trouble putting it down.”

*Originally posted Friday, August 17, 2007 on self-publishing.blogspot.com. To see why I’m reposting it, click here.

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.

Congratulations ForeWord Book of the Year Finalists 2010

When comparing the finalists in the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards (not to be confused with our own BEST Book of the Year Award — I know, it’s confusing), Publishers A, U, and X are a little more competitive – but not by much when you consider that jointly, these three competitors (all operating in one office with the same personnel) publish roughly 1,000 books a month or more.   Publisher X has one finalist and Publisher A has 5. Publisher U has 21.  But then again, Publisher U published over 3 times the number of books we did at Outskirts Press, so from a statistical standpoint (and that’s really all success is,  a matter of statistics), Outskirts Press stands out as the most award-winning publisher among the five major self-publishing firms.  Yes, yes, there are three other companies that could be considered “major” based solely upon the number of books they publish a year, but not one of them has a single Book of the Year finalist. And all that is a long preamble to congratulating our own ForeWord Book of the Year finalists from Outskirts Press, who are:

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.