The Best Book of the Year process begins today

Last Saturday, the 2016 EVVY Awards took place in Denver, Colorado, and I was present (along with other Outskirts Press authors) to receive awards on behalf of our authors who were unable to attend in person.  Pictures from that evening will be posted on my blog soon.

Outskirts Press won 22 awards that night, and they are posted on our Outskirts Press blog here.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that only 21 winners are listed. That’s because Action/Adventure 1st Place Winner Meridian, by Andrew Ceroni, also won 2nd place in the Science Fiction category!  Andrew was one of the Outskirts Press authors in attendance to receive his award personally.  An interesting side-note is that Andrew’s previous book, Snow Men, was also a First-Place EVVY Award-winner last year, before going on to win last year’s Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award and its $1500 Grand Prize.

self publishing . self publishing

Which brings me to the subject of this posting:

How the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards are determined.

Winning an EVVY Award is a prerequisite to winning our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, now in its 6th year. From among the winners announced last Saturday night at the CIPA ceremony, Outskirts Press selects three finalists. Those finalists will be announced at the beginning of September.  And then a public poll (open to everyone) will be posted at SelfPublishingNews.com where everyone gets to cast their vote for the actual 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 choosing three Best Book of the Year finalists is admittedly more subjective.

For one, we do not simply go in order of EVVY awards (First, Second, Third) for two main reasons:

1) Each category of the EVVY awards is judged separately and independently, meaning a book that receives a 3rd place in one category is not automatically “worse” than a book that receives a 1st Place in a different category; the first category could have simply had higher caliber books, overall.

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. We know how their royalties are stacking up against other Outskirts Press authors and, more importantly, against the self-publishing industry on average.   CIPA judges take none of these factors into consideration when judging individual EVVY Awards (nor should they) but we do when choosing finalists from among all the EVVY winners.  That’s because the winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year is not only the author of a fantastic book, but she or he is a consummate marketing and writing professional (as detailed below).

self publishing award

The first thing we do is 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?”

Finally, we look at the authors themselves– their career, the number of books they have published (and plan on publishing in the future); their royalties, their marketing initiatives, their social media presence.  Which authors from among the EVVY winners do we believe have the marketing chops to go head-to-head-head with their fellow finalists for an exciting public poll that determines the ultimate winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award and its $1500 Grand Prize?

Stay tuned…

 

 

Congratulations to Andrew Ceroni, author of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year

The votes are in, and Andrew Ceroni has walked away with the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award! Or perhaps I should say, sprinted away.  As mentioned previously, a public poll held on the Self Publishing News blog between three EVVY-winning books determines the final winner, which means, the marketing prowess of the three finalists is what ultimately crowns the winning author. Mr. Ceroni and his book, “Snow Men” accumulated 63.51% of the votes.

Andrew Ceroni accepts his 1st Place EVVY Award at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association awards ceremony.

Even before the public poll went live, but after he was notified as one of the finalists, Andrew was engaging his Facebook friends with custom-made graphics of his award-winning book and seeking votes.  The temporary closeness of the poll demonstrates how engaged all three authors were in the marketing aspect of securing this award, since at one point, all three finalists were “neck and neck” with mere percentage points separating them. But at the bell, Mr. Ceroni prevailed.

That’s not to take anything away from the two other finalists, both of whom penned impressive books, garnered 1st Place EVVY Awards, and secured an impressive number of votes themselves.  Congratulations to “Dust to Dust” author John Hudson and “Speechless” author E.J. Brown (more about her in the next post); you both have much to be proud of.  Being a “Best Book of the Year” finalists from approximately 1,500 published books is an amazing accomplishment in its own right!

And a hearty congratulations to Andrew Ceroni, author of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year, “Snow Men.”

I met Andrew at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association a number of weeks ago as he picked up his 1st Place EVVY Award for “Snow Men” and I cannot imagine a friendlier, more down-to-earth, and humble person.  Way to go, Andrew. You earned it!

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…

Contenders for the 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards

Last year we crowned the author of our first Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. Doris Kenney Marcotte published The Beads of Lapis Lazuli with Outskirts Press in 2010. That fall she was   personally nominated for the Colorado Independent Publishers EVVY Awards along with approximately 5% of our published authors, all representing the very best from Outskirts Press. When the EVVY Awards were presented the following spring (March 2011), Doris won first place in the Fiction category.  She went on to become a finalist for the 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year awards along with finalsts Frank B. Leibold, Ph.D., and Robert J. Mignone, M.D., F.A.P.A.

Once the three finalists for our Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award are determined (based upon them winning a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place EVVY Award), they must each collect enough votes to be crowed our Best Book of the Year award winner in a public poll held on the Outskirts Press blog.  You can see the poll that determined Doris’s win by clicking here.  It was a close race between her and Frank.

Well, we’re closing in on the exciting conclusion to determine the 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award.  Last December we nominated approximately 2% of our published books for submission to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards.  Winning an EVVY Award is required to become a finalist for the Best Book of the  Year award.  The EVVY Finalists have now been announced and those award winners will be recognized at the Awards Ceremony next Thursday, May 17th.

Among all the EVVY Finalists are these thirteen Outskirts Press books. One of these will be our 2011 Best Book of the Year winner. Who will it be? Stay tuned to this blog or our Outskirts Press blog for the next several weeks to find out… Let’s wish them luck!

 

Are you the next award-winning author from Outskirts Press. Start publishing today…

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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.

FIRST PLACE

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.”

SECOND PLACE

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!”

THIRD PLACE

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.”

MERIT AWARDS

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.

Entrepreneur of the Year Criteria #4

According to Gregory K. Ericksen in his book Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Insights From the Winner’s Circle, the fourth criteria the judges use to help them determine a winner involves the culture, values, and incentives surrounding the work force, the company, and the community. 

An example of this involves our EVVY Book Awards.  Every Diamond and Pearl book we publish is eligible to be nominated for an official Outskirts Press EVVY Award Nomination.  Those nominees are subsequently submitted to the annual Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards.  Recently we won 16 different awards, the most among all participating publishers.

The Outskirts Press production team members for each first, second, and third place award also won compensatory bonuses for their valued contributions in producing EVVY-award-winning books for their authors.  One of our internal goals at Outskirts Press is to help our authors publish award-winning books. So by creating a bonus structure for our production department that recognizes when that goal is met, our authors are happier and our cover designers, book formatters, and author representatives are happier, too. Win-win. 

Another example is our $10,000 donation to the Colorado Humanities last December and our sponsorship of their Colorado Book Awards and Student Literary Awards

Later this week, on May 6th, the winners of the Colorado Humanities Student Literary Awards will be announced in Denver.  I will be attending the event and revealing the full-color anthology, published by Outskirts Press.   The anthology is titled 2010 Student Literary Awards Anthology: Winning Art, Poems and Letters by Colorado Students.

Handing out awards to young and aspiring writers is very fulfilling. And seeing their faces light up when they discover they are published authors is extraordinary.  I love it. Another win-win.  And that is culture, values, and incentives in a nutshell.