Pictures from the Colorado Book Awards

Outskirts Press has been a long-time sponsor and supporter of the Colorado Book Awards. Find out why in this short video, shot during the opening moments of the recent Awards Ceremony in Parker, Colorado (headquarters of Outskirts Press):

Just arrived at the Pace Center to present the awards…Brent-Sampson-Outskirts-Pre

Posing with my lovely wife as the room begins to fill up.BrentSampson

Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Kent Haruf’s wife (2nd from the right), along with co-presenter Charlie Bantis and Maggie Coval.Brent-Sampson

Cause marketing and corporate sponsorships

Over the past two years Outskirts Press has donated $15,000 to the Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book.  They hold two annual literary contests: The Student Literary Awards, and the Colorado Book Awards, both sponsored by Outskirts Press

In fact, today marks the deadline for the River & Words Poetry and Art contest, the winners of which are recognized at the Student Literary Awards. And the deadline for the Colorado Book Awards is January 15th.  Visit the Colorado Humanities website for more information, to participate, donate, or join.

And just like that we have another example of the gray area between philanthropy and cause marketing.  Yes, Outskirts Press’ donations to the Colorado Humanities have been for a good cause, and tax deductable.  Yes, as a Colorado-based corporation, we join Colorado Humanities in their mission to inspire the people of Colorado to appreciate their diverse cultural heritage.

And, by sponsoring the events, getting signage at the events, logos on their websites, attending the events, and in all other ways partnering with Colorado Humanities throughout the year, this is a perfect example of cause marketing — a for-profit business collaborating with a non-profit to a mutually beneficial end.  These benefits are both obvious ($15,000) and more subtle (numerous mentions throughout our social networks, including suggestions for donations – above).

Such collaborations can sometimes lead to exciting by-products. In this case, for example, last year’s publication of the 2010 Student Literary Awards Anthology – the royalties for which went to the Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book.

And speaking of book royalties going to charitable organizations, that is the topic for my next posting…

The difference between “cause marketing” and “philanthropy”

Or, I guess I should really call this posting “The little gray area between cause marketing and philanthropy.”   

Cause marketing, basically, refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit business and a non-profit organization.  The term more broadly encompasses any marketing endeavors involving charitable causes.  Philanthropy, on the other hand, simply involves a corporate donation to a non-profit charitable organization (usually tax deductible).

I mention this because in my mind Outskirts Press has always been a philanthropic organization that is also involved in cause marketing.  I’m not sure I agree that the two terms are mutually exclusive, or perhaps, if they are, that simply demonstrates a lack of effort by the P.R. department of the philanthropic organization.  

For example, you can donate thousands of dollars in books to the Children’s hospital — as Outskirts Press has done in the past through its involvement with the Children’s Literacy and Education Foundation — and that can be both a  philanthropic act (a pure corporate donation), and can also fall within the definition of “cause marketing” once you mention the donation on a blog or among your social networks, since ostensibly, your company is marketing the good will among your clients or customers that results from charitable donations. 

In our case we would typically write and distribute a press release about the donation.  And we would take (and subsequently circulate across our social networks) a photograph of the red wheelbarrow full of books in front of the Children’s Hospital logo. 

You see, philanthropy AND cause marketing. I have other examples I’ll discuss next, including our donations to the Colorado Humanities, and our upcoming Facebook Anthology – the royalties for which go to a charitable organization.

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!

CEO Interviewed by Student Literary Award Winner

The 2010 Student Literary Awards were announced and presented at the Denver Public Library on April 29th. Winning students in both the Letters About Literature and River of Words contests were recognized by the Colorado Humanities in front of a full crowd of teachers, parents, and supporters.

During the event, Cassie Lipscomb, the 2nd place winner in Category IV of the River of Words Poetry contest, asked to interview me for a school project…

Cassie: Is it necessary to go do further schooling to make my writing better? What kind of schools does it take?

Brent: No one will frown on you for having a higher education. Not only does going to college make your writing better, but it makes your life better, although perhaps not for the reasons you may think. College isn’t about attending a lot of English and Latin classes and/or getting your MBA in creative writing. College is about having an experience and being surrounded by intelligence 24/7. You can learn as much sitting in the student union participating in a lively discussion with other classmates as you can in a 500-person auditorium listening to a professor.  You will literally become smarter through osmosis while attending college, and that’s before you even step into the classroom – and yes, the classes will help you become smarter still.   After all, writing fiction involves your ability to create an experience for the reader while writing non-fiction involves your ability to effectively impart knowledge.  Regardless of what kind of writing you prefer, college will help you improve your craft. What kind of college becomes secondary. It’s not what the school brings to you; it’s what you bring to the school.

Cassie: What do you like about your job? What do you dislike about the job?

Brent: I’ve always said I’m a writer first and a CEO second, but nowadays I spend the majority of my time on the latter instead of the former. I love helping writers. Nothing is more gratifying than getting a jubilant email from a newly published author, or seeing a photograph of a writer holding their book with tears of joy in their eyes. It is very fulfilling and I love it.    Things I dislike about the job are the same things that apply to nearly every job – the daily and sometimes minutiae-riddled “grind” of producing something. Whether you are writing a book or running a company or buried in a cubicle somewhere, production takes effort and discipline.  It helps if what you produce is something you love.  Since you’re going to be spending so much time doing something, you had better love it, right?

Cassie: What does a regular day of work consist of?

Brent: I spend a lot of time managing departments and projects via email.  But… that’s not quite right. You can’t really manage departments or projects. You can only manage the people involved with the departments or the projects. So I manage people, but the ultimate goal is to aim departments in a certain direction and aim projects to fulfill a certain benefit for our authors.   So email takes up quite a lot of my day. And the phone, although I find the phone somewhat inefficient, unless it’s a conference call. As for writing, it is my personal goal to write and publish a new book each year. I didn’t pull that off in 2009, so I must in 2010. I do not carve out a specific time each day to write anymore.  With an awesome 5-year old in the picture, I just haven’t got the time. You’ve probably heard it before and you’ll probably hear it again, and it gets repeated so often because it is so true: A writer writes.  You can’t be a writer if you don’t write. And writing a book requires a lot of writing, and a lot of discipline.

Cassie: Is this what you thought the job would be like?

Brent: I never had any preconceived notions about what it would be like to run a publishing company, or what it would be like to be a writer, but I am enjoying the ride so far.

Cassie: Where do you get your ideas to write?

Brent: When I was younger, my mind was constantly alive with ideas for novels and short stories, and I wrote a lot of both.  As I’ve grown older, my writing has turned to non-fiction and is related to what I do for a living. That is probably out of necessity more than heartfelt desire.  Writing a book takes so much time, I feel it needs to accomplish multiple goals to be worthwhile.  As sad as it makes me to admit it, I’m not sure fiction can accomplish multiple goals. At least, my fiction can’t.

Cassie: How do you get over writer’s block?

Brent: I don’t write unless I’m feeling it.  I don’t try to force anything. Which means I don’t get over writer’s block. Every once in a while, it just goes away. That isn’t a very inspirational answer, but it’s an honest one. It’s also the reason my book production is so erratic.  Fortunately, I have the flexibility to write that way.  Other writers on ‘deadlines’ might have quite a different answer, and probably a better one.

Cassie: How do you choose between publishers?

Brent: Interestingly, this is the subject of one of my books. There are five paths toward publication that you can pursue.  Conglomerate traditional publication, small press traditional publication, full-service self-publishing services, D-I-Y (do it yourself) self-publishing websites, and fully-independent self-publication.   They all have pros and cons. The path you should take depends upon your talent, your patience, your goals, your desire, your pocket book, and your time.  The good news is, and it seems to be an epiphany for many writers when they realize this, that you can take multiple paths. 
 
Cassie: Is there a lot of competition to deal with these days?

Brent: I assume you are referring to competition with other writers, but regardless of what this question refers to, the answer is “Yes.”  There is always a lot of competition for everything.  The trick is to not view competitors as ‘the enemy’ but rather as opportunities to learn and excel.

Colorado Humanities publishes with Outskirts Press

Our first book for Colorado Humanities was published at the end of April.  The title is 2010 Student Literary Awards Anthology: Winning Art, Poems and Letters by Colorado Students.

As the title suggests, it is an anthology of the winning entries in this year’s Student Literary and Art awards, held by the Colorado Humanities and sponsored by Outskirts Press.

It is a beautiful full-color publication at the 5.5″ x 8.5″ trim size, which we made available earlier this year. Proceeds from the sale of the book support the literacy and art programs of Colorado Center for the Book.

You can read the full press release by clicking here and you can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking here.