What makes the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards so special?

Today marks the beginning of the public poll to determine the 2014 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. This is the only book award contest I am aware of that rewards both an author’s writing ability and marketing ability.

The writing ability is recognized and rewarded by the requirement that every Best Book of the Year finalist must win an EVVY Award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

The marketing ability is recognized and rewarded by putting all three finalists head-to-head-to-head to see which tenacious marketer can secure the most votes in a publicly held poll.  That poll is happening right now over on the Outskirts Press Self Publishing News blog at http://selfpublishingnews.com

As I write this, it’s a three-way race, with all three finalists currently receiving between 30% and 36% of the votes.  Not only does the ultimate winner gain acclaim as the author of the best book Outskirts Press published in 2014 (from over 1500 contenders), but he or she will also receive the $1,500 Grand Prize.  No wonder all three writers are so actively involved in this public poll!

Voting is open to everyone. The poll ends at midnight (Mountain Standard Time) on Sunday, September 6th.

Does September 2015 seem like an odd month to recognize our best book from 2014, nine months late?  It is, and that’s due to ensuring every finalists’ very important, award-winning status, courtesy of the Colorado Independent Publisher Association and its independent EVVY Awards.  Those EVVY Awards were just announced last week, and the picture of me above was taken during that ceremony in Denver, Colorado. I’ll cover more of that next time.

In the meantime, congratulations to our three Best Book of the Year finalists:

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!

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

How the EVVY Awards are Judged

Toward the end of each calendar year, Outskirts Press specifically nominates a certain percentage of our published titles for that year to submit to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.  Not only is winning an EVVY Award an honor it its own right, but one EVVY Winner then goes on to be named the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year.   We have thirteen finalists from among all the books we officially nominated for EVVY consideration.  And I just heard from CIPA that Outskirts Press actually published two additional EVVY Finalists, where the authors submitted their books directly, since they resided in Colorado and were members of CIPA personally.  Congratulations to them, as well.

Tomorrow evening, Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse fame will be hosting the 18th Annual EVVY Awards where 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place, and Merit Awards will be handed out to all the EVVY finalists from all the participating self-publishers.   So, just how are the EVVY Awards judged?

1. Each EVVY judge answers 30 questions for each book they judge. 25 are general questions that are non-category specific and 5 are category-specific questions. The non-category specific questions involve both technical and creative elements about the books, like for instance, does the book have a barcode, does it have an ISBN, does it have a copyright page, etc. 10 questions are true or false and 20 are scored on a scale of 1 (bad) through 100 (perfect)

2.  The first round of judging is scored and all books with first phase scores under 50 are eliminated from consideration. The remaining entries are then judged by a different judge answering the same questions and the scores are taken again. All entries that attain a score of 70 or above from the average of both judge’s scores are deemed finalists.  These are the 13 (+2) books that represent our EVVY finalists this year.

3. The finalists are then judged a third time. The order of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Merit awards are determined by a combination of high score, judge’s determination, and overall comparison of other books within the category. This “Category comparison” means that the average scores can be the same across all categories.

4. 1st Place winners score 81 points or above. Books scoring between 74 – 80 are awarded second place.

Stay tuned for the Outskirts Press EVVY winners….


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.


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.