Adding Social Media to Outskirts Press Self Publishing

As followers of this blog know, I’ve been detailing our migration to RWD (responsive web design) at Outskirts Press for the past several posts.  In my last post on the topic, I introduced our upcoming new Author Webpages, which are designed in full RWD and feature a slew of new features when compared with the “old” author webpages.

Among those new features are the author’s ability to connect his/her author webpage with various social media channels (like Facebook, etc.). See the top-right corner of the sample image below:


In order for each author’s webpage to be able to go to each author’s Facebook feed or Twitter account, or Pinterest board, etc., the author simply needs to add that information into their author account.  Since January 1, authors have been able to EDIT their Author Profile information and supply us with the URLs to their respective social media channels so that when the Author Webpages are made available soon, those social media buttons will work perfectly.


A new “Social Media Details” section has been added to the Edit Author Profile screen. The Author Profile screen is where every Outskirts Press author can manage their Author Information (like their email address, their password, the method of receiving their royalties, and now — their social media preferences!)

The first field for “Facebook Awards Member” controls the author’s opt-in/opt-out preferences for our Facebook Achievements, which I’ve blogged about before. Basically, it allows an author to keep his or her Facebook followers apprised of publishing and marketing accomplishments and milestones automatically.  It’s not a new field, but it is in a new place on the screen because it’s more appropriate under “Social Media Details.”

The other six fields are new, and this is where Outskirts Press clients can enter their personal URLs for six different social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Linked-In, and Pinterest.

If an author doesn’t have a specific “presence” on any of those specific sites, he or she simply leaves it blank and that specific social media channel is omitted from the author’s new RWD author webpage.  Of course, a preferable strategy from a marketing point of view would be to make sure you DID have a presence on each of them.

Speaking of having a social media presence, our January publishing promotion at Outskirts Press is giving away a FREE Author Platform Set-Up, which is a fast, convenient way to jump-start your social media marketing for when Outskirts Press has published your book. All the details of this amazing publishing giveaway can be found on our promotions page through January 2016.

Of course, for our already-published authors, the Author Platform Set-Up option is also a great marketing choice and is available from the Marketing Options screen in your Publishing Center.





Self Publishing Achievements – Bestseller Achievement Coming Soon!

As we continue discussing the third category in our examination of our Self Publishing Achievement awards, we’re going to briefly touch upon the proposed award in this category.

The slated award in this category is a “Bestseller” achievement. While the exact details are not yet solidified, my expectation is that we will reward 10 of these achievement awards every month, to our Top 10 Bestsellers in each month.  Here’s an example of our most recent top 10, so once this award is live, these authors would have achieved this award for instance.

Even less clear is another award we may (or may not) make available in this category, with an even more temporary name of “Money Bags” (working title) — and this award, as its name implies, would be awarded to the top royalty earners in a given quarter.  We wouldn’t reveal the amounts (those figures are private), but by receiving this award, our authors would know they were among the financial elite.  Several factors play a role in determining whether we will actually launch this 3rd proposed award in this category: 1) We’ll ask our authors what they think of the idea and that feedback will play a significant role in whether we launch it or not (people are “funny” about all things money-related).  2) Technically we may not be able to pull it off.  Certainly, anything can be done when enough resources (usually money) is thrown at an issue, but businesses have to weigh the return on that investment to determine if it’s worthwhile. Just because something can be done, doesn’t always mean it should be done. So, given that, even if we do launch this third achievement award in this category, don’t expect to see it for quite a while…


Facebook Self Publishing Awards – Publishing Awards

Now we’re on to the third category in our examination of our Self Publishing Achievement awards, which automatically help our authors “brag” about their publishing and marketing accomplishments to all their Facebook friends (and thereby market their books to their friends as well). We’ve already covered the Production Milestones and Production Achievements. Now we’re going to discuss the Publishing Awards.

This is perhaps the most “important” category from an author’s perspective – the actual category that includes the award for being published! – and it’s also the “smallest” category in our Achievement program, with just one achievement award slated, and another one proposed.  It may also be the category that launches last.  As I’ve demonstrated in a couple of previous posts, we are rolling these awards out incrementally, and some of them have already gone “live.”  Others are still being developed, and that includes our “Publication” achievement, which every author will earn with the publication of a book. Multiple publications receives multiple awards. We’ll discuss the “coming soon” award in this category next time.

Custom Cover Awards for Self-Publishing Achievements

Last time I discussed the Editing Production Achievement Award in our Self-Publishing Achievements, and also showed how seamlessly this award functionality is incorporated into our self publishing website.

Another production achievement award is the award for Custom Covers.  Unlike the award for editing, the custom cover achievement award is still being rolled out deliberately and slowly to our authors.  Such is the case with complex technical roll-outs that involve real time interaction with social media sites. Internal “alpha” testing is difficult because of the immediacy of social media, so precise beta testing on a small scale with measurable results is more appropriate.

Custom covers share many similarities with copyediting. It’s an important, yet often overlooked, investment that all authors would be well-served considering.  And, much like editing, I believe more authors would select professional custom cover design if they were SHOWN the advantages and benefits of it.  At Outskirts Press, we recently created a short ebook to do just that — we show side-by-side comparisons of free Standard Covers and their Custom Cover counterparts.  Seeing these samples side-by-side, it’s difficult to argue in favor of Standard Covers.  Click the ebook cover below to flip through the samples…




The Editing Facebook Achievement Award

Last time I focused on the Publishing Achievement Award categories in our Facebook Self-Publishing Awards & Achievements. Since editing was one of the achievements, this is a good time to discuss (or rather, show) how the Self-Publishing Achievements are incorporated into the Outskirts Press website, and also talk a little bit more about the value of professional editing for self-publishing authors.  This screen shot below from our website does both.

The circled box shows how certain options can lead to an achievement award.  Our web developers have done an amazing job of making it seamless for our authors. In fact, if an author is already signed-in to their Facebook account when they come upon a potential achievement award at Outskirts Press, our site will display their Facebook Avatar. In other words, our site performs that “handshake” with Facebook behind the scenes, making the achievement awards unobtrusive.  You also see the Achievement award icon that can be earned, and a small description of the achievement you are earning.

Also on display on the “Product Detail Page” for this option is our short editing ebook, which provides some examples of “before & after” sections in a variety of genres (fiction, non-fiction, children’s, cookbooks, poetry, etc.) Not all authors can immediately recognize the value of investing in professional editing, so this ebook helps put a clearer picture on it.

Such is the case for custom covers, too, and we’ll discuss that option, and it’s place in our Facebook Production Achievements, next time….

Facebook Production Achievement Awards for Self-Publishing

Last month I discussed the first category of our Facebook Self Publishing Achievements with Outskirts Press, which began with this posting in which I revealed all five categories, all 20 awards, and some planned awards for the future.

The first category are the Production Milestones. The second category are the Production Achievements.

Unlike Production Milestones, it is possible to completely publish a book without receiving one single Production Achievement Award; although, since both the highly recommended custom cover and professional copyediting options earn Production Achievement Awards, it’s not recommended.

In fact, quite the contrary. It would be in almost every author’s best interest for his or her book to earn EVERY Production Achievement Award with each publication, since these achievements help identify the specific production options that can literally make or break a professional, high-quality publication.

The exception to this is the Achievement Award for custom illustrations, since many books don’t require that particular service.  But otherwise, every author would be well-served to sweep the Production Achievement Awards category by getting the awards for Custom Cover, Copyediting, and Enhanced/Custom interior.

Self Publishing Achievement Awards – Publishing Service Awards

On July 26th I revealed our Facebook Achievement Awards, the Outskirts Press “gamification” functionality we are currently rolling out to incentivize our authors to publish their books and have fun at the same time. There are 5 categories within our self-publishing achievement programs, and over the next couple weeks/months I’m focusing on each award in each category.

I’ve discussed three of the achievements in this category already. The remaining awards are specific to publishing services, and are relatively self-explanatory. Authors publishing under the Diamond package receive the Diamond achievement and authors publishing under the full-color Pearl package receive the Pearl achievement.

Once we have fully rolled-out these achievements and determine they are adding value and a “fun factor” for our authors, we will add an additional award to this category for authors publishing with one of our One-Click packages. Currently we have two separate One-Click packages, one designed specifically for coaches & speakers, and another designed specifically for children’s book authors.

Since an author cannot receive two package awards with the same book, this category requires publishing at least two books to “sweep” the category (and more once we added the One-Click award).  But, by simply following the path the majority of our authors follow anyway, an author can earn 4/5 of the Production Milestones with one single book. Here’s how:

1. Register for a free Publishing Center and once inside your publishing center, complete the form to receive your complimentary brochure in the mail.  That earns your  Publishing Guide Award.
2. Order your down payment to be assigned your Publishing Consultant, receive your manuscript evaluation, and receive your Custom Publishing Profile. That earns your Down Payment Award.
3. Order your Diamond or Pearl publishing service. That earns your Publishing Service Award.
4. Complete the pre-production steps and approve Production to begin on your book.  That earns your Approved Production Award (every Outskirts Press author will achievement this milestone, since approving production is a requirement for publication).

Next up, examining the next Category, the Production Achievement Awards…

Production Milestones for Self Publishing Achievement Awards – Down Payment Award

On July 26th I revealed our Facebook Achievement Awards, the Outskirts Press “gamification” functionality we are currently rolling out to incentivize our authors to publish their books and have fun at the same time. There are 5 categories within our self-publishing achievement programs, and over the next couple weeks/months I’m focusing on each award in each category.

The third award I will discuss in the first Production Milestones Category is the achievement earned for starting your book publishing process with a down payment.  Like the first two milestone awards I have already discussed in this category, this is a very easy milestone to reach; and, in fact, the majority of our first time authors will earn this award since the majority of our authors choose to begin their publishing process with the $35 down payment.  In addition to being applied to the publishing service fee, this down payment assigns the author’s personal Publishing Consultant and  entitles the author to a manuscript evaluation (which often includes a free 1000-word spec edit).  These features are among the benefits of publishing with Outskirts Press and, unlike many other publishers in our industry, it does not require much in the way of a financial investment to receive.

As such, the Down Payment Award is an easy achievement to earn.  In fact, it might seem like EVERY author would receive this award, but not necessarily.  More and more authors are skipping this step and choosing to order their full Publishing Service directly (since that speeds up their publishing process a little bit by skipping this Down Payment step — ). In either case, they still receive the manuscript evaluation and personal assistance of their Publishing Consultant. Authors who elect to pass on the Down Payment won’t win this achievement, but instead can win one of the Publishing Service awards, and I’ll discuss the Publishing Service awards within the Production Milestone Category next.

Self Publishing Production Milestone Achievement Awards – Self Publishing Simplified

On July 26th I revealed our Facebook Achievement Awards, the Outskirts Press “gamification” functionality we are currently rolling out to incentivize our authors to publish their books and have fun at the same time.  There are 5 categories within our self-publishing achievement programs, and over the next couple weeks/months I’m focusing on each award in each category.

Another award in the first Production Milestones Category is the award our authors win when they register for a free Publishing Account and get their three free e-books, including our guide, Self-Publishing Simplified, and choose to receive our brochure through the mail. This is the easiest achievement to earn since all it requires is providing your email address so we can deliver your ebooks to you, and your mailing address so we can mail your brochure to you. In this manner, you also provide your user name to access your free Publishing Center, which we make available to all authors without obligation.

Brent Sampson explains the Production Milestones Achievement Awards – The Approved Production Award

Now that we have unveiled our Facebook Self Publishing Achievement awards, the five categories, and the specific awards that are within each category, I will focus on each award over the next couple of months.   The categories are arranged in rough chronological order — it’s most likely an author will achieve an award within the first category (Production Milestones) prior to achieving an award in any other category. Likewise, an award in the second category is more likely to be achieved before an award in the third category, and so forth.

The first category, the Production Milestones, is currently comprised of five awards, with a sixth on the way.  Every author will win at least one award in the Production Milestones category for publishing with Outskirts Press (provided they “connect” their Facebook Account to their Outskirts Press account when prompted during the publishing process).  The Approved Production Award is achieved upon completion of a major Production Milestone, and one that is met by every publishing author. This is the stage at which all the pre-production steps have been completed, and the manuscript and all its customization is passed to our production department so the book can be designed, formatted, and completed in accordance with the author’s wishes.

Upon reaching and completing this important publishing milestone, our authors participating in our Facebook Achievements will be able to automatically notify their Facebook friends/fans/followers of their achievement, and they will receive the Approved Production Award from Outskirts Press.

We’ll talk about more Production Milestones next time.