Designing a Facebook Welcome Page – Part Six

There’s only one main graphic element remaining to be discussed as we talk about the current Outskirt Press Facebook welcome graphic and its creative elements. The creative component is “phase 1” of a 3-4 week series about how to creatively design a “Facebook Welcome Page” and then how to technically create it within Facebook. We’re almost done with the creative part.  In fact, there’s only one more graphic left. (Well, there are actually two, but the last graphic is just a small element to complete the very bottom part of the vertical banner.). Tomorrow I’ll reveal the whole Facebook welcome graphic in its entirety,  Of course, you’re welcome to cheat by going straight to our Facebook Page and, if you’re not a fan/friend, yet, you’ll see our Welcome page.   

Our Welcome graphic is composed of rolling monthly opportunities, promotions, incentives, or perks. We discussed the general giveaway, concerning the Barnes & Noble NOOK last week, and we discussed January’s event (Fandemonium Volume 2) yesterday.   Our graphic will show two months at a time.  That means, on February 1, the January graphic will go away, February will move “up” and the March monthly event or announcement will drop neatly into place.  One general suggestion to keep in mind when it comes to incentivizing Facebook links is to KEEP giving your friends/fans valuable promotions or content above and beyond whatever prompted them to join in the first place.   Many of our current fans “liked” us on the chances they would win an Amazon Kindle last Christmas.  Only one could win.  So what do you do, as a business, an entrepreneur, a marketer, or an author, to keep those fans from “unliking” you once the giveaway is over?   You keep giving them value.  In our case, we kept the giveaway going, and even upped the stakes for a NOOK, but we also gave them a chance to publish for a free in a Facebook anthology.

And, in February, we’re giving them the chance to win a free Apple iPad2:

We don’t reveal too much more than that in our Facebook Welcome graphic — just enough to whet their appetites and hopefully get them to “like” us, if they haven’t already – or to get those who have already “liked” us to stick around for a couple weeks on Facebook.  By that time, hopefully, they’ll have come to see our value as a book publishing and marketing firm and we’ll have earned their business when they’re ready to publish.

And that, in short, is an example of how you can use Facebook to build relationships with your potential clients/customers, regardless of whether you are a start-up, a corporation, or a published author.

Self Publishing a Book? Three points of view

I haven’t always been an easy person to reach at Outskirts Press.  Even to send me kudos, some authors in the past were forced to write me an actual letter and mail it to my attention through the post office.  It worked!  I always received those, and I still get a letter from time to time.  But in this day and age, it seems silly to ask our valued customers to go through such effort just to say nice things about us or to contact me about something.  So, toward the end of last year I started contacting every new author who started publishing with us, just to make sure they were satisfied with our services. It’s been a blessing and I wish I had done it years ago.

For example, here’s a very recent email I received, completely unsolicited, from one of our authors:

Dear Brent,
      Greetings to you and I wish you all continued success.  I could not be more pleased with the great job that Natasha Quick, and the production team, are doing with my novel, AFRICAN SKIES.  I am so delighted that The Outskirts Press is my publisher for this book and all my future books.  The professionalism, courtesy and attention to detail exhibited by Ms. Quick has been exceptional.  Great good luck to you and to all at Outskirts, and all the best,
Mike Tucker

Now that’s an email that puts me in a great mood.  Another wonderful email I received recently wasn’t from one of our authors, but was from the owner of Reader Views, Irene Watson.  Through Reader Views, Irene comes in contact with a LOT of books from a LOT of self-publishing companies.  With her permission, she said I could post this unsolicited email she sent me recently:


Geesh..I’ve been meaning to write this email for quite some time but one busy day runs into the next one.  This is what I want to say:

I’m very impressed with the quality of books that come from Outskirts Press.  We get a lot of self-published books and many are horribly (that’s the most gentle word I could find) produced. The quality just isn’t up to par.  Yours match any large traditional publishing company to a T. Occasionally we do review a book that hasn’t been properly edited but we know that’s the choice of the author.  If only, if only…there was a way to instill into the authors the importance of editing.

In fact, I am so impressed I recommended Outskirts Press to my assistant for her book. It’s in production now with your company.


The last message I want to share was the email I received from the winner of our free iPad.  Last year during the holidays, our monthly promotion offered a free Apple iPad to one of our talented authors.  We notifed the lucky author, Vince, the first week of January. Here was his reply (I waited until now so I could also link to his book, which was just published this week):

Happy New Year, Brent!

I want to thank you for this gift from you and Outskirts Press.  It hasn’t gotten here yet, but I happily await its delivery.

  I’ve written for many years and it is always gratifying when one actually finds evidence of people who appreciate the hard work a writer puts into his work.  Like all art, as you well know, writing produces the most fickle and varying opinions, irrespective of the inherent talent or worth of the work.  This always leaves one wondering precisely what a ‘Great work’ of fiction actually is.  Since my undergraduate degrees were in Psychology and English Literature, and having started writing stories at the very young age of 8, I always tried to fathom what it was that made a piece of fiction a great work of art.  After many years of education, and hundreds of books read, I concluded that one can’t really know that, unless he waits a hundred years or so and sees how history treats it; and even then, he couldn’t truly KNOW.  What we’re left with is to give our best effort, which I try in every book I write, and keep in mind that I want to engage the reader and not disappoint him or her.  As an author, I want to pull that reader into the story and get them involved, and as a Psychologist I want the readers to know the characters, feel they are real, empathize with them, and feel the drama is truly happening.  In Science Fiction, the story and action have to be plausible, so you don’t leave the reader thinking, ‘That can’t possibly happen, it’s ridiculous,’ which makes it just a little bit harder task, but one I enjoy doing since I love sci-fi myself.  I diligently endeavored to employ these principles with Star-Crossed, and I think it is perhaps the most believable heartfelt of the 9 fiction books I’ve written.  All 11 of my books are published in electronic format already, and sell fairly well; half of them are out in print form.  I hope with this book, published at Outskirts, I will begin an even more profitable era in my writing life, that I will publish more successful books in the future, and that Outskirts can aid in that vision.

  Thank you again,

   Vince Riccio

Thank you, Vince…

And speaking of the iPad, we’re just a few weeks away from launching our iPad Edition option… more on that in the near future…

The Highly Ineffective Habits of Barnes & Noble

I like Barnes & Noble. In fact, as a writer myself, it probably doesn’t come as a shock to learn that I love all bookstores. But times haven’t been kind to the traditional bookstore since about 1995 or so. That is when came into existence and slowly (quickly) began changing book buying habits. Now, the physical locations of Barnes & Noble bookstores are becoming more of a liability than an advantage; and much like Blockbuster was forced to examine its business model in the wake of NetFlix, so too is Barnes & Noble starting to recognize the forward-thinking of Amazon from behind the 8-ball.   In fact, at the beginning of August, Barnes & Noble announced that it was “on the block” and looking for a buyer. Read the interesting article in Fast Company here.

Interestingly, even such news comes with a silver lining. Barnes & Noble’s digital business (its website at and its Nook) continues to grow and, along with’s growing market share, further supports the notion that distribution-on-demand with self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press is not only a viable solution but is on its way toward becoming the de facto standard for how books are distributed and sold.  And with both Nook and Kindle versions of e-books up sharply, authors are well advised to offer not only paperback/hardback editions of every book they publish, but electronic versions as well.  

To support this changing landscape, Outskirts Press recently introduced its Amazon Kindle edition on an a la carte basis to authors seeking this electronic solution regardless of where they published their hardcopy book.  And in the coming months, Nook and iPad services should follow suit.   I could take a moment here to vent about Apple and its monopolistic aggregation agreement briefly (not to mention their cencorship habits) but …. I think I’ll wait until a different post to open that can of worms.  After all, I’m still in the middle of discussing the Highly Effective Kindle edition, and will continue with that topic in more logistic detail next time…

Self Publishing on the Apple iPad

I made a mistake with my last posting. Part of the topic of my last blog involved the Apple iPad and yet the title I chose for the blog was something about killing birds. This is what is known as “missing an opportunity.”   As I have mentioned previously, blogs are wonderful for improving organic search engine optimization and one of the most important elements of a blog for SEO is the title.  

 But even though I was writing about a very popular and “trending” topic like the iPad, I mistakenly didn’t enter any of those valuable keyword opportunities into the title of my post.  Instead, I chose a title that, to a human being means one thing, but to a computer means something entirely different — and as a result, my title, “Killing two birds with one stone” won’t attract the readers I’m trying to attract. It might attract some hunters, though.

So with today’s blog posting I have created a title better suited for the SEO I’m shooting for, based upon the popularity of the iPad.  Our full-color conversion of Adventures in Publishing to ePub 1.0.5 should be done this week as should the indexing for Sell Your Book on Amazon 2nd Edition, which will allow us to also convert that for the iPad in our effort to introduce this new option for our authors. 

 I will also summarize my thoughts on the recent AWP conference I attended that took place in Denver last week, and the preliminary steps I’m taking as one of the E&Y EOY regional semi-finalists.  And if those acronyms aren’t clear enough, they’ll be revealed in the near future… It is going to be another productive week at Outskirts Press.

Killing two birds with one stone

I blogged previously about how long everything seems to take in the business world.  Here’s another example, still related to the Second Edition of Sell Your Book on Amazon.

While we are using my book as the “guinea pig” to improve the efficiency of indexing so we can lower the price so more of our authors can add an index to their books, we are also working on adding Apple iPad editions for our authors. Ever since the new device was launched early this month, our authors have been clamoring for an option that allows their book to be available on this new digital platform.  Who can blame them?  The iPad is cool!

So, it stands to reason that I would use Sell Your Book on Amazon to test this new option, too, right.  Right, and that’s causing even more delays. Not because of Sell Your Book on Amazon, but because I want to combine these efforts for our conversion specialists, which means giving them more than one title to test at a time.   It’s true that Sell Your Book on Amazon is a good test for an ePub format conversion, with its tables and graphics and double margins, etc.  And when it is “done” we will use it for a test.  But in the meantime, I want to get our specialists on a color book test, also.  So, that’s where Adventures in Publishing comes into play, which is my full-color children’s book about how to publish a children’s book.

That sounds easy — it’s just a matter of having them work on the Adventures in Publishing files.  But, since we’re about to move this book to new formats, it makes sense to bring it up to date.  A few things have changed with our full-color Pearl package since that edition of Adventures in Publishing was written and published.  Specifically, the number of color paperback sizes we offer grew from 2 to 5.  Additionally, the number of royalty-free illustration packages we offer grew from 15 to 24.

So, right in the middle of trying to wrap up the second edition of Sell Your Book on Amazon, I find myself forced to revise Adventures in Publishing, too, just so we can faciliate some testing for new options while the iron is still hot. 

And of course, since we’re exploring other digital formats, its the time to look into making the following platforms available for our authors, too: the Sony Reader, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the iPhone via Stanza, etc…

And all these complexities add more delay. The problem with trying to kill two birds with one stone is that sometimes you miss the bird completely…