Self-Publishing Book Marketing Services

Now it’s on to selecting some optional book marketing services available through Outskirts Press. And many of these may be included for free in your package, too, depending upon what package you have, so it’s best to scroll through all the options.  There are a lot. In fact, Outskirts Press offers the most marketing services and products in the industry. This pre-production selection is only the icing on the cake. Once your book is published through Outskirts Press, even MORE marketing options become available!

It’s like being a kid in the candy store. There are lots that look great, but some of them get expensive, so read the sales pages of each option to see how you can get the most bang for your book, er, buck.

The bundled marketing packages offer the best overall value. We have packaged several marketing services together into a bundle for 25% discounts over the a la carte prices.  The marketing packages are also our most popular options month in and month out, particularly the Book Blast Package and the Amazon Extreme Package. (These two, among others, are so helpful for self-publishing authors that we offer them to writers even if they’ve published elsewhere).

So here’s the screen you see when you start browsing your marketing options:

Similar to the Cover options screen, this screen is “collapsed” for space and bandwidth, because displaying ALL the marketing options we offer would fill screens upon screens. So this screen shot just shows the bundled marketing packages.

Within each of the other collapsed categories are many more options fitting that respective category.  These categories match the “7 Tactics of Successfully Published Authors” guide we mail to all our published authors after their book is published through Outskirts Press.

For our Fandemonium Volume 2 book, I first scroll through all the options and add all the free ones that come included with my Diamond package, which are:  Audio Excerpt (under Enhance Your Online Presence), a standard press release (under Announce Your Publication to the World), and Spring Arbor Christian Distribution (under Promote Your Book to the World). Although, on second thought, my content doesn’t fit Spring Arbor’s guidelines strongly enough, so I end up removing that one.  Spring Arbor reserves the right to refuse any book that doesn’t fit their religious distribution needs, and since I know Fandemonium won’t make the cut, I don’t submit it.

The point is, if you have the Diamond or Pearl full-color package, be sure to add all the FREE options to your cart.

The 25% discounted marketing packages offer the best value so look them over carefully. While the Book Blast and Amazon Extreme packages are the most popular by far, winning awards is a great way to separate your book from the hundreds of thousands of books published each year, and Outskirts Press authors win statistically more book awards than any other online self-publisher. Speaking of which, if you are a Diamond or Pearl author, you are automatically eligible for consideration for the EVVY Awards, which is a prerequisite to winning the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award.

A good rule of thumb is planning to spend an equal amount initially marketing a book as you do publishing it. So, the Diamond at $999 creates a marketing budget for me of $999.  The best marketing bang for $999 is the Book Blast Marketing package. With it, I get:

  • A Custom Press Release (way better than the standard one that comes included, and I get to review it before it is distributed, and I get a copy for my own needs–rather than cutting and pasting the free one off the Internet.
  • A PR Publicist Campaign (this in conjuncture with the custom press release is the ideal one-two punch). This campaign includes expanded distribution of my press release, plus phone-call follow-up by a representative pushing my book. I receive leads from reviewers, journalists, and bloggers seeking review copies or interviews, and I even getting a digital clipping service that emails me every time my book is mentioned online.
  • A 60 second professional and flashy book video trailer plus digital viral distribution of the completed video file. I get to keep the file and it gets shared on YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Daily Motion, and many other social networking and video sharing sites. Plus it’s added to a “Media Center” portion of my free author webpage.
  • Book Review Submission to 10 book reviewers. This even includes the review copies and the shipping and handling expenses, plus all the work of creating a cover letter, the “pitch” and more.  These are all reviewers who have shown a tendency to positively review self-published books.
  • And the coup de grace – 5 hours of personal time with a professional marketing assistant.  After your initial 30-60 minute phone consultation, your Personal Marketing Assistant will typically create a marketing plan for the book or help you enhance yours. And then with whatever time is left over, the PMA will start to complete many of the marketing tactics that require completion.  Once you publish a book, it needs to be marketed. If you don’t want to do it all yourself (and who does?)  someone else will need to do some of it.  And that’s where the Personal Marketing Assistant from Outskirts Press comes in.

All 5 of these popular services bundled together for $999. Best bang for your buck.  Of course, the Amazon Extreme Package is popular, too, but since I personally know how to do all that stuff (Kindle Edition, Search Inside the Book Submission, Keyword Tagging) myself (after all, I wrote the book on that),  I don’t need that for Fandemonium Volume 2.

The other three marketing packages are strictly convenience and service oriented.  Yes, submitting your book to awards and contests is highly recommended, but you can do it all yourself for less.  But we’ve found that most authors DON’T do it at all (because, let’s face it, it’s a LOT of work), and they procrastinate, and suddenly the deadline has passed and they missed their one and only opportunity. You see, book contests typically are only open for the year of your copyright, so these are literally once in a lifetime opportunities that you don’t want to miss.  Getting the Book Award Submissions Service from Outskirts Press right out of the gate guarantees your book gets to submitted to all the biggest book award contests (Ben Franklin, Writer’s Digest, ForeWord, etc).

When you are done adding all your preferred marketing options to your shopping cart, you can click the “Done with Options and Upgrades” button at the bottom of the screen to continue to the next step…

Finished Adding Options?

Once you’ve added all the marketing options you want to your shopping cart, scroll all the way to the bottom and click Done with Options and Upgrades.

You then receive a “Summary” page which graphically represents your custom publishing bundle, including all the services and options you have requested. Cool!  If it all looks good, click “Finalize Selections.”


When you click on the Finalize Selections button you are taken to your shopping cart to complete your order for any of the optional production and/or marketing services you added to your customized publishing package.  You will even see the free options that are included with the Diamond package if you added them during pre-production. They have a price of $0.00.

Checking out of the shopping cart is a three step process:

1. Review Order – Review the contents of your shopping cart.  If you see something you don’t want you can click the small trash can icon or the  “Remove this item” link.  Keep in mind if you remove a “required” component like the format, cover, or interior choice, you will return to that step of the pre-production process to select again.  Otherwise, if the contents meet your satisfaction, scroll to the “Confirm Order” button at the bottom of your shopping cart to proceed to step 2.

2. Confirm Order – Some of our options, like our publishing services, involve legal agreements and terms, and in those cases, this step of the shopping cart requires you to confirm your acceptance of the terms for the items in your cart.   You do this by reviewing or printing out the terms associated with each relevant option and then clicking the associated “check box” to legally confirm your acceptance in typical online fashion.  Once all the check boxes (if any) are checked, click the Confirm Order button at the bottom to proceed to step 3.

3. Here is where you enter your payment information. For security and privacy reasons, we do not retain any credit card numbers so you will always need to enter your credit card number when completing a purchase with Outskirts Press. This ensures you are always aware when you are placing an order.  You never have to worry about us “taking money” without your direct involvement and knowledge.  Once you complete the required information, click the button at the bottom to submit your payment. You will receive a green THANK YOU box confirmation.


Click the “Press to Continue” button to proceed to the next step… which is one that further differentiates Outskirts Press from the others…

Custom Publishing with Outskirts Press – Choosing Your Price Plan

This is admittedly the step that causes the most confusion. That is because we grant our authors so much power and flexibility here. Just about every other publisher simply tells you what your pricing and profit will be. You have very little choice. As a result, the publisher is the one pocketing all the money.  With Outskirts Press, you are the one setting all your book’s pricing (sure, we’ll give you recommendations). And you keep 100% of the royalties from the book, which is 100% of the difference between the wholesale price and the production cost of each book. Most other publishers pay their authors 10% – 50% of the profit. Outskirts Press pays 100%.

Customizing your book pricing occurs in two stages. The first stage is selecting your Price Plan, which you do on this screen, which is the next screen you see after completing your order for your custom book publishing options:

There are 3 choices, but in my opinion, the choice comes down to 2 and depends upon your goals: Are you going to actively pursue off-line sales through bookstores, and engage in physical book signings and events?  Or, alternatively, are you going to rely on sales and pursue digital book marketing tactics like Virtual Book Tours, etc?

Choose Price Plan 50 if…
you plan to pursue offline sales through traditional physical bookstores. In this case, your book will also need the Retail Returns Option, and ideally, copyediting and a custom cover (since retail book stores aren’t going to be interested in a book riddled with errors or with a ho-hum book cover). This path will also require extensive marketing effort and legwork on your part, although our optional Personal Marketing Assistant can be a boon here. In other words, this path takes an investment and a commitment on your part and the competition for attention from physical retailers is fierce.

In fact, if you’re doing all that, you might want to click the “Advanced Users” button and actually set your Price Plan to 55, which is industry standard for offline book sales. Keep in mind that doing all the above still doesn’t guarantee an offline bookstore will stock or carry your book — that’s up to them, not you, and not us.

On the other hand, choose Price Plan 25 if… you are going to forego the risk of getting offline bookstore interest and instead are going to concentrate solely on marketing and selling your book online through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and/or your own website. Sure you can still sell copies yourself in person, but only e-retailers will be interested in carrying your book. Books under this price plan have a higher profit margin and can have lower retail prices.

Outskirts Press offers a pricing calculator that allows you to compare pricing scenarios in advance of making this decision here:

Do you find all of this too confusing? You’re not alone. Almost all authors are confused by these concepts, and that’s okay.  I normally recommend that authors simply choose Price Plan 50 if they don’t know what to do here and don’t want to figure it out. Their retail price will be higher and their profit lower, but their sales options will be the greatest.  But, the reality is, pursuing offline sales is a dying art, literally.  The only major national chain bookstore left in America is Barnes & Noble, and the only thing keeping them afloat is their NOOK.  In other words, the publishing world is going online, and so are the readers who are interested in buying books.  Marketing a book is less expensive online, and for 99% of the authors out there, represents a more realistic goal.

If you have both a hardback and paperback, you will complete this step twice, once for each format, so pay attention to the “book graphic” in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

So, that said, perhaps it is significant that for Fandemonium Volume 2, I’m choosing Price Plan 25, and more about that is coming up next…

Setting Your Book Pricing with Outskirts Press – Price Plan 25

In the case of Fandemonium Volume 2, I am going to choose Price Plan 25. This is the same Price Plan we used for Fandemonium Volume 1 (and that decision was based upon a social media public poll we held in which we offered different pricing scenarios and our social media community chose one.  The scenario they chose was a Price Plan of 25%, a $16.95 retail price, and a profit for the American Red Cross of $7.38.

One of the most powerful elements of publishing with Outskirts Press is the flexibility granted to the author regarding pricing and profit. We are one of the only publishers that pay 100% royalties (100% of the profits), but as you can see, the actual “dollars and cents” you receive depends upon three other factors: The Retail Price, The  Trade Discount, And the Base Copy Price, or in other words, the single copy production price, of the book.

Most publishers enforce all these prices without giving authors any say in the matter, but you will see from the pie charts below, that can significantly affect YOUR profits and your retail price. At Outskirts Press, we only set the base copy price of the book. The retail price and discount (we call it a “Price Plan”) is up to you, and therefore your PROFITS are up to you.

Book pricing is complicated because everyone has an opinion about what they think “the best” pricing is. So what better way to demonstrate the flexibility of our pricing by allowing our social community the chance to vote on the Pricing Option they liked best for our first Facebook Anthology, Fandemonium?

Below are 4 different pricing options we offered.

Pricing Option 1 has a retail price of $16.95, a price plan of 25, and a profit of $7.38 for The American Red Cross every time a book sells. This is the price plan we recommend for this book. Even though we give the power to the author, we always make recommendations to help the author select the best pricing for his or her goals.

Pricing Option 2 also has a retail price of $16.95, but has a price plan of 50. This means 50% of the retail price goes to the wholesalers and retailers who are involved in selling the book (Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). As a result, the profit for the American Red Cross is lower ($3.16). Physical bookstores often require significant portions of the retail price in order to be compelled to consider selling the book, but online sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t.

Pricing Option 3 demonstrates the powerful flexibility of publishing with Outskirts Press. Yes, you can set the retail price for this particular book as low as $7.95. But you will notice the majority of the “pie” goes toward the production cost of the book ($5.33) as a result. Even with Ingram/Amazon only getting $1.99, that leaves only 63 cents of “author profit” for The American Red Cross. Since the “pie” is smaller ($7.95 instead of $16.95) all the pieces are smaller, too, with the exception of the production price, which stays the same regardless of anything else.

Pricing Option 4 has a lower retail price of $12.95 and a Price Plan of 25. The base copy price is the same in every scenario, which leaves $3.24 for wholesalers/retailers and $4.38 for The American Red Cross.

Based upon these choices, our social community chose Option 1 for Fandemonium, and that’s the option we’re choosing for Volume 2, as well (although since Volume 2 is slightly longer, the profit earned will be slightly less).

Estimating Your Page Count for Self-Publishing

Fandemonium Volume 2 is just slightly longer than Volume 1, so with the same Price Plan and same retail price, our royalty for Volume 2 is going to be just a smidge less (since printing each book is a smidge more).  I know from publishing Volume 1 that it had a “recorded” page count of 131 in our system.  Obviously, since every piece of paper has two sides, every book must have a page count that is an even number, but our page count in our system is odd as a way of indicating to our production team that the content ends on the right-hand side of the page (since the very, very last page of all our books must be blank to accommodate logistics involved in the production process).   And I know that the estimated page count of Volume 2 is 140 pages.

How did I figure out my estimated page count for my new manuscript?  By reformatting my manuscript in Word to a 6×9 trim size.  It wasn’t “format designed” per se, but it was close enough to provide me with a rough estimate of the page count once it is professionally formatted at 6 x 9.  Closely estimated page counts are helpful at this stage of the process because they allow authors to closely estimate book pricing. The closer the estimated page count it to the final page count, the closer an author’s estimated pricing is to final pricing. It’s that simple.

So after choosing your Price Plan, our website asks you to estimate the page count for your book.  There is a bunch of bold, red disclaimers on this screen that nobody reads, which basically says the pricing is ESTIMATED because, well, it is … it’s based upon an estimated page count. We won’t know the final pricing until the final page count is determined after final interior formatting.  Should the page count exactly match the figure an author enters on this screen, the pricing will be exact.    Authors sometimes put the page count of their manuscript at 8.5 x 11 into this estimated field and then are surprised when their final pricing for their 5 x 8 book is drastically different.  But, books get longer the smaller they get — fewer words to each page. Makes sense, right?

So we have to estimate your book’s printing cost based upon an estimated page count, since we haven’t actually formatted your book yet. Images, charts, lots of chapters, and other elements can drastically affect the overall length of your book.

So keep in mind that you are setting your book’s * ESTIMATED * pricing at this stage. This step isn’t terribly important now because you get a chance to make final pricing later. The important thing is to not get married to anything you see here — these are estimates. The closer your final page count is to what you enter here, the closer your estimates will be.

So, for Fandemonium Volume 2, I enter 140 into the box and click “Update.”  And we’ll set our book’s retail price, discount, and profit next…

Self Publishing a Book – Setting your retail price, discount, and royalty

And that brings us to another major benefit of publishing with Outskirts Press. Authors get to set their own retail price,  author copy discount, and profit.  Our online calculator makes it easy,  and the first thing you’ll see is that we also provide you with an initial pricing recommendation:

In my case, for Fandemonium Volume 2, where I’ve already set a Price Plan of 25 and estimated my page count to be 140 pages at 6 x 9, Outskirts Press recommends a retail price of $9.95 (compare that with other online publishing firms, where they’ll recommend–or force!– retail prices in the $17-$20 range).

This screen allows you to increase or decrease the recommended price we suggest for your book. To increase your pricing, hit the “PLUS” button. To decrease your pricing, hit the “MINUS” button. No other publisher grants you this dynamic level of pricing flexibility for your book, so enjoy it. It’s one of the major benefits to publishing with Outskirts Press.

We know that we are matching the pricing of Fandemonium Volume 1, which had a retail price of $16.95. So we hit the “PLUS INCREASE” button 7 times, and with each increase, the numbers on the calculator change until we’re left with this:

You will notice that as your retail price increases, so does your royalty and your author discount (your price off retail). If you were to decrease your pricing from our recommended price (also an option), you would notice that as your retail price decreases, so does your royalty and your author discount. You can set your pricing to whatever you want, as long as your retail price is above the wholesale price. The calculator will prevent you from setting a retail price that is below your wholesale price. In that case, the pricing becomes “grayed” out.

You will also notice pricing displayed for the other packages we offer. This allows you to compare your pricing with what you would get with a different package. Ruby books earn more than Sapphire books and they cost less for you to buy. Diamond books earn more than Ruby books and they cost less for you to buy. So if there was ever a question about the long term financial advantages of the Diamond package, this answers them clearly in black/white.

Our Fandemonium Volume 2 package is the Diamond, so now we know that with our retail price of $16.95, we are making approximately $7.51 every time it sells everywhere (from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, through Ingram, etc.  —  compare that with our competitors where they offer a good price from their own site, but not very good pricing elsewhere.)  I say approximately $7.51 because this number is only as accurate as the 140 page count estimate I entered, but it should be fairly close upon publication.

At $16.95, the calculator also tells us that I get a 69% discount on my author copy prices for Fandemonium.   Most other publishers offer author discounts between 10% – 50%.

Once you are happy with your pricing, click the “Select” button.

If you have multiple formats (a paperback and hardback for instance) you will perform this exercise twice, once for each format.

And then we move on to the production approval stage…

Self-Publishing a Book – The Production Approval Process

Once you have completed your book pricing, it is time to approve production. Your Publishing Center will display a check-list of tasks you as the author may still need to complete in order for production to begin on your book. You will most likely have completed most of the steps already by the time you reach this screen:

We also show you recommended options based upon your previous selections.  Of the three shown here, copyediting is the most highly recommended, and I added it, but it’s sitting unpaid in my cart (which is also the reason the “pay your balance” check box needs completing).

Let’s discuss the two side-by-check check lists.  In my case for Fandemonium Volume 2, according to the check-list, I have already completed the following:

  • Selecting my format and trim size
  • Completing cover details
  • Providing my interior details
  • Finalizing my option selections
  • Setting my pricing

There are three check-boxes left for me to complete:

  • Provide required information
  • Pay balance (I added copyediting, but haven’t checked-out of my shopping cart with it yet, so I’ll need to do that)
  • Approve production

And Outskirts Press must complete two steps:

  • Accept the manuscript
  • AR Approve production

More on all of these final elements next…

Self-Publishing with Outskirts Press – the distributor’s annotation

Among the “required information” still necessary is the distributor’s annotation. This is the information about your book that we will submit to Ingram which, in turn is provided to Baker & Taylor, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and every other sales channel for your book.  For example,  on Amazon, your annotation appears as a “Product Description” under the “Editorial Reviews” section.

In many cases, this can be exactly the same as your back cover synopsis (see why we suggest you keep your back cover copy handy in a Word document), but in some cases, you may have reason for it to be different. People who shop for books online will see this information about your book long before they see your back cover text. In fact, in many online cases, this will be the ONLY information they read about your book when deciding whether to buy it.

This information should be compelling and complete, without any spelling errors or typographical errors. Double-check your work! We submit to Ingram exactly what you provide to us. In fact, it’s a good idea to write this text and include it in your manuscript prior to submitting your manuscript for copyediting, so that it gets edited, too (just a little hint, there).

A recommended length for this information is approximately 3000-3400 characters (including spaces). Yes, that is long — but years of statistics support the claim that MORE information here statistically increases the chances of selling more books, especially if it is well written and persuasive. Remember, people buy non-fiction books to solve problems, so focus on benefits to the reader. People buy fiction books to “escape” so focus on the entertainment value.

Once you’re happy with the content, Click to Submit. For Fandemonium, I’m using almost the same exact copy as the back cover copy, so I cut and paste that from my Word document I saved from the Custom Cover stage, make very small changes to this version for distribution, and click submit.

What’s next…?

Self-Publishing with Outskirts Press – Naming your free author webpage

Every Outskirts Press book receives its own free author webpage. The name you give your author webpage for your book will also be your webpage’s address (or URL).  One of the final pieces of required information is soliciting this information from  you. There are some things to keep in mind when you get to the Webpage Naming screen in your Publishing Center:

  1. There cannot be any weird characters or spaces in a webpage address; only use alpha-numeric characters, although underscores _ and hyphens – are also allowed.
  2. Capitalization matters, and you don’t want to have to take the time during a radio interview to explain which letters in your address are capitalized, do you? So we recommend you make the entire address lower case.

The best choice is either the title of your book (if its not too long), or your name. In either case, it should submitted all in lower case.  Your webpage name may already be taken, and if so, our website will tell you and you will need to arrive upon another choice.

Regardless of what you enter into the box, your full, total webpage address will be preceded by our domain name. So if you enter “booktitle” into the box, your webpage address once your book is published will be

If you purchased our optional Enhanced Custom Author Website option, you will name your domain name / address for that website separately.

In the case of Fandemonium Volume 2, I submit “opcollection5” as my webpage name, making my URL because all our anthologies share the same webpage naming convention starting with “opcollection.”  The author’s webpage is launched by Outskirts Press at the same time the book is published. In most cases, it even has most of the “content” filled out automatically, because we’ve used information provided by the author during the pre-production process.  But once your book is published, it’s a good idea to look at your author webpage and see if you want to make any changes/corrections to it.  You can manage the content of your author webpage any time you want from within your Publishing Center after publication.

Outskirts Press Book Publishing – Approving Production

The final step prior to approving production on your book is making sure we have received your manuscript.  There are several places to submit it throughout the process (including emailing it to your publishing consultant), but we make it flexible for our authors to expedite their personal steps through the pre-production process in whatever manner works best for them, independent of the status of their manuscripts.  In this way, authors can complete most of the pre-production steps as they prepare for publication even before their manuscripts are 100% completed.

But ultimately, we require the final manuscript before we allow the author to approve production.  So at this stage, I select my Word file for Fandemonium Volume 2 from my hard drive and upload it via the ‘Submit your manuscript electronically’ option. There is also an option to submit a hardcopy version, although that incurs an additional fee and slows the process down, so I highly recommend going the digital route.

With this final step completed, all that’s left is approving production by clicking the last box on our online check-list.

Now, in my case, Outskirts Press has already completed two steps (assigning my production team and my ISBN) and now needs to complete two more:

  • Accept the manuscript
  • AR Approve production

Since I just submitted my manuscript, Outskirts Press hasn’t reviewed and approved it yet. No surprising. Reviewing a complete manuscript can take a few days and unlike many of our competitors, we review and accept every manuscript we publish.  This prevents your book from appearing alongside other, “questionable” books (which is what happens for authors publishing elsewhere).  Like all self-publishing companies, however, I will be the first to admit that the subjective quality threshold for books we accept is very forgiving. But we draw hard stands on some unacceptable content:  we do not accept books that are pornographic or libelous in nature, or books that obviously infringe upon copyrights (yes, taking content and/or images from the Internet without proper approval is a violation of copyright law; we don’t allow that for your protection).

Once your manuscript is reviewed, you will receive a Publisher’s Evaluation via email. This evaluation by our evaluation team sometimes makes some suggestions for ways you can improve both your manuscript and your publication. In many cases, it may even include a complimentary 1000-word “spec edit” so you can fully appreciate the value of copyediting. In other words, it’s beneficial, and more efficient, if you submit your manuscript earlier in the pre-production process than I did here. By the time you receive the evaluator’s comments, your Author Representative has probably already moved the book into the Production, in which case, you see this message in your Publishing Center:

 It’s time to kick back and relax while Outskirts Press works its magic.  Isn’t that a wonderful and reassuring feeling?