Someone in another forum was asking about self-publishing company Outskirts Press today.Â I had never heard of them, so I decided to check it out.Â This is a company that is an example of everything that is wrong with the self-publishing industry, and why the traditional publishing industry sees self-publishers as hacks.
Seems Outskirts Press has their own internal self-published book award.Â From their website:Â
Outskirts Press officially nominates less than 5% of its titles each year to participate in this prestigious competition. An Outskirts Press official Evvy Nomination is high recognition of a book's excellence in its own right and is the first step toward winning a coveted EVVY Award. EVVY Nominees and Winners may receive any number of the following opportunities and recognition*:
- Borders Bookstore events
- Exposure in national magazines like Writer's Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers magazines
- The CIPA Star honor
- A framed plaque in recognition of your accomplishment
- and more...
Well, you know me.Â I read between the lines.Â Some call it a gift.Â Others consider it a curse.Â But something sat wrong with me.Â Sure, only nominating 5% of their titles sounds as if they have a selection process.Â Believe me, it would be wonderful if there was something to really highlight self-published authors that deserved it.Â But note the odd use of the word "Officially".Â Are there "unofficial" nominations?Â I started to dig, and found out what qualifies for a nomination.
The only books that qualify for nomination are those published under their MOST EXPENSIVE PACKAGE.Â You can only be nominated for their award if you are willing to spend $999 on their highest price package.Â
Way to select books for an award!
Tell you what, give me $500 and I'll nominate you for the Bards and Sages Award.Â Or, not.Â My ethical backbone won't let me sink to such a level.Â
Then start digging around for all the "added features" you get with their packages.Â Like a list of places to submit books for review.Â
Your author's center has a list of addresses under the "Free Resources" section for publications that review books, including The Wall Street Journal, ForeWord Magazine, and others
Nice, except the Wall Street Journal has a standing policy to NOT review self-published books.Â And ForeWord Magazine only reviews self-published books if you pay them several hundred dollars.Â So this is absolutely useless.
Oh, but wait.Â There's MORE!Â Yes, when you sign on with Outskirts Press, you get your very own COACH!Â This brilliant person will share things like:
- How to pitch your book to Oprah (How many self-published books have been pitched on Oprah?Â I'll give you a hint, the number is less than 1)
- How to submit your book to Google's product database (you can do this yourself)
- How to list your book on Amazon alongside a best-seller (You pay $500-$1000 depending on the title you want to be matched with)
- The addresses of independent bookstores nationwide (available for free with a Google search of "independent bookstores"
Or how about this:
Particularly valuable for professional speakers who have published a book (but a catchy promotional hook for others), the Audio Excerpt option provides the opportunity to record your voice on your free webpage. You can read a 3-minute section of your book, or just explain in your own voice what motivated you to write.
Recording your audio excerpt is as easy as calling a toll-free number and talking into a phone. Your audio excerpt is added to your free author's webpage for others to listen to. This marketing option is free with every Diamond package when selected from the Options Menu during pre-publication and just $99 for our Ruby and Pearl packages.
So basically you call a voicemail, record your message, and then upload it on your site.Â Guess what?Â If you already have internet phone service, you can do this yourself FOR FREE.Â Or if you have a microphone on your computer.Â It's easy.
Â Or how about:
If you have published multiple books with Outskirts Press, the back page promotion gives you an opportunity to promote your previous book within the pages of your upcoming one.
The best audience for your previous book is the reader of your current one. Only Outskirts Press offers this promotion opportunity.
You can pay $99, OR you can just add an additional page to your manuscript doing this FOR FREE.Â Every Bards and Sages product has a page that promotes other related books.Â It takes all of two minutes to add.
I could go on, but do I have to?Â
This whole thing is just repulsive.Â Sadly, I'm sure there are hundreds of desperate writers who think the only way they can get published is with scam outfits like this.Â It makes my stomach churn.
Everyone, repeat after me:
Money flows TOWARD the writer, not away.
If you really feel you must self-publish, use a service that does not require hundreds and thousands of dollars up front.Â The typical self-published book doesn't sell more than a 100 copies.Â THAT IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT.Â I don't care what the site tells you, you will NOT make your investment back.Â Even if you somehow sell a 1000 copies, you will probably just break even.Â
You can self-publish with lulu.com for free.Â Now it's a self-service site, so you have to do everything yourself, but if you visit the forums there are plenty of other lulu members happy to swap skills and help.Â Want to get your book listed on Amazon?Â If you live in the U.S., a distro package (including ISBN in your name) is only $50.Â Need to know where you can send review copies?Â Here is a list I personally created, and personally verified that the reviewers will consider POD titles.Â And it's free.Â In short, there is zero reason to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a self-publishing project when there are already cheaper or free resources available.