In Alli’s (the Alliance of Independent Authors) book, How to Choose a Self-publishing Service, we rated Outskirts Press, and the review wasn’t flattering. The question is, was it rated low enough?
Do any surfing on the Net and you’re bound to run across one of their ads, something similar to the one below.
Look closely at the ad. Both here, and on their site they claim to be the #1 ranked publisher of 2016. They also claim to have industry-leading royalties, personalized service, and illustration services. Of course they don’t tell you how much those services cost.
My question is, who says they are the number one rated publishing company? Let me see the data. I called and asked Outskirts about the Top Consumer Reviews but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me who it was who rated them so highly. When I searched using Google, most of the articles I found were ones that warned me to steer clear of Outskirts.
I did find one review that was so favorable toward Outskirts that I at first suspected it might have been written by Outskirts. It would take another lengthy blog to tear that review apart, so I’ll just close by citing the last paragraph, which, to me, says it all. By the way, this was the only negative comment on an otherwise more-than-flattering review, so it is safe to presume that it is an honest portrayal of Outskirt’s bad behavior.
Outskirts Press offers support through a toll-free phone number, email, live chat and a FAQs section. However, it requires a nonrefundable downpayment fee for upfront information and consultation, such as detailed information about different packages, which most companies provide free of charge.
I had to read that several times. They want to charge you before they provide information on the packages they offer? I’m now more amazed than ever that anyone has chosen to publish with them. It would be like walking into the corner store and asking how much a gallon of milk costs, and the cashier saying, ‘for a dollar, I’ll tell you.’
Yes, it’s that bad.
If someone chooses to publish with Outskirts after hearing that, then they are idiots and probably deserve whatever treatment they get. I know I shouldn’t say that either, but at times, the truth hurts.
One of the first things you’ll see at Outskirt’s website is the ‘One-Click’ Publishing Package. They have one for non-fiction and one for fiction. We’ll take a look at the fiction.
One-Click for Fiction
One Click Fiction
Normal Price: $5,036
Your Price: $4,779
You Save $257
And after you pick yourself up off the floor upon seeing that price, you’ll notice this.
It may have taken hundreds of thousands of keystrokes and mouse-clicks and many sleepless nights to commit your novel to paper,
Duh What’s the Deal?
This is one of those obvious statements, that at first, don’t appear to be. But look at the facts: the average word consists of five letters and the average novel is about 70–80,000 words. When you do the math, your result is that the average novel requires approximately 350,000–400,000 keystrokes, not counting mouse clicks.
So what’s their point? What’s the big deal about ‘one click’ when they have already acknowledged that you have just clicked hundreds of thousands of times? That statement screams irresponsibility. You are not going to solve your publishing problems with one click, all you’re going to do is create more problems (and debt).
Let’s Look at the Next Statement.
If you have a fiction manuscript and value top-notch customer service, professional editing, custom cover design, and specifically-tailored marketing services for your goals, this is the publishing service for you.
Who wouldn’t value top-notch customer service? Would you rather have piss-poor service?
And how about professional editing? No, I’d prefer one of the English-as-a-second-language students to edit mine.
Custom Cover Design? Enough Said.
And what about specifically-tailored marketing services? First, I’d like to know just what that means. Doesn’t ‘tailored’ imply that it is targeted to a specific part of the market? If so, isn’t saying ‘specifically-tailored’ redundant? And if this presumption is correct, doesn’t it make you worry that the same company that is offering to sell you editing services approved that description?
Let’s look further. According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of tailor is:
to make or change (something) so that it meets a special need or purpose
The primary definition stems from a tailor, who alters clothing to fit each person. In other words, he tailors the clothes to specifically fit an individual, much like a person would tailor a marketing campaign to fit.
The Reason They Said That
The reason the company worded their ad like that is because it is a classic marketing strategy designed to embarrass you into making a decision. It’s the ‘if’ and ‘then’ strategy. First make a statement that is ridiculous, as in, ‘if you like money’, and afterward, make another statement that begins with ‘then’, such as, then you’ll want to try our product. Or some such nonsense.
They are basically implying that if you like (whatever it is they are selling), then the logical choice is to purchase the product. And by logical conclusion, if you don’t buy the product, then you must not like xxx. It’s a strategy that has been used for years, and it works. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t keep using it.
But my theory is to apply the reverse. Ask yourself, if the product is so good, why do they need to market it so much. By reverse logic, you could state that, since they market it so much, the product must not be that good.
As to why they worded the ‘specifically-tailored’ statement that way, I have no idea, but like I said, it does make me wonder about their editing.
Let’s Look at Some More Statements
- self publishing Professional Custom Cover Design
- self publishing* Cover Text Refinement
- self publishing Enhanced Interior Book Design
- self publishing copyediting
I only listed these to make a point, and yes, I am going to make another point. Self publishing should be hyphenated. That’s ordinarily not a big deal. I usually would not even flag that as a problem, but they have it listed about ten times that way. (I listed four of examples above.)
To be sure, I checked with the Chicago Manual of Style and several other style guides. Every one of them insists that self-publishing is to be hyphenated, leaving no room for flexibility. I don’t know what style guide Outskirts uses, but the problem is, if they are using the same editors that they offer up as their experts on copyediting, then the work you submit is going to contain errors. And you don’t want that. That’s why you’re paying an editor. And you’re paying this one dearly.
You all know what I think about copyediting—that no book should be released without it. When I began my publishing venture, I searched for the best copyeditor I could find, and I am more than satisfied. I have a great one. But comparing prices, I pay less than half what Outskirts charges, and my editor throws in some line editing as well. For a 100,000 word novel, I pay about $700. Outskirts charges about $1,600 for the same novel.
While we’re talking about costs, let’s take a look at them.
|Cover||Included [ ^399 if done separately]||199||+199|
|Cover Enhancement and text refinement||Included||0||0|
|ISBN||99||5.75 ||–@ $93 per format|
|Look Inside Amazon||Included||0||0|
|Search Inside Google||Included||0||0|
|Social Media Author Platform Set-up||Included||0||0|
|ISBN per year fee ||25||0||25 or more|
|Total cost||4,779 + 400 (editing) + 198 (2 ISBNs) + 50 (ISBN yearly fees) = 5,427||910.50||4,516.50|
As I calculate it, the cost of publishing with Outskirts Press is about $4,516.50. If you pay that much, let’s look at how much you’d have to sell to break even. In each case, I used Amazon as the retailer, and figured on the typical commissions of 35% for under 2.99 and 70% for 2.99 and above.
|Number of books that have to be sold||13,280||2,150||1,292|
The calculations above are not exact, but they’re damn close. And that’s at 100% commissions/royalties. When you look at that table and see 1,292 books, it might not seem like a lot, but ask around. Not many authors sell that many books (of one title) priced at $5 in one year. Some do, but few.
Now let’s look at what happens if you decide not to go with their ‘One-click Package.’ Suppose you choose the ‘Ultimate Package’ instead. The Ultimate Package only costs $1,499. Or does it?
ServiceOutskirts Personal DifferenceEditing 1,600700 – 900Cover399199- 399Cover Enhancement and text refinement 1990- 199ISBN995.75 –@ $93 per formatBarcode250- 25Copyright990- 99Press Release1990- 199Look Inside Amazon1990- 199Search Inside Google1990- 199Social Media Author Platform Set-up3990–399ISBN per year fee 250- 50Elite Book Bundle8990- 899Total cost5,8400- 5,840And that doesn’t begin to cover it. Lots more is not included in the package. Just for grins, let’s look at a few of their services.
Normal Price: $1,735
Your Price: $1,299
You Save: $436
Save time & money with this popular marketing bundle that includes a custom press release, the public relations publicist campaign, author platform set-up through social media, a 60–90 second book video trailer with social network distribution, and five hours with a personal marketing assistant. If you’ve published with Outskirts Press, the price is discounted even further, so login to your Publishing Center first before ordering.
And then there’s the…
Promotional Materials Bundle
Normal Price: $1,380
Your Price: $1,099
You Save: $281
Save time & money with this popular marketing bundle containing 2,275 custom promotional items featuring YOUR book! This package includes 1000 bookmarks, 500 business cards, 500 postcards, 250 publication announcements, and 25 small posters. If you’ve published with Outskirts Press, the price is discounted even further, so login to your Publishing Center first before ordering.
And, of course, the Elite eBook Bundle (we included this price in the table above.)
Elite eBook Bundle
Normal Price: $1,097
Your Price: $899
You Save: $198
Save time and money by bundling all three of our e-book editions together. This e-book publishing package is one of our most popular, and no wonder! It includes formatting and distribution of an Amazon Kindle E-book Edition with distribution on Amazon, an Apple iPad/iPhone E-book Edition with distribution through iTunes and the iBooks bookstore, and a Barnes & Noble NOOK E-book Edition with distribution through the NOOK bookstore on Barnes & Noble’s website. If you’ve published with Outskirts Press, the price is discounted even further, so login to your Publishing Center first before ordering.
And by all means do not forget the…
The Enhanced Interior Formatting with Author Input solicits design requirements from the author in advance of book formatting.
What does this really mean? It sounds fancy, but what is it?
Let’s analyze it. Enhanced Interior Formatting with Author Input and it solicits design requirements from the author—in advance of book formatting.
Wow! All I can say is wow. As I read this, all I see is that they ask you how you want the inside to look. What fonts, margins, drop caps? If they offer that, etc. But they sure make it sound good.
Professional Custom Cover Design
I’m glad it’s a professional one. I’d hate for it to be an amateur custom cover design.
Cover Text Refinement
A professional copywriter will infuse your submitted headline, synopsis, and author biography text with marketing appeal and compelling zing, to make it sing.
There’s not much I can say to this, other than I’d love to see it.
I looked up Outskirts Press on Amazon. Here are a few of the comments on the books written by authors who were published by Outskirts:
What irked me most was [sic] some of the spelling and grammar errors
the structure, the grammar, the vocabulary is atrocious. The prose is stilted, word choices appear to have been randomly and psychotically plucked from the worst of Roget’s Thesaurus, awkward and frequent tense shifts left me reeling from confusion and irritation. The author appears to lack even a basic understanding of sentence structure
The proofreading errors were very distracting, as well as the choice of vocabulary.
First the formatting for Kindle was terrible – the word Compulsion just randomly showed up in a middle of a sentence, as well as the author’s name.
Secondly the spelling and grammar mistakes were deplorable. The author does know that the past tense of suppose is supposed, right? And the bad use of adverbs was glaringly obvious.
I could go on an on listing horrendous grammar mistakes in books published by Outskirts, but I don’t have space. The point I’m making is simple. If editing is included with their publishing package, who is doing the editing?
I even ran across a book written to warn people about Outskirts. You can find it here.
And to finalize, while researching, I found this:
Found in a [post](If you’ve stumbled upon this postings, you’re more than likely a…) written by Outskirt’s CEO, Brent Sampson, in an attempt to defend them against complaints. Note that in his writing he says, ‘this postings.’ It should have been ‘these postings’ or ‘this posting’ (singular). Following is the quote.
If you’ve stumbled upon this postings, you’re more than likely a victim of Google’s own manipulation
I went on to read the entire article, and he cites Google as the culprit for Outskirts woes. Imagine that?
The bottom line is if you value being overcharged, paying for services that you don’t need, and paying for others that are free, then by all means, sign up. Don’t hesitate. Write a check (if anyone still does that) to Outskirts Press and be on your way.
On the other hand, if you value paying for what you receive, not paying for services that you don’t need, and not paying for services that are free, then find another company to help you publish. It shouldn’t be too difficult. There are reputable firms doing business in the publishing industry (despite what it sometimes seems) and we can help you find them.
This is by no means a comprehensive post, despite its length. I could almost write a book about Outskirts Press and its problems, but like I said, someone has already done that.
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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing. See the complete list here.
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.
- 1,200 is already included in price ↩
- assuming you bought 100 ↩
- this is per ISBN, so one for paperback, one for ebook, and one for hardback ↩
- this is nothing more than putting your book description on the back cover ↩
- assuming you bought 100 ↩
- this is per ISBN, so one for paperback, one for ebook, and one for hardback ↩
- figuring two ↩