Mark Twain (left) said that 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli warned that "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
When I was in high school, I read How to Lie With Statistics -- first published in 1954 and still available.
The folks at Outskirts Press -- the inept and sleazy self-publishing company that I love to hate -- are skilled at lying with statistics. They deliberately and deceptively use statistics to make potential author customers think the company is better than it really is.
Last summer, Outskirts issued a self-congratulatory press release:
Denver, CO, August 24, 2010 --(PR.com)-- Outskirts Press, an Inc. 500 company in 2009 and the fastest-growing full-service self-publishing and book marketing company, was recognized once again by Inc. Magazine in 2010 in its annual "Fast 5000" list of the nation's fastest-growing private businesses.
Unless you read closely, you might not notice the additional zero in the 2010 recognition. Pathetic Outskirts has dropped out of the Inc FIVE HUNDRED and now is one of the Inc FIVE THOUSAND.
And, of course, Outskirts continues to lie about the award with its claim to be "the fastest-growing full-service self-publishing and book marketing company."
- That description comes from Outskirts -- not from Inc or any other independent source. The competitors of Outskirts do not tell Outskirts about their business.
- The ranking from Inc applies only to private companies.
- The ranking from Inc applies only to companies that asked to be ranked. Outskirts may have more successful competitors that did not ask to be ranked by Inc.
- Blurb is another self-publishing company on the Inc list. Blurb is several years younger than Outskirts, but Inc says it has nearly 10 times the sales of Outskirts, and is ranked 1219 positions higher than Outskirts.
- According to Inc, Outskirts had three-year growth of 234% but Blurb grew 4829%.
- (Just to head off any complaints, I'll point out that the companies are not completely competitive. Blurb concentrates on books for personal use or to be sold from Blurb's website, not from independent booksellers' sites. But since that is what some writers get from Outskirts, the similarities are significant enough to mean that Outskirts should not ignore Blurb in its bragging.)