Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The Outskirts Press 'best book' contest is not what it seems to be
Outskirts Press is a notoriously sloppy and sleazy pay-to-publish company. The Outskirtsers do so much so badly that they are frequent targets of this blog.
Outskirts knows that most authors -- like most creative people, and probably most people in general -- crave recognition for their efforts. Outskirts Press operates a book award program to provide recognition to authors. However, the program exists to increase business, not to honor great books.
If you want to win an Outskirts "Best Book of the Year" award, you must be one of Outskirts's authors/customers/victims. If your book is published by Vantage, CreateSpace or Simon & Schuster, and it wins a Pulitzer Prize, it is not eligible for an Outskirts Award.
Outskirts says, "The talented author of the best book we publish this year will earn $1,500 plus a lot of bragging rights!"
Like much of what Outskirts says, that's a lie. The award is NOT for the best book that Outskirts publishes. Many (maybe most) Outskirts authors have no chance of winning.
Unless you pay at least $999 for an Outskirts publishing package, your book will not be considered for an award. If you have a limited budget and can afford just $699 to have your book published by Outskirts. . . TOUGH SHIT. No matter how good the book is, you have no chance of winning an award from Outskirts.
And if you do win the top prize, the $1500 is a "credit to your account" -- not real money. The credit can only be used to purchase the often-overpriced or crappy services from Outskirts.
The award is the literary equivalent of the "company store." You may remember the song "Sixteen Tons" made popular by Tennessee Ernie Ford. It's a song about the life of a coal miner who was paid in "scrip" that was valid only in a store owned by the mining company. The miner fears he can't go to heaven when he dies: "Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store."
The Outskirts award is connected to the EVVY Awards: "Every fall we hand-select 2%-5% of our best books for official nomination to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards. Your book must receive an Official Outskirts Press EVVY Nomination from us in the fall, and you must accept the nomination, which includes the EVVY Nomination entry fee, the cost of the judge's copies for your book, and the shipping/handling fee to complete your application on your behalf."
So, even if you've paid $999 or more to publish, and Outskirts thinks your book is award-worthy, you -- not Outskirts -- must pay the cost of entering the EVVY contest. That means that up to 5% of Outskirts Authors will pay Outskirts for copies of their books to be sent to the judges. You can be damn sure that Outskirts makes a profit on each of those books, and every entry generates publicity for Outskirts -- paid for by its authors.
And if that isn't bad enough, the $1500 prize isn't awarded merely for writing the best book that cost at least $999 to publish. The author must also win a popularity contest.
Outskirts wants you to know that: "The ultimate Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award will be determined by the readers of SelfPublishingNews.com blog in an open, public vote. Yes, that means the three finalists hold their own fate in their hands. The Best Book of the Year Award is meant to demonstrate to agents, editors, and publishers that the author has the talent to excel at writing an award winning book and the tenacity to excel at marketing it. Being a finalist means you have the talent. Do you have the marketing tenacity to get the most votes for YOUR book in an open, public vote? Leverage your Twitter and Facebook accounts; email everyone you know and ask them to vote for your book. The voting will determine the most talented writer with the best author platform."
And, of course, everyone you can motivate to vote for you will be exposed to Outskirts advertising. You'll be spamming for Outskirts. That's a good way to lose friends.
You could be the next Shakespeare or Hemingway, but unless you have lots of online followers and friends -- even if they have never read your book -- you are a LOSER.