Thursday, March 19, 2009

More B. S. from Brent Sampson

Brent Sampson is the founder and boss of the pay-to-publish company Outskirts Press. His official bio says, "As an award-winning author, poet, speaker, and artist, Brent Sampson understands the mania of the muse and how to infuse success into every creative endeavor. Brent’s proficiencies with selling, marketing, publishing, and coaching inspired him to to launch Outskirts Press in 2002, one of the fastest growing on-demand publishing companies in America."

In the past I've poked fun at some of the stupid mistakes in his books and on his company's website.

Brent has recently issued the second edition of Self-Publishing Simplified. He apparently realized that I was right and he was wrong about "offset" vs. "off-set" printing. He even followed my advice and changed his foreword into an introduction. In the introduction, he fixed one really stupid error that I pointed out, where he had the wrong name for the author of Roget's Thesaurus.

However, he did not fix the BS about the "headaches" from getting an ISBN and bar code, and "paying thousands of dollars to print thousands of books."

In 2007 Brent distributed a list of "Top 5 Shenanigans of 5 Print-on-Demand Publishers" to point out the failings of his competitors. He mentions such things as phony offers to publish for free, and loss of author's rights. Since Brent does not list his own company's BS-ing, I'm glad to do it for him.

Perhaps his most outrageous fiction is this statement: "The majority of independently self-published authors find it nearly impossible to secure distribution through book wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor."

First of all, unless Brent is capable of large-scale mind-reading, he has no way of knowing the experiences of the majority of any kind of people.

Second -- and more important -- it just isn't true.

If a self-publishing author has books printed on demand by Lightning Source (the leading POD printer for both independents like me and companies like Brent's), there are NO unsold copies for the author to deal with, and it is far from impossible to secure distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

In fact, it's almost impossible NOT to do it, because it happens automatically. All an author has to do is approve a proof for printing, and the rest just happens.

Below you'll see a long list of some of the booksellers offering one of my independently self-pubbed books, I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life.

I was amazed at the number of sellers. It was, of course, important and nice to be offered by Amazon and B&N. I didn't even know that Target sold books but they're trying to sell three of mine now. Target will even accept book returns, but I never have to issue a refund.

I never heard of some of the booksellers.

Some of them -- like -- seem ridiculous.

My book cover proclaims "Dirty Parts Easy To Find," but it has been offered on a children's book website! I was amazed to find three companies that want to RENT my book.

But the most amazing thing is that I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to get any of these 30-plus companies to offer my book.

Brent Sampson has the perfect initials.

As the head of a publishing company, and someone who brags about his proficiency in publishing, Brent has a lot to learn about the publishing business. Of course, maybe he really does know the truth, but doesn't want others to know it. People who do know the truth, may not want to business with him.

Brent's website warns of the “hassles of independent self-publishing, like guessing print-runs, managing inventory, and the responsibility of order fulfillment.”

Well, I’m an independent self-publisher, and the truth is I never ever think about print runs, inventory or order fulfillment. Actually, the biggest hassles I deal with are typos.

Some companies selling my book -- with no effort by me:

Barnes & Noble
Page 1 Book
Better World
A1Books Marketplace
Books A Million
Discount Book Sale
Amazon Canada
Papa Media
Amazon United Kingdom (Germany)
Alibris (UK)
Abebooks (UK)
Amazon (Germany)
Webster (Italy)
Alpha Music (Germany)
Booklooker (German) (Switzerland) (Germany)
Amazon (Japan)
Chegg Rentals
Campus Book Rentals

Brent says independent self-publishers "are left with thousands of unsold copies and without an effective way of getting their books into the hands of readers" and "The independently self published authors I know all have boxes of books in their garage and park their cars on the street."

Apparently Brent knows the wrong people. He certainly doesn't know me.

If for some strange reason you actually trust Brent's knowledge and opinions, he'll be glad to give you personal advice on the phone -- for $250 per hour.

He's also available for hire as a public speaker. He lists "Independent self-publishing vs. print-on-demand. What's the difference?" as one of his topics. I'd love to hear him explain that (but I wouldn't pay to hear it).

I'm an independent self-publisher and I use print-on-demand. They're not incompatible or opposites. Brent's topic is not like asking, "what's the difference between a car and a tomato?" It's more like asking, "what's the difference between a car and an engine?" -- a question that does not have to be asked or answered.

And a personal memo to Brent: Not only were you wrong about "off-set" vs. "offset." You're also wrong about "to whit." The correct phrase is "to wit." And in your bio, the final phrase "one of the fastest growing on-demand publishing companies in America" should come after "Outskirts Press," not after "2002." Also, you should kill the commas between "speaker" and "artist" and between "publishing" and "and coaching." Aren't you supposed to be a wrting coach? And while you're at it, fix the misspelled "imporantly" on your website.

Even publishers need editors. If Brent used one of the Outskirts editors, either the editor is unsuited to the job, or is afraid to correct the boss. Maybe both.


  1. Thanks for another great posting, Michael.

    BS-er Brent should offer you a huge salary to be his editor, and to keep you from pointing out that the emperor has no clothes on.

    Sock it to him!

  2. What an idiot!

    Sampson should fire himself.

  3. Well, that was some posting. As in REALLY good! I won't be using that company for anything but a bad example.

  4. I hope that idiot is dumb enough to sue you.


    The publicity will kill his business, and he deserves it.

    You did a lot of work researching today's blog, and it's appreciated.