Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Outskirts Press editing is like "no editing at all."
An Outskirts victim speaks

From Michael: I have frequently preached about the necessity of paying for professional editing of self-published and pay-to-publish books.

Unfortunately, there is no licensing exam or certification process required before someone is allowed to use the "editor" label. People tend to trust the editorial staffs at publishers, and may end up paying a lot of money for inferior editing which can severely damage a book that has been lovingly labored over for years.

Outskirts Press -- the vanity press I love to hate -- apparently has some terrible editors. Even a book written by Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson is filled with stupid errors that no legitimate editor would have ignored.

What follows is a slightly modified email from an Outskirts author/customer/victim. This author paid $999 for the most expensive "Diamond" publishing package, plus extra-cost options including nearly $1,000 for "professional" editing.

I wish I would have read your blog before I published my first novel with Outskirts. I have had some scathing reviews due to the errors that were left in my book after I paid a small fortune for editing with the Outskirts editing team.

I was so excited when my book was first released, but after a few family members pointed out the mistakes left behind, I can't describe the restraint it took for me not to explode.

I tried to reason with my so-called marketing representative, but she simply hid behind the "fine print" they give you after they receive payment from you. It would have cost me another small fortune to revise the book, and I am still in debt from publishing it in the first place. The marketing representative simply would not assume any responsibility for mistakes that Outskirts made.

Outskirts made me feel paranoid about not getting their editing service, but when I did it was as if I had no editing at all. The only consolation that I have, is that I have a few fans that were willing to give me a chance as a new author. They loved my book.

I'm sure other writers would hate to be scammed out of their money for a service as unreliable as Outskirts' editing. I purchased the editing service for peace of mind, not to hold my breath each time a review comes out, only to be criticized for editing I paid for but did not receive.

From Michael: Outskirts seems to use the worst editors, but even the best editors are not perfect. I've seen some really stupid stuff in books published by major publishing companies. Sometimes an editor will create a mistake while trying to eliminate another.

If a reader finds errors, the reader will blame the author, not the editor. The author will ultimately suffer for all of the words associated with her or his name. Even after a professional and expensive editing, it's important for the author to read the book a few times, and to have it read by some amateur volunteers before approving it for printing.

This points out another advantage of being a "real" self-publisher instead of using a company like Outskirts Press. I published a book in October. Despite extensive checking and professional editing, I've found about six typos, and there are a few things I want to change because some conditions have changed. The total cost for me to make the changes, including getting a proof shipped for next-day delivery from my printer (Lightning Source) is just $30.



  1. This is really scary. Thanks for the warning.

  2. Thank you!

    I am going to seriously reconsider my plan to publish with Outskirts.

    The company is very visible online and in magazines like Writer's Digest, and receives undeserved credibility by sponsoring the magazine's annual writing contest.


  3. keep this great information up Michael, I'm a big fan of it.

  4. Michael, thanks for once again "outing" the outrageous vanity press business. You are also correct in cautioning people to check over the work they are paying so much money for. The book has the author's name on it, and the author is ultimately responsible for whatever is in it.

    I wouldn't feel too bad about your errors. I just had a client who worked with a professional editor (who did a great job) but was in a rush to get his books out. I kept asking if he would like to get a real proofreader to go over the book before printing, but the author and editor checked it and went with what they had. A week later, after hiring a proofreader, I got a dense 2 page set of lots of corrections that everyone had missed. Moral: it pays to check, and if you're not a proofreader, you will miss stuff.

  5. Great advice, as usual.

    I work with a great editor. But I find that I introduce errors all the time during the final formatting stages-- deleting periods by mistake and other dumb things. It sucks.

    Today, CreateSpace rejected my file for something stupid; but I was glad; I found one missing period by chance.

  6. I, like many, am not a fan of Outskirts, and Mr. Marcus may never know how many grateful people he has saved from using Outskirts press. With that said some of the blame belongs on vanity writers who actually believe their writing skills are so superior editing is not required. It is morbidly interesting to watch a vanity writer who really does not know how to do an edit of their own work, which is part of the reason they have no idea what they are not getting when someone who really does not care does the editing, does their editing. Its not that these writers do not know any better. Their ego is a rabid dog. In proof reading and editing mistakes can and will slip by, but a person who reads can tell the difference between errors missed, and a novel with a glossed over or no edit at all. Still, it’s a mistake to pay Outskirts to edit.

  7. It is never the client's fault when their work becomes the victim of poor editing. If a company or individual is not capable of providing at least adequate editing services, he or she quite frankly should not even be in this industry.

    I have seen it all. I once referred a dear friend to an editor who did an absolutely horrendous job. I was forced to turn around and edit the 400 page book free of charge to make up for her spending money on an editing job that was essentially no editing job.

    I had seen other work that the editor I recommended had done. I knew she had the expertise to do it, but apparently she did not value the job---or any future jobs that I would have sent her.

    All of OP's editors are not bad. There are some talented editors on their team. It depends on who you get though. My advice is that you ask to see examples of your editor’s work before he or she begins work on your project.

  8. Do not pay for outskirt press to do your editing, do it on your own if you choose to publish with outskirts press. They did a poor job with little or no editing for me and I paid to have it redone on my own before completing the publishing process.

  9. Outskirts press should be able to tell if the editor did a poor job and refund your money at the least.

  10. I used Outskirts Press. I have a book printed there. I used their editor. Afterwards I found just over 100 errors. Even after all that I get ripped in reviews because of the poor editing. I paid a small fortune and for what? Spell check?

    If that wasn't bad enough, I am credited for only selling 4 paper back books in November. But I know my new found friend, Ron bought 5 paper back books in the same order. Hmm? I keep asking Outskirts about this and get dismal replies.

    The Attorney General is my next call.