Sunday, March 7, 2010

Outskirts Press is still stupid (and may be getting stupider)

Despite my constant criticism, inept vanity publisher Outskirts Press continues to distribute poorly written press releases that carry ads for its competitors.

The silly release above, composed with the tired Outskirts template, includes the overused phrases "the author's most recent book to date,"  "deftly constructed,"  "aggressively promoted to appropriate markets," and  "meets consumer demand through both retail and library markets."

Like other Outskirts books, this new one is made out of "paperback cream." That sounds delicious.

And, because Outskirts is too cheap and not smart enough to use a paid-for news-distribution service, this freebie release carries a big banner ad for competitor Tate Publishing, plus smaller Google ads for about 20 other competitors.

A "company overview" link at the top of the page reveals that Outskirts uses "publishing-on-demand technology."

That's a really stupid statement -- especially for a publisher. It takes only about a minute to print a book, so printing can be done on demand. Publishing, on the other hand, is a complex process that can takes months or years. Publishing is not done on demand. When a purchaser clicks "Add to Cart" on the website, the lengthy publishing process does not start anew.

Outskirts also says,"Our cutting-edge digital process allows us to publish a great number of titles each year. This high rate of production increases your chances of getting accepted and published by a high-quality book publisher."

I'm not quite sure what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

  • Maybe Outskirts is saying that they publish almost any book that is submitted -- regardless of quality.
  • Or maybe  they mean that after being published by Outskirts, an author can then be published by a "high-quality book publisher."

The press release headline says that this is McPike's "latest book." Lower down on the page, we learn that it's his first.

This book is HUGE, with 722 pages. It also has a high price for a paperback. How many people will risk $24.95 on a paperback novel from an unknown writer? How many will invest the time to read 722 pages written by an unknown writer?

For $20.47 you can buy a 1047-page scary hardcover written by Stephen King.

Outskirts wants us to know that author McPike "is a college undergraduate, works part time as a paralegal for his father’s law firm, and ... in 1997 he was honored as Ponderosa Lion’s Club Spelling Bee Champion." Spelling proficiency will not motivate me to spend $24.95.

The description on Amazon is poorly written:

  • "For Lieutenant Lewis Snyder he thinks he's served his time in Iraq and retirement is the next thing."
  • "he openly accepts a harrowing call from a general to help out a deceased friend"
Exactly how does someone help a dead person?

Press releases are intended to attract atttention of people in the media (like me), who will help Outskirts to spread the news. Like most press releases, this one includes a link that journalists can use to request additional information.

I had a few questions, and clicked on to send email.

This was the instant response:

"Hello. If you attached your press release and/or marketing plan materials to your email, they have been received. Since your book needs to be published before these marketing services can be completed, their completion date is dependent upon your publication date."

That's an automated email intended for Outskirts authors -- not for people in the media that Outskirts wants to impress. The same improper response has been going out for several months -- at least.

How does this company stay in business? By appealing to writers who know even less than Outskirts' employees do.

Like a pyramid scheme, it can't go on forever.



  1. Just awful-- the banner for Tate just takes the cake.

  2. I'm the author of Final Outcome. I felt I owed it to the reader to get some facts straight on this blog. First off, most of the stuff about OutskirtsPress is probably true, after all no publisher is perfect. The price of my 700 page book has been reduced to $20 and from that I receive 25 cents in royalties, so I'm no profiteer. It was only about making my dream come true by publishing a book which is now Evvy nominated and has recieved rave reviews!