Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New gymnastic event? Outskirts Press book reviewer kisses her own ass

Sally Shields loves a book about Sally Shields.

In the past I've complained about mutual ass-kissing in the publishing business, where authors write complimentary blurbs for each other.

I've also complained about a book that uses a blurb from an executive at its publishing company, and contains glowing reviews for authors who supplied blurbs.

And I criticized an author whose Amazon page includes a review from her editor.

But just when I thought I'd seen the lowest depth of literary corruption hell, I discovered something from even farther down. Not surprisingly, it involves dishonest and inept Outskirts Press.

Outskirts published the Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors (with no identified author). Its subtitle is: "How They Beat the Self-Publishing Odds, and How You Can, Too (and How to Publish a Book and Excel at Book Marketing)."

The skimpy 100-page book with the absurdly long subtitle sells for $9.95.  An e-book version is priced at $5. The book is intended to help Outskirts sell publishing contracts to more writers. 

Depending on your outlook on such things, the title is either an homage to -- or a ripoff of -- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a self-help book by Stephen R. Covey.

The Outskirts book has a five star review on from Sally Shields.

Sally says, "This book is really inspiring for anyone that has a book in their heart! Although getting published may seem like an insurmountable obstacle at the beginning, this book profiles 5 people who overcame any objections and created a book and followed their dreams! Learn what these 5 authors did - all in their own styles, to get their messages out into the world. You will laugh and cry reading about how both having a passion for your topic and a sincere desire to help others can propel one towards your own dream of authorship. This book is a reminder that we can all do it - by simply doing the little seemingly insignificant things each day that can eventually bloom into a pond that is filled with beautiful water-lilies - that will eventually be your book, and more importantly, your message to the world, and even, your legacy! "

There are three problems with the review:
  1. Sally's writing sucks. Based on this abysmal sample, it is no surprise that her book was published by Outskirts, a pay-to-publish company with NO LITERARY STANDARDS. Sally wrote, " The biggest hurtle [sic] is not writing a book." For Sally, the biggest hurdle may be learning to write properly.
  2. Sally-the-reviewer is one of the five people profiled in the book she is trying to convince us to buy! She even "contributed to" the section about herself in the book.
  3. Sally was too stupid to use a fake name in her review so people would not realize that she was kissing her own ass.
Sally wants people to buy her home-study course: "Sally's Publicity Secrets Revealed." It appears that one of Sally's special secrets is to write positive reviews about books that tell about how wonderful she is.

Both the title and the cover design of the Outskirts book were copied from the Covey book. Some lawyers should be very busy.


UPDATE: Ronnie Lee, one of the other Outskirts authors included in the book,  wrote an Amazon five-star review for a book he wrote. Is there a pattern here? Is the Outskirts sleaze infectious?

(Ass kiss photo from Thanks) 


  1. OMG. LOL. WOW. And that was my response from just reading the title of this blog. In order to be published by Outskirts, other than the money to pay them, and pay dearly, a writer also must have no pride.

  2. I read this post, and I thought that book sounded familiar. I wrote a review of it in my blog nearly two years ago:

    I didn't mention anything about the title though. Maybe they were hoping to get some "accidental discoveries" by using such a similar title?

  3. You judge a book by it's cover although you didn't discuss the subject matter much. You seem very upset, but I don't think this book, the publishing company, or it's author should be at the receiving end of that anger. People are trying to make a living and at least nobody is peddling right-wing bs or phony religious self-loathing. Anyways, nice talking to you.

  4. The cover was stolen. The review is dishonest. The author is corrupt. The publisher is reprehensible, for many reasons. People should not try to make a living by peddling crap and cheating to promote the crap.