Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Perpetually behind-the-times Outskirts Press still touts former author

Gang Chen (now Gary Chen) is a very smart guy, skilled architect and successful author/publisher/educator who previously paid to have some books published by inept and dishonest Outskirts Press. 

Gary became the Outskirts 'poster child,' featured in online promotions because of his unusually high earnings.

As far back as 2009, on this blog, I pointed out that Gary 'left a lot of money on the table' by using Outskirts. I like to think that I am at least partly responsible for Gary's leaving Outskirts and forming his own publishing company. 

In a comment on the blog post, author/publisher Christy Pinheiro wrote, "I keep hoping that this author will pull his books from Outskirts and try self-publishing for real. His books are almost exactly like the ones published by my own company -- highly specialized, very small niche audience, high price point.  He could be making double with CreateSpace and triple with LightningSource."

In 2009, very soon after Outskirts distributed the press release about him and the first time I blogged about him, Gary became a member of the Yahoo group that deals with print on demand publishing. At first he asked questions and now he provides excellent answers.

Gary's own company, ArchiteG, has republished several books that were first published by Outskirts -- and published many new books. Now Gary can be a symbol of publishing success achieved by not using Outskirts Press.

Despite Gary's rebellion, ethically deficient Outskirts Press is still displaying an undated and stale press release touting Gary's earnings. The release says that Outskirts "today announced that one of its authors has earned over $100,000 in author royalties in six short months." [Unless each of those "short months" were Februaries, the months were probably the normal length.]

Actually, the "today" mentioned in the press release shown on the Outskirts website was May 12, 2009 -- more than 40 months ago. Here's the original release.

Sadly, it quotes Gary saying: "I'm in the process of publishing my next book in the LEED Exam Guide series through Outskirts Press, along with a book on architecture, so I hope to break this record soon. After contacting hundreds of traditional publishers for his first book Planting Design Illustrated, Chen finally landed a deal with one major publisher, only to discover that he was dissatisfied with the substantial revisions they were suggesting. He promptly cancelled the traditional publishing contract and decided to publish the book himself. He compared various publishing options and chose Outskirts Press. 'Their services do not end after the book is published,' Chen stated. 'They continue to provide excellent marketing advice, as well.'

Is it dishonest for Outskirts to point to the success of an author who is no longer a customer? I certainly think so. Honesty means absolutely nothing to Outskirts Press. 

Outskirts boss and head bullshitter Brent Sampson wrote, "The majority of independently self-published authors find it nearly impossible to secure distribution through book wholesalers..." It was very possible for Gary Chen.

Brent's website warns about the “hassles of independent self-publishing, like guessing print-runs, managing inventory, and the responsibility of order fulfillment.” Gary's books are printed on demand, so he has none of those hassles.

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." I doubt Gary Chen has thousands of unsold books that can't reach potential readers, or that he can't park in his garage.

Two lessons:
  1. Stay away from Outskirts Press.
  2. Be cautious about making endorsements. Even if you change your mind, your original words will stay online.


  1. I for one believe your article Mr. Marcus about how Mr. Chen left money on the table, taking a loss by going with Outskirts, factored in his decision to leave Outskirts. Your article provided facts to prove Mr. Chen lost money, and a lot of it. I read your article when it first came out and I still recall it. Because Outskirts is STILL using Mr. Chen it shows what an anomaly Mr. Chen was and if potential customers/writers believe the same can happen to them at Outskirts then they are meant to be suckered. I was surprised to know that Outskirts is still using Mr. Chen because if anything his circumstances at Outskirts is history and by using him it proves how rare Mr. Chen is, and how far back Outskirts must go to say something good about themselves. I doubt very much if Mr. Chen has been paid a penny by Outskirts as they continue to use him in their ads, so years later they are still making money off of him. Perhaps his next book should be about being a customer of Outskirts and you can write the foreword? If he cannot stop Outskirts from using him to make money, and years from now I bet they will still be using him, then writing a book would be befitting. I would buy it.

  2. Outskirts Press has no morals and no shame. Michael tells the truth.

  3. Susan, I agree. Outskirts lack of shame is almost morbid.