A few years ago I wrote a book, Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How Do They Stay in Business? The book needs to be updated but I now think I know what the last chapter will be: "Outskirts Press goes out of business."
For several years Outskirts had decent positions in the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies in the USA. Four years ago Outskirts plummeted from the 500 into the 5000. The company still touted its dubious achievement, assuming that readers would not notice that FIVE THOUSAND is not the same number as FIVE HUNDRED."
Well, I noticed.
Last year at this time I wrote: "Prior to 2012, Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson (the same guy who confused 'foreword' and 'forward') used his blog to brag in advance about his company's pending Inc. position. This year -- and in 2012 -- Brent had nothing to say in advance of the announcement, a wise move."
Now, in 2014, Brent has nothing to brag about. Strangely -- and ominously -- he stopped blogging last January and had nothing to say until two days ago, with a post that kisses the asses of some of his publishing customers.
- In 2009, Outskirts had a ranking of #268 (part of the top-performing "Inc. 500").
- In 2010, Outskirts dropped out of the 500 and was ranked #1266.
- In 2011, the Outskirts ranking dropped to #3088.
- In 2012, the company ranked #4530, getting perilously close to the bottom of the barrel.
Well, it happened.
Consider the following:
(1) As recently as this morning, Outskirts Press still called itself "the fastest-growing full-service publishing provider." It would be hard to justify that boast -- and Inc. disagrees. [below] Last year and this year Outskirts completely vanished from the Inc. lists of the 500 and 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States.
(11) The Outskirts website continues to tout the success, in 2008 - '09, of author Gang Chen ("Self Publishing Author Earns Over $100,000 in Just Six Months with Outskirts Press") even though Chen left Outskirts to form his own publishing company. Apparently Outskirts has no recent superstar to brag about.
(12) Outskirts is trying to broaden its base by offering "Full-service Christian publishing" in competition with experienced specialists including Xulon, Westbow and Crossbooks. Is this a desperate Hail Mary pass?
(14) Perhaps the most revealing -- Brent wrote: "No company plans to fail . . . Being prepared for that possibility is the responsibility of the executives at every company. That’s why, at Outskirts Press, we have a cash-flush savings account devoted solely for our authors exclusively for this purpose, so that all outstanding royalties would still be paid to them and any remaining authors in the pipeline would receive refunds."
Gravestone photo from www.123rf.com. Thanks