Outskirts Press is based out of Parker, Colorado and is a very typical player at the "less expensive" end of the self-publishing industry. Outskirts Press publishing packages range from $199 to $999. Are they really less expensive though?
Outskirts Press: No
Dog Ear: YES
Outskirts Press: $6.37
Dog Ear: $4.28
Outskirts Press: $1.44
Dog Ear: $3.49
Outskirts Press: $2,033
Dog Ear: $1,527
As we take a look at the self-publishing company Outskirts Press, we are asking the question "Are all self-publishing companies the same?"
Self-publishing companies are only the same in the fact that we all use almost the exact same technologies to print books. Each company has a unique approach to the market, and a distinct personality.
To see what we believe is important in choosing a company to self-publish your book, click here.
Now we'll get more in-depth with Outskirts Press.
The specs are pretty typical of the books produced in the trade category by all self publishing companies. Information and self publishing costs are derived from the Outskirts Press web site and contract.
We've revised some data about Outskirts Press – and removed older information that was well outdated. We continue to review the Outskirts Press contract. Outskirts Press is a very typical player at the less expensive end of the self-publishing industry. Outskirts Press publishing packages range from $199 to $999.
For $199 though, you don't get an ISBN or any distribution (which means your book cannot be on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). You can only have a 5.5X8.5 book, choice of 2 cover designs (in a variety of colors) and 2 interior designs per cover type (no custom work).
Options of course increase as you spend more money ($399, $699 and $999). In our opinion, the $999 package has the greatest number of features and really offers the most complete control, but so as to not overprice Outskirts Press services (creating an unfair comparison for their services), we will use the $699 Ruby package. It is also the most similar in features and services (though you still need to choose a cover from their template library) to the other packages offered in the industry and by Dog Ear Publishing.
Outskirts Press is based out of Parker, Colorado. Outskirts Press allows you to set your own profit and has a very nice profit calculator. Outskirts Press allows you to choose the price you will charge for your book. The $699 publishing package (Ruby) allows for 16 cover designs – it appears that you need to take their interior design. The 16 cover designs look very nice – and it's a much broader range than any other competitor we've compared. Outskirts Press offers all of the standard trim sizes available.
Total Expenditure - Outskirts Press: $2,033
(OVER $500 MORE EXPENSIVE THAN DOG EAR)
Additional monies required: $99 to file a copyright, $3 per image for any art. Other service fees: $499 for a returns program (very standard in the industry, but Dog Ear happens to charge $300 less for the returns service).
Dog Ear provides a unique design for both the cover and interior for every book. The design is custom (literally from the ground up) for each and every book –no 'templates' are ever used. Dog Ear provides a Design Sample using your manuscript and allows you complete freedom to revise what our team has built. No other publishing services company provides this service FREE OF CHARGE –only Dog Ear. Every one of our books is designed and built by professionals with long histories and lots of experience from the traditional publishing industry. Your book is being built the same staff that created books for Harper Collins, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Penguin and many others of the world’s most successful publishers.
Outskirts Press charges a significant amount more than Dog Ear to print author copies, as noted above. I also question why the the 'print cost' or 'author discount' changes based upon the package you purchase or the retail price you charge. In my opinion, your cost to buy your own books should be independent of the level of publishing services you choose (the cost to print them certainly doesn't change).
Outskirts Press will require a 'minimum' retail price for your book. The book in our example would require AT LEAST a $12.95 retail price to be broadly available in the market at a 40% wholesale discount. Is $12.95 a reasonable retail price for a 150 page paperback? Not sure, but it's probably close, so we'll use it for our comparison. The next important item is author profit from sales. We'll look at that next.
It's author profit that is the true weakness of the Outskirts Press publishing programs. At Dog Ear Publishing, when you purchase your own books, they are over $2 LESS EXPENSIVE per unit, with that money left in your pocket. (comparison made to the Ruby package)
Your author profit when selling to distribution partners (e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, etc.) is over $2 MORE per sale with Dog Ear – even when using Outskirt’s 25% discount level and retail price.
Imagine what these numbers do to your profit over the life of your book.
Another interesting note –why does Outskirts Press pay authors different amounts for their sales based upon the package they purchase (see their profit calculator to understand what we mean)? In our opinion, your profit on your book sales should be independent of the level of publishing services you choose (the cost to print them certainly doesn't change).
The Outskirts Press contract is very strong –apparently revised to reflect a more author-friendly position than the previous edition. We only see a single item or two that gives pause:
You DON'T OWN the output files until you've cancelled your contract. We believe that you hire a self-publishing firm as a contractor. We perform services for you, and you have paid us for that service. You should have full rights to everything we produce (you wouldn't let your plumber tell you you don't own the sink he installed, right?). But, that's NOT the case with many self-publishing companies, including Outskirts Press. Note this clause in their contract:
"e. Upon termination, publisher will cease all distribution of Title and will cancel the digital files of Title from its direct distributors and all rights granted within this Agreement revert back to Author, including but not limited to the book block, front cover, back cover, spine, and digital files developed by Publisher."
The above clause is far better than in most other contracts. With Outskirts you CAN get you printer files (that isn't the case, as noted, with most other self-publishers). But…you need to wait until the contract is cancelled. What if you want to seek out other (better) book printing prices, but don't want to have your book taken out of distribution? This wording (not allowing you to have your files prior to cancellation) is designed to keep you from searching out more economical print resources.
Another note of concern – again from the Outskirts Press contract – is who decides on what your book looks like:
"c. Unless otherwise supplied by author, publisher will design the book block, front cover, back cover, and spine, and will prepare the digital files necessary to publish, distribute and print the Author’s manuscript in book form as set forth herein."
Again, this is much better than the previous version of the contract, but we still think if you pay someone to do something for you, you should have control over what your book will look like...
Conclusion – if you don't intend to sell anything other than just a few copies of your book (and not through distribution or retail stores) then Outskirts Press has the best plan available on the market. There are other competitors who offer options at the $199 level, but none that will give you the speed and flexibility that Outskirts Pressoffers. If your book is something that you think you may sell at least 100 copies of, and you want it available in both Retail and Wholesale accounts, then make sure you take into account the items listed above.
You've got to watch corrections... Remember that it costs money each time your publisher has to go back into your file and change something. This is standard for every self-publishing outfit around. But, you should be able to resubmit your manuscript to them just before it goes into "layout" or “pre-layout formatting”. Also make sure that you don't get charged for making corrections that were THE PUBLISHER'S FAULT in the first place (called Production Errors). This is unfortunately a common practice amongst less trustworthy self-publishing outfits.
Only targeted marketing sells books. Expensive ads work for Grisham and Clancy, but the rest of us have to think "Targeted".
REVIEWS sell books, not ads, unless again your last name happens to be Grisham or Clancy. Bookstores buy based upon marketing dollars thrown at them. Keep targeted! Work book signings and readings! Targeted Search Marketing sells books.