Here’s What You Chose as Outskirts Press’ Top Marketing Options

Every month or so, Outskirts Press takes a close look at sales numbers to see what services our self-publishing authors need at any given time. The Top 10 Book Marketing Options list gives us an excellent overview of effective, in-demand marketing and promotional approaches during the most recent survey period, and sharing it with you may give you marketing ideas you may not have thought of.

This time around, with book awards and book fairs occurring predominantly in the spring and summer, it makes sense that Outskirts Press submission services were popular with independent authors in the most recent accounting. The latest Top 10 options are listed below, in order of sales numbers.

BookExpo Book Fair

BookExpo Book Fair: BookExpo is the largest book industry event in the United States with more than 2,000 credentialed members of the media in attendance. This marketing option provides authors with an expert to advocate on their behalf at the fair.

Publisher's Weekly

Publishers Weekly Co-op Advertising: This option helps authors reach more than 80,000 booksellers, publishers, public and academic librarians, wholesalers, distributors, agents and writers in addition to more than 360,000 unique monthly website visitors with a color ad in one of the most trusted and respected industry publications.

Amazon Kindle Submission Service

Amazon Kindle Submission Service: Makes books available on Amazon’s Kindle ebook reading device. More formats on Amazon means more exposure on Amazon, and the Kindle is heavily promoted by Amazon.

Elite E-Book Package

Elite Ebook Package: Get Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and Barnes & Noble NOOK ebook editions in one discounted ebook publishing bundle.

EVVY Awards

EVVY Awards Submission (Nomination Required): Nomination to the annual EVVY Awards means much-needed publicity for self-publishing authors. Each year, Outskirts Press nominates a small percentage (typically just 2 to 5 percent) of books published to the EVVY Awards. A nomination is a prerequisite for the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. Eligibility is determined by Outskirts Press executives and members of the production teams.

Custom Tee Shirt

Custom Tee Shirt: Authors can customize a high-quality, pre-shrunk tee (front and back) with their book cover.

2018 Marketing Calendar

Author’s Marketing Calendar: The calendar is a compilation of effective promotion tactics, important book competition dates in 2018, social media tips and other advice self-published authors need for a successful year of selling.

Amazon Search Inside the Book

Amazon Search Inside the Book: Amazon itself has stated that books participating in this program are significantly more successful, on average, than books that do not participate.

Google Books Preview Program Submission

Google Books Preview Program Submission: An inexpensive and effective way to get a book in front of millions of readers quickly and easily.

EVVY Awards Submission

American Library Association (ALA) Book Fair Submission: The ALA annual conference attracts librarians from all levels of management from across the country. It serves as a place to network and as a forum to exchange ideas on the multitude of issues affecting libraries. This marketing option provides authors with an expert to advocate on their behalf at the fair.

We would like to thank the many authors who have trusted us to assist them in marketing their way toward successful books — and we’d love to help you, too!

Summer Series — Marketing Your Book on Amazon Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Part One of a three-part summer series focusing on successfully and efficiently marketing your book on Amazon. Part one will discuss writing reviews for other products and books and explain why it is an important part of book marketing. Part two will discuss soliciting reviews for your book and how to do it properly. Part three will explain why reviews (both giving and receiving) can “tilt” Amazon search algorithm in your favor and how you can tilt it further by taking other simple steps.

Part One: Writing Reviews on Amazon

Writing reviews for other books and products is an important step for your own book marketing efforts. Now only does it allow you to put your name and book title in front of thousands of new people every day, but every review you write is linked to your customer profile (so if you haven’t taken advantage of your customer profile to market your book, do that now at: www.amazon.com/gp/pdp ).

You may be tempted to write a review of your own book. That is not a good idea since Amazon and its community frown upon such tactics. Instead, find books and products that you are familiar with and write reviews for them. If these books and products appeal to your target reader, all the better.

Here are the steps to writing an effective review:

Step 1: Find the book or product you are reviewing on Amazon and go to its sales page. Again, try to pick books or products that will appeal to your reader. After all, the whole point is for them to read your review and notice your book title.

Step 2: Scroll down the Amazon page to the section that says “Customer Reviews” and you will see a button that says “Write a customer review.” Click on that button.

Step 3: If you are not signed-in to your Amazon account, you will need to sign in to your account to write a review. If you do not have an Amazon account, you will need to create one. It is imperative for your book promotion that you have an Amazon account to write reviews and participate in the other promotional tactics we will share with you. But who doesn’t have an Amazon account in this day and age?

Side Note: In order to create an account that is “qualified” to write reviews, you need to have purchased something on Amazon. This is Amazon’s way of preventing review-fraud by ensuring that each review is written by a unique, real person. You’ve most certainly purchased something on Amazon already, but if you haven’t, here’s what you should buy: A copy of your book. You should do this anyway; a book needs at least one Amazon sale to trigger an ABR (Amazon bestseller rank), which is required for Amazon’s search algorithm to kick-in.

Step 4: Once you have an active Amazon account, you can write your review for the book or product you’ve selected (NOT your book). It should be at least 5-10 sentences long and it should end with your author name and a link to your book. That gives your review credibility, in addition to valuable exposure, because you are also a published author. And would Amazon have a function that so easily allows you to create a link to your book if they didn’t want you to use it? Of course not.

Step 5: Before you wrap up your review, don’t forget to use the “Insert Product Link” button. This allows you to add a link to YOUR book in the body of your review. In an alternate browser window, find your book and cut and paste the URL into the field that presents itself after clicking that “Insert Product Link” button. Amazon will use that internet address to find your product, and it will show up for you to confirm. Therefore, your review will end with “Your name, author of such & such” and the best news is, your book title will be clickable!

Write as many reviews for as many books and products as you can. The more reviews you write, the more instances your Profile Link is exposed for others to click on and the more links to your book are in your reviews. It is therefore in your best interest to review books that are related to your subject matter or topic (since customers browsing those reviews will be interested in your book, too).

Stay tuned for Part Two where we discuss the art of acquiring reviews for your own book…

Tell Your Story Vividly Through Custom Book Illustrations

Book illustrations aren’t child’s play. Book Illustrations boost any literary work – not just children’s books – and Outskirts Press helps you get them affordably.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it makes sense for authors in today’s visually centered world to use them to tell their compelling stories. The benefits and uses of book illustrations are many but keep these five points in mind when considering your needs:

  1. Creative art stimulates imaginations. Particularly in young readers, colorful or fanciful art fires up the imagination in ways that the printed word cannot. With an image planted in their minds (by an illustrator and directed by the author), children can easily see the story play out in their mind’s eye. These early experiences with books serve to bridge the gap between non-reading toddlers to proficient readers. But lest one assumes book illustrations are a juvenile author’s game, here are other ways they prove valuable.
  2. They serve as book cover art. Inarguably, the most important illustration an author will choose is the first one – the art on their book cover. While photography is perfectly acceptable for a cover, sometimes it’s not a realistic option. (Think supernatural fiction, fantasy, paleontology or other topics for which an artist’s rendering is valuable.) In an illustrator’s talented hands, the dragon on that Medieval thriller will look like it’s breathing real fire.
  3. Illustrations give readers valuable information within the content, too. Whether demonstrating instructions, providing historical reference or bringing life to a complex character, illustrations perform a vital role in literature. This is equally true in works of fiction as it is in reference, cookbooks, children’s literature and history books. In fact, there is no situation that doesn’t benefit from visual art.
  4. They are surprisingly affordable. Anyone who has ever hired a professional photographer knows it can be an expensive proposition. Believe it or not, photographers often spend more time setting up lights, coordinating models (when necessary), snapping a variety of shots and editing their photos than an illustrator does in their renderings. It all pays off in the superior quality and high resolution of their photos but comes at a cost. So, it is worth considering illustrations from a talented artist who can deliver very specific images for a reasonable price.
  5. Pictures sell. While most authors aren’t necessarily thinking about marketing when they select book illustrations, they certainly can come in handy for this purpose. A press release, sales sheet or query letter accompanied by a vivid depiction of the story is eye-catching and gives buyers and media outlets additional options for publication.

Outskirts Press offers self-publishing authors many ways to acquire the illustrations they need to bring their words to life, from single images to illustration packages. To enliven your book with professional illustrations, simply add the Custom Illustrations of your choice to your cart. Outskirts Press will walk you through the rest.

Call an Outskirts Press Publishing Consultant at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS), or chat with us using the live chat option on our website for help getting the Custom Illustrations that are perfect for you.

Ready in a Flash (Sale) — $500 Off One-Click Publishing

We’ve heard (and said) it often: Writing the book is the easy part. It’s all the stuff that happens to get a book published and distributed for sale that drives a self-publishing author to distraction. If only he could wave a magic wand …

You can! Well, sort of … With options for authors in almost every genre, the completely turnkey One-Click Publishing packages include everything an author needs to polish and format a manuscript, send it to print, promote, and start selling, all instantly set in action at the moment of purchase. And today only, Outskirts Press is making $500 disappear from the package price! That’s $500 OFF any One-Click Publishing Package. Bravo!

These full-service packages come preloaded with everything necessary to make your publishing dreams come true at an exceptional value. All you need to do is click the mouse and voila — you’re on your way to becoming a published author.

Available genre-specific One-Click Packages include:

These packages feature dozens of benefits, all geared specifically to an author’s chosen book genre: professional copy editing, interior formatting, custom cover design, personal marketing assistance and one-on-one author support from publishing professionals with experience working in your genre, as well as free book copies for marketing, and more.

While our Ultimate and Full-Color packages can be enhanced with additional service purchase options for marketing and promotion, One-Click Publishing is truly all-inclusive. They are the only publishing bundles that automatically also include coveted marketing options such as Author Platform Set-up Through Social Media, Google Books Preview, Book Video Trailer, Amazon Author Profile, Amazon Listing Enhancement and much more.

By purchasing a One-Click option, you get peace of mind knowing that you are getting the publishing and marketing options that are essential for the genre you have chosen. To take advantage of this limited time offer, use promo code OneClick-500 for $500 off One-Click Publishing.

For more information about self-publishing with Outskirts Press, get in touch with your Publishing Consultant. There are three convenient ways to connect:

  1. Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
  2. Live-chat with us via our website
  3. Go online to schedule an appointment

Feeling Stuck? Launch a New Story With These Three Prompts

Perhaps you’re feeling a bit stuck this week, and the blank page is threatening to overwhelm you with its possibilities and its difficulties. Or perhaps you’re simply in between writing projects right now, and looking for inspiration. Whatever your reasons, you may be in need of a prompt … or three! And you’re not alone: in all of our years working alongside self-publishing authors, one of the most common questions we hear is simply: “What else can I try?” We’re here today in the hope that we can help spark your creativity, improve your writing, and perhaps even help you finish writing your next manuscript this summer!

To that end, we have come up with three writing prompts we think are particularly useful.

ONE: Invent a character.

Each story is anchored by its characters. Start with mentally picturing just one, one person or entity (depending on your taste in genre) who leaps easily into the canvas of your imagination–and describe what you see. Maybe this character has a memorable face, or peculiar taste in clothes, or an old injury. Not every detail may be important later, but you never know, so get it all down. Think of this character like a pin on a map, and that map is your guide forward into a larger work (if you want it to be). Now invent a second character. Then, consider the following questions: Who matters to these characters? What do they mean to each other? What are their dreams? What motivates them? What do they regret, or fear? How do they see themselves? What foods might they like? What kind of a home might they live in? What locations on that map might be important to them? What do they spend money on … or not? Do they adhere to a faith, or an artistic practice, or an academic discipline? Who else might have claims upon their time, or their hearts?

Not every question is going to have an answer, or an answer that will prove fruitful for further writing. But consider them all, and write down whichever answers help you understand these characters you’ve created. Now you have the first necessary ingredient of a story!

TWO: Place a scene.

Shakespeare is famous for writing scenic shorthand. Remember the beginning of Romeo and Juliet? “Two households, both alike in dignity, / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” We may not all aspire to Shakespearean style and affectations, but we can learn a lot from a master like him, and the first thing to learn is that every good story begins with a scene, and it doesn’t take much to set a powerful scene. Romeo and Juliet, for example, opens with only three full sentences made up of fourteen lines of prose, all of which takes less than a minute to read aloud.

You might think of scene-setting as some monolithic venture which requires you to picture and describe every detail before the plot can move forward, but this isn’t how scenes work at all! There’s always room for a touch of lyrical description if your setting is particularly scenic, but that’s just window-dressing. Scenes are functions of plot, and microcosms in which your characters interact. The only necessary details are the ones which matter to your characters, and you’ve already mapped out what those details might be in the previous prompt.

Give yourself three to five sentences, right now, to frame your characters’ first interaction. Where are they? What time of day is it? Is it cold, or hot? What other elements of the setting will affect how these characters interact? Don’t try to envision the whole thing, not yet, not unless you fall in love with the place and want to file away a full description for later. It doesn’t need to be fancy, as Shakespeare proves, it just needs to provide a canvas upon which your characters move.

THREE: Kill your darlings.

Okay, so maybe you don’t need to literally kill any of your darlings. The expression is an old one, and it has its source in an old piece of advice sometimes given to aspiring writers. Faulkner said it, and so did Oscar Wilde, Eudora Welty, G.K. Chesterton, Chekov, and Stephen King … and surely at least one of these people is on to something. The idea is this: if some element of your book, a character or a passage or a place, is just unkillably perfect to you, a writer, it’s probably holding you back from writing an entire book of equal quality because you’re so hung up on its perfection. But in the interest of giving you a writing prompt which you can tackle in an afternoon, we advocate for killing your darlings for a purely mercenary, functional purpose: it will provide you with plot, and stakes. No story can work without stakes, and so often we forget to develop those stakes until we’re already halfway through a book. But in an ideal world, and in an afternoon’s writing session, those stakes have to be there from the beginning. So take your characters, or take your scene, and figure out who or what is at risk. Now, pick up your pen … or sit down at your keyboard … and kill your darling. Kill your darling with flair and rich description. Kill your darling with perfunctory simplicity. And then let whoever or whatever is left deal with the aftermath, on the page, in full sentences.

Now you have your first chapter, and it only took you three short writing prompts to get there! And if you don’t like it? Well, there’s plenty of time tomorrow to start over, and to start small, with a new character.

Will you try or have you already tried one of these prompts? We’d love to hear about your successes and to cheer you on. Look us up on social media and let us know how you do! You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, or you can visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant as well as call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish that manuscript you’re working on and get it ready for publication!

Marketing Your Travel Book in Five Simple Steps

If you’ve spent much time reading the literature of travel, you’ll already know that there are many handy quotes about the process. St. Augustine, for example, is credited with saying that “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” If you’ve recently self-published a book on travel, clearly, you’ve seen more than one page of that book … but what about your readers? How do you ensure that they move from the shelf to the checkout line with your book in hand? How do you ensure that your book meets the readers it needs out there in the world?

We have a few ideas to get you started, exactly five of them in fact. Take advantage of them all and you’ll put your travel book, so to speak, on the map.

ONE: Consider the “Who?” Who are your readers, really? Are they travelers like you, in that they actually move through the physical world and are looking for templates to follow? Or are they what publishers used to call “armchair travelers,” those readers who much preferred to live vicariously through others than to conduct the trips (and endure their hardships) themselves? This being 2018, the conversation about ableism is now well-developed, and we now know that many readers pick up travel books to empower them, and to enable them to experience the world in a way that maybe they couldn’t otherwise. So, with your readers in mind, share content that gets them excited about travel, such as quality social media content, engaging lists and articles; also provide content that helps your readers plan, including itineraries and how-to videos; and lastly, provide content which will help them take an action, such as booking a trip, making a reservation, or accessing their local wildernesses.

TWO: Consider the “What?” As in, what’s your niche? Travel books happen to occupy a difficult niche, as do many other genres, in that they’re read heavily but only by very specific audiences, and sales numbers only occasionally make them blockbuster successes. (Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is a great example of an exception, however.) What this means for self-published authors is that you need to find people who are already interested in your book’s subject, even if they read in different quantities than they might in other genres. Once you find these people, they are an easy sell. And in the age of information, finding them is easier than previous generations could even dream about. Look for those Facebook groups dedicated to travel and ask if anyone is interested in reviewing your travelogue. Hop on Reddit and start a conversation about the destinations you cover. Use your niche to your advantage!

THREE: Consider the “When?” When it comes to travel, the time of year really matters. Take care to highlight seasons in your marketing, especially on visually-driven platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook: fall colors, winter activities, and seasonal foods go over really well in framing your marketing strategies! Also highlight local holidays, and ways for your readers to celebrate, which festivities to attend, and so forth, and tackle other timely elements that can become the focal point for effective marketing content. Extra content to include on your blog, social media, or website might include a local events guide or seasonal restaurant menus.

FOUR: Consider the “Where?” As with the time of year, your destination really, and truly makes a difference in your marketing strategy! In your marketing materials, make sure to explore destination-specific highlights such as exclusive events and local sights. Take care to showcase the local food and beverage scene, as mentioned earlier, including restaurant recommendations, wine tastings, and foodie-favorite festivals. And lastly, intentionally acquaint your readers with little-known travel tips such as where to find off-the-beaten paths and materials which will enable them to replicate your favorite experiences.

FIVE: Consider the “Why?” Why do your readers read? Why do you write? And most importantly, why do we travel? Remember, the art of a travel book is evoking the feeling of expansion, of exploration, in those who have not had the liberty or means or luck to travel the way that you have. In a sense, this puts a burden of responsibility on you. What can you say and do in your marketing to embrace those readers of limited mobility, who are perhaps constrained by money or by their own bodies and prevented from conducting a trip like yours? You have the ability–and the opportunity–to bring the book of this grand world of ours to your readers and help them flip through a few of its pages. If there’s a more beautiful idea, we haven’t heard it yet.

As Henry Miller put it, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” What better way of helping make the world a better place than by making it possible for your readers to see our beautiful planet through fresh eyes? We hope you’ll take the time to invest in your book’s marketing success now that it exists in this beautiful world of ours.

Still not sure where to start in marketing your book this month? There’s never a better time than now to inquire. Log into your Publishing Center to view all of the marketing services that Outskirts Press offers.

To see our staff picks of amazing travel books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Go Wild, Then Write About It — Then Publish That Travel Book

Not every traveler is a storyteller, but every storyteller takes readers on a trip, whether it’s down memory lane or far afield, in far-flung places which may or may not be on their respective bucket lists. Writes J.E. Leigh, we all of us crave the feeling of being special, of reaching beyond our boundaries to seize on something grand and greater than ourselves, whether for a fleeting moment or the length of a book. Says Leigh, “This simple yearning is in us all, hardly recognizable, often only the merest hint that there is something more to us. This is why we seek out new places … we want to remember a somewhere that gave us the space to expand ourselves, to become a little more of who we truly are.” And rather than revealing the smallness of our stay-at-home lives, reading a travel book is often where we are most ourselves, our boundaries most vulnerable to being smashed. We remake our lives in reliving the travels of others, and we do so without breaking the bank.

But how does one write a good travel book? And how does one write a good travel book in the digital age, when one not only has other writers but bloggers, Instagrammers, and vloggers as competition? We propose that there are three simple keys to a successful travel book which will set you apart.

ONE: Figure out what holds your experiences together. When you’re traveling, often it’s enough simply to be on the move; everything feels like it holds together and makes sense together simply because it’s happening in sequence and to you. But when you sit down to write your book, whether you’re drawing on memory or your travel journals or your Instagram account, you’ll quickly realize that the story doesn’t fit perfectly together afterward … unless of course there’s some singular and deeply traumatic or life-changing event which takes place while abroad. The recent spate of tsunami and natural disaster memoirs falls into this category, but most people don’t live through tsunamis, and people want to read all sorts of travel narratives, including ones without that sort of defining event. So how do you keep all the various fiddly bits from flying to pieces? You figure out a narrative architecture, just as you would with fiction! Who are your characters, and what are we meant to learn about them? Will you keep your book linear in time and place or will you let themes and life lessons be your chapter anchors? Diagram your various ideas and pick the one that feels right to you … and the most together. The architecture matters, and travel books which adhere to a linear timeline aren’t the only ones worth reading.

TWO: Craft the perfect name. After all, you’re self-publishing, and no one else gets to tell you what to name your book! And consider all the great titles to all of the equally great travel-related books you’ve read recently. Cheryl Strayed’s Wild comes to mind–short and sweet–but so too does Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country, less short but no less evocative. There’s Stephan Braxton’s An American Nomad, which tells you everything you need to know, and Kay Peterson’s Chasing Rainbows, which raises images of light-drenched asphalt and lush hillsides rushing by, doesn’t it? A good title is more than just a sales point later on; it’s the anchor for your book, and central to how you conceive of your experience. Don’t wait to come up with a title. The moment you find your title is the moment you find the heart of your travel narrative.

THREE: Be authentic. You’ve heard it before, elsewhere, and often. But it can never be said too often that the most reliable key to success as a travel writer is to be true to yourself, and to your experience, and to your own voice. What do you have that an Instagram picture doesn’t? You have nuance. And what about the blogger? You have time and many, many more blank pages to unfold the nuances of your experience without the forced completion of the short post. Vloggers, too, rely on brief and to-the-point videos to highlight the visual impact of a place, but you get all of the beautiful intricacies of narrative, and characterization, and atmosphere … all without the pixilation of a cell phone camera getting in the way. These other forms of travel records are wonderful in and of themselves, and once you’re published they make for fantastic marketing tools, but whoever said a picture was worth a thousand words was not living in the digital age, saturated with millions of pictures of Pisa and millions more of the Great Barrier Reef, The Hague, the National Mall, and the Ozark Mountains. Now, the weight of proof has become a burden, and no picture can make you feel what a powerfully atmospheric sentence can. Be authentic and bring your readers into your experience with all the power that words can muster!

Travel often brings out the best, or the worst, or at the very least the most interesting parts of us. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to further hone your craft and bring the world to your readers in new and fresh ways! Still not sure what you need to get started publishing your next travel book? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

To see our staff picks of amazing travel-themed books from many of our published authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.