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Outskirts Press Review

Most people who self-publish will likely look into the big self-publishers first: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Lulu.  The thinking may be that it is hard enough to get readers for a self-published novel – going with a major self-publisher will make it more likely that you’ll find prospective readers within that publisher’s community.

This is not necessarily true.  Just because you’re on Lulu’s site, which gets more traffic than a smaller self-publisher, does not necessarily mean that you’re going to find more takers for your book.  While the Lulu community does offer feedback and review requests between Lulu authors, there is no greater guarantee that someone is going to buy your book whether you’re on Lulu or published by a more-obscure self-publishing house.

Outskirts Press isn’t necessarily obscure, but it’s certainly not as well known as some of the bigger self-publishing outfits.  But Outskirts Press offers complete self-publishing services for a lower price than competing publishers: including book design, distribution, and marketing.

Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond, and Pearl Publishing

Outskirts Press has tiered levels of publishing packages, starting with Emerald, at $199 up to Pearl, which costs $1099 and offers one the most advanced self-publishing packages by any self-publisher.

The Emerald package includes a choice of two cover designs, the ability to set the price, and free author copies.  However, this level does not include retail distribution, so the best recommendation is to start with Outskirt Press’s Sapphire Program, which includes more cover-design options, as well as distribution through Ingram Book Group, meaning your book will be on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all online merchants.

The Ruby package includes a custom cover design for $299: competitive among independent designers.  A faster option is to choose between a number of pre-made templates, with a choice of 10,000 stock images or your own image.  Distribution channels include Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Books in Print.

The Diamond package is the same as the Ruby package, with more advanced cover design, free press release distribution, and a Library of Congress number so the book can be easily listed in libraries (a major point for sales and difficult with other self-publishing packages.  Finally the Pearl package is for those with advanced layout needs: such as cookbooks and children’s books with intense illustrations.  Pearl includes intensive interior layout, as well as book cover design, in addition to the abovementioned features.

Outskirts Press Cover Design and Marketing

What separates Outskirts Press from other self-publishers is the quality of the book cover design and the press’s marketing packages.  Because it is less widely-known than other self-publishers, their pre-made templates are less widely-used.  Even so, these templates look much more professional out of the box than templates offered by Lulu or Xlibris.  Because you can add your own image and change the color of the template, a book can stand out significantly from another book using the same template.  The likelihood that someone will recognize your template as belonging to another book is fairly small.

Outskirts Press also offers marketing consultation, help getting radio spots, press release distribution, finding book reviews, and other promotional features once your book is released.  All told Outskirts Press is full-featured and affordable when compared to better-known self-publishers.

About Henry Baum

Avatar of Henry Baum
Author of three self-published novels and one traditionally published (Soft Skull Press, Canongate, and Hachette Littératures). Recipient of Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival, the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction, and the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Los Angeles. He's the founder of SPR.

43 comments

  1. Oh I am so glad I have found your site! It’s great to find so many resources in one place – the prospect of self-publishing is so daunting!

    I am based in the UK, and I see that the publisher reviews (very helpful) are of companies in the US. Do you plan to review UK ones soon? Do you have any advice for a UK self-publisher who may have to use a US service? One thing in particular that puts me of is the prospect of shipping if the books are printed in the US, in terms of delay and cost.

    Thanks again for the site, I will be here often over the coming year!

  2. Avatar of admin

    Emma, thanks for checking in. The site will definitely get to U.K. publishers – the aim is to review everything, eventually. I believe you came from Darryl Sloan’s blog: he’s based in Ireland and prints directly through Lightning Source, so that’s an option. Are you talking of fulfilling your own orders – because through a print on demand outlet, they’ll fulfill printing and shipping and can be listed on Amazon.com as easily as Amazon.co.uk. That goes for Lulu or Outskirts or anything. But if you need a crate of books to send to reviewers/book buyers than any of the self-publishers that print through Lightning Source should be fine, as L.S. has a U.K. facility. Hope that helps.

  3. That does help, thank you, I didn’t realise that they could help with fulfillment too. I have a lot of decisions to make, but right now the priority is getting the final edit done so that I can get that off to the proof reader and have as close an idea to word count to be able to do some costings. There are lots of options out there it seems, I’m trying hard not to be overwhelmed by them!

  4. My friend published through them and loves it. His book looks pretty good.

  5. Be forewarned folks. I am in the middle of getting a book published by Outskirts Press and it is a horrible experience. Their customer service is truly the worst. They have deep systemic issues and nickle and dime you to death- and I bought the highest priced package they have!! They deliberately do not publish any names other than your ‘author rep’ so that you have no recourse trying to call someone in management. Even their phone number ensures you cannot access anyone. I have noted 26 major failings so far including
    -gross failure to communicate. They only send email and do not respond to phone calls nor will they ever call you. Adds a terrible time delay and burdensome communication style when problems or issues arise.
    -the person who is your rep has no authority. Everyone associated with the actual work does it behind a barrier with him/her in the middle. No one does anything directly, it is all sent out. Like having to tell one person, who then tells another, who then passes it along- by the time you get something back it is a mess.
    -could not solve simple problems. Wanted some simple black and white photos included in a ‘how-to’ book. They kept rejecting what I sent with little guidance as to how to solve the problem. After I sent a 1200 dpi copy, they still could not agree to use it but could not provide what they needed other than to continuously send their ‘submission guidelines’ several times. (written for techies, too). Several other publishing companies offered solutions but not Outskirts Press. They had no clue and could not have the simple courtesy of calling to try and solve the problem. Time lost? 8 weeks.
    -you pay for an item, say 10 photos, and submit 6. But then you try to submit more photos and they say you must buy another 10- you cannot use the leftovers. This is not written anywhere either.

    Can you sense my frustration? I could go on but let this be a warning. Their website, which is full of copy errors(!!!) looks pretty but the place is only good if you personally enjoy being totally frustrated- many times over.

    PS. they are consummately polite. My author rep always maintained her politeness but I have recorded lots of apologies to date with little or no real progress with the associated problems.

    Mark

    • I would like to share what seems to be a similar experience I’m having with a different independent publishing company, but at this point would prefer to it thu emailing. They are starting a publicity campaign for me, which I paid for, so I’d rather not mention any names yet. If you’re interested, I’ve left my email and would love to hear from you. Just know you’re not alone! When I think of the money that I’ll probably never see again, it makes me a bit nausous.

      Debbie

      • I have dealt w/Outskirts Press the last 4+ months. They are every bit as bad as everyone says, and far worse. They are just plain rip off crooks. Nothing gets done unless you pay big bucks for it, and that may include breathing! I do the work and pay them for the privilege. They charge you $199 for a copywrite submission. It is free if you download the form and mail it yourself. I can go on and on. I will never use them again and recommend to anyone interested that they go elsewhere for a publisher.

  6. Mary-Beth Walton

    Please anyone considering using Outskirts Press (outskirtspress.com) do NOT listen to this person whining on about how bad they are – I have had the complete opposite experience with them. I have no photos for my fiction book, but I did design the cover – they were amazingly helpful, and yes, I did only contact them through email, but ALWAYS received a reply within a couple of hours on a business day. I chose the Diamond package and everything went amazingly well – my book should arrive shortly and the proofs looked great. I highly recommend Outskirts, but I would also advise you NEED to be willing to do a lot of work yourself, I spent days and days coming up with the right cover, and even more time getting the right blurb for the back etc. I knew what I wanted and I made sure I had my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed before I started messing things around. Self publishing is not for the faint hearted, you HAVE to be willing to put a ton of time into this thing IF you want to really succeed – check out one of Outskirts authors Gang Chen – hugely successful – go to Amazon and do an advanced search and put in the published Outskirts Press and see all the books come up – you will be pleasantly surprised!

  7. Outskirts Press is incompetent when publishing and promoting books, and both incompetent and untruthful when promoting itself. My new book, “Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy” details the company’s falsehoods and failures, and can help authors avoid expensive disappointment. The book is informative, frightening and funny and will be useful to authors who contemplate paying to be published by any company.

    http://www.prlog.org/10598299-new-book-exposes-inept-and-dishonest-vanity-publisher-outskirts-press.html

    ALSO: Gang Chen could have made much more money or made the same amount with a lower book price, if he published his own book instead of using Outskirts. Outskirts was a terrible choice for him — and for others.

    http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/with-outskirts-press-lot-of-money-is.html

  8. same experience as mark – and then some! HORRIBLE! these people do not know the meaning of customer service. no response to phone calls, emails returned days later, nickle & dimed…NEVER AGAIN!

  9. I am more than pleased with the way that Outskirts Press has answered all my questions. As new author, I was thrilled with the front and back covers.I am ready to send another manuscript. Author of Rupert, The Sturdy Oak Tree

  10. Avatar of dave willert

    I am in the process of publishing my second novel with Outskirts Press. The first one was published last winter and I was very pleased with the final product. I get tired of hearing how Outskirts Press is a Vanity Press. My book is selling on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and in at least one bookstore that I know of just the same as a book published by a big publisher. I don’t have the time or the stomach anymore to hinge all my hopes of publishing my books on the agents and the publishing companies they pander to. I decided to do it myself, and Outskirts Press was there to help. Everyone sends their work out these days and uses email. Why pick on Outskirts Press for that? And I have called them and talked to them on the phone. Their phone number is right there on their website. It is too bad if some people have a tough time self publishing, but isn’t that what it is? SELF PUBLISHING? I expect to publish two more books in my DIMENSIONS series with Outskirts over the next two years. I think Outskirts is what it is, and I for one am thankful for the opportunity and help they give me to publish my books. My money has been well spent.

  11. >>Why pick on Outskirts Press for that?<<

    I pick on Outskirts because they do terrible work, are unresponsive, and lie a lot.

    I wrote "Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy" about Outskirts.

    In the past two weeks I have called Outskirts four times to get info I needed for a book about using self-publishing companies. They have a lovely-sounding automated attendant system which connects to voicemail–but I did not want to wait for a call-back.

    According to Inc Magazine, OS has THREE employees, and they seeem to be both unqualified and overworked.

    I would not trust OS to print toilet paper.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    – "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don't be a Victim of a Vanity Press," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742
    – "Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company: Make a better deal. Make a better book," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661777
    – "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

  12. I have heard great things about Outskirts Press, but I am having a terrible time! I purchased the Diamond package, submitted everything right away, and they accepted my manuscript. It is now two weeks later and they have not approved production yet! They called me after an email I sent, saying my Author Rep is out of town! I have no idea when this person is getting back so here I sit, waiting for them to start on my book! Very unhappy and will NEVER go through them again. Trafford published my book in a month and Outskirts Press is jerking me around! NOT HAPPY!!!

  13. Update – Outskirts called me tonight. My Author Rep apologized and explained that she was out of town, and that my book should start production by the weekend. I hope this is right! We will see!!

  14. So far, Outskirts Press has been moving along nicely! I got 2 choices of a cover!! Both were good, but I picked the best one with only one change. So far, so good!!

  15. A month later and I just corrected my proof last week. If I hear from them soon about the proofing being complete, I will be finalizing the book. I have written a 2nd novel while waiting, but still not sure who to have publish this one. Trafford is excellent with speed, but Outskirts is more reasonably priced. Still waiting……

  16. Update – Sudden Moves is now going to print from Outskirts Press! I finalized my edits on my proof just now!

  17. My book is now published! I am happy with Outskirts Press as they have done a much better job than my first publisher, Trafford. I am now moving into the marketing phase and hope to push the book even further through their marketing options. I have been in constant contact with one representative through this whole process with prompt responses from her. Very excited!

  18. Avatar of Keryl Raist

    Hi Kelli,

    I’m glad your novel is doing well. But, just to give you heads up, you can do better for less money and less time. Check out CreateSpace.com. You won’t get Barnes and Noble sales, but it also won’t cost you anything at all to set up your book. I’ve got Outskirts Press books and CreateSpace books at home, and I can’t see a difference in the quality levels. You don’t have to pay a fee to maintain your ISBN number. You don’t have to pay a fee to store your books. You don’t have to pay to upload your own cover. You don’t have to pay for Amazon sales or for Kindle sales. At the very least it’s worth your time to go look at it.

    It cost me $39.00 to get on their pro-plan (maximum distribution, pretty much everything Outskirts offers minus B&N). That was it. (I did have to buy my proof copy and any additional copies of my books, at 6.03 each.) I had my book live in ten days. Not ten days after the proofing copy got back, ten days from starting the project to having it up for sale on Amazon.

    Good luck with your second novel.

  19. Thank you for the information! I have already sent in my second novel, but am planning on starting a third! I will definitely look into this!

  20. Keryl,
    I just published my short story collection (Short Tales) on Createspace! I did it myself using Adobe and formatted the book in pdf – can’t believe I did this! I didn’t have to pay the $39, which is a shock! Thanks so much for telling me about this! I have a copy on the way for review – 6.99 on Amazon (when available). I am spreading the word!

  21. I have just finished my book and I’m interested in your publishing packages. Can you advise me which one I should chose? I mean the one with the best retail distribution. Thanks

    • Avatar of Keryl Raist

      Neville,

      Comparison shop before you settle on Outskirts. I’m not going to say they’re a scam or bad at what they do, because I don’t think that’s true. I think they are vastly overpriced for the services they offer. They may have the perfect package for you. But, if you’ve got any technical savy on your own, you can get your book published and distributed for less.

      Before you sign with Outskirts, check out CreateSpace.com, Lulu.com, and Lightningsource.com.

      Good luck with your book,

      Keryl

    • Neville,
      If you are looking for the best distribution, you HAVE TO OWN THE ISBN, have a RETURN POLICY, and give a 40-55% wholsale margin. Otherwise you WILL NOT get your book into the big book stores unless you have a serious contact. You might get it into small bookstores, and indie bookstores, but not the chains and you will work very very very hard for a few copies per store. The B&N chains are buckling down and are only taking books physically inspected by their buyer in NYC and she expects your books to be returnable.

      What does this mean? It means if they bought 100 books, and only sell 10, you have to have prearranged with your publisher to accept the 90 returns, and credit the sellers account. Unfortunately, most “self-publishing” companies don’t do that. Outskirts charges $499 for you to have a return policy for each format ($499 for hardback & $499 for paperback). Createspace does not offer returns at all.

      Another other thing is, because the company you choose is the publisher, they will have control of many aspects of your book including pricing. You might think you have control because you set the price…but ONLY after they set the minimum starting point which will eventually elevate the price of your book above a reasonable and sellable price. That’s why so many Createspace/I Universe/ etc published books are $15 $20 for a 200-300 paperback. REDICULOUS! Sure family & friends will pay it but not your casual reader who buys $7 and $10 paperbacks all day long. And with the rise of the Kindle/Nook/Etc. Books are selling for 99¢ and $2.99 and these are the ones on the Amazon TOP 100…Dont believe me check it out (Amazon Kindle Store).

      The only printer that will give you full return-policy options and wholesale margin options is Lightening Source.You will be the publisher and own your ISBN). Look into it, but don’t expect anyone from createspace to tell you the truth (they dont like to talk about their “NON” distribution.

      The cheapest way to create a print book which is only good for local bookstores, family and friends, and reviewers, is to publish with createspace. Easy. Cheap. Fast. But You will have to work…hard (interior formating, cover art, editing..EDITING…EDITING…biggest reader complaint about self-published authors). No doubt about it.

      REMEMBER, if you want this to be your book and to not be over charged for every service you have to OWN your ISBN. Period. This is why self-publishing and indie publishing are two different things. A true indie owns his own publishing co. and farms out the work himself. When you pay to play…you are at the publisher’s mercy. It’s no wonder there are so many unhappy “self-publishers”. They thought they were in control. They’re not.

      Last point. When most of you self-publishers discover that unless you have all day to peddle your print books and hand sell every one, you will not sell more than 200 books…500 at best (the average author sells less than 300 books). Then when you discover that you have to pay Outskirts $100 to get your book in the Kindle store (where actual book sales occur) you will be so spitting mad because you’ll learn that you could’ve done it for free, payed less for a “professional” format ( Amazon’s .mobi & B&N’s .ePub format), you can come tell me about it at The Writing Bomb – my blog. I’ve been through this multiple times. I know what I’m doing. And I hate to see you folks pay for the experience of earning your self-publisher stripes, but alas, it is inevitable.

      Best of luck. Long live the dying print book.
      Jeff Bennington
      Author of REUNION, the Amazon Bestselling Ghost Story (5 months straight).
      Creator of The Kindle Book Review & The Writing Bomb

      • Hello Jeff,
        Thank you so much for all the wonderful information and great advice on owning your own ISBN #. If I go through Outskirts, are you saying I won’t own my ISBN #? Could I obtain an ISBN # on my own, before going to Outskirts? Thank you

  22. Avatar of Keryl Raist

    Hey Kelli,

    Glad it’s working out for you. Congrats on your new book. I wish you much success with it.

    Keryl

  23. Outskirts did great with marketing my book – their marketing packages can be pricey, but cheaper than other publishers. They also send me emails daily with tips on marketing it myself (links to websites included). I just now got a podcast interview scheduled for March from one of these emails. Good luck with your book!

  24. So far, I have been trying to get a decent proof copy of my book for months! They sent me the “Proof Revision” ($100 extra) so I could edit directly rather than using their cumbersome editing form – but the formatting was all screwed up with dozens of different fonts, random underlining, etc. It was horrible. 4 rounds and $150 later, and they still don’t have it fixed. They keep posting a manuscript without complete correction of the formatting problems, charging me $50 bucks a pop every time they post it, and them making me pay to tell them again about the formatting changes I already told them about. No one could look at these revisions and not see glaring, ugly formatting errors – I think they have inexperienced, overworked book editors. They may have been good in the past, but today, they are having significant problems

  25. I paid 35$ to them to set the ball rolling. They never called me when they said they would. The did call me a couple times when I was not home. Now they have just stopped talking to me. I got nothing for my 35$. I planned on paying 800 for the editing and 1200 for the diamond package. Guess I’m lucky I did not make it that far….

  26. I currently have 2 books published with Outskirts Press. I checked them out thoroughly before using them. Believe me, none of these companies are perfect. I found that the elaborate Outskirts corporate offices consist of a small PO Box in a UPS Store in Parker, CO. However, the owner Brent Sampson conveniently lives just a couple miles down the road. I like to know who I am dealing with, and where to find them in the event that things go wrong and become legally entangling.

    My first book sold quite well(thousands of copies and a frequent #1 bestseller rating in several Amazon categories) and the second one has done reasonably well also. I have been paid regularly every 3 months without fail and amazingly enough, their accounting appears to be accurate. In reality, this is all that matters to me. It is also in fact, the ONLY positive comment, I have for Outskirts Press. PERIOD!!!

    Many of the negative items written in this column here are dead on accurate. I have experienced nearly all of them repeatedly, and so will not repeat them. Over the last several years, I have made many, many, many phone calls to Outskirts Press to get problems resolved. The voice mail says, they will call you right back. They NEVER call you back! NEVER!! EVER!! JERKS!!

    On my first book, my author rep(Lora) was so INCREDIBLY INCOMPETENT, that I told them I had to have a different one for the second book. She was a nightmare and like having your teeth pulled out with a vice grips. To my surprise, after they had my Diamond package money a second time, there she appeared again. “OH NO, THIS CAN”T HAPPEN AGAIN!!!” I experienced the identical problems that came about because of her involvement in the first book. This time they were even worse. Much worse!!

    I did both of my covers, because I had to use my own photos and I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. It was extremely simple and yet this author rep(Lora) managed to turn every stinking little detail into a disaster. A moron is a moron is a moron! She absolutely could not understand the simplest things and as a result, I was absolutely disgusted with her involvement and the way things turned out.

    I could write an entire novel on the many, many, many things, that are wrong with Outskirts Press, but I won’t. I have even left messages for Brent Sampson on his home phone(It is in fact available if you look. Amazing!). He also NEVER bothers to return a call. JERK!!!

    No matter what POD company you choose, YOU ALONE ARE RESPONSIBLE for promoting your work. No publisher(even the legitimate ones) will ever do that without being paid in some form. I did quite a bit to promote my first book and it paid off nicely. I did virtually nothing with the second book, due to my absolute disgust with the publishing process, my vacuous dolt of an author rep, and the end result caused by Outskirts Press. Both my books have more than paid for the expensive Outskirts Publishing process, and yet there is not even a remote possibility EVER, that I would recommend them to ANYONE! The chances are small, that YOUR book will sell very many copies unless YOU can figure out what it takes to move it. Unless you really know what you are doing, go the less expensive route. YOUR WORK will still look good published and sitting on YOUR shelf. If you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters. Best of luck to you aspiring authors. See ya.

    • Good comment about Outskirts. You have definitely enlightened me and I won’t go with them. Enticing website they have, but thanks for post as it allowed me to see behind the scenes.
      Do you have any other suggestions for better Self-publishing houses?

      Sincerely
      Laurens Maas

      • Even though I am now in my 7th year of publication with Outskirts (and I am amazingly still getting paid without fail every 3 months), they have pretty much killed my enthusiasm going forward with future projects. Just the remote possibility of facing a repeat of this process(and the endless nightmare of author rep Lora) with ANY other POD company is enough to annihilate my creative writing process. No suggestions.
        Good luck!

        • I have published a book with OutskirtsPress in Sept 2012. I have noticed they dont keep true records of our book sales. They have showed no book sales for a certain time period. I know this to be wrong as I was present when some people have ordered my book, more than one person and more than one book. I waited the amount of time they say it takes to get their information from the companies who sell our book, such as, amazon, barnes&noble, etc. I have contacted them and made them aware of the problem and they asked me to buy a book sales search for $25.00. I was outraged over that request. Their book keeping is inaccurate and they want me to pay for a search.
          Does anyone know who does the actual printing of the book when books are ordered? Is it OutskirtsPress?

  27. Avatar of Jim

    The folks at Outskirts Press need to work on being a LOT more communicative with their paid customers than they are right now. For a company that is in the communications business, this company has to be the worst I have ever dealt with when it comes to timely communication with their customers. Returning your phone calls? Forget it it’s not going to happen with this company.

  28. Unfortunately, I read these comments too late – already got their Diamond package and now sitting and waiting: no phone calls returned, no emails answered. I am on my own. I just want to request a refund of my money and go to Create Space. My book is in non-English language, and Outskirts assured me they publish books in many languages, but – so far they did NOTHING for me… very disappointed…

  29. Like the people above, I am mired in the world of Outskirts Press. I have been patient, battled with them, send emails, phoned, but nothing works. My book is somewhere being formatted by someone who is nameless.
    My dilemma, is what now. Getting my money back is hopeless as Visa has told me. Do I pull out and try Authorhouse?

  30. My only problem with CreateSpace… when I bought their Expanded Distribution, the minimum price for my book became $14.78, which is ridiculously expensive for a YA sci-fi novel and makes me almost nothing in royalties. I need another publisher with similar distribution where I can actually price my novel competitively. Any thoughts? Thanks.

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