Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ye Gods! You Want How Much? Self Publishing with Outskirt Press

So, as a concientious blogger, I decided investigating the sites that advertise on my blog is a good idea.  The first on the list of self publishers I decided to check out was Outskirts Press (outskirtspress.com).  They often have a nice, large ad at the bottom of my posts.

Here's my first impression:  Run Away!  Run away fast.  Do not look back.

You know how in horror movies you get a hint that something bad is going to happen as a way to build tension, like the flash of light off the menacing blade or the creepy soundtrack ramps up?  Well, because of the contract with Google, I can't click on the ads on my on blog.  So I googled Outskirts Press.  As I was typing the letters in, Google showed me the second most popular search, Outskirts Press Complaints.  (For comparison purposes Smashwords doesn't turn up anything bad, Lulu.com Scam is the second term, and CreateSpace Scam is the fourth search term on Google.)

I checked the complaints out.  Alas, I really couldn't tell if they were just authors who didn't read the instructions carefully enough and were unhappy about a mess they got themselves into or were genuinely bilked.  Until I got to the Outskirts Press page, I was leaning in the 'author didn't read the fine print' direction.  Because, honestly, a lot of complaints tend to be people who are upset at a company that did exactly what they said they were going to do, in the fine print.

Then I actually visited Outskirts Press.  Maybe it was serendipity.  Maybe God was guiding my hands in an effort to show me the light.  Either way, the first thing I clicked on was the Marketing Solutions tab.  And what is at the top of that?  Amazon Extreme Marketing at the bargain price of $299.  Wow, let's see what you get for that $299.  Look Inside (where Amazon lets viewers see the inside of your book), a Kindle edition of your book, and ten tags.  Okay folks, we've been over this, you can do all of this for free, for yourself, in less than ten minutes.  This service would have been overpriced at $29.00 and probably just about right at about $15.00.  But, hey, if you just want a Kindle edition of your book or just want the Look Inside feature, they'll be happy to charge you $135 (each) to set that up as well.  Here, let me make any of you who find this idea even remotely tempting an offer: send me a note and I'll do it for half that price. 

Okay, so as my eyes bled with disgust at the exorbitant price gouging on Amazon, I headed over to see about their paper books.

At the top of that list is the ability to call and talk live to one of their sales people, er..."publishing consultants" about which publishing option would suit you best, for $35.  Now, I've noticed that other services also charge to talk with publishing consultants, about formatting, and book design, and getting your manuscript set up to turn into an ebook.  They don't charge you money to talk to the person who sells you the service in the first place!

Once you get past that there are different tiers of publishing services.  For a basic novel, the most expensive version, "the Diamond Plan," at $999 gets you a soft cover book with either your own cover or one of their "customizable" pre-designed ones.  (You can pick from 21 designs and then customize.)  You get an ISBN and a bar code.   They do the inside formatting for you.  You get an author's webpage.  A manuscript review (basically is the book salable) is part of the deal.  Your book is available to be sold (if you can track down someone at the book store and get them to put copies of your book on his shelves) at many bookstores.  You get an ebook edition (Their ebook.  You've got to pay them more money to get on the Kindle store).  You can list your book with Books In Print (though you have to do it yourself.)  And you get ten free copies of your book.

And I gave up.  This is total crap.  $999.00 for ten books.  Because you're paying that $999 before you sell a single book.  Then after you've paid your $999, you can set your book up as POD, and when someone orders it, they print a copy and send it off.  You set the price and the royalty, so they apply however much to your account.  How nice of them.

Once again here's a comparison:  For ten books I paid CreateSpace $117 and change (the costs of my books, their Pro Plan, and the cost of shipping the books to me).  Now that didn't get me a free copy of How To Sell Your Book on Amazon, or a manuscript evaluation, or my very own marketing package (No they don't do the marketing for you, you get a list of helpful instructions to do the marketing yourself.), or weekly marketing email (all part of the Diamond Package).  And CreateSpace just covered the print version of my book, I did have to take an extra step to get my ebook set up.  But I also didn't have to spend close to a thousand dollars to do it.  Ten books on Lulu.com would have cost me about double that amount, and once again, I wouldn't have had the marketing stuff, and I would have had to pay extra for the ebook, but the total would have been closer to $500 than $1000. 

Hey, Outskirts Press will get your book on Barnes and Noble!  CreateSpace doesn't do that!  That's true.  They do seem to get the book on the Barnes and Noble website.  Now, you can do that with your ebook for yourself for free.  And I haven't yet figured out how to do it for a paper back book.  So, that's one thing Outskirts can get you.  Is it worth $1000?  Lulu.com will do it for you, too, and they'll charge a whole lot less for it.

But that's the super-duper deluxe package.  How about the low end one?  At their low end, you pay them $199, and they print you up a book.  That's it.  You get one "free" copy.  And it's just a book, no barcode, no ISBN.  You can't even upload your own cover.  You have to use one of the two options they offer you. You can get that at Lulu and CreateSpace for just the cost of the book (and neither of those options would think of charging you extra to upload your own cover!)

Please, by all that is good and holy, stay away from Outskirts.  They are charging vastly more for their services than anyone ever should.  For $999 you can go over to CreateSpace.com and get a custom (as in designed specifically for you) cover or possibly some editing, plus almost everything offered by the "Diamond Package."  Go to Lulu.com, lay down $999 and you'll get vastly more for your money as well.  

As for me, as the next thing on my list is to figure out how to block Outskirts Press as an advertiser on my blog.

40 comments:

  1. This is really timely. I just got two of their mailings and that is what prompted my latest post at my Book Trends blog at http://bobspear.wordpress.com . The egregious folks you mentioned in this post will be attending the National Speakers Association training event in Atlanta this weekend along with myself and 20 other vendors.

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  2. Have you had any reviews of Bookbaby on your site?

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  3. Yep. Just look over at the most popular links off to your right and there they are. Enjoy!

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  4. I just had a book published at OutSkirts Press. Total cost was approxiamtely $1700 and let me tell you I got alot more than what I would have gotten from Createspace for almost $3000, which is why I chose Outskirt. I have had no problems with them. For all of this I got an author website on outskirts, e-book, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle edition, Amazon listing, plus nearly 15 other book sites listings, custom cover specifically for my book, I was able to proofread and edit free. It is being distributed through Ingram, and Baker and Taylor and is also making the list for the Spring Arbor book news for retailers. I checked in to 4 other self publishers before I chose Outskirts. Oh and let me tell you Authorhouse is even more expensive than Createspace. My experience with Outskirts has been nothing but a good one. My book published three days ago and I've already sold nearly 25. I think the problem is many authors do not realize this is a self publisher. You have to promote yourself. I have no problem going to the various social medias and advertising. I have even set up my own book signings! I do not have an agent therefore finding a traditional publisher was out of the question. Anyway, I was not at all offended or appalled to see the prices at Outskirts. Considering what all I wanted would have cost me nearly $3000 at Createspace and over $7000 at Authorhouse.... yeah $1700 was well worth the deal. By the way, I am signing this anonymous because it is no one's business what my finances are or what I paid to have my book published.

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    1. Congrats on your book Anon. I'm glad you are pleased with what you got. If you'd be willing to post a link to your book so we can all see what you got for your $1700, that would be lovely. It's always useful to be able to look at apples to apples comparisons and see the quality levels involved.

      Here's my apples to apples (and if you click on the link at the top of the page you can see all you'd like about Sylvianna) All in all CreateSpace cost me 39.00 for the set up. My book is 258K words and at $14.99 I make $3.09 in profit. Can you give me the break down for your book? How many pages or words, what are you charging, how much money are you making?

      Now, I did write a follow up ( http://topublishornotto.blogspot.com/2011/06/ye-gods-ii-outskirts-press-responds.html )to this post, which went into greater depth on why I think Outskirts is a rip off. (And you are right, Authorhouse is an absolute scam that anyone with any sense should run screaming from.)

      In that I mentioned that I don't think anyone should buy the a la carte services at any self publisher. You can get all of it for less elsewhere. There are tons of micro businesses out there who cater to the indie publisher and provide top of the line editing, proofing, and cover design for pennies on the dollar of what CreateSpace or Outskirts charges.

      For example cover design, edits, formatting, and e-versions of my next book will run me less than $300. Then I'll publish it on CreateSpace where I'm already a pro member. I'll be able to charge around 11.99 for about 350 pages (I don't have the final page count yet) and still make threeish dollars of profit.

      Once I've sold 100 copies of my book, I'll be in the black. How many copies of your book will you have to sell to recoup your $1700? How many copies would you have to sell if you only had $300 to $500 in sunk costs? Now, knowing you can get the same services for less, are you still thinking your $1700 investment was such a great idea?

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    2. Anonymous doesn't realize that most of the services they received, you can get for free. I am writing a screenplay for someone published with Outskirts and they didn't even begin to edit when they published. It's just like Tate Publishing. They don't care about publishing unedited work.

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    3. No one is talking about royalties...most self publisheing places will split your profits with you. Can anyone chat about the royalties issue? I am a new anon.

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  5. Hi-

    Did anyone who went with CreateSpace copyright your book first? And how do you become eligible to sell in other countries?

    Thanks,
    Dee

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    1. Hi Dee,

      Anything you write is automatically copyrighted. If you like you can get it officially registered, but it's not necessary. All you need to be able to do is prove A: You wrote it, and B: You wrote it before whatever is ripping you off. A quick and easy version of this is to print out a copy, put it and the front page of your local paper (or something else with the date on it), into an envelope, write your name and the date across the flap, and then mail it to yourself.

      Ta da! Sealed, dated, copy of your work to prove when you had written it.

      As for other countries, Amazon gives you a list of eligible countries and you click on the ones you want. Not sure what you do if you want to go outside Amazon's options.

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  6. I am currently working on writing a book and I came across this blog while I was searching for self publishing. I am completely new at this and would like advice on how to get started on becoming a self published author. Knowing the in's and out's would be extremely helpful. Thank you.

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  7. Oh my goodness. So needed at a time when I got duped by Strategic Book publishers who published my first novel Unforgiven and promised me 50% royalties but didin't make it known that the only way I could earn the 50% is if the customers ordered from the link on the site they built me. One that I had disabled a month after my book came out because the price was substantially higher than when the customer ordered from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. I found this out 8 months after I had disabled the link. Noone bothered to tell me when I disabled it! Anyway it didn't make sense that I paid a grand to publish and then I have to pay 50% royalties to a company who is paying $0 towards my marketing efforts. Crooks. If I had to do it all over agin I wouldn't and now my second book "Innate Sacrifices is finished and I was looking at Outskirts press but did a little research first. NOT! I will look into lulu and Create Space. I may even republish my first novel..thanks for the insight!

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  8. Patrice Demers KanedaApril 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I recently published my book A Tale of Two Migrations-A French Canadian Odyssey. I chose the $999. diamond package and was very satisfied with the people I worked with UNTIL I paid $700 plus for editing. The manuscript came back within days. I made the mistake of approving it and found many errors in it. Now, I can go back (for a price) and re-edit. The book is selling well and I'm embarassed by the poor paragraphing and a couple of typos. Had I not bought extra services I would have been very pleased with Outskirts.

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  9. I recommend Outskirts press. I researched several self putlishing companies prior to deciding on a company to do business with. I have learned from experience that an individual who is is own lawyer has a fool for a lawyer in an arena that he has limited knowledge about. Me personal experience has taught me that you get what you pay for so I don't mind paying a little extra to let the professionals who do this kind of thing 9-5 work on my behalf. I have several friends who have self published and man NO ONE KNOWS that the even wrote a book, something I did not want happening to me. I have one friend who i consider to be a tremendous writer, but to this day he has two great books that only he and a few friends enjoy. I earn a handsome royalty on my book sales and guess what, I set my own royalty price. More importantly is the fact that my book is going on a 4 country tour - USA, Germany, China & London. No it's not free but I totally expect to pay to promote my own book. There are no short cuts to greatness and there is no fast lane to success. If you are looking purely at cost as the deciding factor for who you choose as your publisher, you should truly reconsider before you spend 12-16 months trying to figure out why your masterpiece isn't selling. Here are the simple facts, I wrote a book and I am receiving what most people who spend their hard earned money want, SERVICE. Unlike many who talk about Outskirts Press and what they have to offer but have never actually used them, I have successfully published my book through them and I am rearranging radio blog apperances due to other apperances; I have to figure out how much it costs to mail a copy of my book to India which is a contact i received via Outskirts Press service where the blogger has agreed to review my book and I have a live television apperance scheduled for the month of May to discuss Sunday Morning Stickup what your pastor doesn't want you to know about tithes. I just did not want readers to think that because a company charges a little extra for services that this somehow makes doing business with them a bad decision. I missed out on bumping my head and stubbing my toe and I'm glad i figured it out now as opposed to a year from now. Saving money can sometimes be a very costly lesson. Oh my book released March 26th and it is doing well. The credit really goes to God! I just know from personal experience that Outskirts press is a good choice.

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    1. typing under pressure, please overlook the typos :) but i hope you get the message. Peace and Love Family!

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    2. No problem on the typos. I got you loud and clear. I hope you do very well on your book. It looks like you are selling decently on Amazon, so kudos.

      If you can make it work, more power to you.

      But for me, I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for things I can do for myself in literally, seconds.

      And I didn't want the entire royalty of the first thousand (or more, depending on what all you paid for) of my books going to overhead.

      And, if you've read the comments, there are a ton of people who got painfully bad service from Outskirts.

      Anyway, good luck, and I hope your TV interview goes well!

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  10. Hi, Who would you suggest I use to self publish? I am at a loss.

    Thanks

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    1. I prefer CreateSpace. Good service, no issues, low price.

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    2. I heard that CreateSpace only publish fiction books. I'd like to know who publishes short biographical stories.

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  11. Hello, I am looking for a publisher to get a book published. Thank God I found this post about Outskirts! Now I know what publisher I will definitely avoid. I wanted to ask, though, what are some of the best publishers out there? Which publishers would you recommend that are cheap and effective? Thank you!

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  12. I'd like to know this, too. Google ANY self-publisher, be it DogEar or Create Space or OutSkirts or Lulu, and "complaint" links pop up. I am a new author exploring various publishers' websites and my head is spinning.

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  13. Hi,
    If you google Outskirts and complaints you will see a ton of problems with them. As a newbie to spend so much to maybe get profits is not smart. If you look at it as an investment then you would look at the track record of that investment. Thank you for this article. I already knew about outskirts from other sources, all negative. Having one positive is the exception to the rule.

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  14. If you're confused, just Google, "Is (insert publisher here) a vanity press?" All roads will lead to Createspace and the better, but more challenging to work with, Lightning Source.

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  15. Keryl, thank you for your input on the self-publishing websites. It is still a difficult decision and for many it can make or break the bank...a decision many cannot afford to make the wrong decision. As a trained paralegal I am doing my homework before I choose my self-publisher. I have two books that I will eventually want to have published once they are completed. This is going to be crucial because I hold two things on the line line: ability to get into a top University to do my Doctorate (DBA) and eventually my career of becoming a CFO.

    I think checking with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) on these self-publishers is good advise for any one who is new to the concept. I also would recommend the novice (like myself) to research books at the local bookstore (i.e. Self Publishing for Dummies. There should also be a website available to consumers outlining a side-by-side comparison between the top 5 self publishing websites. What works for one person is not always good for another especially when a person is blinded by the light they can easily be swayed into a route they do not or cannot afford. Not everyone is good in the marketing field. Most people need direction and therefore needs will vary by author.

    Good luck to all the self publish authors!!

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  16. I received a hefty check from LuLu Press, although I have never done any business with them, nor do intend to. So what's up? Looks like some kind of scam.. e.g., I deposit it, it bounces, the check goes back to them and they then have my account number and viola, they drain my bank account....

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  17. The best two I know of now, after publishing first with Createspace, who do not market despite giving you the idea that they do, are Booklocker and Lightening Sound. Make sure you read several reviews first because we are surrounded by sharks and scams. I just narrowly escaped being conned by the notorious Authorhouse.

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    1. BTW:

      It's LIGHTNINIG SOURCE (https://www1.lightningsource.com)

      I wasted almost 3 minutes (!!!) looking for "Lightening Sound"

      The upside is, I have over 2 million hits for the (apparent) sound that lightening makes. tyvm!

      :-)

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  18. after all please someone tell me which one do YOU recommend?

    Thanks
    Alex

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  19. Keryl, I will gon out on a limb, and say that most (maybe as high as 90%) of createspace complaints are those who have no idea what they are doing. (Note: I'm getting ready to print at least 2 books through them, in the next year.) I looked at a *lot* of publishing options over the last few years. Most "PoD" companies are just re-named VANITY Publishers. They promise a lot, and deliver very little. As far as _I_ can tell, Createspace has no reason to cheat anyone, if nothing else, it would damage the Amazon brand. I looked at some of the "package" deals, and few are worth the costs. I can, and will do better, for less money. An honest PoD publisher, will "break out" the individual services, and let you buy what you really need. Granted, finding good, honest, editors, isn't easy. So can finding the same in reviewers to get it ready to be edited.
    Any company that only offer 2 "pre-designed" covers to be modified, does NOT have your interests at heart. Cover design can make/break the book. Trashy books, say "trashy book." Writing and publishing is a *business,* and requires real attention to detail. Look up authors like Cedar Sanderson, Sarah A. Hoyte, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, read their blogs/FB posts, and _EDUCATE_ yourself.
    Walter Daniels, (Facebook & LinkedIn), FBN Group on twitter.

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. I found the comments on this blog most helpful but need advice on the following:

    Who knows anything about Raider Publishers who are situated in New York? I have sent my novel to them for consideration and they indicated that they were prepared to publish my book. I also saw that their package costs were very much the same as Outskirtpress packages.

    Can anyone shed light on Raider Publishers performance - good or bad since I am considering using them as my publisher.

    Also - does anyone here know of individuals or companies who are prepared to sponsor up and coming writers?

    Thanks

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  23. Hi, Just want to thank you for your blog and the updated one. I found them both very helpful and I reckon they are going to save me a lot of money as I was just about to go with Outskirts Press. But now I am checking out the other options like create space and though I'm not the brightest I think I can comply with their requirements. Thanks again. You're a star. Elio

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  24. Hi there,

    I had published with Strategic Book Publishing, but until now the sales tracker they gave me doesn't show that my books are getting sold, but I get people writing to me that my book is nice and they even owe it. So I have decided to opt for another publisher, but I have Xlibris Publishing from Australia who keeps on calling me. Can you please suggest me a good publishing house? After reading reviews I am unable to decide. Looks like they are all crooked :(

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  25. Self publishing is the biggest scam there is. It's better to just prepare a galley yourself, get someone to help you make up a publishers name, and just use a printer like LULU. No one is going to have a best seller with any self publisher, it's hard to get interviews, i.e. radio and or TV if the book is self published. I'm a published author and writer. I have written two books, both published by traditional publishers, if you have to pay someone a ton of money to publisher your book you may as well use that money and just get the galley together, get a DBA and start your own little publishing company. You get to keep all the royalites, and it won't appear as though your book is self published, which to many onlookers is a HUGE turnoff, and smells of 'lacking credibility. Someone on here suggested check with the Better Business Bureau for recommendations of self publishers. That is membership type of deal which lacks complete credibility. The Better Business Bureau takes membership money to belong, if you pay they say GREAT things about your company. So this a credible source to gauge whether a company is legitimate ? I think not! Be careful out there.

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  26. Ok, so maybe Outskirts charges a bit more than they might. But, are there complaints of what they do or the quality of the books? I'm about to go with them... but doing my 'final research'. The negatives posted about Outskirts seem to just be "they charge too much". But, its like my car - when I tell people I bought a car for $35K, many scoff because I could have gotten a cheaper car. According to a large portion of the population, you should only make buying decisions based on price. So, everyone who doesn't buy a Kia is a fool, according to them. But, its certainly not the way the car market works -- how can BMW manage to sell a single car? You could get something cheaper than a BMW! So, maybe Outskirts costs more, but it doesn't mean you are crazy to use them.

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    1. Most of the complaints I've seen from actual authors who have used Outskirts (which I haven't done, so I can't comment on personally) is that the customer service was terrible, they were unwilling to fix errors in the books without much expense, and the like. Though I'm sure you can (say, by reading the rest of the comments in this list) see some of the issues other authors who have used Outskirts have run into.

      For me, the price issue was important because they were literally charging hundred of dollars for services that just about anyone with even the smallest modicum of computer skills could do for themselves for free in a matter of minutes.

      It's not like I was saying they were charging too much for editing or cover design, which are services I suggest everyone get for their books.

      They were charging money for things like adding tags to your book on Amazon, something so painfully easy that authors routinely do tag swaps to up the number of tags. (Something that literally requires you to type in a word and click once.)

      You can upload your own book to Amazon for Kindle for free. It takes a matter of minutes, and these days, since they've gotten better at handling .docs, is so easy that if you possessed the ability to write the book on word processor in the first place, you are more than competent to upload it as well.

      If you notice an issue with said book, you can fix it and then upload a new one, for free. This is also true for physical books on CreateSpace. Outskirts does not (or did not when I was researching it, if this has changed, I'm sorry) allow you to change the text without having to pay to redo the interior of your book.

      But, by all means, if you think Outskirts is offering you a BMW, go for it, enjoy your ride, and please link back to your book so we can all see your success with Outskirts.

      Thanks for the comment!

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    2. I did use Outskirts and I can say that the comments on overcharging for free service are accurate. Plus they will attempt to charge you for their errors. Last but not least they will build page count in an attempt to increase their share of the profit. Play with the calculator on their website. This is a vanity press you do not get publishing..

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  27. Is there a way to contact you to discuss, more privately, the information on self publishing found in your blog posts?

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  28. I'm looking to self publish my children's book and I'm completely lost in the barrage of companies that assist with this. I hear mixed reviews and I don't know who or what to trust.

    I did, however, read a previous post about becoming your own marketing and publishing company by establishing a DBA or LLC and just getting a company to print as this way you'll keep all royalties.

    I'm already at the point of pulling my hair out as definitely writing was the easiest part by comparison.

    Can anyone please help! Should I just create a small business or choose a reputable self publishing company? Hope this question makes sense. Thanks!

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  29. I also used Outskirts Press and my recommendation is RUN don't walk away from this disaster.

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