Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kelly Schuknecht should read her own words.
Good writers deserve good press releases.

OK, flub-fans, after a multi-month hiatus, it's once again time to pick on Outskirts Press -- the company I love to hate.

(Apology: there's some weird spacing down below. I could not fix it. Blame Blogger.)

Kelly Schuknecht is Director of the inadequate Author Support Department for inept and dishonest pay-to-publish company Outskirts Press.

Since Kelly's name goes on the horribly written press releases distributed for the Outskirts authors, she either writes them or oversees other people who write them. Either way, she is responsible for the many faults.

Kelly recently put this on her blog:

"Great writing and well planned marketing go hand-in-hand. If your book is full of grammatical errors . . . , all the marketing in the world can only take the book so far."

Sorry, Kelly, "well-planned" is a compound modifier and needs a hyphen -- especially in a paragraph warning people about the peril of grammatical errors, and especially in a blog from a publishing executive. Also, "only" belongs after "book."

Kelly apparently has a B.A. degree in "Modern Foreign Languages" from James Madison University. Too bad she didn't major In ENGLISH!

Kelly and her boss, Brent Sampson, have been frequent targets of my blog since 2008. They do so many things so badly, that they are, quite frankly, fun to write about. I even wrote a funny book about the faults of Outskirts. Kelly's in it, of course.

Years ago, I pointed out press release errors in private emails to Kelly but I never received a response. Now I use a public forum.

Kelly or her PR drones continue to make the same errors I've poked her about many times before. I have to assume that Kelly maintains her employment because her boss and her authors know as little about writing as she does -- and that is very sad.  Her previous title at Outskirts was "Press Release Coordinator." She did such an outstanding job (OMG!) that she was granted a more impressive title.

Here's a headline for a recent press release sent out over Kelly's name:

The End and the Beginning a Novel of Historical Fiction Set on the American Frontier in the Early 1800’s by Author Jim Oleson
  • A press release headline doesn't have to be a complete sentence, but it should have a verb in it.
  • The word "author" is superfluous.
  • We don't have to be told that is both a novel and fiction.
  • The book title should be in italics, or at least within quote marks, to separate it from the rest of the text.
  • The capitalization is confusing.
  • One or two commas would be helpful.
  • No apostrophe is needed in "1800's."

Here's the summary:

Jim Oleson’s most recent novel is a 6 x 9 paperback in the historical fiction category and is available world wide on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites and is published by Outskirts Press.
  • Not only is it Jim's most recent novel, it's apparently his FIRST novel and FIRST book. (Kelly frequently uses the nauseatingly redundant phrase, "most recent book to date.")
  • Is the page size important enough to deserve such prominent placement? This is not exactly the world's first 6-by-9 book.
  • No one cares about the category. (Kelly's releases often specify the color of the paper a book is printed on. No one cares about that, either.)
  • No one cares that Outskirts is the publisher.
  • "World wide" should be "worldwide."
  • The names "Barnes" and "Noble" should be separated by an ampersand, not "and." Kelly has done it properly on press releases for other books. I wonder how she decides which way to go.
And now we start the actual release (have a barf bag handy):

The northwest territories were unlike any other land in America with it’s enormous lakes, great rivers, endless dark forests and vast prairies providing habitat and sustenance to the original people for thousands of years was about to come to an end.
  • OMG!
  • WTF?
  • It's a terrible sentence. Actually it might be two terrible sentences which Kelly spliced together with little thought, care or talent. Exactly WHAT "was about to come to an end?"
  • A reader might wonder if the release is referring to Canada's Northwest Territories, since accurate uppercasing is not an Outskirts priority. Canada's Northwest Territories do have enormous lakes, and Canada is part of "America." Does the book contain scenes set in Yellowknife -- or in Chicago?
  • No apostrophe is needed in "it's."
  • Actually, since the referred-to noun is the plural "territories," Kelly should have written "their" -- not "it's" or "its."
  • A comma is needed after "America."
The short release is filled with additional errors, including spelling the name of an important character with a lowercase initial letter, missing commas, "further" instead of "farther," lowercase "w" in "War of 1812," missing hyphen in "first-hand," "recreation" instead of "re-creation," "that" instead of "who," "on line" instead of "online," (Kelly sometimes spells it "on-line.") a missing paragraph space, "fast paced" instead of "fast-paced" -- and just plain bad writing.

It's also unintentionally funny -- and maybe hurtful -- calling slavery a "dark institution." (Most slaves had dark skin and were sometimes called "darkies.")
  • With his author discount, Jim Oleson paid $197.10 for the press release. That's about $197 too much.
  • The Outskirts Press website section about press releases says: "There are very few events in your life that justifies sending out a press release." Even this has bad grammar. The verb should be "justify."
  • The book's description on Amazon.com is also terribly done. It has other errors, and some of the same errors.

Outskirts Press advertises that it is "the future of book publishing." If that's true, please shoot me.

Even a serious book produced by Outskirts Press may be accompanied by a comedy of errors. BE CAREFUL!

Now for some good news: based on the few pages I previewed online, Jim Oleson is a skilled and engaging story teller. I seldom read fiction, but I will buy his book. Sadly, it seems that even a shitty press release can sell books, but there is no excuse for shitty press releases.



(gun photo from http://left4dead.wikia.com/wiki/Left_4_Dead_Wiki)


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3 comments:

  1. Keep kicking idiots' asses, Michael. Nobody does it better.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What the hell is Kelly smiling about?

    Oh yeah. Ignorance is bliss.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, even though Kelly is a "D" writer, her author (at least in this case) wrote one hell of a novel. Art shines through the shroud of cheap publishing.

    ReplyDelete