Friday, December 18, 2009

Outskirts Press idiots show how NOT to write a press release

Outskirts Press announces Romancing A Mystery from Burbank, IL author Evelyn Cullet. Unless the author is J. D. Salinger or J. K. Rowling, the mere publication of a book is NOT news. Is there anything in that headline that offers a reason to buy the book? Does anyone care who is making the announcement? Does anyone care that the author comes from Burbank, Illinois? Does anyone know why the letter "A" in the book title is in upper case? The book title should have been in italics, or in quotes, to separate it from the rest of the text.

Outskirts Press, Inc. [Who cares if the business was incorporated?] has published Romancing A [should not be upper case.] Mystery by Evelyn Cullet, which is the author's most recent book to date. [If it's her most recent book, there is no reason to say "to date." Actually, it may be her only book.] The 5 x 8 Paperback [Paperback should not be in upper case.] cream [What the hell is a "Paperback cream?" I suppose it's less fattening than ice cream. Oh, I see: cream is the color of the paper the book is printed on. Will anyone make a buying decision based on paper color? If the paper color really is important, the sentence should have been written better.]  in the FICTION / General category [FICTION does not have to be in upper case, nor does the "G" in "General," and the category is unlikely a reason to buy. We already have a pretty good indication that the book is fiction.] is available worldwide [Yeah, just like almost every other book in the world.] on book retailer websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble [Yeah, just like almost every other book in the world.]  for a suggested retail price of $19.95. The webpage [Most people spell "web page" as two words, but I'll let it go since I write "website" -- but I really don't like the "bp" combination.] at was launched simultaneously with the book's publication. [Oh goody, the author has a web page. That means this must be a good book and I'll have to buy it.]

Meet Charlotte Ross. [I guess the author likes charlotte russe cake.] A young woman in her prime, [A young woman should be in her prime. If she was young and past her prime, then it would be worth mentioning.] she’s become bored living in the small Illinois town [Gee, the author is also from a small Illinois town. How inventive -- NOT! And how irrelevant. Who cares where the small town is?] where she grew up and is tired of her mom [I'm tired of finding the childlike "mom" in serious writing and broadcasting. Let's go back to "mother" except for quotations.] trying to marry her off to the oldest and wealthiest men in town. [If this was a TV show, at this point I'd switch to CNBC or Animal Planet.] So when her mystery-loving friend Jane Marshall [That name deserves an award for blandness. Why not another name derived from a cake? She could be "Banana Cream" or "Deborah Devilsfood?"] suggests a driving trip across England and Ireland, Charlotte eagerly packs her bags. [A silly outdated cliche -- they're probably suitcases, not bags.] But Charlotte is about to get more than she bargained for. Just two days in, [In what?] their car breaks down and the women take refuge inside Blake Hall [Ooh-ooh. I bet it has ghosts.], an ancient aristocrat’s lair [Sounds like the BatCave.]  with a long and rumored past. [That goes well with "a dark and stormy night."]  As guests of the handsome [Well, if he's handsome, I'll definitely buy the book.] Lord Peter Montigue [Montague would have been a better choice. It was the last name of Romeo, Juliet Capulet's boyfriend.] Blake, the girls [Girls? We were first told that Charlotte is a "young woman," and then that they were both "women."] waste little time getting into plenty of trouble: ruining a priceless painting, encountering alleged ghosts [AHA! I was right about the ghosts. But who alleged that they were ghosts, and why can't we have some real ones in the book?] and stumbling upon a gruesome corpse [As opposed to a really pleasant corpse.]. The latter ["Latter" is OK for a contract, but not a press release.] will draw them into a centuries-old mystery that has remained unsolved, until now at least. [If it's unsolved, it's unsolved until now at least.]  Through it all, these out-of-place Americans also find the last thing they’d ever imagined: unexpected romance. [Chances are, as young women on a road trip, they did imagine finding romance, and it's probably not the last thing they imagined. Finding Queen Elizabeth wandering drunk and naked on the road might be the last thing they'd imagine. And who is the romance with? With ghosts? With the handsome lord? With each other?] Smart, savvy [People can be smart and savvy, but can a book be that way?] and at times uproariously funny [I hope it's as funny as the press release.], Romancing a [Oh good, for a change we get a lower case "a."] Mystery is part Jane Austen, part Agatha Christie and part Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with just a touch of Oscar Wilde thrown in to spice things up [Oscar was apparently gay, so being thrown in somewhere with Sir Arthur could have been spicy, but Oscar probably wouldn't care about Jane and Agatha.] for an unforgettable story that’s all its own. [What does "all its own" mean, or add? If I buy the book, will it be "all my own?"]

Deftly constructed at 352 pages, [EVERY damn book published by Outskirts is said to be "deftly constucted." Another Outskirts book is "Deftly constructed at 52 pages." Perhaps it's much defter than this one is.] Romancing A [Should be lower case.] Mystery is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets ["aggressively promoted" is another phrase that appears in every press release for an Outskirts Press book. It means that Outskirts is using freebie press release distribution services to send out news that will likely be ignored.] with a focus on the FICTION / General category. [If we didn't care about the category the first time, we still don't care about it the second time, and we still don't like the upper casing.] With U.S. wholesale distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, [That may impress the author, but it means nothing to readers.] and pervasive online availability [That's a phrase we don't often encounter -- except in about 130,000 other online items about Outskirts books.] through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere, Romancing A [Should be lower case.] Mystery meets consumer demand [Which consumers have demanded it?] through both retail and library markets with a suggested retail price of $19.95.

Additionally, Romancing A [Should be lower case] Mystery can be ordered by retailers or wholesalers for the maximum trade discount price set by the author [Who the hell cares who sets the  price; and wouldn't retailers and wholesalers want to buy at the MINIMUM price, not the maximum price? Buyers want the maximum discount, but the minimum price.]  in quantities of ten [Should be "10."] or more from the Outskirts Press wholesale online bookstore at

ISBN: 9781432746667 Format: 5 x 8 Paperback cream SRP: $19.95 [Yeah, yeah. We know that already. "Paperback" should be lower case, and it would be nice to have some punctuation or a line break after the ISBN and "cream." Actually, this stuff really belongs on a "sell sheet," not in a press release aimed at the general public.]

For more information or to contact the author, visit

About the Author

Evelyn Cullet is a longtime mystery buff. A former member of the Agatha Christie Society [Did Agatha throw her out?], she is a current member of Sisters In Crime [The release could have said that she "has been a member" of both organizations, without revealing that she is no longer a member of the Christie Club.], the worldwide organization for women mystery writers. Now retired from the offices [How many offices did she retire from, and didn't she really retire from the company, not from the offices? That phrase reminds me of the stupid notepads that say "from the desk of..." ] of a major soft drink company, she spends part of her time organic gardening  [Are her experiences with compost and sugary fizzy water reasons to buy the book?] , and the rest doing what she loves best: writing. [Hmm. She spends part of her time gardening and the rest of her time writing. That leaves no time for eating, bathing, sleeping, shopping, socializing, anything. Evelyn doesn't seem to have much of a life -- unless the press release writer made a MISTAKE. Is that possible?]

About Outskirts Press, Inc. [Nobody cares about the "Inc."]

Outskirts Press, Inc. [Nobody cares about the "Inc."] offers full-service, custom self-publishing [Actually, they don't offer any kind of self-publishing. No company or person can self-publish for anyone else.] and book marketing services for authors seeking a cost-effective, fast, and flexible [What do they mean by that?] way to publish and distribute their books worldwide while retaining all their rights and full creative control. [Not if the design and editing are done by Outskirts people.]  Available for authors globally [Damn. Apparently the writers on Neptune will have to find another publisher.] at and located on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado [Outskirts is on the outskirts. How cute. Is the location of the publisher's office a reason to buy the book? Are we suppposed to be so excited from reading the press release that we'll drive to Colorado to buy a book?], Outskirts Press represents the future of book publishing [Uh-oh. We're in deep shit, folks.], today.

The press release contact is Kelly Schuknecht. Kelly is "Director of Author Support" at Outskirts, and was previously  their "Press Release Coordinator." We can't be absolutely sure that she wrote this crap, but she certainly had the opportunity to read it and fix it.  Kelly has a degree in Modern Foreign Languages from James Madison University. It's too bad she doesn't have a degree in ENGLISH!

On the other hand, Jeanine Sampson, Outskirts COO and wife of Outskirts boss Brent Sampson, does have a degree in English from the Univ. of Virginia. Maybe she could help. OOPS! Forget about it. I just saw a press release sent out over Jeanine's name last year. It has the same goofy "most recent book to date," "Deftly constructed at," "maximum trade discount price" and "pervasive online availability" phrases that Kelly uses. 

Message to the author: I have not read your book. It may be superb, and it sounds like a lot of fun, but I don't like your inept publisher. Maybe this publicity will help you sell some books. Good luck. I hope you write better than the person who wrote your press release.



  1. Well, I see you managed to avoid criticizing Outskirts Press yesterday, but now you're back to your favorite subject. I really wish they'd sue you already. It would be fun to hear about the trial.

  2. HA HA HA!!!

    This is one of the funniest posts I've read all week!

    "Paperback cream"

    HA HA HA!

    Damn. I just burnt my pancakes. Damn you, Michael Marcus, and your infuriatingly funny posts! My breakfast is now in the trash!

  3. Sorry about the pancakes, Christy. I'll try to make it up to you.

    I love your "infuriatingly funny" phrase. I may want to use it on my next book cover.

    It's much better than "deftly constructed," "agressively promoted," or "pervasive online availability."

    It's good having someone who appreciates my humor. My wife cringes when she reads my stuff. She finds me much more infuriating than funny.

    She's a worrier, and is in constant fear that cops, lawyers, IRS inspectors or hitmen will show up at our front door.

    I wouldn't want to get shot for my writing, but a lawsuit could be great for book sales.

    Lynn Sampson, part of the Sampson triumvirate that runs Outskirts, is an attorney. I wonder what it would take to push her over the edge.

    Stay tuned.

  4. I just stumbled on this very funny commentary on a terrible press release. What got me was the $20 price for a *paperback* that isn't even a trade paperback.

    But gotta love that "pervasive online availability"--except it sounds like it infects your computer and you'll never be rid of it