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Jim Cox Report: April 2003

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

A couple of months back I announced that for those folks who wanted to show their support for the Midwest Book Review and for our three-part mission statement of promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing, (but who couldn't previously because of our policy of not accepting financial contributions from authors or publishers in order to avoid conflict of interest issues), could now demonstrate their appreciation by sending us stamps.


We got stamps from a couple of folks whose books we had reviewed almost a year ago as well as a book of stamps from someone who is only contemplating publishing their book and found our Midwest Book Review website and my personal publisher discussion group commentaries to be very helpful to them -- even if they decide not to publish!

While I want to thank them all, I most especially want to single out Steve from Orchard Publications; Christine Davis from Lighthearted Press; Jonathan Pearce from Balona Books; and John from Wisefool Press. The stamps these good folk donated to us were enough to totally cover the complete postage costs of sending our monthly reviews to the Gale Research Company for inclusion into their interactive CD-ROM "Book Review Index" for the rest of the year!

I've gotten thank you cards, letters, and emails from authors and publishers for as long as I've been a reviewer. But the fact that some folks in the small press community would feel so loyal to (and appreciative of) our little book review operation that they would chip in for postage to help us send out tear sheets and publisher notification letters to other small press publishers -- well, it really touches my heart and gives me renewed dedication to keep our little book review going!

On March 13th I got a very nice thank you letter from Helen Schmidling thanking me for permitting the Northwest Association of Book Publishers to use one of my articles (Don't Shy Away From The Camera! Author Photos Sell Books) in the March 2003 issue of "Publisher's Focus", the newsletter of the association. They also sent me a copy of that issue for my files. Which is very useful as documentation of our efforts in behalf of independent publishers when it comes time for grant renewals.

I did a Google engine search of our Midwest Book Review phone number as suggested last month by Fearless Books. Some 298 entries popped up! I spent an hour or so just roaming around those links to find my articles and commentaries and our website had been incorporated into places I'd never heard of! It was all rather flattering to say the least. I suggest you might do the same. For those of you who aren't familiar with Google, the address is

In a message dated 02-12-05 10:59:32 EST, writes:

> Subj: Writer's Digest contest
> Date: 02-12-05 10:59:32 EST
> From: (Brian Jud)
> Hi Jim: Writer's Digest has asked us to again sponsor their contest among
> published authors. For the current contest you agreed to provide a
> "guaranteed review" to the Grand Prize Winner. Would you agree to do that
> again for next year's contest? Thank you, Brian

I told Brian that I'd be happy to oblige the good folk at Writer's Digest. I have also recently agreed to be a "Beta Tester" for the Teaching Company working on a new line of information products for schools and community libraries. I finished my judging duties for this year's Audie Awards. All-in-all, I've been kept rather busy of late!!

Now on to the "Tips, Tricks & Techniques" portion of the entertainment! We begin with some words of advice from my webmaster daughter (and the MBR Managing Editor) Bethany:

1. Searching for book titles on the Midwest Book Review website:

> I'm a librarian and tried searching your interesting website for specific book titles. I know you have a book listed in one of your newsletters called "Under the Rose" but when I tested the search engine by searching for that title, I did not receive results. Are your book lists searchable by book title or author?

FreeFind searches the words on a page, whether those words are the title, names of the author, the publisher, or the text of a review. Sometimes it can be helpful to use blocks of ISBN numbers.

Since all of the reviews in the IBW, CBW, and SBW are posted to, it may be quicker and easier simply to look up a book on and scan their reviews for the one by the Midwest Book Review.

> Also, the search engine itself, FreeFind, has a lamentable shortcoming:
> it searches for common words such as 'the'. Forgive me for being blunt,
> but no respectable search engine would allow 'stopwords' to be searchable.
> I suggest you find another.

We use FreeFind because it is free. We have to pay a significant fee as it is simply to purchase the online storage space and bandwidth our website consumes, and we do not allow any advertising banners or pop-ups on our site - which means that it earns no revenue. It was either FreeFind or no search engine at all. If you can recommend a better search engine that is free to use, we will gladly take it under consideration.

B. Cox Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

2. On the use of quotes from Midwest Book Review publications:

In a message dated 02-10-02 00:22:37 EDT, John Vonhof writes:

> Thanks for your report. I always enjoy reading them. I have a favor to ask
> of you. I am teaching an 8 hour workshop next April at the Mt. Hermon
> Christian Writers Conference on "Marketing, Promotion and Publicity: Selling
> Yourself and Your Book" and would love to have some quotes by you on any of
> the three subjects. When I do the syllabus, I will include the quote along
> with your name and books and web site. The topics I will be covering are
> endorsements and blurbs, reviews, creating buzz, setting up book tours and
> signings, doing radio and TV interviews, creating spin-offs, starting a
> newsletter or e-zine, writing articles with bylines, the benefits of a
> personal web site, pre-release publicity, media releases, and publicity
> kits.
> In short, what tips would you give to book authors on getting reviews (and
> any other of the above topics you care to comment on)? I hope to later
> develop the material into a book and ask your OK to both use the material in
> the workshop and in a future book with the noted attribution. Thanks.
> John Vonhof

Go to the "Advice For Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website at

There you will find several articles I've written about the book review process, about promoting and marketing books, and a number of other highly relevant publishing issues and concerns thematically appropriate to your workshop.

You have my permission to use these articles (or extracts from them) in your workshop and any future book -- as long as you credit Jim Cox and the Midwest Book Review as the source. And be sure to include the MBR website address when doing so.

For those articles which others wrote but who gave me permission to include in the "Advice For Publishers" section, you will have to contact them for their permission as well.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

3. Competing Against Myself

In a message dated 02-10-11 00:21:01 EDT, Melody O'Neil writes:

> I am also thinking of selling "reports" - expanded single chapters of the
> book, which will simply be printed out on 8.5 x 11 paper, stapled, and
> mailed. But I am ALSO thinking of selling a version of the book (possibly
> split into two parts), as a no-frills "report".
> Will I be shooting myself in the foot by doing this? My logic is that anyone
> who is turned off by the higher price will turn to the cheaper version
> instead of clicking right out, and those who want to buy the book will do so
> regardless of the cheaper option. What do you think?

This is an excellent example of multiple-level marketing and has worked very well for a great many people -- especially those in the self-help field.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

4. Reviews Containing Incorrect Information

In a message dated 02-10-13 13:10:56 EDT, Charles Halliman writes:

> As I said above, in each of these reviews, the reviewer recommends the
> book. So, I guess I should let well enough alone. But, let me ask this:
> Hasn't there been people on this list who have written to reviewers
> correcting them on a review?
> Does one have anything to gain by commenting on a review to the
> reviewer?

Every book review editor knows that errors occur. Sometimes they are in the form of typos, sometimes simple and obvious errors of fact, and sometimes they are a matters of simple letter or number inversions.

No editor would ever take umbrage at being requested to correct such errors of fact. When asking, always be polite, note clearly the word, sentence, paragraph, or passage to be amended -- and then show what that amended correction would be.

If it is an error of interpretation or the reviewer simply didn't care for your book and made a weak case for their poor opinion of your work -- leave it alone. You'll do nothing but burn any possible bridges for getting your next book considered for review from that source.

I can tell you that I have to make at least two or three corrections with every month's production of reviews (more than 500 of them) in one of our publications or another. Our reviewers range from neophyte first timers to seasoned professionals with years of experience -- and every one of them, sooner or later, made an error -- the really good ones are those that never make the same kind of error twice.

In fact, this morning I received a call from an author/publisher that her book on the holocaust had been incorrectly attributing responsibility for certain atrocities to the Nazis when she had clearly indicated that it was Russian atrocities during that same time span in Eastern Europe that she had been writing about!

That particular error by one of our new volunteers in a first effort is so significant that I have instructed our webmaster to pull it from our website. The author is sending me a second copy of her book -- and I've promised to take it on myself by way of making amends.

Sill another author/publisher emailed me yesterday that the review in one of our October columns refers to the principal character as "Livi" when the name should have been spelled Liv -- so you can see that corrections range from the major to the minor.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

5. The online posting of MBR reviews:

In a message dated 02-10-08 16:24:23 EDT, Barbara Fleming writes:

> I recently read the review of my mystery novel HOT STONES, COLD DEATH
> (Silver Maple Publications, 2001); and I want to thank you for reviewing my
> book and for giving me such a marvelous review. It really gives a struggling
> writer a tremendous boost to get a good review from a reputable industry
> source. Thank you so much.

My pleasure. It's always easy to give a good review to a good book.

> I also want to ask whether you have any objections to my using the review
> on and barnes&, and other booksellers' websites
> where my book is listed. It would help my sales.
> Please inform me with respect to what your policy is on using the review
> on these sites.

We automatically post our reviews to -- you have my permission to post to the other sites you mention, and otherwise utilize the review anywhere else and in any manner that you deem useful.

> I would also like to know if the review is being printed in any
> of your hard publications and if so, where I can get a copy. Again, thank
> you for your consideration and for such a great review.

It appears in one of our library newsletters (a print publication) as well as "Internet Bookwatch" (an electronic book review magazine). A tear sheet and publisher notification letter will be going out to Silver Maple Publications in the next few days.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

6. Using info and resources from the Midwest Book Review website:

In a message dated 02-11-19 06:21:01 EST, Victoria writes:

> I have to give a presentation at the PAW show this weekend-would it be
> possible to copy and give credit to you for using your list of book reviewers
> to the audience? I will also be listing MWBookreview and passing out a copy
> of your submission guidelines with the packet of handouts I bring along.

Of course you have my permission -- I would feel honored to have the work I put into our Midwest Book Review website put to such good use and purpose!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

7. Questions are always welcome:

In a message dated 02-11-25 14:01:03 EST, Jamie Meighan writes:

> Hello, I was hoping that you might be able to help me out with a question.
> A book reviewer wants to know where I'd like the tear sheet sent. Would
> this be to myself or my publisher. Secondly, what exactly is a tear sheet.
> Forgive my ignorance. Thanks for your help.

A tear sheet is a copy of the review. The word comes from the old practice of literally tearing a review out of the magazine or newspaper in which it appeared.

Tear sheets (accompanied by some form of publisher notification letter) are sent by the reviewer or review publication editor to the publisher. It is then the publisher's responsibility to notify the author, editor, illustrator, publicist, or anyone else they deem appropriate.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

8. The Jim Cox on-air book review commentary "KNLS Bookwatch":

> Where can I find a schedule for the KNLS Bookwatch? I'd love to tune in.
> -- Thanks! - Will Swenson

Will, thanks for writing. You can find our transmission schedule on the KNLS website: Are you familiar with shortwave? We switch between languages and frequencies as the broadcast day progresses to hit various parts of the world. Our transmissions are intended for Asia and so are not heard well in the US. We have heard from all fifty states over the years, but these listeners tend to be hobbyists who use expensive radios and outdoor antennas. To complicate matters further, Jim's reviews run in our "Eye On The World" segment at the beginning of each hour, but alternate with about a dozen other topics and so are not heard every day. You can find the text of Jim's reports on the "transcript" page at the KNLS website.

Mike Osborne, KNLS Radio

{Mike is the producer/director for my on-air book review broadcasting -- Jim Cox}

9. A listing of Independent Bookstores:

In a message dated 03-01-09 19:48:42 EST, Jeff Potter writes:

> Anyone know of a good list of independent bookstores, with emails and
> street addresses? I might've asked about this before but I can't find
> anything on it now. Thanks! --JP

There is a list of those with their own websites on the Midwest Book Review website in the "Book Lover Resources" section. The MBR address is:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

And now for some "Unsolicited Testimonials"!!

> Subj: Mr. James Cox: Comment on MBR Site
> Date: 02-09-15 23:16:32 EDT
> From:
> Mr. Cox,
> I discovered the Midwest Book Review site while perusing
> I wanted to let you know I was impressed with the overall material on
> your site (including links and articles).
> As Managing Editor of an on-line magazine, I have the opportunity to speak
> to numerous groups in business and academia regarding various topics in
> publishing and writing. I will make sure and add your site as a reference for
> these folks to check out.
> Keep up the good work.
> Melissa Hamilton
> Managing Editor

It's always nice to hear from a "pro"! Our website has actually won a few citations down through the years. It is a constant "work in progress" with new articles and links being added every month.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-10-01 06:46:37 EDT, you write:

> Subj: "Foundling" review and thanks
> Date: 02-10-01 06:46:37 EDT
> From: Michael.Sturge@Dartmouth.EDU (Michael Sturge)
> Dear Mr. Cox, This is to thank you for the review of my "
> Foundling" which you reviewed August 4. I was out of the country for
> three months or would have thanked you earlier. It is heartening to receive
> your encouragement.
> With all best wishes, Mary Sturge

I'm pleased to report that all of the major POD companies seem to be routinely informing their author clients about the Midwest Book Review! We will continue to do as good a job as we can for the self-published and POD published community.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-10-02 00:56:02 EDT, you write:

> Subj: Thank you
> Date: 02-10-02 00:56:02 EDT
> From: (JLewis)
> Dear Mr. Cox:
> Words cannot describe the happiness I felt when I saw my name on your list
> of Authors and Writers. I am working on two more novels (Southern fiction),
> and this is the inspiration I needed to carry on.
> Thank you for all you do for self-published, small press, and POD authors. I
> can spend the entire day browsing the resources on your website.
> Regards,
> Joan Lewis

For an author's website to be listed in the "Authors & Writers" section of the MBR website there needs to be more than a simple advertising of the book(s). There must also be some amount of collateral value to the visitor such as biographical background, links to other sites of interest, articles or commentaries, etc.

The single worst sin of a fledgling website is that it is so loaded up with bells & whistles & pictures that it takes too long to download. The second to worst sin is for the author (and/or publisher) to not have a snail-mail address easily findable on their website -- as well as all other contact info bits such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-10-13 09:00:51 EDT, writes:

> Subj: Just to say thanks!
> Date: 02-10-13 09:00:51 EDT
> From: (Shirley Johnson)
> Dear Jim,
> I wanted to take a moment to thank you for allowing me to interview/review
> for MidWest Book Review.
> It has, and I know will continue, to be such a learning experience for me.
> To be allowed to read so many different author's styles, to talk with
> publishers and do interviews has been a wonderful experience for me.
> I am in awe when I go on a Publishing site, or an author's webpage and see
> my name there as a reviewer/interviewer. It never stops thrilling me to the
> bones! It has brought me great joy, and for that I thank you!
> I know I am still learning and will make many, many, mistakes BUT I do
> appreciate you and MidWest for allowing me to express from my heart
> my feelings about words that I read.
> If people only understood the wonders of reading a good book. The
> adventures they can take, the hearts of others they can be joined with, the
> laughter they are missing; I'm sure they would always have a book
> at hand. I hope somehow I can wet their taste buds to do just that.
> Anyway, I am rambling here, but thank you!
> Shirley (Johnson)

Shirley has really developed over the past few months as an interviewer. She's gotten so good that her column (Shirley's Bookshelf) of reviews and interviews is now a regular feature of our "MBR Bookwatch" which is reserved for senior reviewers, MBR editors and staff members.

Anyone wanting to try their hand at reviewing should email me a request for our "Reviewer Guidelines".

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 03-01-07 11:46:56 EST, writes:

> Subj: ATTN James Cox
> Date: 03-01-07 11:46:56 EST
> From: (Orrell, Herb M. (orrh))
> Dear Mr. Cox,
> I just read your review of my book Unspeakable: The Truth About Grief.
> Thanks so much for the insightful comments and strong recommendation. My
> goal is to try and get the book to those who need it. I believe your
> review will help that process.
> Best regards,
> Herb Orrell

This is exactly the goal I share with the authors and publishers every time I pick up a small press title that the "big guys" in the publishing and media industries are busily ignoring -- and to the determent of the reading public.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 03-01-16 13:31:43 EST, writes:

> Subj: Thank you
> Date: 03-01-16 13:31:43 EST
> From: (Georgia Murach)
> Hi, Jim,
> Thank you for the review on "Murach's SQL for SQL Server" in "Library
> Bookwatch." That you say that it's "an invaluable and highly recommended
> addition to SQL oriented reference collections," is appreciated. We do
> strive to write the best book for programmers on a given subject, so it's
> really satisfying to have a book recognized as being invaluable.
> Thanks again,
> Georgia Murach
> Mike Murach & Associates

I take a certain pride in being on a first name basis with more than half the publicists and marketing directors throughout the publishing community. Not to mention having established and seasoned publishers consider the Midwest Book Review and what we do here to be a consistently valuable resource for them. There's all kinds of ways to measure success as a book reviewer -- and that's one of the major ones.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 03-01-17 22:06:40 EST, writes:

> Subj: thanks
> Date: 03-01-17 22:06:40 EST
> From:
> Dear Mr. Cox,
> Thank you for taking the time to read and review my novel, "Bet, Raise or
> Fold". Your praise of it was so uplifting. It turns out that writing it was the
> easy part. Promoting and selling has been very frustrating. It means a lot
> when you give an unknown writer a chance.
> Sincerely,
> Jillian Levin

And being able to help the "little guy" trying to buck the odds against the big boys is still another major criteria of success for a book review like ours.

Well, that's about all for now. I've had some major computer problems this past week but all is well now. I've just gotten in a stack of videos and DVDs to review (I do a monthly review column called "The Library Video/DVD Shelf"), so I'm going to take the rest of the day off and do just that!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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