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Jim Cox Report: April 2006

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Yet another month has gone flying by complete with deadlines for six online book review magazines and the print editions of four library newsletters comprising about 800+ reviews, 2,000+ submitted titles arriving in the daily mails, three "bounced back" publisher notification letters because they publishers had moved with no forwarding address, another world-wide (literally!) book review radio commentary for the KNLS broadcasting station, six new reviewers, sixteen new subscribers to the "Jim Cox Report", and a steady stream of publisher mail, phone calls, emails, and follow-ups.

One of the services we try to provide authors and publishers here at the Midwest Book Review is advice for their questions, quandaries, and inquiries. Here's one about the difficulties in getting librarians to pay attention to small press titles.

In a message dated 3/30/2006 4:06:42 P.M. Central Standard Time, Verakaikobad writes:

Dear Mr. Cox,

I hope you are well. I had a quick question about libraries and their rules about accepting books. It seems that the only books that most libraries (my local ones) will consider buying are the ones that have been reviewed by the Library Journal, Booklist or Publisher's Weekly. Most authors do not get reviews from them, even if they may merit them. So, is it still worthwhile to approach library acquisition departments and letting them know about a book? I know you are extremely busy, so I won't take up too much of your time. You may reply at your leisure.

Vera Kaikobad

I responded to Vera's inquiry as follows:

Most librarians don't make there acquisition selections based on receiving a publicity release in the mail or a publicity announcement in their email. They depend on three principle sources:

1. Professional journals/periodicals such as those you've cited -- including the Midwest Book Review library newsletters.

2. Patron requests.

3. Library-based public readings and/or speeches to the library's "Friends" group by the author.

Librarians are very busy folk. It's a rare librarian who is willing to sit down and listen to an author whose just come through their door to make a pitch. As for snail-mail and email publicity campaigns -- they run into that same limited time constraints librarians face in the course of their typical working day.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

One of our regular monthly book review columns is dedicated to critiquing books on writing and publishing. Here are the ones that I'm recommending for your April reading lists:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Creative Writing MFA Handbook
Tom Kealey
15 East 26th St, New York, NY 10010
0826418171 $14.95

The Creative Writing MFA Handbook by Tom Kealey (currently a teacher of fiction writing at Stanford University nd winner of the Joseph Henry Jackson Award for his own short story collection "Coyotes") is provides and expert and knowledgeable introduction to creative writing. With an outstanding grasp on the mechanics of creative writing and the competition for publication, Kealey informs the reader of profiles of fifty creative writing programs, offers sage advice for future students for making the most of their graduate program, an presents a genuine insider's look at accessible residency programs. Enhanced with interviews with program directors, college professors, and creative writing students, advice, as well as an invaluable checklist for the application process, advice sections about workshops, teaching assistants, and publishing in literary magazines, a comprehensive list of all graduate writing programs within and outside of the U.S., and hallmarks for excellence in a graduate writing program, The Creative Writing MFA Handbook is confidently recommended to all writers be they aspiring novelists, novice journalists, essayists, or considering entering a graduate writing program to hone their craft.

About Writing
Samuel R. Delany
Wesleyan University Press

215 Long Lane, Middletown, CT 06459
0819567167 $24.95

About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, And Five Interviews by literary critic, writers workshop teacher, and world renowned science fiction author Samuel R Delany (Professor of English and Creative Writing, Temple University, Philadelphia) is an informed and informative study of the expertise necessary for a writer in any genre to become more organized, more knowledgeable, and more effective with the ultimate goal of profitable publication. As an analysis of modern and contemporary writing styles, About Writing informs the aspiring author of the ins and outs of technique, ideals, and styles for the most effective writing. About Writing is very strongly recommended to all literature enthusiasts, readers, writers, and students.

Weinberg On Writing
Gerald M. Weinberg
Dorset House Publishing
353 West St, New York, NY 10014
093263365X $24.95

Weinberg On Writing: The Fieldstone Method by experienced and published author Gerald M. Weinberg is an informed and informative instructional reference to the process and skill of effective writing. Weinberg introduces the reader to forty-four exercises and offers many insightful tactics. Weinberg On Writing is an excellent detailing of all the necessary steps to be taken amidst the attempts and struggles of writing a book. Weinberg enlightens the readers to many original and particular strategies rarely recognized or pursued. Weinberg On Writing is very strongly recommended to all aspiring authors particularly oriented or favoring the presence of nature in their writing.

Refiguring Prose Style
T.R. Johnson & Tom Pace
Utah State University Press
7800 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322
0874216214 $26.95

Deftly edited by T.R. Johnson and Tom Pace, Refiguring Prose Style: Possibilities For Writing Pedagogy is an intuitive modern interpretation and theoretical perspective of the writing prose. As an individualistic and unique style of writing, debates and ordinances involving prose have determined an indefinite place for the writing style in essence of college level teachings, let alone recognition. A welcome contribution to the art and science of English composition and a valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library reference collections, Refiguring Prose Style is a defence and pursuit of rekindling the praise and societal acceptance the intimate, subversive, and vivid writing style prose.

Writer's Digest Books/F&W, dist.
47000 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236

Become the funniest person in print with this basic comedy writing handbook for humor writers, Mel Helitzer & Mark Schatz's Comedy Writing Secrets, 2nd Edition (1582973571, $17.99) which offers up exercises, details on differences between different types of comedy writing, and tips for writing for specific markets, from sitcom and television to greeting cards and T-shirts. Tips are blocked in sidebars of at-a-glance information, discussions are filled with comedy quotes throughout, and insights on what makes something funny offers up a fine pairing of exercises and insights on humor. Miles Westley's Bibliophile's Dictionary (1582-973563, $16.99) is another winner for aspiring writers; this offering a book of words and phrases which gather unusual phrases organized into specific categories such as myths and household objects. If you're seeking an atypical collection of words to amaze and puzzle and to sprinkle liberally into tired writing to give it some spice Bibliophile's Dictionary is for you, encouraging both browsing and reference.

Every aspiring and practicing author and/or publisher should have a "Supplemental Reading List" with "how to" titles to be read at the rate of at least 15 minutes per day. Preferably longer if you can spare the time. The reason is that while a great many books will have overlapping and duplicated information, it has been my experience that most of them will have at least one or two gems of an idea, a technique, a strategy, or an application that none of the rest of them will have had. Or at the very least, refresh our memories with tips and "things to do" that we had forgotten about in our early readings.

But why read these "how to" books at all? It's because most of us are not polished experts with decades of field experience under our belts. Most of us are on a learning curve with room to improve our performance, the quality of our work, the acumen of our business practices, adapting to changes of technology and the marketplace, etc.

Anyone who stops learning is starting to fall behind in this highly competitive, ever evolving world of publishing. Falling behind your competition is one of the surest ways to fail in the free marketplace that I know of.

One of your best and least expensive (it's free) resources for books to add to that "Supplemental Reading List" are two major sections of the Midwest Book Review website at

1. Writer's Bookshelf
2. Publisher's Bookshelf

A third major section is the archived collection of these monthly "Jim Cox Reports" with the best advice, ideas, and publishing oriented commentary I've been able to record.

Even though everything we do here is free of charge, a lot of folk want some way to express their appreciation and support since we don't allow them to give us money (in order to avoid conflict of interest scenarios). The result is our policy of letting people donate postage stamps by way of saying "thank you" for what we try our best to accomplish in behalf of the small press community every working day (and more than a few weekends and holidays!).

Here's a roster of such folk -- along with my heartfelt gratitude for the cards, letters, and notes that accompanied their much appreciated postage stamps which are used to send out our tear sheets and publisher notification letters every month.

The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame & Appreciation:

Vera Kaikobad
Steven M. Ulmen - "Toby Ryker"
Robert Quackenbush - "The Return of Pete Pack Rat"
Jill Schoenberg Girma - "Journal Buddies"
Jerry Countess - "Letters from the Battlefield in Love and War"
Sturmen Krieg - "Ignoble: The Dark Ages Trilogy I"
Publishers Design Group
Lincoln Town Press
Schreiber Publishing
Quest Publishing
World Warrior Press
Eileen Tabios - Meritage Press
Helena Lehman - Pillar of Enoch Ministry
Charlotte Digregorio - Civetta Press
Charles White - Broadside Press
Janice King - WriteSpark Press
Josh Smith - iFabbri Publishing
E. Martin - Hopewell Publications
Karen Steede-Terry - CMS Press
Susan Lewis - Plum Bell Publishing
Joanne Fletcher - Fletcher House
Kylea Taylor - Hanford Mead Publishers
Cheryl Ricksecker - Safe Harbor Publications
Mark Lehman - Little Possum Press
Mark Patton - MGC Publications
Thomas Dietrich - Turnkey Press
Sabrina Hofkin - Manzanita Falls Publishers
Jean C. Keating - Astra Publishers
Vatche Ghazarian - Mayreni Publishing
Joan Liffring-Zub Boureet - Penfield Books
Darryl Mrockowski - Turning A New Page
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania!

You can receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free). Just send me an email and ask to be signed up. The same holds true to receive (again, for free) any or all of our online book review magazines -- or particular book review columns.

Well that's a wrap for this month. If you like to have your book considered for review or have some postage stamps to donate, send them to:

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

So until next time it's goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

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

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