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Jim Cox Report: April 2007

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The article "A Conversation About Getting Your Book Reviewed" has been added to our website's 'Advice for Publishers' article archive at:

The owner of "20th Century Books" in Madison, Wisconsin is Hank Luttrell, a close friend of many years and a specialty book seller with more than three decades of experience. I thought you might find this email I received from him in response to last month's 'Jim Cox Report' item on remaindering books to be of interest to the small press community.

Hank writes:

Your report was unusually interesting to me this month! I've been selling remaindered books since -- well, I started buying them from wholesalers in the early 80's, but before that I guess I was buying them from retailers with the hope of some how reselling! During this time I've seen the whole architecture of selling remaindered books re-invent itself many times. Currently, I think the most important dynamic is -- of course! -- the internet and the World Wide Web. Much of the wholesale and retail that used to take place through sales reps or catalogs, or at trade shows, and then in brick and board retail stores, now takes place electronically. An interesting addition to your list of wholesalers -- and one that I'm not up to date on! -- would be their website URL's!

And about small publishers' selling on Amazon? Did you know that as a third party Amazon "Pro Merchant" I can create regular Amazon pages for books that aren't already in Amazon's data base? I've actually done this for a lot of books in my field, such as graphic novels from small publishers who might not otherwise have a page on Amazon. And then, of course, I can sell the book to all of Amazon's customers -- along with any other third party merchant who wants to try.

Let me know if there is a book or comic I can help
you find!

Hank at 20th Century Books

I would recommended that anyone having books that they would like to consider remaindering do a Google search on "Remaindered Books" and you will see how extensive the list of book remaindering companies and outlets truly is.

The 15th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards is now on. And once again the Midwest Book Review is part of the 1st Prize to be handed out to the winners of the various categories in this yearly competition in the form of a guaranteed review in one (or more) of our publications. The categories are: Mainstream/Literary Fiction; Genre Fiction; Children's Picture Books; Inspirational; Nonfiction; Poetry; Middle-Grade/Young Adult Books; Reference Books, and Life Stories. But please be forewarned that to win one of the financial prizes and the other perks that go along with winning, there is a $100 entry fee for the first submission, and $50 fee for an additional entry. Judging by the number of entries every year, the Writer's Digest folk (including the co-sponsor Book Marketing Works, LLC) are clearly turning a profit on their operation.

I should also note that other than reviewing Writer's Digest books sent to me by F&W Publications (their parent company) and agreeing to guarantee a review of the category winners, I have no connection to Writer's Digest Press or to their annual competition. And according to the Midwest Book Review bylaws, Writer's Digest Press or F&W Publications can not contribute financially to us in any way so that we can avoid conflict of interest issues.

I just think it is a good idea for the self-published authors and the small press community to have an annual competition like this as a means of promoting awareness of what self-published authors and the small presses have to offer both the publishing industry and the reading public.

To get specific information on how to submit a title to this contest, visit the Writer's Digest website at

Now for some reviews of the newest "how to" books aimed at writers and publishers beginning with:

Blockbuster Plots: Pure and Simple
Martha Alderson
Illusion Press
708 Blossom Hill Road #146, Los Gatos, California 95032
1877809195 $25.00

Have you ever been deep in the writing of a novel only to discover that you've lost the thread, that the plot doesn't square up the way you thought? Do you find yourself swimming in deep water or perhaps completely over your head when you think about plot? Even worse, have your initial readers told you that your plot doesn't make sense? If so, this is the book for you.

Whether you plan your plots in advance or improvise as you go along, Martha Alderson's two major tools, the Scene Tracker and the Plot Planner, will improve your overall writing product. By the time you finish this book, you'll have learned seven major ways to improve your novel, and you'll have a much better grasp of the plot and structure of any book you choose to create.

With the use of Scene Tracker, Alderson artfully explains how to break down your work to identify scenes, then determine when to use scene and/or narrative and decide how to keep track of flashbacks, the timeline, character development, goals, conflict, theme, and change, all in an organized and effective manner.

In the second half of the book, the Plot Planner is used to work through beginning, middle, and end, with careful focus upon cause and effect, character emotional development, and thematic significance. Step-by-step guidance is provided. To demonstrate the principles throughout, the author uses examples from the work of authors like Ursula Hegi, Cormac McCarthy, and Billie Letts. Appendices are included breaking down scenes and plot from the work of Mark Twain, Ernest J. Gaines, and John Steinbeck.

This book will assist the budding new writer and the already-published author. It's easy to follow, the tools are accessible, the text is filled with good advice, and the book is laid out so that there is plenty of space to make notes or to use it as a workbook. Students of the Craft need this book, but writing teachers will also find the book useful. Highly recommended.

Lori L. Lake

Here are some more reviews that are a part of our regular monthly column "The Writing/Publishing Shelf":

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How To Write And Publish Your Own eBook
Jim Edwards & Joe Vitale
Morgan James Publishing
1225 Franklin Avenue, Suite 325, Garden City, NY 11530-1693
1600371523, $19.95 1-800-485-4943

The collaborative work of Jim Edwards and Joe Vitale, "How To Write And Publish Your Own eBook...In As Little As 7 Days" is a complete, methodical, step-by-step instruction manual in publishing ebooks. Both Edwards and Vitale are drawing upon their enormously successful careers publishing ebooks and now share their particular body of expertise to reveal all of the steps and processes that will enable publisher to expand their revenue streams through the inclusion of a line of ebooks. "How To Write And Publish Your Own eBook" is particular recommended to the attention of self-published authors and small press publishers wanting to participate in the growing ebook market which shows strong promise of becoming more and more economically viable as the internet and the lap top computer become as commonplace with young generations as print publications and audiobooks are to their elders. Any author and any publisher considering expanding into the ebook market with their titles should give a careful reading to this superbly organized and presented 'do-it-yourself' manual.

Book Typography
Michael Mitchell & Susan Wightman
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
0948021667, $69.95 1-800-996-2556

A critically important part of publishing books is their physical appearance, which in turn is dependent on their design. "Book Typography: A Designer's Manual" is a complete and thoroughly 'user friendly' introduction to the basic principles and applications of typography to insure readily accessible communication to the reader. Type font selection, size, and positioning are essential elements in the construction of a book regardless of genre or category of publication. From poetry, to novels, to illustrated books, to reference works, "Book Typography" will prove invaluable to the novice while having a great deal of practical utility for even the more experienced publisher. Of special note is the chapter on "The Basic Terms of the Trade" which provides extended definitions of technical terms applicable to publishing. An impressively comprehensive, single volume typographical reference work, "Book Typography" is an essential, core addition to the reference libraries and supplemental reading lists of aspiring manuscript editors, copy-editors, proofreaders, production managers, and publishers.

The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines, sixth edition
Stephen Blake Mettee, Michelle Doland, Doris Hall
Quill Driver Books
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956580, $29.95

Knowledgeably compiled and meticulously edited by the team of Stephen Blake Mettee, Michelle Doland, and Doris Hall, "The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines" is an 816-page, alphabetically organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of more than 1,700 magazine editors and book publishers along with descriptive explanation of what these editors and publishers want when considering submissions from freelance writers. Now in a substantially expanded and newly updated sixth edition, "The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines" offers more than 1,300 periodical publishers and more than 400 book publishers, along with their criteria for work that is either commissioned or submitted on spec by aspiring writers wanting to be published. This superbly organized reference provides detailed submission guidelines that will help a writer to determine if their particular projects are suited to a given magazine or book publisher, as well as providing an indispensable resource when seeking an appropriate publication outlet for a proposal or a manuscript. "The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines" will prove to be an invaluable and indispensable asset to any professional (or aspiring to be profession) author regardless of the genre of work they are pursuing in their writing career.

10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters
Sue Viders,
Watson-Guptill Publications
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003
1580650686 $17.95

Writers serious about learning how to create and develop memorable characters will relish 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters: A Writer's Workbook. It packs in forms, checklists, and exercises to help both screen and fiction writers develop personalities, teaching the basics of building multi-layered protagonists and showing the foundation keys to possible success. It's a 'must' for any public library lending collection strong in writer's guides, as well as for many a high school or college-level collection catering to student creative writers.

Remember that you can always obtain these books for free from your local library through the 'Interlibrary Loan System', look them over, and then buy the ones you want for your permanent reference shelf through Amazon or from the publishers directly.

Now for some Q&A from my email box:

In a message dated 3/5/2007 3:45:26 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Does Amazon have permission to sell our book reviews? I typed in a title I reviewed and found that my review of it for MBR is for SALE on Amazon. That's not right, is it?


Dear Betty:

Amazon thinks that it has proprietary rights to any review posted on its website by a reviewer or a publisher. But it doesn't.

As to selling reviews -- I think that is pie-in-the-sky thinking on Amazon's part. Who would pay for a review that they can read for free right then and there on the Amazon website? Plus, publishers have a right to utilize any review of any of their titles where they furnished a copy of their book to that reviewer who then generated the review -- regardless of whether that review is published in a magazine, newspaper, or newsletter, or posted on a website, or in an online publication.

This is a question that reoccurs periodically so I will include it in the Q&A part of one of my monthly "Jim Cox Reports" for the benefit of other authors and publishers.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 3/12/2007 1:04:00 P.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Jim - I do need to know the answer to the question: How much of the review am I allowed to use in press releases, etc.? Somewhere I got the idea that I was limited to a certain number of words or a percentage. Thanks for the info.

Jewell M. Kutzer aka the Mayberry Momma (tm)

Dear Jewell:

Publishers can use all or part of a review when they supplied a review copy of that book to the reviewer and/or review publication. There is no minimum or maximum word count. The critical thing is that when utilizing a review (whether it's a single word or the entire review verbatim) provide a clear credit citation when doing so.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Here's an unusual email that is fairly self-explanatory and that I want to share in its entirety. I'll add a comment of my own at the bottom of it:

Subject: You are featured in our newsletter!
Date: 3/28/2007 5:12:25 P.M. Central Daylight Time

Dear Colleague:

Please see below. You (or your company) are featured in the following bulletin for thousands of authors and publishers, due out shortly.

We hope you will benefit from the added exposure. Please consider adding a link to from your site, for extensive resources to help writers self-publish and promote books more successfully. A single tip from our newsletter, Web site or book can make a real difference!

Thanks for your time and consideration, and please keep in touch!

Danny O. Snow

This is a monthly e-mail update for subscribers only, sent from, the Web site named for a compact guide to self-publishing and promoting books at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Recently updated by co-authors Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow, the 2007 edition is now available in trade paperback, library hardback, large format workbook, PDF e-book and talking book formats:


Bad News? Or Good?

The Guardian (UK) reports: "There has never been a tougher time to be a debut novelist - only a tiny fraction receive six-figure advances, and most manuscripts end up in the shredder."

BUT... Dan Snow adds: "This means there has never been a BETTER time to self-publish!" Visit for examples, tips and tricks, and regularly updated resources.

It's All in the Timing!

Dan Snow says: for press releases, the conventional wisdom is that "Monday is a slow news day." Therefore, transmit news releases over the weekend to improve the chance of getting your press release on an editor's desk on Monday morning.

Penny Sansevieri ( adds:

"Doing a mailing? Why not mail your packets on a Saturday to insure you get your mail into the hands of your recipient by Monday or Tuesday! Anything sent later in the week might be lost in the shuffle."

-- Tip courtesy of Brian Jud,

Don't forget MBR:

Midwest Book Review: dedicated to showcasing reviews of independently published, self-published, and POD published titles:

MBR reviews appear on Amazon, and in other mainstream book industry channels, often otherwise unavailable to the little guy. Editor Jim Cox has worked devoted years in support of the indie and small press movements.


PMA director Jan Nathan was recently diagnosed with endometrial cancer and is undergoing treatment that requires her to be out of the office for an extended amount of time. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of authors and publishers over many years. Send your support to her son:

Radio Daze:

"Talk radio interviews aren't what they used to be. In the 'golden days,' the hosts of major-market talk radio shows used to bring authors into the studio for long chats. An author could just knock off a couple of those interviews and sales would instantly hit 'turbo.' Sadly, those days are gone. Unless an author is a truly big name nowadays, the chances of hitting pay-dirt with just a couple of big radio interviews are history."


Marsha Friedman

Danny O. Snow adds that today, print coverage often attracts more readers than broadcast media, while radio and TV fare better than Web. BUT... online coverage lasts longest, and tends to accumulate over time. Choosing the best medium for promotion of your book can be an important factor in your success! Please read 4.0 before you decide.

Fourth Edition Now Available:

The new 2007 edition of "" is out. For a limited time only, early adopters get a deep discount. A single new tip could save you MANY TIMES the cost of getting the latest edition. Also watch for special customized editions from Independent Publisher Online, and others who serve self-publishers!

Excerpt from recent review in Writers World: "I would recommend 4.0 to anyone who even thinks of writing and publishing a book."

Maryanne Raphael, Writers World


For a modest fee, your book can be seen by thousands of readers, publishers and booksellers. The SPAWN catalog, with your ad inside, will be distributed to several hundred people at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Your catalog ad will also be posted at the SPAWN.ORG Web site for a full year. The absolute deadline for new catalog listings is April 5, 2006.

Sign up now by going to

Special Edition to Support

Download a PDF copy of "Steal this e-Book?" or order a paperback to support The Society for New Communications Research:

All profits will be donated to SNCR, a nonprofit global think tank dedicated to the advanced study of new communications tools, technologies and emerging modes of communication, and their effect on traditional media, professional communications, business, culture and society.

For more information, e-mail

Contests! Contests! Contests!

WD Contest Offers $15,000 in Prizes:

15th Annual Self-Published Book Awards: Writer's Digest is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. Here's your chance to enter a competition exclusively for self-published books. More than $15,000 in prizes. Visit for details or e-mail for guidelines.


The 2007 competition is open to all POD, self-published and small press titles with publication dates from 2004-2007. Winners & Finalists will be announced at Book Expo America in NYC June 1, 2007. Entry Deadline: April 14, 2007.


Call for submissions:

The 2007 New York Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, books for children, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, comics, e-books, wild card (anything goes!), science fiction, romance and biography/autobiography works:

Please feel free to forward copies of this bulletin to your fellow authors and publishers. This is a free resource that is
available to anyone in the book world upon request. We don't endorse specific products or services, and we do not accept advertising. You may subscribe or un-subscribe at any time.

Turn your book cover into a postage stamp:

Turn your book cover into a postcard:

Both sites above provide fast and easy online setup with no signup charges or minimums. will even mail individual postcards out for you at a total cost of just 35 cents plus 24 cents postage. No licking stamps or waiting on line at the post office... just create a postcard with your book's cover, and type in the delivery addresses. A cool time-saver -- and a useful tool for promoting your book!

Inside tip from Poynter and Snow: ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT!

Here's ours:

This is a F-R*E-E e-mail bulletin from, the Web site named for the book by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.

Bulletins are sent by subscription only. You may subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. Simply e-mail with "Add" or "Remove" in the subject line.

We do not endorse specific products or services, and we do not accept advertising. We will not sell your name, address or other personal information to others.

Our goal is to serve as advocates for the self-publishing author and independent publisher, large or small. We welcome your participation, feedback, criticism, and suggestions. We learn from our readers, and value your input.

Please visit at least once each month, for periodic updates of interest to writers and publishers. Please feel free to forward copies of this message to fellow writers and publishers. This is a free service, available to anyone in the book world upon request.

E-Mail Tips:

To reach the public more effectively, make sure your e-mail settings use "Text Only" format.

Some e-mail software such as Microsoft Outlook may send messages in the same format (HTML) as a web page, which can cause problems for recipients who use other software. Backgrounds, textures, "emoticons" and other bells and whistles simply waste bandwidth. Send plain text instead.

File attachments (especially large ones) also cause problems for some recipients and should be avoided unless they are specifically requested by the recipient. Put pictures on your Web site and include the location (but NOT the picture) in your e-mail messages. For example, if you want to see a photo of Poynter and Snow, click the link below:

Finally, when you type messages, we STRONGLY suggest ending each line by pressing the Enter key after typing about 60-80 characters, as we are doing here. This allows recipients to forward your message to others with fewer formatting problems.

If you are sending e-mail to the public, you want all of your messages to arrive simple and problem-free. The suggestions above will help you reach the public more effectively.

There were several reasons why I reproduced the above email verbatim:

1. I'm mentioned quite kindly in it.

2. It is a well crafted little newsletter of practical value to its targeted audience of writers and publishers.

3. It is one of those handful of such monthly commentaries (like the Jim Cox Report) that you should know about.

4. It is a model of what a newsletter is and could well serve as a template for promoting your own writing and/or publishing career.

There are a small but invaluable number of these kinds of specialized newsletters. Some you get when you join a group such as SPAN or PMA, others are offered for a subscription fee, still others (like the "Jim Cox Report") are free of charge. My advice to novice publishers and aspiring writers is to sample them all and discover which ones are a particularly good fit. While we all cover the same ground, we all bring differing levels of expertise, experience, style, and viewpoints to our advice and commentaries.

I'm now going to conclude with "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of some very nice people. These wonderful folk decided to say thank you and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Diane Lockward
Susan Amundson
Francis Bries Wojnar - "Eliza, An Iowa Pioneer"
Linda Davis Kyle - "Fun Foods for Kids & Grownups"
Robert Spalding - "Death by Pedicure"
Rabbi Nachum Shifren - "Kill Your Teacher"
Donna Van Cleve - "Grace Falling Like Rain"
Carolyn B. Mattack - "We've Got Feelings Too!"
Carol V. DeCarlo - "The Planets Align So Rare"
Tedde McMillen - "Nirvana in a Cup"
Jillian Robinson - "Change Your Life Through Travel"
Joel & Kathy Dawson - "The Man of Her Dreams/The Woman of His!"
Shepard Publications
Pro Lingua Associates
PixyJack Press
Ellen Myrick - NorthSouth Books
Alan C. Reese - Abecedarian Books, Inc.
Janice Phelps - Luck Press, LLC
Debra Pratt - Harbor House Law Press, Inc.
Wendy Shadpour - Shadpour Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Robert L. Giron - Gival Press
Peter Strunk - Smile Time Publishing
Tony Burton - Wolfmont Publishing
Ellie McGrath - McWitty Press
Steve Mezak - Earthrise Press
Alexander Kuklin - DNA Press
Geneva Whitney - Random River Press
Sharron Stockhausen - Expert Publishing Inc.
Niki Behrikis Shanahan - Pete Publishing
Bill Jelen - Holy Marco! Books
Sue Kemp - Quercus Books
Kelly Gehart - Momentum Books, LLC
David Smitherman - Palari Publishing, LLP

If you have postage to donate, just send it directly to my attention.

If you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send a published copy (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up.

So until next time!

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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