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Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: April 2009
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Jim Cox Report: April 2009

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Let me begin with a bit of personal gossip. Being semi-retired nowadays as the Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review (my daughter Bethany largely taking over the routine day-to-day chores of putting out our nine monthly book review publications as the Managing Editor), I've now joined the board of directors of the Oregon Areas Historical Society & Museum. Here's their website for anyone curious about our local historical society:

My purpose is to help a friend of mine (and a fellow board member) to establish a research library as part of the museum where his lifetime collection (he's in his mid-eighties) of books would be housed. Most of these books (about 3000 titles) have to do with Wisconsin History and Military History. His collection also includes original materials, manuscripts, studies and the like.

A reference library is one where the books cannot be removed from the premises, but are made available for research studies and other scholarly endeavors. Whereas in a lending library (like your local community library) the books can be checked out and taken home.

Libraries have always been important to me both personally and professionally. As a child they were sanctuaries where I took shelter from the storms of life. As an adult they were terrific resources for information and entertainment. Down through the years I've worked in academic and community libraries as a volunteer, as a library board member, and as a special projects researcher.

Once as a college student I even worked off a traffic ticket through being sentenced by the local municipal judge to six consecutive Saturdays of community service by helping out at the American Fork, Utah public library. I was put to work repairing old books, shelving returns, and generally making my self useful. It was the single most pleasant punishment I'd every had to undertake for my automotive transgressions.

One of my regular monthly review columns is called "The Library Science Shelf" and is a standard feature of the monthly book review publication I produce called "The Library Bookshelf". You'll find every back issue I've every published at:

In my opinion, again both private and professional, every writer and every publisher should be a stalwart supporter of their local community library -- even if it's just joining their local "Friends of the Library" group. Free public libraries are one of the foundations upon which a democratic and literate society is based. And it's just that kind of society in which writers and publishers flourish best.

End of sermon. Now here's some reviews of new 'how to' books on writing and publishing that you may find particularly beneficial:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists
Andrew McAleer
Adams Media
57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 92322
9781598695892, $12.95,

Why can R.A. Salvatore sell millions and you can't? "The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists: Insider Secrets from Top Writers" draws from a huge pool of talented writers who present their habits and routines they use to put their best-selling novel out into the world. With names like R.A. Salvatore, Robin Moore, Mary Higgins Clark, the talent pool does know what they are talking about. For anyone who is delving into the avenue of long fiction, "The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists" is encouraging reading.

The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing
Linda F. Radke
Five Star Publications
1193-392nd Road, Utica, NE 68456
9781589851016, $19.95,

Even in the present economic climate that has compelled the major publishing houses to cut back the numbers of titles they produce, it has never been easier to publish a book -- or sell one. In "The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing: How To Produce And Market Your Book On A Budget", Linda F. Radke draws upon her more than 24 years of experience and expertise as a publisher whose Five Star Publications has produced award-winning and commercially successful books that were traditionally published, self-published, and published through limited partnerships. The result is a compendium of solid, practical, step-by-step information that takes the aspiring author from manuscript to published book, and then on to the tasks of marketing, promotion, publicity, and sales. "The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing" covers such issues as transforming a manuscript into a typeset book; recruiting illustrators and editors; obtaining copyrights, ISBN numbers, and bar codes; getting printing bids; publishing as a home business; developing mailing lists; even handling interviews. Of special note is what "The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing" offers by way of strategies and tactics for effectively marketing a book on a limited budget. Enhanced with an appendix listing useful publications and associations for the self-published author, "The Economical Guide To Self-Publishing" is highly recommended reading and an invaluable resource and 'do-it-yourself' reference for anyone aspiring to publish their own work.

Creative Writer's Handbook
Philip K. Jason & Allan B. Lefcowitz
Pearson/Prentice Hall Press
c/o Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0131893718, $80.60,

Creativity is executing an art form, and with art, there is no such thing as absolute perfection, there is always room for improvement. Now in an updated and expanded fourth edition, "Creative Writer's Handbook" is a guidebook for writers of all sorts to better gain a mastery of their art form, be it short fiction, poetry, or other artistic endeavors that use the spoken language as their primary medium. Encouraging readers to enhance and ever improve their craft, Jason and Lefcowitz have put out a text that will benefit many a college age creative writing student well, as a free study manual or as a textbook for creative writing classes. "Creative Writer's Handbook" is a deftly composed book, highly recommended for community and college collections aimed at the art of writing.

20 Things You Must Know to Write a Great Screenplay
Rick Reichman
Central Ave. Press
2132-A Central SE #144, Albuquerque, NM 87106
9780971534476, $16.95,

Some things are obvious, some things are slight, but they're all important nonetheless. "20 Things You Must Know to Write a Great Screenplay: A Thorough Primer for Screenwriters" is a manual for the aspiring screenwriter who wants every trick and tip possible to take their story from good to great. When relating tips for the writing process, author Rick Reichman references successful Hollywood productions in order to give examples relevant to the tips. "20 Things You Must Know to Write a Great Screenplay" is a strong choice for a would-be screenwriter.

Finally, here's one I include just for it's unique novelty -- in addition to being deftly written:

Tarot for Writers
Corrine Kenner
Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive,Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738714578, $19.95

TAROT FOR WRITERS tells how to interpret signals and myths, use classic tarot layouts to structure a story line, and how to link the creative writing process to tarot. From overcoming writer's block to using tarot methods to tap into sources of inspiration, TAROT FOR WRITERS links the cards to myths, legends, and keywords leading to wellsprings of thought. Any library catering to either new age readers or creative writers will find it involving.

Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:

The role of (and other online booksellers) is a continuing subject of interest and concern for members of the publishing community. In response to an opinion piece I wrote recommended that self-published authors and small press publishers take maximum advantage of online booksellers in general, and in particular. Linda, a fellow publisher discussion group member, responded to what I wrote on the subject. She noted:

I read your comments and agree with most of them. Thanks for putting things in a concise wording.

But I disagree with the following statement you made, "Simply boycotting Amazon is ultimately self-defeating as a marketing strategy for most authors and publishers."

Sometimes it takes a boycott to make a bully wake up and take notice.'s current polices are based on becoming the only POD printing business especially for independent and small sized publishers... a monopoly.... and that is not good for anyone but in the short and long run.

To which I replied:

Linda's observation has merit. Boycotts sometimes work to improve unfair conditions -- and sometimes they don't.

However, my observation that self-published authors and small press publishers boycotting was in response to the presence of negative reviews and any reluctance or failure of Amazon to delete offending reviews on their web pages. It had nothing to do with Amazon attempts to establish dominance as a POD printing business.

That is an entirely different subject and one of critical importance to authors who must publish utilizing a POD company -- and there are many, many, many of them out there these days. I know because I get books from their author clients virtually every working day.

If the non-BookSurge POD title that we've reviewed is on my webmaster has no difficulty posting the review there.

I'm not aware of anyone published by iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, PublishAmerica, Tate, or any of the other dozens and dozens of POD being unable to register their titles with Amazon. I would be very interested in knowing if such a refusal has occurred.

I would also be of the opinion that authors and publishers should have reviews of their books posted on all bookselling and book review database websites that offer that feature. It's one of the fundamental tools and strategies of guerrilla style book marketing for no-budget and low-budget marketing plans.

For example, one often overlooked source is the Usenet newsgroup

Finally, Amazon does get the occasional weird idea into its corporate head -- such as asserting proprietary ownership of posted reviews to its website for the purpose of selling them. I think they've finally given that one up for the ludicrous notion it was.

So authors and publishers should do what they can to profit from bookseller sites like because they are effective means to sell books that otherwise members of the reading public might never know existed.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Also arising from that same discussion thread was this:

In a message dated 6/15/2008 11:47:48 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes: That brings to mind the question of why aren't the Midwest Book Reviews posted on Barnes and Nobel and the other sites, as they are at Amazon? To which I answered: We simply don't have the staff resources to do so. It takes one of our volunteers (and sometimes our webmaster) about 5 days to complete posting the 600 to 700 reviews we generate a month. If anyone wants to volunteer to post them to Barnes and Nobel just let me know. You'd earn my undying gratitude and ameliorate my enduring guilt at taking such blatant advantage of your good nature! Jim Cox Midwest Book Review

It was a lively discussion that also produced this exchange:

In a message dated 6/15/2008 11:47:48 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

However, I see the Curriculum Review sells its reviews on Amazon. Their review of The Little Man In the Map is selling for $9.95. I have no idea if anyone is buying them but it's a pure cash cow if they are.

To which I responded:

I am not familiar with Curriculum Review. But if they are trying to sell their reviews on the Amazon website, they are wildly optimistic. Who would want to pay them money for a review they can read right there on the screen?

If the author and/or publisher furnished the book to Curriculum Review, and didn't get a tear sheet (copy of the review) from Curriculum Review, then they have the right to do a simple 'copy & paste' and take it right off the Amazon website. Their having the right to do so stems from their having furnished a review copy. It's a standard Prid Pro Quo arrangement within the publishing industry.

If they did not furnish the book so reviewed, then I guess they'd have to fork over the $9.95 to do so.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Finally, this was the concluding exchange with respect to my own contributions:

In a message dated 6/15/2008 11:47:48 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

There is the constant debate about fair use of reviews. What is your position on fair use in context with your suggestion of posting reviews on the other sites?

Andrew Martonyi

Dear Andrew:

Authors and publishers can post reviews of their books (for which they furnished the review with a complimentary copy for that purpose) on any online bookseller site or database that will accept them. There is no exclusivity of ownership by Amazon or anyone else -- unless the author and/or publisher has signed an exclusivity contract prior to the posting of the review on the website.

When posting reviews, credit must always be given to the reviewer or review publication or review website from which the review originated.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

As usual, I'm going to conclude this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Landee Page
Chris Blunt
Andrea Skyberg
Shirley Presberg
Cynthia B. Ainsworth
Sam Moffie -- "No Mad"
Joel D. Hesch -- "Reward"
David Weiss -- "Cedar Creek"
Stacy A. Nyikos -- "Dragon Wishes"
Thomas W. Sucler -- "Common Sense II"
Sandra Clayton -- "Something of the Turtle"
Henry M. Hess -- "The Perfect Menopause"
Dennis A. Butler -- "The Road to Wisdom"
Bethany Valachi -- "Practice Dentistry Pain-Free"
Cathy Diez-Luckie -- "Famous Figures of Ancient Times"
Portland Press
Tolana Publishing
Cando Books LLC
Great Little Books
White Cloud Press
Shea & Associates Inc.
On Air Video Productions
Kathy Brodsky -- HelpingWords
Irene Brady -- Nature Works Press
Paul Diamond -- Casagrande Press
Bart Windrum -- Axiom Action LLC
Chris Jones -- Sage Hill Publishing
Nigel J. Yorwerth -- Three Wings Press
Maria Peagler -- Willow Ridge Press LLC
Linda M. Layne -- Cedar Creek Publishing
Beverly Newton -- International jewelry Publications

Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!

If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time, goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

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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