Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: August 2002
Home | Jim Cox Reports Index

Jim Cox Report: August 2002

Dear Publishers, Friends & Family:

Another month has gone by and there's a lot to write about, so let's get started with the office news; publishing Q&A; and those ever wonderful "unsolicited testimonials"!

It was brought (rather insistently) to my attention by my webmaster daughter that our Reviewer's Bookwatch had grown so large that it was unwieldy. The July issue clocked in at 257 pages -- and was simply so large that website visitors were having difficulty with it.

So I decided to launch still another online magazine. This one is called "MBR Bookwatch" and will feature all of our volunteer reviewers who also have editorship responsibilities. Jan Bogstad is our International Editor (and in the debut August edition she writes about her literary excursions in Ireland); Phil Kaveny is our Literary Editor (and writes about his activities in the academic and online circles, as well as the books he is currently involved with). Laurel Johnson does author interviews as well as reviews; Harriet Klausner is a prolific reviewer who largely (but not exclusively) focuses on titles from the major houses. Cindy Penn is our ebook specialist and has a special interest in paperback romances. Just these five folks have generated the 111 page debut issue of MBR Bookwatch.

The Reviewer's Bookwatch for August has dropped down to a mere 120 pages.

For those new to the Midwest Book Review and this report, the other online magazines include: Children's Bookwatch, Internet Bookwatch, and Small Press Bookwatch. Our library newsletters are The Bookwatch; Library Bookwatch; Wisconsin Bookwatch; and a newsletter version of Children's Bookwatch.

All of the online magazines are free, available for direct subscription. Just send me your email address and which one(s) you want to be signed up for. All our online magazines are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at

The other big news this past month is that on July 10th, we bought the building which houses the Midwest Book Review. This was made possible by our landlord of 26 years wanting to retire and giving us "first refusal" rights. I was able to put together all of our savings, plus a rather substantial grant, plus a family loan (I may have mentioned my having married rich), plus the landlord really wanted us to stay and made us an additional $30,000 loan at 2% interest. The local bank would have loaned it to us at 5.7%, so I figured we got a really good deal.

The reasons for buying the property were that who knew what rental hikes a new landlord would impose -- plus, if we ever had to move, it would be a headache to notify more than 12,000 publishers -- not to mention that our snail-mail address and phone number appear in about a dozen "how to" books for aspiring publishers.

So, our monthly rent now becomes a monthly mortgage payment. And here's the kicker -- it's about the same figure, $750 a month.

I hope August calms down a little, so that I can too!

Now, on to some Q&A based "tips, tricks & techniques" for writers and publishers:

In a message dated 02-04-01 13:36:58 EST, Rob Sanchez writes:

> I have to disagree that having "fake employees" is tantamount to flat-out
> lying. There are many business practices that are not honest, but should
> not necessarily be labeled as "lies."

On the subject of a self-published author or (very) small publisher using "fake employees" in presenting themselves in the publishing community, I'd like to point out a couple of considerations:
  1. There is a very old and honorable tradition of the use of pen-names or pseudonyms by authors -- and by magazine editors not wanting their readerships to know that their articles were being authored by the publication's owners/editors.

  2. There is a very old and honorable tradition in the business community of doing business under more than one name. This is why banks will require from such enterprises the notation DBA, which means "Doing Business As" with respect to such things as opening accounts, cashing or depositing checks, etc.

  3. There is a very old and honorable tradition of privately changing one's name without recourse to a judicial or legal confirmation -- as long as the new name/identity is not used for fraudulent or criminal activities.
Therefore it is ethically permissible for a self-published author or (very) small publisher to employ the use of pseudonyms and "DBA" designations when presenting themselves to the marketplace.

And there are some very compelling, business oriented reasons for doing so:
  1. Dealing with the marketplace prejudice against self-published authors.

  2. Dealing with the marketplace handicaps imposed upon a small press.

  3. Ensuring personal privacy while engaging in a public transaction.
Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-04-05 13:20:48 EST, Alan N. Kay writes:

> I have a question for you... Can you recommend which publicist on your list
> could BEST represent a series of Young Adult Historical Fiction? I have
> spoken to the people at Phenix and Phenix, and am impressed but my
> sense of due diligence has me wondering who else is out there that would
> be good for us...

My advice is to inquire of all the independent publicists you will find listed on the Midwest Book Review in the "Book Marketing & Publicity" section. Get responses that you can compare, one against another, to determine which would be the best suited for you in terms of what you need and what you can afford.

One thing I can tell you is that each of them has performed excellent, professional level services for their clients when it came to dealing with the Midwest Book Review.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-04-17 09:53:16 EDT, David Leonhardt writes:

> Congratulations to Midwest Book Review for being the subject of a great
> review at:

My thanks to David (who is one of our volunteer reviewers and has his own monthly column called "David's Bookshelf" in our "Reviewer's Bookwatch") for bringing this critique of the Midwest Book Review website to my attention. Wow!

I'd never heard of "Web Watch" or the "Absolute Write" website -- but you can bet that there will be a link to it in the "Writer Resources" section of the Midwest Book Review website at our next monthly updating session!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: Your Feedback, permission, and comments please
Date: 02-04-27 05:56:24 EDT
From: Peter Hupalo

Hi Jim,

I was looking at some of posts and collecting some information and I've decided I might write a book about self publishing. I was thinking of using the below with your permission:

Book Reviews

While there are many book reviewers and book review sources, only a few are truly receptive to small publisher titles. Jim Cox's Midwest Book Review ( should definitely receive a review copy of your small press titles.

Books reviewed by MBR are included in a book review index on CD-ROM which is distributed to public library systems and the reviews also often turn up on and other places.

I believe MBR has been one of the most positive forces helping small press titles achieve recognition. I've always noticed a boost in sales when one of our HCM titles has been reviewed by MBR. MBR depends upon volunteer reviewers and receives a great many books, so don't feel bad if your title isn't chosen for review.

Jim Cox says: "Of the 1,500+ titles a month received, about half (750) get assigned, and only around 450+ get reviewed. That's about 1/3 of the total submitted."

-- in resource section: (Resources and articles for publishers and information about how the review process works)

Is there anything that you'd like to say to new publishers seeking reviews? Or the role of MBR? Or anything else?

Thanks! Peter

Jim Cox and the Midwest Book Review are resourced, referred to, quoted from, or otherwise featured in over a dozen "how to" books on the subject of publishing. I'm always happy to help folks who are writing such volumes and readily give permission for anything I've written (such as the various "how to" articles in our "Advice For Publishers" section of the MBR website).

In July I was also written up in Dan Poynter's newsletter. I found out about this after six different people called up to inquire about submission guidelines and mentioned that it was Dan's newsletter that they came across the Midwest Book Review.

If anyone ever wants to use something I've written for their book or newsletter -- all they ever have to do is ask!

In a message dated 02-04-05 15:55:49 EST, Carl Heintz writes:

> Ready for this? If your spine does not have your company logo on it,
> you are a despicable lowly, self publisher not worthy of any consideration.
> So, fellow low-lifes, all we need to do is put a logo on our spine, and
> presto-change-o, we will be legitimate publishers.

The lack of a publishers name or logo on the bottom of the spine is a violation of historical standard publishing norms in this industry. Check the major houses the next time you are in a bookstore or library to see what I mean.

The lack of a publisher name or logo on the bottom of the spine means either:
  1. Your are a self-published author who does not know that there are "publishing norms" and that a lack of adherence to them dulls your competitive edge in the often rather cut-throat business arena that is publishing today.

  2. You know that the norm exists but for reasons of your own have chosen to have your publishing company violate that norm and run the risk of being mistaken for an amateur (and therefore less-than-professional) in the profession and thereby dulling your competitive edge in the often rather cut-throat business arena that is publishing today.
It's not about being avant-garde folks. "I Did It My Way" is a great Frank Sinatra tune.

But being successful as a small press publisher or self-published author is about presenting yourself in accord with accepted professional standards so that your books will be as competitive as possible with all the other thousands and thousands and thousands of other folks' titles that are clamoring for the attention of a reviewer, a distributor, a wholesaler, a librarian, a bookstore buyer, or the general reading public.

It's not whether you are a "legitimate" publisher -- it's whether or not you are perceived to be a publishing-is-a-business-not-a-hobby professional publisher.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-05-02 08:46:02 EDT, Jilll Morgan writes:

> Just wondering why you list as the contact for so many of
> these books, instead of the publisher's website or phone number?

Good question! There are four principle reasons:
  1. Several publishers don't have toll free numbers and/or their own websites, but are accessible to the readers of our reviews through a "toll free" access to

  2. Several publishers have website URLs that are too long to fit into a single line along with the ISBN & Price -- using makes those three info-bits fit on one line in the newsletter format. There is a page count (space) limitation to our print newsletters so we try to save as many lines as possible in order to be able to print as many reviews as possible in a given issue.

  3. Quite often will offer a discount when the publisher does not.

  4. Libraries (and a substantial portion of the general reading public) feel more comfortable in ordering through Amazon than through publisher websites or by using publisher toll free phone numbers.
Incidently, the use of is not universal. For example, when the book in question does not have an Amazon webpage, or when the review is part of one of our reviewer's bylined columns in "Reviewer's Bookwatch", or when the publisher's URL fits quite nicely along with their ISBN and the price. does not furnish any compensation or fee for including their website in the ordering contact info -- I just started doing it routinely a couple of months ago because it occurred to me (while in the process of posting our reviews to the Amazon website) that to do so would be advantageous to our readers.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-04-05 18:29:59 EST, Ana Lomba writes:

> Is there a place to find the standard rules for children's books? Mine will
> not have a spine

Walk into any good bookshop and go to the children's book section. Look the section where your book would be expected to be found if the bookstore were to carry it.

Then look at all the other titles that are on the shelf where you would hope that your book would be.

Then you'll know what I mean by normative rules when it comes to publishing books in today's competitive marketplace.

For those publications that will have no spine, (such as chapbooks, pamphlet materials, and spiral bound titles), look at what others with such titles have done with respect to providing a professional appearance with all the necessary info bits (including publisher identification).

The you do likewise for yours.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-04-07 16:43:56 EDT, John Culleton writes regarding finding out if he is a victim of plagiarizers:

> What resources would the group suggest I try?

Try first typing the title of your book into the Google search engine while bracketing it with quotation marks: "The Jim Cox Report" -- These quotations marks mean that only the intact phrase between them will be acted upon in the search. Without the quotation marks, any Google search would also include all websites with the words Jim, Cox, and Report. But with the quotation mark bracketing, only The Jim Cox Report findings will show up.

Then try typing the author's name into Google -- also using those quotation marks.

You might be amazed at what you can find out that way when trying to track down a book, an author, a publisher, a review, a plagiarizer, etc.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-02-13 13:17:43 EST, Doris Martin writes:

> Thank you for your interest in our new travel guide TOP SPECIAL INTEREST
> VACATIONS, USA. The book you received is the finished book. We would
> welcome your review, as we have for past books. If there are any questions,
> contact me.

Dear Doris:

Thanks to your reply above. I have now rescued the book from our galley/proofs box before it was hauled away to landfill.

I took a closer look and now I know how the error was made. It's information that may serve you in good stead if other reviewer's have had the same first impression that I did.

The problem is the type font and format of the back cover. It looks exactly like the kind of font and typeface arrangement that is routinely used on uncorrected proofs from the major houses like Penguin Putnam or HarperCollins.

It's an imitation typewriter font and the simple alphabetical listing of data in two columns is very similar in format to the way data uncorrected proofs display.

The other problem is the kind of glossy paper used for the wrap-around cover -- again, its the same kind of paper stock commonly used along with that with a stark black type on a plain white background that inadvertently mimics the typical uncorrected proof.

When a reviewer gets 50 to 60 titles piled up on their desk in the morning and begins to do a literary triage into what will be accepted and what will be dismissed, there's not a lot of time involved. It's a process that won't take more than half an hour or so, which means the individual titles only get 30 to 60 seconds (tops) to make their impression -- and that includes the publicity release and the cover letter that accompany them.

The good news is that your book has now been rescued from oblivion and will be given a second chance at a review assignment. But if you hadn't given me such an immediate response to my email announcement alerting you to our Midwest Book Review policy of requiring a finished copy, it would have been gone and forgotten.

I'm going to share this example with other publisher folk because, although not a frequent problem, it does crop up from time to time. As much attention should be paid to the back cover as to the front cover in order to avoid confusion, promote the book, and otherwise intrigue prospective reviewers, librarians, distribution wholesalers, bookstore retailers, and the reading public.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-04-10 02:00:05 EDT, Pamela Enchayan writes:

> Self-publishing is probably in my future, as well. I'm wondering if some
> of you could suggest good books / references for the beginner.

Anyone who aspires (or has recently taken the plunge) to self-publishing needs to become intimately acquainted with one of the most invaluable "how to" resources you will ever find on the internet: the Midwest Book Review website.

It's at

Once there, do the following:
  1. Read through all the articles you will find in the "Advice For Publishers" section.

  2. Browse through the "Publishers Bookshelf" section, be prepared to taken notes.

  3. Browse through the "Publisher Resources" section.

  4. Browse through the "Publisher's Bookshelf" reviews -- note that most of "how to" titles are available for free through your local library's Interloan Library program.

  5. Browse through the back issues of "The Jim Cox Report".

  6. As time (and energy) permit, take a tour of the other sections as well.

You will soon find that the Midwest Book Review website is your new best friend!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

And now on to some of those "unsolicited testimonials":

Subj: When You Wish Upon A Star
Date: 02-04-12 07:39:14 EDT

Dear Mr. Cox,

I was so very pleasantly surprised this morning to click on Amazon and find your wonderful review there of my novel, "When You Wish Upon A Star." Thank you, simply does not say enough to express my gratitude for your support.

I reviewed the MBR site this morning trying to find guidelines for using the review in my publicity materials and could not find them. I would like to use the review in some of my press releases and such, but will not do so if this is not acceptable. So, I guess my questions are: may I use the review for the above purposes, and if I may, will it be published in your newsletter and do I need to quote the volume and issue number when I quote the review? (did that make sense?)

Thank you again.
Sincerely, Nancy Marie

smiles and blessings, Nancy Marie author - When You Wish Upon A Star- Available now from AmErica House Publishers

All publishers and authors whose books are reviewed by the Midwest Book Review have automatic, full and complete permission to utilize the reviews for marketing and promoting their book in any manner they deem appropriate.

Just give the usual credit citation when doing so. And in most cases that would be simplified by using Midwest Book Review. This is because a given review can pop up in more than one of our various publications: The Bookwatch; Children's Bookwatch; Internet Bookwatch; Library Bookwatch; MBR Bookwatch; Reviewer's Bookwatch; Wisconsin Bookwatch.

Subj: Re: Dear Bruce
Date: 02-04-20 22:56:02 EDT
From: (Bruce Southworth)

Dear Mr. Cox,

Thanks for replying to me so quickly.

Yours is an amazing site! It would take days to explore all the links and even then I suspect you'd never get back to where you started. I am reminded of something I read in a book on English history years ago (the author' name and the book's title are long gone from memory). The author apologized in the introduction for getting off track so often in the text. But he felt that since the digressions he experienced while writing the book were so enjoyable to him, he felt the reader would enjoy them too. Following all those links would lead you to a lot of undiscovered country!

About the article, I do plan to share it with my book group. I'm sure they'll find it interesting -- and a look into the workings of book reviewing. For our last meeting, Mary Ann Grossmann, the Book Pages Editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press was our guest. She gave some interesting history of the book page and some insight into how it gets done.

I would be grateful if you would send me your guidelines for reviewing for MBR. Your 'reviewer information' page does give a good overview, but I'd like to read the entire set of guidelines. Reviewing for the Midwest Book Review would be a pleasure. After reading some of the reviews posted, am I right, that you're not as bound to really current books? I didn't find publication month or year in any I read.

Thanks again. I look forward to hearing from you, and reviewing for you.

Best, Bruce

Our guidelines are very simple. A published copy of the book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs); accompanied by some form of publicity release and a cover letter.

We will accept any book for review consideration as long as it is in print and available to the reading public. Indeed, small press publishers must "live" off their active backlists. And self-published authors often discover the Midwest Book Review well after they have launched their titles.

As for our website: It is addictive! Many a publisher or author has gone to the Midwest Book Review website intending only to browse form 10 or 15 minutes -- only to look up and discover they been there for the better part of an hour!

You have been warned! :-)

Subj: your review of To Play With Fire
Date: 02-04-21 03:47:28 EDT
From: (Urim Publications)

Dear James,

We would like to thank you very much for your outstanding review of our latest release, To Play With Fire. We are so happy that your reviewer enjoyed this work, and look forward to sending you future review copies of our newest releases. We have posted your review on our website,

All the best,

Sorelle Wachmann Editor
Urim Publications
P.O. Box 52287 Jerusalem 91521 Israel
tel. 972-2-679-7633 fax. 972-2-679-7634

We not only get books from Israel, they also arrived from New Zealand, Australia, India, Ireland, England, Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada. The "Midwest" in Midwest Book Review long ago became somewhat obsolete as a descriptor.

When I say that we average 1,500 titles per month coming in from a collective community of more than 12,000 publishers -- I am in certain earnest. This is also reflected in the growth of our roster of volunteer reviewers now numbering 76 book loving souls!

Subj: Thank You For Your Review Of Our Book
Date: 02-05-22 21:03:34 EDT
From: (Renee Winett)

Dear Mr. Cox,

I just wanted to thank you for your recent positive review of our new book "Building A Project-Driven Enterprise", by Ron Mascitelli. We really appreciate your taking the time to not only review the book but also to place it on and to send us the tear sheet. This really makes a difference in my marketing efforts.

Best Regards,

Renee Winett
Technology Perspectives

The sending out of tear sheets, accompanied by a "publisher notification" letter ought to be a standard in our industry -- and I have never understood why it isn't.

With respect to overseas publishers I send an email notification and the text of the review (in lieu of snail-mail) because overseas postage is so high.

I have always maintained that it was a matter of simple fairness that publishers be provided with the review of a book that they, in turn, had provided to the reviewer. I also feel it is the publisher's obligation to notify authors, editors, illustrators, publicists, and anyone else they deem appropriate when a review does land on their desk.

And the sending of tear sheets and publisher notification letters go a long, long way towards explaining why the Midwest Book Review has the reputation and credibility that it does throughout the publishing industry.

Subj: Empty Holster-Thank you
Date: 02-05-24 13:44:05 EDT

Dear James A. Cox,

I just read the Midwest Book Review review of Empty Holster. Thank you. As this is my first book I never dreamed of getting such a great review. I found it on

I hope to send you more books in the future.

Thanks again,
Marvin L. Brown

This is the other reason for sending tear sheets -- all those wonderful "thank you" notes and emails from authors for whom the Midwest Book Review is the first to have paid professional attention to their book.

Incidently, the reason the reviews are often posted to faster than I can snail-mail them out to the publishers is that my webmaster daughter who does the posting to Amazon is every so much faster than her aging Editor-in-Chief father who must click and clack away on the keyboard when writing the letters, tearing out the tear sheets, stuffing the envelopes, and affixing the postage stamps.

Well that's about it for this time around. Until the September "Report" I bid you all good bye, 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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design