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Jim Cox Report: August 2003

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

July was still another jam-packed month of deadlines, serendipity, and paperwork here at the Midwest Book Review. Let's begin with another batch of "tips, tricks & techniques" that are couched in the form of answers to questions and responses to inquiries:

I got a couple of unusual emails that I thought I'd share by way of giving you an idea of how the Midwest Book Review profile keeps expanding thanks to our having somehow caught the attention of others both online and offline:

1. Your Content Has Been Recommended By!

Congratulations! Your content has been recommended by! The content appears on the page titled: "KidLitLady" and reads as follows: "Picture book Picks"

"Mini-reviews of the latest picture book releases." book.

Backwash is a community of independent columnists who recommend the best specific content on the net. If you would like any changes made in either the description or URL, please contact the columnist responsible for recommending your content at

Recommended content is delivered to our audience in over a dozen different targeted ways, including personalized recommendations. It is also syndicated to thousands of other websites via our free related content web feeds, ! which range from pre-set categories to our daily most popular content charts to personalized web feeds. Simply put, getting your content recommended by Backwash content is a great way to drive traffic to your site and to reach the audience specifically interested in your content!

If you have other great content you wish to share, we encourage you to submit it to us at Websites that link to Backwash receive priority consideration for their submissions.

The Backwash Team

I had never heard of these folks and don't know a thing about them. Checking out their website is on my ever lengthening list of Things To Do. But I'm kind of used to having other folks with websites draw upon our reviews, interviews, and "how to" articles dealing with publishing issues in order to enhance their websites informational content. -- In fact, I encourage it!

If you have a website or an organizational newsletter, please feel free to draw upon the Midwest Book Review website -- just be sure to give the usual credit citation if you do -- and a link to our website would not go amiss!

2. Your Writer's Digest Galley


Writer's Digest will be printing your article in a special issue on publishing. I'd like to fax you your galley for the magazine, but first need to know what number to fax it to. If you could please reply back with your fax number and/or any special instructions I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks so much,

Amanda Athon
Editorial Assistant
Writer's Digest

It's always nice to hear from the good folk at Writer's Digest Press. And always an honor to have them run some article I've written in their magazine. Now for the first time it looks like I'll also be in one of their "how to" books for writers and/or publishers.

I don't have a fax -- won't have a fax. So Amanda is sending me the galley of this book (which seems to have a spring release date -- but I'm not certain) so that I can proof read my article for any mistakes, typos, or things I wish I'd worded better.

This is going to be the 15th "how to" book in which the Midwest Book Review and I will be written up in. -- Very good for the ego!

3. A new technique for free book publicity

Two new titles from Focal Press hit my desk today seeking review consideration. As I was logging them in, I turned to the back cover to secure their ISBN numbers and something brand new caught my attention.

Each of the two books has something on their back covers that I had never seen before. It was a little rectangle within which was the following message:

"If you enjoyed this book please post a review to your favorite online bookstore today."

In the first book (Set Lighting Technician's Handbook: 3rd Edition), there was a little open book icon or image set within the rectangle with the message.

In the second book (Making Media) there was a little tv set icon or image set within the rectangle with the message.

Both books are published by Focal Press (an imprint of Elsevier Science -- a very large publishing corporation) who, in my opinion, have come with one terrific marketing/publicity scheme with little or no additional expense -- enlisting their readers into their marketing team by inviting satisfied readers to add a "reader's review" to the book(s) Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and/or anybody's online bookstore.

What they've done is visual simple, elegant, and quite effective. You folks might consider this little promotional technique for your own publications.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

4. Daily Search Activity

From: Tue Jul 01 00:00:00 PDT 2003
To: Fri Aug 01 00:00:00 PDT 2003

Day Date Queries

Tue Jul 01 72
Wed Jul 02 101
Thu Jul 03 38
Fri Jul 04 52
Sat Jul 05 36
Sun Jul 06 57
Mon Jul 07 69
Tue Jul 08 74
Wed Jul 09 79
Thu Jul 10 42
Fri Jul 11 43
Sat Jul 12 45
Sun Jul 13 56
Mon Jul 14 57
Tue Jul 15 75
Wed Jul 16 58
Thu Jul 17 67
Fri Jul 18 61
Sat Jul 19 28
Sun Jul 20 39
Mon Jul 21 90
Tue Jul 22 53
Wed Jul 23 67
Thu Jul 24 64
Fri Jul 25 50
Sat Jul 26 60
Sun Jul 27 36
Mon Jul 28 73
Tue Jul 29 42
Wed Jul 30 42
Thu Jul 31 51

Total for Jul: 1777

We get our website spidered quite routinely. My favorite is because they send us these month tallies as to the numbers of visitors we have. I don't know if it means a lot, but it sure is nice to know that all the work we have done (and continue to do) has some kind of audience. I get little emails and letters quite routinely from novice self-published authors and fledgling small press publishers thanking us for providing such a diverse and useful-on-a-practical-scale source of basic (and some not so basic) "how do", "what to", "when to" information that helps folks quickly master the learning curve for just about any facet of the publishing process. Our website address is -- please feel free to visit -- it could become your new best friend!

5. Thanks and My ISBN

Dear Mr. Cox,

Thank you for publishing the review of my music CD, Take Me to Your Library, in the April edition of Children's Bookwatch. It's a great review and I definitely will be able to quote from it with pride, which I appreciate very much.

My CD does have an ISBN number, which I notice is missing from the contact information in the review. I thought I would supply it in case you can still add it.

The ISBNs are 0-9701081-5-X (CD) and 0-9701081-4-1 (Cassette).

Thank you!

Monty Harper
Monty Harper Productions

It's always nice to get a thank you note. And never be reluctant to add any additional information when we (or anybody else) has reviewed your book, video, DVD, CD, etc. For example, in Monty's case the review was submitted by one of our volunteers who apparently didn't know or simply forgot to include the ISBN info -- very useful stuff to have as contact information for librarians, bookstores, or the general reading public wanting to acquire something they've seen reviewed.

Occasionally we will get a phone number wrong, or a website URL will have a typo. When these things happen, just send an email and ask for the addition/correction. No self-respecting reviewer or review publication editor would ever mind -- especially if (like the Midwest Book Review) our reviews are upon on our website for a year.

6. "How The Book Review System Works"

James A. Cox,

My name is Mark Wesley from rosa+wesley. I am starting a new website which is targeted towards the Latino book market. The site will be called I will offer information on the Latino market and general publishing information. I would like to give the people who come to my site the opportunity to read your article "How The Book Review System Works." If this is ok can you please send me back an email giving me permission to use your article. I am also offering to do book reviews on this site. Do you have any advice? Thank you.

Mark Edward Wesley
Sales and Marketing Director
rosa+wesley, inc.

First of all -- anyone who hasn't read my art on the mechanics of the book review process should do so as soon as possible. No brag, just fact. What I've written is drawn from almost 30 years of daily experience as a professional book reviewer and as the Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review. You will find it in the section of the Midwest Book Review website called "Publisher Advice".

Secondly, this is still another example of what I try to encourage. If you have a website that could benefit from having any of these articles that's I've written and which you will find in the "Publisher Advice" section, please always feel free to avail yourself of them. Just credit Jim Cox and the Midwest Book Review when doing so.

There are other articles by other folks there as well. You will need to secure their author's permissions to add them to your website -- but most of those folks would be tickled pink to have you ask them.

Incidently, I'm always on the lookout for good writing/publishing related websites to add to the resource lists that comprise so much of the Midwest Book Review website. So do like Mark did -- inform me of your website's address when you've got it up and running and I'd be delighted to check it out and if it passes muster, have my webmaster add a link to the thematically appropriate section of our rather massive website.

7. Now let's turn to a rather serious problem that comes up from time to time -- and almost invariable with self-published titles submitted for review. The confusion that can arise if a publisher contact snail-mail address is not clearly identified either on the book or on the accompanying paperwork. This was the case with Debbie and her self-published title -- and the only discernable snail mail address turned out to be her residence. Something she did quite justifiably not want put up on our website or scattered abroad on the internet through Yahoo, search engines, spidering software programs, and the like.

Dear Debbie:

My apologies for mistaking your home address for the publisher address. As you have requested, we have removed it from the review which is posted on our website.

Fortunately, your email reached me before we posted that review anywhere else.

I have no idea as to how it got onto, internet search engines, (or anywhere else on the net where it may appear), and no idea as to how a person would go about getting their address (or any other personal information) removed from the web.

I asked my webmaster about it and this was her response:

"Many search directories need time to update their data. Yahoo may report that something is on our site for a few days after we have removed it, but in time it should update its listing.

We are not in any way affiliated with Yahoo. Our website is All reviews on our site are free for the public to distribute, so it is possible someone could have placed copies of the review and the address on their own site. If a search on Yahoo is turning up her address on a variety of sites, the only thing to do is to contact the owner of each site and request the removal of her address. If the owners refuse or ignore her request, she can submit a complaint to the web host or ISP provider for each person's site.

If her address is repeated anywhere else on our own website of then we can and will remove it immediately upon request."

And, of course, she did forthwith remove it from our MBR website.

I'm sorry that I cannot be more helpful, other than to once again apologize for mistaking a personal address from that of a small press publisher that, until your book submission, was unknown to me and therefore not readily identifiable as being the wrong address to set down as part of the publisher contact information.

I write a monthly column for the small press community called "The Jim Cox Report". I will do a section on this problem (without referring to you by name or publisher) so that other self-published authors and small press publishers can be alerted to the importance of clearly denoting the publisher address to be cited and thereby avoiding personal addresses and the problems that can ensue from that kind of thing in the future.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

And now let's dip into the "Unsolicited Testimonial" email traffic for some more publishing commentary, advice, and suggestions.

8. What to do with a positive review

Dear Jim,

I have been a reader of your column for quite a while, even before" The Sandscrapers was published. After publication and when Penny Sansevieri took over as my publicity representative and after you had reviewed my book, she made a suggestion. It was to take one sentence from the review and make it a line banner on the top of the front cover, and a deserved compliment to you. I did so in the next printing. It not only looks good but is quite a hook .The book is selling better than ever. I am sure your line adds to the --look see--

Griff Garnett

Griff has done what I would hope every independent publisher and self-published author would do as a matter of routine. When you get a positive review don't just smile and shove it in a drawer somewhere. Look it over carefully. Is there a quotable quote that you can extract and utilize in your promotional campaign either as part of your publicity release materials, a possible media kit, online at Amazon or other book seller websites, or your own promotion oriented website?

You made a capital investment to get that book reviewed, if only in the wholesale costs of production, and the postage, time, and effort to submit it for review consideration.

9. Reviews as endorsements.

Of the Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50.

It is always gratifying to be appreciated, and this book was a dream come true for me. I pushed hard to get the editors to make it into a trade book that would be definitive and beneficial to the users.

Your review and our two recent awards, the Ippy from the Indep. Publishers Group and the Gold Medal from Foreword, are all terrific endorsements. Many thanks.

best wishes,
Joan Mullally
Head of Business Development Rebus, Inc.

As Joan noted, a positive review is actually an endorsement. Someone read your book, and then wrote down what they thought of it. If they well of it, that's an endorsement. The value of the review/endorsement varies from reviewer to reviewer, review publication to review publication.

Paid for reviews such as those quite honorably done by Foreword Magazine have a value to librarians, bookstores, and the general reading public. But reviews that were not financed by the publisher (such as those by the Midwest Book Review, Publishers Weekly, The Library Journal, New York Times Review of Books) have a distinctively higher value.

Even if you already have all the positive review quotes (endorsements) you need for a good publicity release or a comprehensive media kit, still keep track of them. Put them somewhere handy. You never now but what they too will come in handy one day. Either in promoting the reviewed title, or giving you a good list of names for reviewing future books by that author or from your publishing company.

10. Music and more

Dear Jim,

Thanks for the information, and for the great review of our Alessandra Belloni disc, "Tarantelle & Canti d'Amore". I appreciate all the coverage you guys give our new Naxos World CD releases. As always, please let me know if you ever need anything.

Best wishes,
Stephanie Naxos World

While the principle focus of the Midwest Book Review is (as the name implies) books. We also routinely review Videos, DVDs, and CD music. Every month I do review columns called "The Library Video/DVD Shelf" and "The Library CD Music Shelf". I also have the honor of being one of the annual judges for the Audie Awards and so cover audiobooks in both cassette and CD formats.

I do most of my reviewing of music by playing CDS in the office while I do routine paperwork -- and of that there is an endless supply! Fortunately, several music publishers like Naxos keeps me well supplied!

11. Some pointers about review submissions

After reading your guidelines for submission of book reviews, I am unclear about one or two points. I would appreciate information on the following -- Regards, Clint Hunter

Happy to oblige.

Are submitted reviews acknowledged to verify receipt?

Not usually. I usually route the reviews into a folder, and then start opening the emailed reviews when I'm to the point of preparing the next month's "Reviewer's Bookwatch" magazine.

Are reviewers notified of acceptance for publication and/or rejection?

Always. The reviewer's are sent an email notification of where and when their review is appearing.

What is the general time frame in which a reviewer may anticipate acceptance or rejection?

The deadline is the 20th of the month in order to appear in the following month's publication. June 20th is the submission deadline for reviews appearing in the July issue. Reviewers arriving after the 20th deadline are automatically held over for the month after next (June 21-30th arrivals will appear in the August issue).

If I must reject a review I automatically notify the reviewer as to why. That's only had to happen a half dozen times in the last dozen years.

Sometimes the review has incomplete contact information (if it's a small press I really have to have their snail mail address as part of the review information) and will email a request for it before running the review.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

12. Why I'm in this line of work:


Thanks for your kind review of our new title Going Back to Central in the Reviewers Choice section and announcement that Small Press Bookwatch would feature the book.

Your professionalism in notifying your publishers of the disposition of the books you receive for review is most appreciated, and certainly adds to the happy disposition of the publishers!!

Best wishes

Lynn McGlothlin
Business Manager
North Country Publishing

13. Why I'm in this line of work: Part 2

In addition to pretty much getting "thank you" emails and letters just about every working day, there have been some writer and publisher folk who have gone the extra mile by way of expressing their appreciation for what we do here at the Midwest Book Review in behalf of the small press community. -- They send us postage stamps!

Here are the latest group of wonderful folks that contributed to "the cause" and sent us stamps:

Kathleen Tedsen - TR Desktop Publishing
Florrie Binford Kichler - Patria Press, Inc.
Paul Allen - CenterPunch Press

Please remember that the Midwest Book Review cannot accept money from authors and publishers in order to avoid conflict of interest issues. But our board of directors has made an exception and allows well wishers to donate stamps -- which are always used to send out tear sheets and publisher notification letters.

Feel free to send stamps if you'd like to. But please remember that all of our services for the small press community ranging from maintaining our website, to reviewing books, to sending out tear sheets, to helping out over the phone with questions and problems, are free and without obligation.

Until next time! As I say in my signature close for my KNLS Bookwatch book review broadcast (heard in 124 countries!) -- 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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