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Jim Cox Report: December 2001

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Another month gone by, filled with routine punctuated by discovery!

What follows is a bit of in-house gossip here at the Midwest Book Review, then an odd assortment of advice for those who are struggling to make a go of it in the competitive, ever-changing field of small press publishing, and finishing off with a few "unsolicited testimonials".

Kathe is a small press publisher and cyberspace pen-pal of mine, on one of the online publisher discussion groups. From time to time, we members indulge in more than just questioning and advising one another on this or that aspect of publishing. We also take advantage of our little community to announce things, good or ill, that happen to us. A couple of weeks ago, Kathe announced her discovery of something called an Advent Wireless Stereo Headphone.

Kathe is hard of hearing. Just like me. Our comfort levels for television sound volume tend to be found excessive by others in the same room.

Kathe found that this Advent Wireless Stereo Headphone allowed her to listen to her television set at a comfortable (read: loud!) level on the earphones, while others could either listen to tv at a lower level -- or even mute it so that someone else could read, listen to music, or just take in the quiet.

I had never heard of this gizmo, or anything like it. So, I thought I'd try it out. I went down to the Best Buy store in Madison and found the thing. Bought it, brought it home, plugged it in -- and couldn't get it to work for the life of me!

My computer science graduate daughter and Midwest Book Review webmaster Bethany once again shooed me away from the gadget, and started to figure the thing out -- beginning with reading the manual. In my own defense, even she had to resort to calling the Advent toll-free hotline for technical support (it turns out that cordless phone bases operating at a 900 megahertz can cause static in the headphone reception, if the headphone is plugged directly into a TV set rather than into a VCR. Also, the headphones need to have their tuning dial properly adjusted before they will work right).

She got it to work, I put it on, and life at my house will never be the same again!

I found out that, while watching movies and sitcoms, I could now hear things like footsteps, papers rustling on the desk, keys jangling, the wind blowing through the leaves in outdoor scenes -- a world of small, ambient background sounds.

I also discovered that, like my father who is 21 years older than me, my hearing is deteriorating so imperceptibly, slowly, and implacably that I never realized how bad it had gotten.

Clearly I'm going (like my father) to have hearing aids by the time I'm 65 -- about six years from now.

There was another serendipity -- these headphones are in stereo and my television set is in mono. We have the headphone system plugged into the VCR, which is in turn plugged into the TV. I discovered that those movies and sitcoms, whether live or on video tape, were broadcasting stereophonic sound tracks! That when to people are up on the screen talking to each other, the voice on the right goes into the right ear and the voice on the left goes into the left ear -- and it's like sitting in the audience of a theatre!

But the biggest benefit is that Kathe's mention of her experience with these headphones, in a PubForum posting no less, has done more to restore my domestic tranquility than a covey of counselors!!

The moral of this story is that one of the reasons to be a member of PubForum and/or Publish-L and/or Span is that you are joining a community. This is a community whose common thread is a shared interest in all things publishing -- and it will present the additional benefit of becoming a kind of online "family" who can enrich more than just your professional life.

Incidently, I want to emphasize that I have no connection with these Advent Wireless Stereo Headphone people other than that I'm going to recommend them to any hard-of-hearing, wife-complains-the-tv-is-too-loud friends, neighbors, and family members.

Now, on to other stuff more directly associated with publishing:

In a message dated 01-10-09 04:24:02 EDT, Keith McLeod writes:

> Jim Cox raised the issue of categories on the back cover,
> and while I've always managed to provide that, it's only
> with consultation with others. Categories confuse me.

The quick and easy way to come up with categories for your book is to make a list of key words describing your book -- then choose one or two of the most comprehensive of them for the back cover of your book in the upper left corner.

> Is there a single, industry standard list of them? Where can I get it?

I know of no single, industry standard list to select from.

> Might one occasionally take liberties? Invent categories?

Sure! Just make certain that what you come up with will be intelligible and useful to that bookstore clerk or librarian charged with placing your book in the section of the store or library most likely to be the one browsed by your targeted readership.

> How would you class, "How to run a Household?"

Let's use this as a "show & tell" example. I imagine key words might include:

So, I would select the following combination as category suggestions:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 01-10-11 08:54:01 EDT, Gary Onks writes:

> What does one do with these not-perfect books. Can I or
> should I send them out as review copies? Should I offer
> them for sale at a special price?

Flawed books sent out as review copies are a waste of book, time and postage. Your competition for that reviewer's attention is all the other books that arrived on his or her desk that day. All the other pristine, shiny books with unflawed and unmarked covers.

Flawed and "shelf-worn" books make excellent "specials" to be sold at a discount off your websites -- or as "used copies" to be sold off your book's webpage on Amazon.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 01-10-11 10:41:08 EDT, Jamie Walker writes:

> Do you need permission when you include a list of
> organizations and further resources in the back of
> your book?

You do not need permission to list organizations and their contact information (addresses, phone numbers, websites, etc.). You would need their permission if you were to reprint any of their booklet or pamphlet-based descriptive information about themselves. But a simple listing of name and address is okay.

Jim Cox Midwest
Book Review

In a message dated 01-10-09 21:49:51 EDT, Steve of Orchard Publications writes:

> Do you know how one goes about to obtain a list of the
> libraries and contact names throughout the US? Of course,
> they can be found in the telephone directories but that would
> be a very slow process.

The Midwest Book Review website has an extensive section called "Libraries & Universities" that has hundreds of links to community and school libraries. The MBR website is at:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 01-10-20 18:43:45 EDT, Al Canton writes:

> I must have yelled about this for the last one hundred and twenty eight
> years. It is about time that we STOP pricing our books. That's right, STOP.

Another really great Rant from our favorite PubForum "bad boy".

Some observations evoked by his latest opinion piece:

  1. The surest way to bankruptcy for the self-published author and the small press publisher is to launch their enterprise with insufficient capital and the absence of a sound business plan.

  2. The second surest way to bankruptcy for the self-published author and the small press publisher is to sign a standard consignment contract with Ingram and B&T, with their infamous "fully returnable" policies.

  3. If you successfully promote and market your book(s) and create a demand for them, with people going into bookstores and libraries requesting them, then Ingram, B&T, and the other wholesalers and distributors will come to you and accept your terms for an appropriate discount, combined with payment in advance, combined with a no-returns policy.

  4. There is a reason for printing a price on a book. It is to make your book look like it was professionally produced by adhering to standard marketing and book packaging practices, which everyone from librarians and book reviewers to bookstore managers and the buying public have become used to.
That said, there is also a reason for not printing a price on a book. This is a sound practice often encountered with university and education publishers, who intend for their book inventory to reflect cost of living and inflation increases over the years that their book is intended to be an "active backlist" title.

A price printed on a book does not preempt the book from being offered to wholesalers, distributors, bookstores, libraries, and direct sale to the public with whatever discounts the wholesalers and retailers (and you, as a publisher who sells directly to the reading public) decide to offer.

It also does not preempt your book from being sold to intermediaries like Ingram, B&T, or bookstores on a pre-paid, non-returnable basis.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 01-10-27 10:29:04 EDT, Moustafa Gadalla write:

> Does anybody know how to reach the prison population? We have sold a
> good number of books to prison inmates. I don't know if these prisons
> have libraries, and how can we reach such libraries?

Each state has a Department of Corrections. Within that state department is a director of the prison library systems within the correctional facilities of that state (including juvenile facilities as well as adult inmate facilities). Every Department Of Corrections has a prison library acquisition fund, and usually administers it on behalf of the individual prison libraries. To find out who is head of the prison libraries (and who would be the acquisitions librarian for the state-wide prison system) you need to call that department state by state. Then compile your list accordingly.

The Federal system of prisons has a similar office and, though I've never looked for it myself, I believe the main U.S. Government website would be your best bet at tracking down that federal department. Once you have that, the next step is to track down whoever is in charge of the prison libraries within the federal corrections system.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

And now for some unsolicited testimonials!!

> I just followed Jim Cox's nudge to go see the "Advice for Publishers" section at his website:
> I spent a full hour downloading useful articles. It's been one of the most educational hours I've spent since starting this business. I recommend this mini-education to all the other newbies here. Many of our questions are answered.
> With deep gratitude to Jim.
> >
> MusingMerry of SophiArising
> Coming Soon:
> "Heaven and Earth Conspire to Inspire Me"

Subj: Thank you - from NDE Publishing
Date: 01-10-02 10:53:44 EDT
From: (Christi Davis)

> Dear James A. Cox,
> I want to thank you for the positive review that was published on our art series One Hundred Paintings, in the October issue of the Midwest Book Review. I have never had such a quick turnaround time between getting the books out to the reviewers and having them reviewed! Your promptness is quite impressive! I hope that we will have the chance to work together again in the future.
> Once again, thank you for all of your time and effort.
> Sincerely,
> Christi Davis NDE Publishing

Subj: Thank you for India Treasures review
Date: 01-10-02 15:17:42 EDT
From: (Gary Worthington)

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129

> Dear Jim,
> I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the kind review of India Treasures that appeared in the most recent edition of Internet Bookwatch.
> The review is a big boost to our marketing efforts, as well as to my ego!
> Many thanks, not only for this review which we value so highly, but also for all your other works on behalf of the world of publishing and literature in general!
> Very best regards,
> Gary Worthington -
> TimeBridges Publishers
> Olympia, WA
> Historical fiction:
> INDIA TREASURES: An Epic Novel of Rajasthan and Northern India through the Ages
> by Gary Worthington
> ISBN 0-9707662-0-3
> $15.95 Trade Paperback, 640 pages, maps and illustrations

Subj: Thanks for making my day!!
Date: 01-10-08 10:35:27 EDT
From: (pubprof)

> Jim: I was so happy to meet you this weekend and to be able to sit right along side you at the conference. You are really a fantastic speaker. When I made the statement that you had the task of keeping us all awake after a big lunch, I had no idea how great you would be in performing that task. Other than Mylinda (who was so exhausted from organizing the conference) I don't think anyone else hardly blinked. And we all learned so much....
> And thanks for all the great advice you are always so free to give.
> Sylvia Hemmerly
> Inkling Press, imprint of Publishing Professionals
> 727-868-8657

If you have a group you'd like me to speak with, the good news is that I do not charge a speaker's fee or honorarium. My services are free. The bad news is that you have to pay for transportation and lodging, and feed me while you have me.

For anyone wanting to submit a book for review consideration, I require the finished copy (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a publicity release and a cover letter. In the letter, note that you read "The Jim Cox Report" -- it will win you a brownie point or two. :-) Then, send everything to the attention of:

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129

Until next time!

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

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