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Jim Cox Report: December 2002

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Either I'm getting older or the months are passing by faster -- or maybe it's a bit of both. Lot's going on so let's get to it!

One of my articles, "How The Book Review System Works" is featured in the current "SPAN Connection" newsletter (Volume 7, Issue 11/80). I can always tell when something I've written pops up in SPAN -- I suddenly get a whole lot of folks sending emails and books to my attention.

I've also received two huge boxes of audiobooks for my attention. Once again I'm an "Audie" judge for the Audiobook Publishers Association. My assigned subject category is "Unabridged Nonfiction". I'm a little more than half way through them. I've got to finish them in the next week or so, and then fill out the judging forms. Four of them were so impressive that I ended up writing reviews on them for my monthly "The Audiobook Shelf" column which is part of our "Internet Bookwatch" publication. Judging is going to be hard this year with so many great titles from so many excellent companies.

Now on to some "tips, tricks, and techniques" for small press publishers in the form of Q & A:

In a message dated 02-06-24 20:53:55 EDT, Kevin Murphy writes:

> I was just reading Jim's article on his website today
> ( about stamping books for review copies.

This is what makes the time and effort to create and maintain the "Advice For Publishers" section of the MBR website so worth while -- people actual go there, read what's written, and then apply the "tips, tricks & techniques" laid out and commented upon to their publishing, marketing, and promotional efforts. When brand new novice self-published authors call me up and, (judging from the nature of the questions they pose to me) clearly don't have a clue as to what they should do next now that they have a backporch full of books to sell, I tell them quite honestly that the Midwest Book Review website is about to become their new best friend! :-)

> He suggests that stamping the book may hurt the chances that it will
> be reviewed, especially in the case of a book that is "on the bubble"
> for a potential review.

Just yesterday, in the morning's book review selection process, I rejected a title solely and instantly because across the top of the front cover, written in black marker pen, were the words "Promo Copy - Don't Sell".

> I was wondering, do most of you stamp (or somehow mark) the books?
> Has anyone experienced returns of books that they know were review
> copies?
> Is there anyone who discretely marks their books, such as a small "R"
> stamp somewhere on one of the front or back pages? This would at
> least help to know if a review copy is being returned.

If you really must mark up your books, then do it discretely on the inside of the cover or along the bottom of the book. Anywhere but sprawled across the front cover.

> Additionally, I would like to mention that I have very much enjoyed
> reading Jim Cox's postings recently regarding how review books are
> selected. Whether or not you agree with the selection process of the
> reviewers, I am thankful to at least be exposed to this information,
> and I think we can all use the information to our advantage to
> increase the likelihood of being reviewed by any source, not only by
> Midwest Book Review.

A lively discussion broke out on all three of the publisher discussion groups. And I got an irritated email from one of the rejected authors whose book I had used by way of illustration. She had run across my posting on someone's website!

We had a very vigorous correspondence and the result is now that Lori is going to become our latest volunteer reviewer and specialize in her chosen genre. She has also gone out to her fellow members of a writer's group she belongs to and gotten them to visit the MBR website.

While it does seem to be true that no good deed every goes unpunished, sometimes they also result in new friends and a wider audience -- Lori also has signed up for my monthly "extended monologues" in the form of the Jim Cox Report.

All in all, it's been a very satisfying week!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-06-28 00:20:05 EDT, Kevin Murphy writes:

> For the review sources that want/accept galleys, is it okay to send
> them a completed book if it is well in advance of the pub date? If I
> am planning a pub date of Jan 2003 and will have books in hand mid-
> August, is it acceptable to just send finished books to these
> reviewers.

Pre-publication reviews who require galleys or uncorrected proofs will automatically reject the submission of a finished (published) book.

Post-publication reviews who require finished (published) books will automatically reject the submission of a galley, proof, or pre-publication manuscript.

When it comes to reviewers, know what they require and adhere to their submission guidelines. Reviewers get so many, many submissions that what they look for are all the possible reasons to cut down the flow and seize any excuse to reject a title -- so don't give them any easy outs by not complying to what ever standards or guidelines they have set for themselves.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-07-05 10:20:12 EDT, K. Peterson writes:

> Someone is trying to sell my cookbook for $32.00+ on my Amazon web page.
> They apparently have the last name Cox and live in Calif.
> I sent one book to you and don't know what happened to it after it left you
> but if this is a relative I find the deceptive pricing to be poor practice.
> Certainly if the books are donated or resold at a normal price I would
> have no problem with that.
> I just thought I would let you know that your last name on these books
> doesn't look good.
> The best to you as always.

I have no idea who this Cox in California is. There are thousands and thousands of Cox people in this country. Interestingly enough, several of the Cox clans have no relationship to each other, other than their commonly held name being derived back in some obscure genealogical prehistory.

As far as I know I don't have any Cox relatives in California. My people are down in Missouri and back in Utah.

I'm in Wisconsin and I don't sell any review books on the internet -- ever.

As for selling in-print books at inflated prices on the internet in competition with the publisher's own lower prices for a new and in-print title -- that seems to be a growing phenomena. I can't imagine how such sales could work when the vast majority of titles in print can be easily accessed on such online websites as

In any event, publisher's should not mind as long as they do two things:

1. Vette any request for complimentary review copies to insure they go to legitimate reviewers. Reviewers own whatever is submitted to them in the hopes of a review. What they do with their personal property is up to them.

2. Publishers get their required price from any wholesale or retail buyer they sell to. What buyers then do with their books once they've bought them is their affair. And if someone can buy an ordinary cookbook at cover price (or with whatever discount off cover prices are offered by the publisher or bookseller) and then turn around and privately sell it for two or three or four times its cost -- more power to them!

If you could sell your own cookbook for three times your usual cover price why wouldn't you do it? -- Or think hard about increasing your cover price three-fold because there seems to be a market for it.

One of the basic tenets of free market capitalism is the law of supply and demand.

One of the maxims of free market capitalism is to buy as low as you can and to sell as high as you can.

Don't complain when someone else figures out a legal way to make more money off the books you publish than you do, because it means that either you didn't do your homework in validating review copy or other requests for complimentary books; or you undervalued your book.

Or it could simply mean that someone is simply engaging in some kind of outlandish and ludicrous wishful thinking that they can sell your book for more money that you do.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-07-04 14:05:59 EDT, Sarah Lawley writes:

> I have a quick question for anyone...
> My book is up on Amazon (in the Advantage program). Today I noticed that
> there are 2 used (but being promoted as new) copies that are review copies
> (we sent out review copies early last week-- and they are marked as review
> copies) that are being sold by one guy. What I am wondering is: is there
> anything I should do about this? Should I buy back these books to get them
> off of there (don't really want to do this)? Or what? Is this ethical for
> reviewer to do? Any advice appreciated.

Read the articles on the book reviewing process that you will find in the "Advice For Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website at

Start with the one titled: "How To Spot A Phony Book Reviewer"

These articles will answer all your questions about "industry standards" when it comes to books send out for review consideration and what happens to them after that.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

An observation on self-publishing/POD publishing:

I received an excellent and thoughtful post from a fellow with a long history of involvement in publishing and is the author of fourteen titles published by large and established houses. He is planning to POD publish his next work and ending his post with this rather challenging assertion:

> Publishing is one of the most dishonest professions.

I don't think the basic problem for self-published authors (and this includes POD published folk too) is one of pervasive dishonesty within the publishing industry .

Rather I see it as a significant lack of expertise by the aspiring self-published author with respect to the actually processes of publishing and book; and his or her failure to first learn how and what it means to be a publisher before publishing their own work before plunging in and publishing their own work freelance (so to speak) or through a POD book packager.

When it comes to successfully publishing a book, there is a certain amount of basic information that must be ascertained and mastered, a certain set of publishing norms that must be learned and adhered to.

Unfortunately, a great many self-published authors have so focused on the skills and expertise required to write their book, that they have failed to address themselves to the publishing of their own work with the same due diligence at learning "publishing skills and expertise".

That's why we reviewers see so many self-published titles (including POD titles) that should have had more editing before being committed to print; such glaring marketing errors as the failure to create a publishing company identity; substandard cover art; absent or poorly prepared publicity releases; accompanying cover letters written on plain typing paper instead of on letter head stationary, etc.

Then there is the problem of newly self-published authors only starting to learn about book marketing and promotional strategies after their books are back from the printer and sitting in their garages and backrooms.

Thank you for your post to me. I found it well worthwhile. I'm going to share my responses on the difficulties besetting the self-published author with the publisher discussion group because there are so many people faced with similar situations as your friend.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 02-07-08 18:05:42 EDT, writes:

> I'm looking to self publish and self distribute a fictional novel and
> have been going through the promotional material of various vendors,
> such as 1st Books, E-Books etc, but I am finding it difficult to
> really determine what vendor, if any, might be worthwhile and best to
> deal with.
> Does anyone have any recommendations?

I suggest that you approach all of the major vendors and ask for bids on the publishing of your book. I would treat printers and POD presses in the same manner that I do any other kind of contractor whether it be plumbing or publishing

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

I've often been asked why I put in so much time and effort into the Midwest Book Review. Here's why:

Subj: Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: 02-11-25 02:00:31 EST

Dear Mr. James A. Cox - I wanted to drop you a quick line to thank both you and your staff for taking the time to review my science fiction trilogy, THE FINAL PHASE. In addition, I would like you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your insights into the publishing industry, itself. Again, Mr. Cox, thank you for all your trouble. I sincerely appreciate it.

William Neven

Subj: Mr. Cox, thank you!
Date: 02-11-27 13:30:10 EST

Dear Mr. Cox,

Thanks so much for the warm and wonderful review you wrote about Dancing on the Moon. We have heard so many praises from parents about how it has helped their children through grief, and it was great to have your widely respected reviewing organization confirm the essence of those compliments.

You're the best!

Joani Horchler
Executive Director SIDS Educational Services Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization

Subj: Wonderful review!
Date: 02-11-26 08:16:24 EST

Dear Jim,

Thank you for the wonderful review of one of our picture books, THE WEIGHT OF A MASS, and thank you, too, for your ever-kind practice of sending tear sheets. we so appreciate all you do for us independents! Please pass along our sincere thanks to the reviewer who took the time and effort to so thoughtfully present our book.

With warm wishes to you and yours, for a lovely Thanksgiving holiday,

Joi and Maria
Gingerbread Books

Subj: Thanks very much!
Date: 02-11-22 18:15:37 EST

Kind sir/madam,

In this book business where I find a response to my pleas usually takes months; your swift answer was a very delightful surprise! There may be hope for our civilization yet!

Thank you very much!

Tom Robinson

Subj: Thank you Mr. Cox!
Date: 02-11-12 22:14:42 EST


Thank you for the great book review for our book Helping Your Aging Parent.

I appreciate the time and consideration you took in this review, and I think your review coincides with what we tried to accomplish in publishing this book. To create an instructional reference and guide for someone with an aging parent.

You hit the nail on the head!

Again, thank you.

Bill Grote
Boomer Books

Subj: Thanks!!
Date: 02-11-14 22:09:31 EST

Jim, we received your review of Seven Perfect Days in Colorado. It's just great, and we thank you so much for reviewing the book. We're going to put the review to work immediately. You did beat us to the punch by putting it on Again, thanks for that!

Bill and Celia Ginnodo

Subj: SPIRIT review
Date: 02-11-21 15:04:11 EST
To James Cox, Editor, Midwest Book Review

It was a delightful surprise to find your favorable review of my novel SPIRIT posted in

Being published as a print-on-demand book by a publisher with a zero publicity budget, SPIRIT has received very little attention--so I'm even more appreciative of your review.

Thank you so much for reading the book and for your great comments.

Dolores Stewart Riccio

Subj: Math for Moms and pops, Thanks
Date: 02-11-15 10:07:32 EST

Dear Jim:

My firstborn already has a name, but I do want to express my appreciation for the outstanding review of my book, "Math for Moms and Pops," in your November education shelf.

I expect my next production to be ready in the first quarter of 2003. The working title is, "The Neophyte PC User's Guide." This book is aimed at directly at the computer challenged person who want to use a PC but is somewhat intimidated by the whole mess. On such person is my spouse. She will provide an excellent Beta test of the book. I try to assume nothing more than a reasonable command of the English language. This book begins with turning on the PC and takes the neophyte through program launch, the basic menu commands, browsers, and the desktop. The graduate will be able to use a word processor, send and receive e-mail, and do the web thing.

I did enjoy your essay in the current issue of the SPAN newsletter. Right-on!


William E. Steinman, Editor, Wesoomi Publishing

Subj: [Self-Publishing] Thank you Jim
Date: 02-10-16 18:07:11 EDT

Hi Friends:

This is to publicly thank Mr. Jim Cox of the Midwest Book Review for the letter that I've received yesterday informing me that my latest title is featured in the October issue of the Library Bookwatch.

This letter could not have arrived any other better time Jim. It really made my early afternoon since everything seemed to go wrong yesterday morning. Moreover, I will now include that review on the flyer that I am preparing for the upcoming PMA's Marketing and Direct Mail Program at the end of this month.

Jim, we are indeed very fortunate to have your services in our forum.

Regards to all,

Steve Karris
Orchard Publications

And this was just from the November emails -- you should see the stack (and I do mean stack!) of snail-mail thank you cards and letters.

Finally there is this:


A Musical Tribute Down The Memory Lane Of American Music by "The Circle of Life" author, Christine Paul

[To the tune of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad"]

I've been workin' on promotion All the live-long summer, Though I'd rather be just writin'. (Promotion is a bummer.)

Then I opened up your web site So early just this morn, And saw my second novel glowing To make me less forlorn.

[To the tune of "Tra-La-La Boom-Deyay"]

O Midwest Book Review! O Midwest Book Review! What can a writer say? When you've just made their day?

You are the cat's meow. I must convey somehow The hope that you instill In we, who've had our fill.

Of being shunned, ignored. Our feet slammed in the door. You shed a ray of hope Allowing us to cope.

[To the tune of "I Can See Clearly Now"]

I can breathe easy now. The wait is o'er. I can take things in hand and just spread the word. Gone are the sad days with no review. It's gonna be a great, great publicity gain. It's gonna be a great, great publicity gain.

Book sales will soar, and so will the interviews! (Or maybe not, but that's how I choose to muse.)

[To the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies"]

Now listen to a story 'bout a man named Jim. Had so many writers that were followin' him. Then one mornin' he was thinkin' what to do. And that's the mornin' he decided to review. Books, that is...many kinds, all kinds, from hence unknowns.

So he done a heap of readin' and hung up a sign. Got some volunteers and worked it out just fine. Soon the books were pilin' in on special trucks, And shootin' up his driveway just like hockey pucks. In Oregon...Wisconsin, that is...fresh fish fries, breweries, friendly folk.

[To the tune of...What the heck am I thinking? Rap HAS no tune.]

Yo, Mr. Cox. Yo da man. Yo da man. So, Mr. Cox. Show ya han. Show ya han. High five yo fan. Yo da man. Yo da man. Why jive yo can. Sho ya can. Sho ya can.

Jus' wanna ask yo dis...if my biz, sho it'tis. Jus' one shote quiz...if my biz, sho it'tis.

Saw ou' on com...cyber nook. Saw yo great review of yo's tru firs' ole book. Wonderin' who ta thank for da postin' I view? Suspectin' it's yo crew at Midwest Book Review.

Just wanted to wish you the best, Mr. Cox. Maybe by next year, I can send another box. In the meantime, a friend of mine's boxing up his, In the hopes that it also will gain a look-see. So if I'm allowed to name-drop like this, It's "Four Years to Remember" by James Oddie, MD.

Many thanks again in rhymes galore.

Christine Paul

And on that "musical" note I will conclude this issue of "The Jim Cox Report".

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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