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Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: December 2004
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Jim Cox Report: December 2004

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

It's been quite a year here at the Midwest Book Review. We've been featured in magazines, reported on in newsletters, interviewed for radio, quoted in books, and signed contracts for inclusion into massive on-line book review databanks.

Some of our volunteer reviewers have moved on to other things ranging from writing and publishing their own works, to graduating university and embarking on their chosen professions, to having children and finding their leisure time has drastically downsized!

To offset these inevitable losses, there has been a steady stream of new volunteers trying their hand at the reviewing trade, establishing their own by-lined columns, and expanding through our various publications new and secondary audiences for their work beyond their own original book review websites and local newspaper columns.

It's been a volatile year for the small press community as well. New presses popping up and old ones fading away. The corporate publishing world continues to dance their dance of mergers and acquisitions with bean-counters holding sway over editors as to what they will choose to publish for a profit.

This past year there has continued to be an avalanche of self-published authors, and the POD companies that serve the novice writer with more money than time or publishing expertise seems to be flourishing. More books are being published than the public is willing to read -- or buy. Publishing continued to be profitable for some -- but not for most. It was still a matter of "don't give up your day job" for the majority of folk seeking to make a living from their own versions of the Great American Novel -- or biography, or self-help tome, or cookbook, or poetry anthology...

The average monthly tidal wave of books being submitted for review consideration continued to average around 1500 a month (a little less in the late spring, considerably more in the late fall).

Our Midwest Book Review website continues to be considered by thousands of visitors as one of the best and most useful they've ever encountered as aspiring writers or novice publishers.

So as 2004 grinds its way into history, the Midwest Book Review continues to pursue our triple mission goals of promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

Now let's turn our attention to some "tips, tricks & techniques" in response to a steady stream of incoming emails and outgoing advice:

Subj: Jim, Can I Interview You?


I'm writing an e-book on creating bestsellers and would love to interview you. Obviously getting book reviews is an important component to helping get the word out about your book and well, you run one of the best and most accessible reviewing vehicles around.

Let me know if you're interested in doing a quick interview by phone or email.

Also, I would like to discuss excerpting some of your articles for the e-book, as well as using your list of resources in the "resources" section of the ebook. In particular, I was thinking about using "Book Publicity & Marketing" Links.

All the best, Fabio

One of the things I routinely do in service to our mission goals is to make myself available for interviews to authors, teachers, publishers, librarians, talk show hosts, researchers, and anyone else interested in writing and publishing. Sometimes the interview winds up as fodder for the interviewer's forthcoming book, sometimes it's to add information to a classroom or seminar curriculum, sometimes it's more in the nature of a consultancy with respect to a particular problem of book marketing and/or publicity and/or promotion.

My advice is free -- and worth exactly what I charge for it! So if anyone, like Fabio, ever wants to talk to me about writing and/or publishing, I'm just an email away. I prefer email to phone calls because the former allows me to work my responses into my schedule more effectively and less intrusively -- especially when up against my own Midwest Book Review deadlines.

Often the sought after information is already available on the Midwest Book Review website in one of the "Advice for Publishers" articles. In which case I'd direct your attention to them. Once they've been read and should there still be questions, the conversation can resume.

Sometimes I'm asked a question for which I haven't a clue! In those cases I'll go out and do a bit of research or inquiry of my own and get back to you.

The important thing I'm trying to get across is that the Midwest Book Review is more than just a resource for getting your book reviewed. It's also a willing resource for information, training, ideas, and practical commentary for all things publishing. So always feel free to get in touch!

Subj: Book Cover Quote

Dear Mr. Cox,

Just wanted to let you know that a quote from your review of "The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World" will be featured on the back cover of the 2nd printing of the book scheduled to arrive in June. It reads as follows:

"Expertly written by a former travel agent and agency owner... an impressively informative vacation planning guide for any individual or family seeking to maximize their experience of the 'Disney magic' to the fullest." - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

Once again, thank you for your excellent review of the book.

Best Regards,

Cara Goldsbury
Author of The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World
Sign up for my free newsletter at:

Cara did three things exactly right and I offer her email as a kind of template for other authors and publishers who receive favorable reviews.

The first thing she did was to let me know! You'd be surprised at how often the first time I hear that one of our reviews was being incorporated into a publisher's marketing plan is when I see a blurb or extract on the back of the paperback addition of what was originally a hardcover title. Or when I get a catalog from the publisher and I find a Midwest Book Review blurb in it.

Reviewers are just as vain (if not more so!) than any author or publisher. We too enjoy seeing our names in print! So part of your strategy for winning the minds and hearts and attention of reviewers is to let them know when you are going to employ in your marketing efforts something they've written about your book.

The second thing she did was to show me exactly what quote she was going to use as the blurb. It helped orient me -- and such help is very useful when you go through as many books as I do every month!

The third thing she did was to simply say "thank you". That gesture of appreciation insures that the next title she does and sends across my desk will receive a very friendly reception. Courtesy begets courtesy -- and it's the least expensive sales tool you will ever have in your promotional arsenal.

Subj: Re: [Pub-forum] Midwest Book Review

Two of Chinese classics I translated into English (Sun Tzu's Art of War and Li Er's Dao De Jing) were reviewed by the Midwest Book Review. We did not know anything about these books being reviewed until we received tear sheets from them, with a gracious covering letter from the editor in chief.

Clearly, given that MBR reviews many books, reviews of the two books named above are necessarily short -- but pertinent and penetrating.

Our own view is that MBR is a friend of self-publishers They took time to read our offerings ("our" in the sense of self-publishers as a group), and support our efforts.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank MBR.

David Li
Premier Publishing

I cite David's email as an example documenting that I try to practice what I preach.

Providing publishers with a copy of our review of their book is more than just a simple courtesy -- for reviewers it is also very sound business advice. Be sure to accompany a tear sheet (the copy of the review) with a "publisher notification" letter that explains to the publisher just where the review will run, be printed, broadcast, posted, and/or archived.

This is especially important and practical advice for anyone trying their hand at being a freelance reviewer. It helps to establish your legitimacy, your competency, your professionalism, and your trustworthiness.

Subj: [Pub-forum] Midwest book reviews

Some of Midwest's reviewers are Amazon reviewers and will post the review both places. The reviewer probably bought the book and liked it. I got turned down by the Midwest editor who wrote back he was too busy to accept my book for review. I wrote about 25 of the top 50 Amazon reviewers and asked if they were interested. I got replies from 8, I think, and five of those posted Amazon reviews. One also posted his on Midwest. As a courtesy, I sent Midwest a copy of the book and got another review ! Plus, I got a tear sheet and a nice note from the editor asking me to let him know when my next book comes out.

Maybe if you send a copy to Midwest's editor you'll get another review !

Michael Kennedy

Any book submitted to the Midwest Book Review will be screened by me as the editor-in-chief. If it passes my screening then it will have 14 to 16 weeks in which to secure a review.

We have a monthly deadline of the 25th by which a review must be submitted in order to appear in the following month's on-line book review publication. If it comes in on the 26th or later it will be held over for the month after next. This is occasioned by the sheer quantity of book reviews that we get from our volunteer reviewers and our in-house editorial staff every month. We need those final five or six days at the end of every month to edited them, lay them out, get them published in our library newsletter and/or upload them into our on-line book review magazines.

While we average a total of between 500 and 600 reviews a month, we receive 1500+ books each month. So the simple odds of making the cut and getting reviewed are roughly 1 in 3. You can pass my initial screening and still not get reviewed in the allotted 14 to 16 weeks because:

1. We are overloaded with books in your particular genre or topic
2. I don't have enough reviewers with an interest in your particular subject matter
3. Your book was assigned to a reviewer who simply disappears and is never heard from again.

While 1 in 3 may not look like good odds -- the odds are even more horrendous with outfits like Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, or the New Your Times Review of Books. -- Especially if you are a self-published, POD published, or small press published author of limited promotional means or name recognition.

Subj: [Pub-forum] Midwest Book Review

I just got my first review in Midwest Book Review! Happy to say it was a great one! The only thing that blew me away was that I stumbled upon it from my daily google alert that said our title was showing up in Amazon/Canada. When I checked it out there was the review from Midwest!

The review was dated April 15, 2004 and the books pub date was January 2004. I never got tear sheets and I KNOW I had our address and contact info in several places in the package including inside the book. Is it normal to get a review 4 months after the pub date from Midwest? We send out our books for review several months before the pub date. Do they normally send tear sheets?

Since sending three titles to Midwest and never getting a review I was ready to drop them from our mailing list. I had assumed they just didn't review our niche of books. I'll have to make sure to keep them on the mailing list for getting reviews! Heck, they may be reviewing all our titles and I just didn't know it!

Pam Schwagerl

If your book was reviewed by the Midwest Book Review but you as the publisher didn't receive a tear sheet and publisher notification letter it's because:

1. The notification letter got lost in the black hole that is our U.S. Postal System.

2. The volunteer reviewer who was supposed to carry through with notifying you failed to do so.

3. We did a typo on our address information and the letter bounced back to us but now all the original paperwork with the correct address is long gone.

4. In the course of sending out 500 publisher notification letters one at a time over the course of a couple of weeks I screwed up and overlooked you.

5. You changed your address and didn't let us know.

An example of this last reason is sitting on my desk even as I write this. Endeavor Publishing will never know from us that we did one of their books because the post office sent our publisher notification letter back to us with one of those yellow "Box Closed, Unable To Forward, Return To Sender" labels plastered over the front of it.

Pam did something that I want to recommend you adopt as a routine part of your work week. At least once a week, Google your book and see if reviews don't pop up now and then -- sometimes in places you've never heard of!

It's time now to wrap this up. So I want to close by honoring with my personal appreciation those wonderful authors, publishers, and well-wishers who have donated postage stamps in support of what we here at the Midwest Book Review try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Here are the latest additions to the "Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame":

Peggy Swager
Beth A. Amos
Sheila Bolt Rudesill - "Precious Children, Coveted Child"
Nick Ruth - "The Dark Dream Weaver"
Carolyn Howard-Johnson - "The Frugal Book Promoter"
LeAnn R. Ralph - "Give Me A Home Where The Dairy Cows Roam"
Marc Vanasse - Quickread Publishing
Mary G. Iorio - Vocalis Ltd.
Dilip G. Saraf - Career Transitions Unlimited
Luminitza Sava - Sava Enterprises
Pamela Elsner - Micleric Publishing
Andre Souang - Bella International Ltd.
Sally Scanlon - The Intrepid Traveller

We can't accept financial contributions (in order to avoid possible conflict of interest issues), but if you'd like to express your support and appreciation of the Midwest Book Review, you can always donate postage stamps -- and with sending out an average of 500+ publisher notification letters every month you can see why we love to have them! But please remember that it's never obligatory.

Send your books for review or your postage stamps for appreciation to:

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

All of our on-line book review magazines are free for the asking. And you can also receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly. Just send me an email asking to be signed up.

Don't forget to check out the Midwest Book Review website at -- everything on it is free of charge.

So until next year! -- 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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