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Jim Cox Report: December 2006

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The problem of obsolete addresses is a chronic one here at the Midwest Book Review. For example, the following publisher notification letters send out last month to not only inform authors and publishers that their book(s) had been reviewed, but to also furnish them with a copy of those reviews, were returned by the Post Office and labeled as "Return to Sender, Attempted -- Not Known, Unable to Forward":

Insight Guides
Mark Batty Publisher
Nikki Persley
Northern Star Press Inc.
Viveca Smith Publishing
Lisa Ekus Public Relations
The Continuum Publishing Group
Trivium Publishing LLC
Sleeping Bear Press

Except for Insight Guides and Lisa Ekus Public Relations, all of the incorrect mailing addresses were taken directly off of either the accompanying paperwork or the book itself.

Every month this happens and takes up still more of my time trying to track down a more current address over the internet. I suspect its one of the contributing reasons why self-published and small press titles are discriminated against by the folks at Publishers Weekly, The Library Journal, The New York Times Review of Books, etc.

The moral of this story is simple: Always make certain that if you change your address after sending a reviewer your book for review that you notify them accordingly.

As it is, the above six folks might never know their book(s) made the final cut and got reviewed unless those books are registered with Amazon (for whom we are a content provider) and they stumble across the review there.

Making the final cut and getting reviewed by us is no small accomplishment when you consider that we receive more than 2,000 titles a month asking for review and I've only got 76 reviewers to try to cope with it all. So it's a simple shame not to make certain that any address changes are provided to us (or any other book reviewer or book review publication) in a timely fashion.

On a happier note:

Someone has sent me a truly lovely little ceramic clock with a decoration pattern of roses. The problem is that I don't know who to thank for it because when it came out of our mail room and onto my desk along with that day's incoming book mail, it was just in its gift box with no tag or card or letter to tell me who had sent it. That accompanying information simply got lost in all the discarded packing material that automatically gets bundled up by the mail room guy for the weekly recycling collection by the village of Oregon. Something this lovely was undoubtedly sent as an expression of appreciation for what we try to do for the small press community in general, and this particular person and/or publisher in particular. So I hope that gift-giver is reading this and knows how much I appreciated the gift. Which, by the way, is now sitting prominently in my living room much to the delight of my wife -- because it perfectly matches the decor and color scheme of her interior decoration of that room which up to know did not have a clock to grace it.

Now back to business:

A lot of very good and useful books are being published these days to help writers and publishers become more effective (and profitable) in what they are doing. Here's some of the latest:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Don't Murder Your Mystery
Chris Roerden
Bella Rosa Books
P.O. Box 4251 CRS, Rock Hill, SC 29732
1933523131 $17.95

Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction-Writing Techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Turning Up D.O.A. by Chris Roerden (40 years experience as an editor in niche publishing) is a no-nonsense guide to improving one's professional writing skills, making one's manuscript more publishable and not subject to common rejection flaws, and learn from the experience of over 140 published writers. While Don't Murder Your Mystery is written especially for mystery, suspense, and crime fiction writers, the tips, tricks and techniques from bewaring cliches or avoiding clumsy and confusing body language descriptions to making one's dialogue snappy, sharpening self-editing skills and much more will prove invaluable to fiction writers of all genres. An enthusiastically recommended, energetic, easy-to-follow guide.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance
Alison Kent
Alpha Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
1592575463 $16.95 1-800-847-5515

Alison Kent (the pseudonym of an experience author in the genre of erotic romance) draws upon her considerable expertise in "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" to help aspiring authors master the specialized genre of the erotic romance. All too often writers veer into crude pornography while trying to avoid prudish conventions in storytelling. "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" will take the novice writer through a series of practical and effective techniques for creating compelling characters, interesting plots, and engaging dialogue laced with sexually provocative eroticism. Enhanced with advice and examples drawn from successful romance writers and editors, "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" will also prove an invaluable resource that includes lists of available publishers in this select genre. If you want your writing to be hallmarked with chemistry, spice, plot twists, complete characters, and "page turning romance", then add "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" to your instructional reference bookshelf.

The Erotic Writer's Market Guide
The Circlet Press Collective
Circlet Press Inc.
1770 Massachusetts Avenue, #278, Cambridge, MA 02140
1885865457 $19.95 1-617-864-0492

"The Erotic Writer's Market Guide" is compiled by The Circlet Press Collective and is a compendium of listings of literally hundreds of paying markets for erotic writing. This unique and "user friendly" writer's reference also includes practical, step-by-step advice contributing by working professionals on how to not only write good erotica, but how to sell it and make a career in the genre. There is invaluable information on pay scales and pay rates, tax deduction tips, "writer's rights", notations on the difference between men's and women's erotic fiction, what the editors of erotic magazines and presses want to see in submitted material, and a great deal more. Anyone wanting to write professional in the specialized genre of erotic short stories and novels will find "The Erotic Writer's Market Guide" to be an indispensable asset and a core reference for marketing their work.

Publish Your Own Magazine, Guidebook or Weekly Newspaper
Thomas A. Williams
Sentient Publications
1113 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
1591810035 $24.95

If you're thinking of starting a home-based publishing business, you can't be without Publish Your Own Magazine, Guidebook or Weekly Newspaper: it tells how to not just publish a winning title, but how to make it profitable – with no money up front. All kinds of successful periodicals and what made them tops are reviewed in a title which covers circulation, readership, proposal writing, optional publication formats, niche markets and more.

From Gutenberg To Open Type
Robin Dodd
Hartley & Marks Publishers
3661 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6R 2B8
Publishers Group West, distributor
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
0881792101 $29.95 1-800-788-3123

From Gutenberg To Open Type: An Illustrated History Of Type From The Earliest Letterforms To The Latest Digital Fonts by Robin Dodd (Associate Lecturer, London College of Communications) is a seminal and detailed historical survey of the printed letter from the era of the Gutenberg press moveable fonts down to today's desktop publishing software typefaces. Profusely illustrated throughout, From Gutenberg To Open Type is especially recommended to the attention of academicians, authors, publishers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of printing as well as professionals, artists and designers who work with type design and print. Of special note are the side panels to the regular text that explains how to use individual typefaces, notes common pitfalls, and showcases specifically related benefits to a given font. Informed and informative, From Gutenberg To Open Type is a welcome addition to personal, professional, and academic library reference collections.

Writing White Papers
Michael Steizner
WhitePaperSource Publishing
13025 Danielson Street, Suite 10-8, Poway, Ca 92064
0977716937, $34.95

A ‘White Papers' is a written presentation of information that combines aspects, formats and purposes of magazine articles and brochures. They are a standard communication form for government agencies, business organizations, academic institutions, and political group position statements. A master of the white paper format, Michael A. Stelzner draws upon his practical experience and expertise as the author of some 100 white papers for companies such as Microsoft, HP, Motorola, FedEx and others, to provide a complete and comprehensive instructional guide to creating technical and business white papers in "Writing White Papers: How To Capture Readers And Keep Them Engaged". Aspiring writers will learn how to craft white papers so as to generate their sustained and long-term sales, engage a reader's total and immediate attention, create outlines using effective and tested formulas, master techniques for interviewing and data collection, write persuasively and create compelling white paper titles. Thoroughly ‘user friendly', "Writing White Papers" should be considered ‘must reading' for any writer seeking to master the art, craft and science of writing effective white papers regardless of the subject matter or intended audience.

Crafty TV Writing
Alex Epstein
Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
0805080287 $15.00 1-888-330-8477

Experienced professional television screenwriter and story editor Alex Epstein presents Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box, a solid writer's manual that covers all the bases. From the hidden structure of TV series, to turning great story ideas into workable scripts, the many tips, tricks, and techniques of a writer's toolkit, the realities of working in TV land (including how to break into the business, get hired, and get promoted!) and much more. Appendices, resources, and spot-on advice from direct personal experience distinguish this absolute "must-have" for aspiring and practicing television writers alike.

Now Write!
Sherry Ellis, editor
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
1585425222 $13.95

Edited by personal writing coach Sherry Ellis, Now Write!: Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers is a carefully selected collection of writing exercises from some of today's most acclaimed fiction writers such as Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Virgil Suarez, and more. From activities just to get motivated practicing writing, to ones focusing on point of view, character development, dialogue, plot and pacing, setting and description, revisions, and more, Now Write! focuses on ideas to get aspiring and practicing writers' creative juices flowing, or engage in activities such as learning to identify the distinctions between real dialogue and smooth, fictional dialogue. Prefacing each idea is a couple pages of solid advice and concepts to keep in mind when crafting the next potential masterpiece. A highly recommended, practical guide for any aspiring writer seeking to take independent study to the next level.

Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds
Michael Hauge
Michael Wiese Productions
3940 Laurel Canyon BI. #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
1932907203 $12.95

Written by expert screenwriting coach Michael Hauge, who has consulted on projects for Warners, Disney, Columbia, New Line, CBS, and Lifetime among many others, Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way To Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read is a no-nonsense guide for novice to veteran novel writers and screenwriters to get noticed. Written in plain terms, Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds covers the 10 key components of a commercial story, how to design a strong pitch, targeting the right buyer, securing opportunities to pitch, what steps to take next if a potential buyer says yes or no, and much more. A no-nonsense "how-to" guide filled with industry tips, tricks, techniques and etiquette guidelines, and an absolute "must-have" for any writer trying to break into the business.

Reading Writers Reading
Danielle Schaub, photographer and editor
The University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2EI
0888644590 $60.00

Photographed and edited by professional lecturer and critic Danielle Schaub, Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors' Reflections presents an amazing cross-section of talented Candian writers of all backgrounds and from all regions of the nation. Each two-page spread of this gorgeous and insightful coffee-table book proffers a candid, black-and-white photograph of a different Canadian author on the right, and a one-page commentary by the author about reading, writing, or similar subjects on the left, such as the comments by Sharon Thesen that begin, "Reading seems so often to encompass all that my mind is or has been composed by that I find it difficult to separate my reading form myself." A superb giftbook for anyone who enjoys reading or writing for pleasure, highly recommended.

Jan Tschichold, Designer
Richard B. Doubleday
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
1584561785, $39.95 1-800-996-2556

"Jan Tschichold, Designer: The Penguin Years is a seminal and impressive contribution to the history of publishing with its focus on Jan Tschichold and his influence with respect to the typographic revolution that was applied to Penguin's mass production of books for the general populace. Author Richard B. Doubleday (Assistant Professor of Art, Department of Graphic Design, College of Fine Arts, Boston University) brings a special research-based expertise to providing an historical and analytical survey of Tschichold's contributions during the mid to late 1940s that saw the emergence of a wide ranging Penguin Book Series that included both fiction and non-fiction. Many of Tschichold's preliminary hand drawn cover and title page designs are made public for the first time in order to demonstrate and document his meticulous attention to detail and the development of his ‘New Typography'. Enhanced with the inclusion of an extensive bibliography on Tschichold's writings and historical appendices of his inter-office memoranda and texts, "Jan Tschichold, Designer" is a significant addition to academic library collections on the history of publishing, and an especially recommended for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in typography, book design, and the publishing industry.

Bylines: 2007 Writer's Desk Calendar
Sylvia Forbes
Snowflake Press
PO Box 522, Fayette, MO 65248
1933509023, $13.95

I see most of wall calendars, desk calendars, engagement calendars, diaries and journals intended for aspiring or practicing authors. Simply stated, one of the very best of them for 2007 is Sylvia Forbes' "Bylines: 2007 Writer's Desk Calendar", a superbly designed and presented weekly planner for writers that is enhanced with 53 stories specifically appropriate to encourage and inspire people to write something every day of every week of every month throughout the year. Spiral bound so as to lay flat upon a desktop or table, every week finds an author's personal anecdote (along with a photo) of a particular author on the left, with the seven day week laid out on the right. Each day also comes with a little notation of authors past and present born on that particular day. "Bylines" is an ideal gift to give any novice author because it is a perfect writing motivator. It not only makes for a great writing, things-to-do and appointment log, it's a great way to discover such writing-related holidays as Biographer's Day, National Columnist's Day, Young People's Poetry Week, and even Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month! (Shouldn't somebody also come up with a ‘Be Kind to Reviewers' month?) Every dedicated author needs to keep track of deadlines, keep focused on their writing goals, keep up their morale, jog their memory by recording contact names, addresses, and websites with a highly portable and user-friendly take-along calendar like "Bylines'. When you have a daily written log book you also have an indispensably valuable document when responding to any IRS challenges to your expenses or validity as a writer. My particular advice to editors and literary agents is to give out a copy of "Bylines" to your authors and clients as way of motivating them to keep turning out their best work in a timely manner! Whether you are a beginning writer or a seasoned author, get yourself a copy of Sylvia Forbes' "Bylines: 2007 Writer's Desk Calendar" – you'll be glad you did!

I'm now going to conclude this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation". The these wonderful folk have decided to say thank you for, and 'support the cause' of, what we work so hard at every day here at the Midwest Book Review (trying to give a forum and format for small press publishers and self-published authors) by donating postage stamps -- we use the stamps when sending out those tear sheets and publisher notification letters. So a big end-of-the-year Midwest Book Review 'thank you' of our own to:

T. K. Welsh
Randi Levin - The Muffin Lady
Jack E. Eadon - "Latent Image"
Jennifer Kelton - "Don't Use My Sweater Like A Towel"
Max Cohen - "Beyond Mysticism: The Rise of Homo Sapiens"
S. E. Gregg - "The Christian Olympics"
Hopewell Publications
Cladach Publishing
Tupelo Press
Tanika's Books
In Touch Books
Fort Dane Books, LLC
Blair - Adams Hall Publishing
Robin Mayhall - D+66 Books
Craig A. Farnsworth - Marriage Transformation, LLC
Jeannette Belliveau - Beau Monde Press
Chris Davis - Lighthearted press Inc.
Arianna Snow - Golden Horse Ltd.
T. Richard Quan - Q Vision Press & Multimedia
Sharon Shea Bossard - Shea Publications
Leila Joiner - Imago Press
David Drum - Failure To Atone Press
John N. Fiske, Jr. - Black Spruce Media
Rusty Wilson - Songbird Publishing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania! (twice!!)

If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly and for free, just send me an email asking to be signed up. If you have books needing review or postage needing donating, just send them directly to my attention.

So until next time, I bid you Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

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

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