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Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: December 2007
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Jim Cox Report: December 2007

Another month has flown by and I want to talk to you about postage stamps. No, this is not a pitch for postage donations (that comes at the end of the "Jim Cox Report"!). It's about do-it-yourself, make-it-yourself, design-it-yourself, print-it-out-yourself postage stamps.

Every few months for awhile now I have been receiving amongst the postage stamp donations to the Midwest Book Review by appreciative authors and publishers a sheet of stamps that never came out of a local post office. These stamps are customized with the covers of their books that those particular donators have created using the resources of the internet.

Just a few days ago I got a sheet of 41 cent postage stamps that featured the cover a book by P. A. Ritzler. The picture on the stamp is that of the book jacket complete with the title ("Seven Ox Seven: A Story of Some Ways in the West"), the author's name, and the book's cover art depicting a cowboy on his horse gazing off into a western landscape that has a flat topped mesa in the distant background. It is a beautifully produced postage stamp. So nice that while I'm going to use 19 of those stamps from the sheet, I'm keeping the 20th one for myself in a little stamp album collection I'm maintaining of just such author/publisher generated postage.

I would strongly recommend that every author and every publisher consider creating their own postage stamps celebrating and advertising their books. It's quite easily accomplished. There are several postage stamp making websites anyone can access and utilize in an easy to follow, step-by-step process.

Three of them that I've received author/publisher customized stamps from utilized;; and If you do a Google search and type in Postage Stamps you will find them and many others you can choose from.

For you who are incorporated, or who are operating as an unincorporated sole proprietorship, remember that you can deduct for tax purposes not only the 41 cent cost of the individual stamps, but any and all costs of producing them as a line item in your business expenditures ledger.

Believe me when I speak as a professional book reviewer, that customized postage stamps truly do help your correspondence with people like me to stand out from the crowd and attract attention to what ever it is that you put inside that envelope or package!

Now I'd like to talk a bit about an inquiry that came in via snail-mail the other day. Someone wrote to me asking me that, since I try to take such pains to avoid conflict of interest issues here at the Midwest Book Review, why do I review 'how to' books for writers and publishers in which I and/or the Midwest Book Review are so favorably mentioned and recommended.

A fair question that I really hadn't thought about before. It's quite true. In several 'how-to' books for authors, and quite commonly with 'how to' books for novice publishers that have been published over the past couple of decades, they pretty much cite and recommend what the Midwest Book Review does and offers to the publishing community -- especially our website and our willingness to consider self-published and small press titles for review.

I write the monthly book review column "The Writing/Publishing Shelf" which specifically singles out just such titles. Isn't it a conflict of interest then for me to write about books that so mention me and the Midwest Book Review? Especially when those mentions are uniformly positive?

I don't think so because of two considerations.

First, I always cite within the body of the review that I and/or the Midwest Book Review are mentioned or written about in its pages. I usually even note the page numbers (often I'm cited more than once) where those mentions can be found.

Secondly, if I were to reject for review those 'how-to' titles for writers and publishers that mentioned me, I'd have to take a pass on such a large number -- to the ultimate detriment of the intended readership of that column who are just exactly the people for whom those books were written in the attempt to make them better writers, published writers, and better publishers, successful publishers.

Speaking of reviews on 'how to' writing and publishing books, here's a couple of good ones:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Writing Begins With The Breath
Laraine Herring
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781590304730, $12.95 1-800-733-3000

In "Writing Begins With The Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice" academician, creative writing instructor, and award winning fiction author Laraine Herring provides aspiring writers with a unique approach and distinctive guide to the craft of writing. The focus and message is how authors can tune into their bodies and connect with their emotions so that what they write becomes an expression of their whole being -- and not just an intellectual exercise. In "Writing Begins With The Breath" Laraine Herring has clearly practices what she's preached. The result is a text that is not only informed and informative, but inspired and inspiring. If you seek to write the next Great American Novel, then begin by reading what Laraine Herring has to say in "Writing Begins With The Breath"!

The Way Of Story
Catherine Ann Jones
Michael Wiese Productions
3940 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781932907322, $22.95 1-800-833-5738

The script is the first basic building block of any film, theatre, or television project. "The Way Of Story: The Craft & Soul Of Writing" by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Catherine Ann Jones offers aspiring authors an integrative approach to writing all the various forms of narrative storytelling. Laced with anecdotal stories and personal insights from her own professional experiences as a writer of scripts, Catherine Ann Jones persuasively argues that craft alone is not enough for success in this highly competitive, highly volatile business. There must be an effective integration of storytelling technique and experiential inner discovery as a writer in order to produce scripts that are commercially viable and persuasive when it comes time to pitch them to producers. Of special note are the wealth of practical tips for writing a successful script whether it is for a play, a movie, or a television show. "The Way of Story" is especially recommended reading for anyone who aspires to writing a screenplay, and will provide invaluable insights into both the process and the marketplace.

Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:

In a message dated 9/27/2007 11:33:45 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Dear James:

We were pleased to read your recent review of Jakeman in the Midwest Book Review.

Thank you for your very kind words, they are much appreciated.

materials earlier (F&Gs, proofs—followed by finished books). Your reviews do mean a lot to us, and we would be happy to include you on a list of regular long leads. This would not be a replacement of the current request lists that you send, but an additional vehicle for receiving our books.

We only review finished copies. Please save your galleys and proofs for the pre-publication reviewers.

Your letterhead lists various publications. Can you clarify the reach of the Midwest Book Review? Are reviews also published in these various Bookwatch publications as well?

The Midwest Book Review, despite its name, has a global reach with respect to where our reviews wind up. In addition to our nine monthly online book review magazines, we are also content providers for We also have a contract with Cengage Learning - Gale (formerly known as Thomson-Gale) who provides our reviews to several other online databases including Lexus-Nexus (primarily for academicians and journalists), as well as Goliath and Book Review Index (designed for corporate, academic, community, and governmental librarians). Additionally, our reviews are posted to thematically appropriate online discussion groups. All-in-all, we have a circulation of 30,000+

When we send publisher's a copy of a review of their book, we also include a 'publisher notification' letter that details which (and what issues) of our publications the review appears in. For example, reviews originally published in "The Bookwatch"; "The Library Bookwatch"; and "The Wisconsin Bookwatch" are also automatically published in "The Internet Bookwatch".

Our reviews for preschool through young adult children's books are also utilized by the Children's Books Reference Department at the Helen C. White Library on the University of Wisconsin, Madison, campus. This is a service utilized by school and community children's librarians throughout the state.

We also archive the reviews on our own Midwest Book Review website for five years. Our "Children's Bookwatch" archives get about 400 to 500 hits every month.

On a different note, could you kindly confirm your phone number? I am unable to reach you via 608-835-7937. Perhaps it's operator error…

That is our phone number. I suspect you tried calling when our computer was in use online. We only have the one phone line and every time we go up on the internet incoming phone calls are blocked until we get off. We periodically explore having a dedicated phone line for the computer, but our budget just won't accommodate it. But you can always get through via email should telephoning be a problem.

Thank you, Christina

Any time. Let me know if there's anything I can do for you folks.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 11/20/2007 11:16:52 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

I am uncertain what you are requesting when you ask for a: publicity kit or media release. I have a published book with an ISBN number available to send you.

DJ Swykert
2837 Kitter Rd., Ossineke, MI 49766
Tel. 989-471-2977 Email:

Dear DJ:

Go to the Midwest Book Review website at

Click on "Advice for Writers & Publishers". Then Scroll down to the how-to article "Creating An Effective Publicity Release". Follow the step-by-step instructions. At the end, you will have a professional quality publicity release.

I would also suggest you read the adjoining article "Creating An Effective Cover Letter". You will find the information invaluable in your efforts to promote your book for review and for sale.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Incidentally, there's a new article up in the "Advice for Writers & Publishers section of the Midwest Book Review website that is well worth reading. This one is called "Observations on Self Publishing".

The Audiobook Publishers Association is still calling for submissions for their "The Audies" their audiobook of the year awards. (I'm one of the judges.)

The deadline to submit your entry for 2008 Audiobook of the Year is December 15. For more information submitting your work for this year's event, review the Audiobook of the Year entry form or visit the APA website at

Thanks in advance to all entrants, good luck to everyone!

I'm now going to conclude this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These generous folk decided to say thank you and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Eva A. Lindberg
Andrew Toffoli -- "The Little Germ That Could...Creations'
Eddie Mitchell -- "The Gold Lust" series
Deborah Merlin -- "Victory Over ADHD"
Lyna Young -- "Being"
Janet Clark -- "Blind Faith"
Sonya Haramis -- "The Circle of Olympians
Devorah E. Hamilton -- "Why Are You My Mother?"
Lavanya Muller -- "The Landscape Diaries: Garden of Obsession"
Betty J. Reynolds -- "Louisiana Coffee...With Lots of Cream"
Ilori Press
Terra Sancta Press
Colecraft Industries
Papilio Publishing
Brandon Press, Inc.
TRG/The Reynolds Group
Wordtech Communications
Pete Ritzer -- "Seven Ox Press"
Teresa Basile -- New Leaf Books
Charles Jacobs -- Caros Books
Don Arends -- Mission Manuscripts Inc.
Jim Peluso -- Angelcrest Publishing
Julie Murkett -- Satya House Publications
Karen Christensen -- Berkshire Publishing Group
Nan Field -- Dog-Eared Publications
John W. Schmid -- Project Roar Publishing
Charles Barrett -- The Barrett Company Communications
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania! Publicity

If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time!

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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