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Jim Cox Report: December 2011

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

This last month saw a dramatic change in the relationship of the Midwest Book Review and other professional review publications with respect to

Overnight and without any warning all the reviews posted to by the Midwest Book Review for their 'Reader Reviews' section of books had been purged. Something like 186,000+ reviews were gone in a blink.

Authors and publishers who contacted Amazon wondering why a review from the Midwest Book Review with respect to their particular book was suddenly no longer on Amazon were told several different things.

1. The reviewer had requested the removal -- blatantly untrue.

No one on my staff had ever requested any reviews be deleted from Amazon in this literary equivalent of a Saturday Night Massacre.

2. The review had been paid for -- also untrue.

By previous agreement (about 4 months ago) with Amazon we did not post any reviews of digital books for which the reviewer was paid a $50 Reader Fee for their review.

All our postings were for reviews of traditional print editions and these were always done free of charge.

I spend a lot of time these past couple of weeks on the phone with distressed authors. Emails arrived in such numbers that I made this form letter reply:

Even though our reviews of print titles are free of charge, because there is a $50 Reader Free for reviews of digital titles, Amazon has currently barred us from posting reviews to them directly. However, as an author and/or publisher, you can post the review in the editorial section of the book page for your particular title. -- Jim Cox, Midwest Book Review

Here are two key Amazon web site links that all authors and publishers should now have bookmarked on their computers:

Amazon Review Policies:

Publisher Contact & Service:

Which brings me to how I've had the Midwest Book Review adapt to the sudden and unannounced new Amazon policy that no longer permits professional book reviews (not just us but Irene Watson's "Reader Views" and a bunch of others) to be posted by them directly.

It turns out that authors and publishers who receive a review from the Midwest Book Review, Reader Views, Kirkus, Foreward Magazine, Publishers Weekl y, Library Journal, their local newspaper, etc., etc. can post that review themselves in the 'Editorial Review' section of their book's Amazon web page.

It also turns out that individual reviewers can post their reviews themselves under their own names in the Reader Reviews section as long as they have an account with Amazon (meaning they've bought something from Amazon at some time in the past).

I'm also recommended to authors and publishers with reviews from the Midwest Book Review to post them with a specific source citation from which ever one of our nine monthly book review publications the review of their book is featured in: The Bookwatch; California Bookwatch; Children's Bookwatch; Internet Bookwatch; Library Bookwatch; MBR Bookwatch; Reviewer's Bookwatch; Small Press Bookwatch; or the Wisconsin Bookwatch.

I'm also in the process of determining whether or not I have the staff resources to begin posting our reviews to Barnes & Noble. (They hold roughly a 30% share of online book sales. Amazon accounts for around 60% of online book sales. With the remaining 10% of online book sales being all the other bookstore web sites combined.) I hadn't done so in the past under what I see now was a misguided loyalty to Amazon going back years and years and years.

Meanwhile, my contract with Cengage Learning to incorporate all of our book reviews each month (between 700 and 800 on average) into their Book Review Index which is distributed to thousands and thousands of school, community, academic, corporate, and governmental libraries throughout the United States and Canada continues uninterrupted.

Personally, I think this decision by Amazon is on par with their ludicrous idea of a few years ago of trying to sell reviews from their web site despite anyone being able to see them for free on there. Especially since we here at the Midwest Book Review always furnished copies of our reviews to the publishers with automatic permission to utilize those reviews in their own marketing and promotional campaigns -- as to most responsible book reviewers and book review publications.

Now on to some reviews of new "how to" books on writing and/or publishing:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Berkshire Manual of Style for International Publishing
Berkshire Publishing Group
120-122 Castle Street
Great Barrington, MA 01230-1506
9781614729938, $22.95,

A superbly organized, presented, 188-page compendium of guidelines, rules and rule exceptions for writing on a global level of readership, the "Berkshire Manual of Style for International Publishing" also includes thoughtful and thought-provoking meditations and asides on writing and word use, as well as thematically relevant writing and publishing anecdotes and lore. Essential reading for copy writers and editors, the "Berkshire Manual of Style for International Publishing" also deals with business writing including both email and snail-mail correspondence. Of special note is the section devoted to guidelines for authors and reviewers. Comprehensive and deftly organized and thoroughly 'user friendly', the "Berkshire Manual of Style for International Publishing" will prove to be an indispensable reference and resource.

Writing For The Web
Lynda Felder
New Riders
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300
Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
978032179443, $24.99,

With the coming of internet communication that ranges from email, to web sites, to the creation of documents and files, a new form of literacy has become essential to success -- writing for and in a medium that includes pictures and sounds integrated with the written word. "Writing for the Web: Creating Compelling Web Content Using Words, Pictures, and Sound" by Lynda Felder is a 192-page compendium of instruction and explanation that will enable the reader to create focused, effective, competent web site copy fully integrated with visuals and sound. Providing a wealth of instructive exercises that include working with images, adding motion and sound, as well as creating interactive and non-linear stories, "Writing For The Web" is an ideal and thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction manual, highly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, community, and academic library instructional resource collections.

10 Things Every Writer Needs To Know
Jeff Anderson
Stenhouse Publishers
477 Congress Street, Suite 4B
Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781571108104, $23.00,

Much like painting, the art and craft of writing is as much a matter of skill as it is talent. "Ten Things Every Writer Needs to Know" by Jeff Anderson is a 256-page compendium of insightful information and instruction focusing on ten essential facets of writing: motion, models, locus, detail, form, frames, cohesion, energy, words, and clutter. Each of these aspects of the writing process has a specific chapter beginning with 'Getting and Keeping Writers Motivated' and concluding with 'Deleting the Extraneous'. Of special note is the prologue commentary 'What Writing Instruction Is and Isn't'. Enhanced with an appendix, a bibliography, and an index, "10 Things Every Writer Needs To Know" is informed, informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', making an excellent textbook for Creative Writing courses and on which should be in every school, community, and academic library instructional reference collection.

Writing the TV Drama Series, third edition
Pam Douglas
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615930586, $26.95,

The third updated edition of Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV will appeal to screenwriters, film students and any writer seeking to break into the TV drama realm. It provides the latest information and insights from successful major writers and television producers alike, and is for any writer who wants to produce an original series or television drama. Chapters offer industry information, tips on trends, new media opportunities, and more. Add new interviews and you have a major reference 'must' for any film or screen-writing collection.

Finally we have "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Jeff S.
Joanne Conrad
Roberta C. Pevear
Kimberly LaRocca
Steven S. Drachman
Hedda Nadler-Hurvich
Wentworth M. Johnson
Jamie Elizabeth Tingen
Ed Novak -- "Meet Me At The Net"
Pam Flowers -- "Ellie's Long Walk"
Harold G. Ross -- "Long Way Home"
Margot Brown -- "The 72 Hour Rule"
M. C. V. Egan -- "The Bridge of Deaths"
Garrett M. Carter -- "Not An Oxymoron"
Octavio A. Melo -- "Consciousness Rising"
R. D. Pittman -- "New Earth: Project O.N.E."
LeAnn Neal Reilly -- "Saint Sebastian's Head"
Michel Goodman -- Nine Lives Of A Marriage"
Donna Gruber Adair -- "An American Odyssey"
Tom Smucker -- An Inconvenient Amish Zombie"
Julie Harris -- "A One-Eyed Horse in a One-Horse Town"
Nadine Block -- "This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You"
Rickard D. Pittman -- "New Earth: The Search For Justice"
Colonus Publishing
Attitude Reconstruction
Blue Marlin Publications
Simone Peters -- Tortuga Press
Terry Sprouse -- Planeta Books
Kyra Morris -- Bottletree Books
Reya Kempley -- Starflight Press
MJ Hammond -- Minstrel's Alley
Robert E. Fuchs -- Wildflower Press
Patricia Kelley -- Renewal Publishing
Robert H. Pruett -- Brandylane Publishers
Sherry Matlack -- Amethyst Moon Publishing
Jermine Benton -- Flowers in Bloom Publishing
Margaret A. Harrell -- Saeculum University Press
Susan Dolinko -- Linda Lauren's Embracing The Universe
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company
Maryglenn McCombs -- MM Book Publicity
William S. Bike -- ANB Communications

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, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), 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 -- 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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