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Jim Cox Report: December 2014

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the reasons that I began writing the "Jim Cox Report" was to provide a forum in which I could explain the "inner workings" of the Midwest Book Review and thereby help authors and publishers (and any interested members of the general public) to understand what, how and why we do what we do the way we do it.

Here's a recent inquiry along those lines:

In a message dated 9/6/2013 4:25:04 P.M. Central Daylight Time:

Hi Mr. Cox,

Thank you for replying. I'd hoped against hope for a review because you requested my book from one of the indie organizations and, as I understand it, you pass along your reviews to libraries, where sales would have started. Is that the case?

May I also ask how other books are reviewed? There must be some choice made. Would you tell me?

I got a nice review from Kirkus, but, as you probably know, writers pay that organization and the review was a paragraph that could hardly analyze the depths of my story. That's why I was looking forward to a review in MBR. Can I submit my book again and try a second time?

Let me know, if you will, at your earliest convenience.

Warmest regards,

Robert Covelli

Dear Mr. Covelli:

The audience or readership for our reviews are librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public. Publishers are automatically provided with a copy of the review and permission to utilize it in any manner they deem useful in their own marketing campaigns -- giving Midwest Book Review the usual credit citation when doing so.

The choices are made by the reviewers. Some have very specific fields of interest, others are more general in their preferences. Some of our reviewers are very prolific turning out a dozen or so reviews a month. Other reviewers only do one or two titles a month. Some produce 'blurb' or single paragraph reviews, others produce what amounts to an essay using a particular book as a launching pad for their commentary.

This is our 39th year as the Midwest Book Review and we are exceptionally well known within the publishing industry. That's why we receive an average of 2000 titles a month. With having a roster of 81 volunteer reviewers. That's why it's kind of like a monthly literary lottery with no way of telling before hand what will be chosen and what will not.

You can always resubmit your book. If you do so, please note that it is a second submission with my permission. I'll do whatever I can for you -- but I can make no promises or guarantees.

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

Note: Not long after this I came up with the idea of any author or publisher whose book had passed our initial screening but ultimately failed to achieve a review assignment simply because there were too many good books and not enough reviewers to address them all could submit a review from some other reviewer or review resource (with that reviewer's permission) and I would run that review in our monthly book review publication "Reviewer's Bookwatch" in that author and/or publishers behalf and with under that reviewer's byline.

It's been a policy that has been operating for about a year now with tremendous success and has proven to be one of my better ideas in my editorial old age!

Now some more reviews of 'how-to' books of special relevance to writers and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Screenwriting for Neurotics
Scott Winfield Sublett
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609382766, $24.00,

Screenwriting for Neurotics: A Beginner's Guide to Writing a Feature-Length Screenplay from Start to Finish provides writers with all the tools needed to produce a successful feature-length screenplay and offers step-by-step assessments that include keys of how to begin and how to produce a successful result. Beginners new to the screenwriting process receive a fine survey that reviews successful writing techniques and how they are applied in films, using examples from well-known classic and modern films alike. It's all about finishing off a polished script - and this is the one place to begin that covers all the bases.

Writing the Story Within
Chip Richards
Blue Angel Publishing
80 Glen Tower Drive, Glen Waverley, VIC, Australia 3150
97800738743158, $19.95,

Any aspiring writer who wants to use their experience to produce engaging stories in any format, whether they be a novel, children's book, travel blog or short saga, will find Writing the Story Within an important key to tapping the untold riches of one's life and creating characters and descriptions that nearly write themselves. From expanding connections to stories that reflect one's life and beliefs to creatively honing a structure that moves beyond written word to bring these tales to screen, this is an outstanding writer's guide that gets to the point of exactly how to make the leap between experience and written word, and is highly recommended for any would-be writer who has a story to tell.

Plot Perfect
Paula Munier
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
700 East State Street, Iola WI 54945
9781599638140, $17.99,

PLOT PERFECT: HOW TO BUILD UNFORGETTABLE STORIES SCENE BY SCENE is a recommended pick for any who want to understand the underlying influence on creating a memorable plot, and why some plots are better than others. It teaches the rudiments of arranging scenes for better impact, layering a storyline, developing dialogue and tone to support the plot structure, and handling changing themes. The result is a step-by-step approach to understanding a plot's direction: a powerful survey for any writer who wants to hone skills to a fine art.

Writing Local History Today
Thomas A. Mason & J. Kent Calder
AltaMira Press
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780759119024, $70.00,

The collaborative work of Thomas A. Mason and J. Kent Calder, "Writing Local History Today: A Guide to Researching, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book" is a 148 page instruction manual specifically designed to assist the novice writer seeking to produce saleable work in the field of writing local community histories. Deftly organized into four chapters (The Consumer: Who Is Your Audience?; Evidence: Where Do You Find It? How Do You Use It?; Communication: How Do You Shape a Specialized Subject for a Nonspecialist Audience?; Economics, Design, and Production: How Do You Produce and Market A Book That People Will Pay For?). Succinctly comprehensive, immanently practical, thoroughly 'user friendly', and enhanced with the inclusion of eight appendices ranging from 'Sample Author's Guideline' to 'Why Books Cost: A quick Lesson in Finance for Publishers', a four page Bibliography, and a comprehensive index, "Writing Local History Today: A Guide to Researching, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book" will prove to be an invaluable addition to any aspiring writer's reference shelf in general, and a "must" for anyone wanting to enter the specialized field of local history writing in particular. It should be noted that "Writing Local History Today: A Guide to Researching, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book" is also available in a paperback edition (9780759123953, $27.95) and a Kindle edition ($23.44).

Here is "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:

Robert Binstock
Susan J. Kapanke -- "Budaniel"
Shirlee Monty -- "May's Boy: The Rest of the Story"
Jo Curran -- Calliope Press
Jill Bronson -- Music Together
Nan Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
Judith Claire -- Top Gun Love Inc.
Frederick Barrows -- Lone Argonaut
Millie Young -- Socrates Solutions Inc.
Charyl McComas -- TM Books & Video
Ellie Pelto -- Concierge Marketing
Javier Perez -- Page-Turner Publicity
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:

SupportMBR [at]

(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage 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 at 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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