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Jim Cox Report: December 2016

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

This month I want to showcase three of the most common errors committed by self-publishing authors and what they can do to avoid them.

1. Not properly vetting reviewers and review resources.
2. Deliberately damaging their review copies before submitting them to reviewers and review resources.
3. Failure to follow up on review copy submissions to reviewers and review resources.

Every new author and publisher should know the "rules" regarding review copies. There is an industry standard that governs, and there are things to watch out for.

The quid-pro-quo is that publishers send reviewers a free copy of a book as part of their marketing plan, in the hope that it will be reviewed and brought to the favorable attention of the reviewer's audience/readership. If reviewed, the reviewer is under obligation to send a copy of the review to the publisher for whatever use the publisher would like to make of it in the course of the publisher's marketing activities regarding the book. No permission release is required because of the quid-pro-quo expectation incumbent upon both parties.

Authors and publishers are under no obligation to send review copies to reviewers they do not wish to work with. Reviewers are under no obligation to review a book sent to them unrequested. Reviewers are under an ethical obligation to consider a book for review that they had specifically requested. If a requested book is dismissed from review consideration then the publisher, upon inquiry, should be told why.

Authors and publishers should keep careful track of to whom (and when) a book is sent for review. This includes some form of review copy follow-up contact. If they do not receive a review, or if the review is unsatisfactory, then the publisher should think carefully before sending out review copies of any future titles to that particular reviewer.

Review requests from reviewers unknown to the author or publisher should be assessed. This can be done by asking other authors and publishers (in such online discussion groups as Publish-L, Pub-Forum, and SPAN) if they've had experience with the particular reviewer; and/or follow Jim Cox's guidelines on detecting the fraudulent reviewer; and/or ask for samples of the reviewer's previous work.

All books sent to a reviewer for review consideration, requested or unrequested, become the property of the reviewer to dispose of as he or she deems fit. This is why it is so essential to screen review copy requests and to consider carefully the appropriateness of your title for a given reviewer, publication or media event.

Stamping a book "Review Copy, Not For Sale" is to protect the publisher against the book coming back to them as a bookstore or distributor return. It does not prevent or oblige the reviewer from disposing of the book to a used bookstore, garage sale, Friends of the Library fund-raiser, etc. That book is part of the reviewer's compensation (and in the case of free lance or volunteer reviewers, their only compensation) for reviewing the book and has become their personal property to keep or to sell or to give away.

If you encounter your review copy for sale in a used bookstore or on Amazon, recognize that it is part of the cost of doing business in the publishing industry. The key is to minimize that cost by insuring that you are dealing only with reputable reviewers appropriate for the nature of your book, and avoiding the scam artists and the inappropriate reviewers.

Here are some key links and a bit of instruction:

1. How to Spot a Phony Book Reviewer:

2. Defacing Review Copies:

3. Jim Cox Rules for Review Copy Submission Follow-Up:

Send an email to the reviewer or review resource and ask the following 3 questions:

1. Did my book arrive safely?
2. What is the status of my book with respect to your review process?
3. Is there any further information or assistance I can provide?

No legitimate reviewer or review resource will object to answering these three succinct questions.

Now on to some more current reviews of new titles that I recommend for authors and/or publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Publishing Your Medical Research, second edition
Daniel W. Byrne
Wolters Kluwer
PO Box 1600, Hagerstown, MD 21740
9781496353863 $59.99 pbk / $47.39 Kindle

Now in an updated second edition with additional details to aid medical researchers in a "publish or perish" world, Publishing Your Medical Research is a practical, no-nonsense guide to planning a balanced, publishable paper; anticipating and avoiding common criticisms; observing and collecting requisite data; writing fluently with proper formatting; and editing and revising one's work. "If you collected your data by surveying the past (retrospectively), explain why this approach was appropriate, despite its limitations. Retrospectively collected information often is of poorer quality than prospectively collected information because the presence or absence of many conditions is not documented consistently in routine medical records. For instance, smoking and drinking histories may be vague or may not be recorded at all." Publishing Your Medical Research is a "must-have" for college library collections and professionals in the field, highly recommended.

So You Want to Write a Children's Book
Rebekah Sack
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781620232293, $34.95, Library Binding, 223pp,

Synopsis: "So You Want to Write a Children's Book: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing for Kids" gives the aspiring young writer everything they will need to know to successfully write and publish a children s book. From understanding the children's book market to learning about illustrations and design, "So You Want to Write a Children's Book" has it all.

Top publishers and writers in the industry have lent their expertise to the contents of "So You Want to Write a Children's Book" for the specific purpose of providing an accurate overview of everything that is needed in the process. Aspiring children's book authors will learn what morals and values publishers and readers look for in good children s books and what should be expected in a publication deal.

Writers will learn what material is appropriate for each age range and how to convey messages in a way that appeals to both parents and children.

Writers will learn how to build a relationship with an editor, what to expect in revisions, and the process of selling the book. Any young adult that is interested in starting any kind of writing career will learn valuable tips and tricks to understanding the publishing market with this conversational, easy-to-read book.

Critique: Rebekah Sack is a successful nonfiction author who has written several helpful guides for the young adult audience. Her passion for helping teens survive the rollercoaster of youth translates onto each page of "So You Want to Write a Children's Book: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing for Kids". It is interesting to note that Rebeka Sack is currently an in-house editor for the Atlantic Publishing Group. It is clear that she has drawn upon her many years of experience and expertise to create a throughly 'user friendly', informed and informative instruction manual and guide that will prove to be an invaluable 'how to' reference for anyone of any age who wants to write books for young readers of any age, but especially in the category of Young Adult fiction/non-fiction.

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:

Tom Reeves -- "Discover Paris!"
Jerry Labriola -- "The Blue Baron Mystery"
Stephen L. Wilson -- "Answering The Call"
Howard E. Adkins -- "The Dash of Dr. Todd"
Dorothea Jensen -- "The Buss from Layfayette"
John F. Bronzo -- "Mary Bernadette: Secrets of a Dallas Moon"
Steven Burgauer -- "The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture"
Michael Larson -- "Guardianship: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money"
WhistleFritz LLC
Slice of Pain Publishing and Media
Daniel L. Sperling -- Hoopoe Books
Christopher C. Sulavik -- Tatra Press
Jerome Tiller -- ArtWrite Productions
Sara Sgarlat - Sgarlate 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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