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Jim Cox Report: December 2018

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

I'm a big fan of the late Stan Lee and his Marvel Universe. I read and collected Marvel comics for decades. Recently I was sent a particular relevant and succinct eulogy for Stan Lee from Ray Robinson of Dog Ear Publishing that I think will prove to be of interest and relevance to the self-publishing community.

Unless you've lived under a rock for the past many years, you've heard the name Stan Lee repeatedly as the creator of the world's most loved superheroes (and reviled villains).

His dominant presence in pop culture defined many of the blockbuster movies over the past decade.

Lee died this week at 95 leaving an undeniable legacy as a creative force, and tireless promoter of his art. He was the driving force the catapulted the obscure (to many 'normal' adults) comic book publisher to one of the most powerful forces in pop movie culture.

One of Lee's great strengths was his ability to persevere in the face of intense criticism and doubt. When Stan Lee presented his idea for a teenage boy imbued with incredible powers after being bitten by a spider, he was soundly criticized and told it was "the worst idea ever!" He was then told a long list of reasons why his idea would never work, and how his character would never remotely be a hero.

Sound familiar?

Most, if not even the vast majority, of self published authors have heard exactly the same thing from traditional publishers, literary agents, and even some of their best friends.

Like Lee, the successful self published author pushes past the criticism and rejection. They keep moving forward, pursuing the dream of publishing their books.

Be strong, stay confident that your ideas have value, and keep moving forward!

Ray Robinson, Publisher
Dog Ear Publishing

I routinely get questions from novice authors and I'm always happy to be of help as part of the Midwest Book Review mission to promote literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. Here's one of the latest examples of this:

In a message dated 11/16/2018 10:36:44 PM Central Standard Time:


How will I know if my book was chosen for a review?

Julia Barr

To which I replied:

Dear Julia:

Thank you for your question. It's a good one, especially for those who are relatively new to the publishing industry.

A. Do a 10 day follow-up email after submitting the book for review and ask the following questions:

1. Did my book (put title here) 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?

B. If your book makes the eligibility cut and is assigned out for review, you will automatically be sent a copy of the review and an email (or snail mail) confirmation notification.

C. If after 14 weeks you haven't received a notification, then again send an email follow-up requesting an update on its status.

No legitimate reviewer or book review publication will object to an author and/or publisher doing a follow-up inquiry as outlined above.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

The above is a good template to use with all reviewers and review publications.

Now on to reviews of other new books with particular relevance and interest for authors and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Hollywood vs. The Author
Stephen Jay Schwartz, editor
Rare Bird Books
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angels, CA 90013
9781945572869, $17.95, PP, 280pp,

Stephen Jay Schwartz spent a number of years as the Director of Development for Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, Troy, The Perfect Storm) where he worked to develop screenplays for production. He also worked as a freelance screenwriter before writing his two novels, Boulevard and Beat, which follow the journey of sex-addicted LAPD detective Hayden Glass. The Hayden Glass series was optioned by producer Ben Silverman (Ugly Betty, The Office, The Tudors) for development as a TV series. Stephen's short fiction was most recently included in the collection The Los Angeles Fiction Anthology alongside T.C. Boyle, published by Red Hen Press, as well as the short story collection Jewish Noir, published by PM Press. He is a regular moderator at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and has judged and been the panel chair for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the mystery/thriller category since 2015. His film work has been exhibited in the A.F.I. Los Angeles International Film Festival and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Schwartz, "Hollywood vs. The Author" is a collection of non-fiction anecdotes by authors who've had the pleasure of experiencing the development room firsthand -- some who have successfully managed to straddle the two worlds, seeing their works morph into the kinds of feature films and TV shows that make them proud, and others who stepped blindsided into that room after selling their first or second novels. All the stories in this collection illustrate the great divide between the world of literature and the big or small screen. They underscore the insanity of every crazy thing you've ever heard about Hollywood.

"Hollywood vs. The Author" should be considered mandatory reading for any author seeking to have what they write made into a film or television series. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hollywood vs. The Author" is also available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978638563, $15.99, MP3 CD).

"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly 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 to our postage stamp fund this past month:

Bryan Stewart -- "Hope Blooms"
Rosemary Reeve -- "Only the Good"
Dan Grant -- "The Singularity Witness"
Jack Phillips Lowe -- "Flashbulb Danger"
Helen Currie Foster -- "Ghost Next Door"
Neena Roumell -- "Attachment Fathering"
Bruce Bernstein -- "You Gotta Have Heart"
Maureen Aitken -- "The Patron Saint of Lost Girls"
Joseph Drumheller -- "Jason and the Crawdad King"
Janie Dempsey Watts -- "Pap Pap Goes to Paris and So Does Ricky!"
Maurice A. Williams -- "My Career as a Book Reviewer Defending the Faith"
Elandrian Press
Beth Hilton -- The B Company
Ms. Sam Jernigan -- Renaissance Consultations
Ascot Media Group
Kama Timbrell Communications
Ellie Godwin -- Concierge Marketing
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company
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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