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Jim Cox Report: February 2004

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Another month of January gone by, another 1500+ titles coming in for review consideration, another issuance of four library newsletters and five on-line book review magazines, another globe-spanning, on-air book review commentary, another flood of spring catalogs -- and the Midwest Book Review just keeps rolling along.

1. Someone emailed me a question about Costco Wholesale as a potential resource for book sales. Unfortunately, my computer then decided to spend a little time in the Twilight Zone and I lost that email. All I can remember is that the publisher began the inquiry with a compliment on my "Jim Cox Report", so I'm reasonably certain that if I put the contact information here -- they will see it. Here it is:

Pennie Clark Ianniciello
Buyer - Books
Costco Wholesale
999 Lake Drive, Issaquah, WA 98027

Before the rest of you rush off to contact Pennie, you should do just a bit of preparatory homework to insure that your book(s) are thematically appropriate for the Costco outlet (and do the same for other similar outlets such as Wal-Mart, etc.). Go down to the store(s) and just look through their book sections to see what kinds of titles they stock. Then contact Pennie and ask for their submission guidelines -- then follow those guidelines to the letter.

2. I just have to share this with you -- win or lose, it made my day!

Subj: Best Website Nomination
Date: 1/4/04 1:38:32 PM Central Standard Time

Dear Writer's Digest:

Please accept my nomination for best website for writers. It is Midwest Book Review:

Thank you,

Lori L. Lake
Upcoming: STEPPING OUT: Short Stories in February 2004.

Truth In Advertising -- I should mention that Lori is also one of our Volunteer Reviewers and very good at it. Her book review column "Lori's Bookshelf" is a regular feature of our "Reviewer's Bookwatch". But this nomination came right out of the blue and I was simply delighted. I'm an infrequent contributor to the Writer's Digest Magazine -- but I had no idea they were running this kind of contest. It's so nice to be appreciated -- and a big chunk of the credit for the Midwest Book Review website should go to Bethany -- my Assistant Editor/Website Manager daughter.

Case in point -- I've always told publishers that our reviews of their books would be up on our Midwest Book Review website for one year. It was Bethany who arranged for a larger website and began building up our book review archives so that reviews are now up for three years and counting! Just this morning, Bethany talked me into springing for the cost of an on-site search engine that will allow us to maintain and expand our book review archives to hold the reviews available and accessible to our website visitors for another 10 years.

And that also holds true for all of the other aspects and elements comprising our website -- including "Advice For Publishers"; "Publisher Resources"; "Writer Resources"; "Publisher's Bookshelf"; "Writer's Bookshelf"; "Book Lover Resources"; "Publisher Associations"; "The Jim Cox Report", and the rest.

We are now averaging about 1,000 MBR website visitors a week. For a website as specialized as ours, that's not too shabby!

3. Here's one example of my activities with the Writer's Digest folk:

In a message dated 1/14/04 9:03:21 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

Hi Jim:

Writer's Digest has again asked me to co-sponsor their writing contest. In the past, you have agreed to provide a guaranteed review in Midwest Book Review for winners in all categories. Are you willing to do that again for the 2004 competition? This will be held in the fourth quarter of 2004. Could you please let me know ASAP?

Thank you, Brian

I'd be happy to again be one of the "prizes" for your contest winners and guarantee a review for them -- but be sure that when they send copies of their books they clearly indicate in a cover letter that they are a contest winner.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

I personally think that Writer's Digest is an invaluable resource for any writer -- but most especially for the novice that is new to the trade. They are also the dominate publisher of "how to" books on every possible aspect of writing whether it be fiction or non-fiction; novels or short stories or magazine articles; getting published or what do to after being published. My universal advice for any aspiring (or practicing!) writer is to acquire their free Writer Digest Books publications catalog which you can do by calling 1-800-289-0963 and just asking for it.

4. Subj: your article on book covers.
Date: 12/17/03 1:56:49 AM Central Standard Time

Mr. Cox,

I just read your article and I think its pretty much on the money in just about everything. Especially about the author complaining that he should have spent money on the cover and given you a mediocre book instead of vice - versa.

My firm creates multiple types of media and we have a few book covers under the belt. I would indeed be grateful if you were willing to have a look either at the covers on site or I could mail you some compressed covers for your input.

Look forward to your response.

Have a great day

Gaurav Jain

I get asked quite regularly to screen cover art, recommend literary agents, provide marketing strategy advice, etc.

My available time is far too limited to be able to respond to these individual solicitations. That's why I long ago took the route of writing up those "how to" articles and advisory commentaries that comprise the "Advice For Publishers" section (where the article about book covers is to be found). It's also the reason why I created the "Publisher's Bookshelf" to hold all the reviews I've done down through the years on those "how to" books -- and to which I add one or two a month. Quite often with respect to publishing or getting published, there are simply no short cuts to learning how to do something short of picking up a good "how to" book and reading it carefully to discover just what to do and how to do it.

I could have opened up a consulting practice with and for publishers -- but that's not the direction I wanted my literary and professional career to take. I wanted just exactly what I've got -- a thriving book review that will treat the small press community with personal preference, knowledgeable skill, and empathetic understanding.

If, after you've read your way through the "Advice For Publishers" articles and browsed your way through the "Publisher's Bookshelf" and you still have a question unanswered or a problem unsolved -- then feel free to ask.

Who knows? I may have a response so brilliant that it will end up in one of these Jim Cox Reports!

5. Subj: Thanks for the review!
Date: 1/3/04 4:11:52 PM Central Standard Time
From: Cedarhousepub

Dear Jim,

I was doing my periodical Googling (which I was reminded to do again when I read your newsletter), and came across the very nice review for "A Teen's Guide to Christian Living." Thanks to you and the reviewer for such an uplift to my day. I've sent it on to my co-author. I'm sure you sent the customary tear sheet to HCI/Faith, but they are notoriously bad at passing any news on to us authors. They are, however, letting us drive a new marketing campaign since they haven't done a hot job.


Debbie Thurman
Cedar House Publishers
Family Mental Health Advocacy

This nice little "Thank You" note from Debbie underscores three points I'd like to make.

Firstly, I always send publishers a copy of the review that we've done on their title(s) because it is professionally and ethically incumbent upon me to do so in fulfilling the publishing industry normative understanding that in exchange for being provided a free copy of the book in the hopes that it will secure a review, if it is successful in doing so, the publisher is owed a copy of that review and the right to utilize it in their promotional/marketing campaigns.

Secondly, it is professionally and ethically incumbent upon publishers to forward a copy of that review to the author, editor, illustrator, or publicist for their benefit and edification.

Thirdly, we live in an imperfect world where publishers (or reviewers, for that matter) don't always live up to their professional and ethical obligations -- so authors (and publishers) should always periodically do Google or other search engine surveys to track down any and all reviews of their titles.

6. The Midwest Book Review Fan Club:

I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day and told him about this phenomena of authors and publishers sending in stamps as a gesture of support for what I was trying for the small press community here at the Midwest Book Review. And I showed him the stack of letters that had come in during January with these little booklets of postage. He said "What you have here is a fan club!". I hadn't thought about it that way before -- but I suspect that he might be right! In any case, here is the Postage Honor Role from friends and supporters of the Midwest Book Review during the month of January, 2004:

Burton H. Baker
Cindy Ladager
David R. Ford - Good Press
Dave Demers - Marquette Books
Veronica Cherry - Gallant Books
Alan Schlines - "Stop Arthritis" (
T. A. Brown - "Business Security" (Crary Publications)

For those new to the Jim Cox Report, all of the back issues are archived and available on the MBR website at -- and this monthly monologue of mine is also available to you directly (for free) -- just send me an email and ask to be signed up.

If you'd like to contribute stamps as an expression of support, just send them to:

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

Until next time!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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