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Jim Cox Report: February 2018

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The internet continues to be a great source of free information on the publishing industry in general, and trends, tips, tricks and techniques in the selling of books in particular. Of special note is an extensive and detailed article by Mike Shatzkin (The Shatzkin Files) on how Amazon is continuing to be the 800 pound gorilla of online book marketing and the manifold and diverse forces in an ever changing marketplace (along with Amazon's own use of predatory pricing) that are continuing to increase Amazon's share of that marketplace. All authors and publishers having to deal with Amazon or otherwise take Amazon into consideration with respect to their own marketing efforts should read "A changing book business: it all seems to be flowing downhill to Amazon". Here is the link to this particular and impressively informative essay:

In the course of making book review assignments I came across a remarkable article from Blaisdell Literary Enterprises on "The Book Reviewer’s Role in Self-Publishing" by Peter Blaisdell -- himself a self-published author and it was his novel "The Lords of Oblivion: A San Francisco Fantasy" that I was in the process of assigning to a reviewer. Offering a wealth of 'real world' practical insights and information, it should be considered a 'must read' by all self-published authors and small press marketing directors. Here is the link to this simply outstanding article

Finally, every self-published author and every small press publisher seeking to successfully bring a book to the attention of brick & board booksellers and having those booksellers carrying their book and making it accessible to their book buying customers should give a careful reading to a joint article by The Booksellers Association and The Society of Authors advising self-published and small press published authors on how to get their books placed into bookstores. Informative and 'real world practical' the full article can be accessed at this link:

Now on to reviews of new books which will prove to be of special interest to writers and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story
John Dufresne
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393352351, $15.95, PB, 224pp,

The history of fiction has been dominated by the novel and the short story. But now a brave new genre has emerged: very brief fiction. "FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story" by John Dufresne (who is the author of ten previous books, including two fiction writing guides, as well as a professor in the MFA program at Florida International University) identifies the qualities that make for excellent flash fiction, demystifies the writing process, and guides writers by exercise and example through the world of the very short story. Dufresne's characteristic warmth, wit, and humor remind writers of the joy in the creative process, making "FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story" a perfect and ideal guide for any writer interested in trying a new form. A unique and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story" should be considered a 'must read' by any writer seeking to master the literary art of this relatively new literary art form. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Writing & Literature instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!
Penny Sansevieri
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781548700249, $9.99 PB, $3.95 Kindle, 230pp,

Amazon is justifiably considered to be the proverbially 800 pound gorilla of online book marketing. With the slow demise of brick & board bookstores and the dominating rise of online book marketing it is essential that authors and publishers know how to maximize the Amazon web site with respect to selling their books. In the pages of "How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!: Master Amazon & Sell More Books!" author and professional book marketing expert Penny Sansevieri teaches exactly how to use Amazon to sell books. Simply stated, "How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!" is the ultimate and 'real world practical' guide for mastering the Amazon marketing system. Follow her proven strategies and self-published authors and authors published by small or niche publishers will instantly skyrocket their book's exposure and kick their book marketing into overdrive! Penny covers such vital book marketing issues as: Achieving top visibility for a book on Amazon regardless of subject matter of genre; Increase sales through perfectly timed pre-order campaigns; Leverage a secret tool to get hundreds of reader reviews; Use Kindle Unlimited to its greatest advantage; Boost sales by knowing when to give away an e-book (this really works as a marketing for profit strategy); Learn keywords and book descriptions that will draw in tons of buyers; Identify and locate secret categories that drive bigger sales; Make sure a book is ranked #1 in its particular category. "How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!" is essential reading in this on-line era of book selling in general, and selling books on the Amazon web site in particular. It is also the primary instructional resource and reference for authors and publishers wanting to understand the inner workings of Amazon and thereby sell more books. Incidentally, buy "How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!" on Amazon and you'll also receive as a bonus: Free listings of top fiction bloggers and hundreds of bonus resources! In summation, there is no better written, accessibly organized, or more comprehensive instructional on Amazon, (and containing invaluable tips, tricks and techniques that can be applied to other online book selling web sites) and every writer and every publisher should have their own copy of this 2018 Edition of "How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon!" by Penny Sansevieri.

Perpetuating Trouble
Chris Orcutt
Have Pen, Will Travel
9780996278379, $14.95, PB, 332pp,

Synopsis: "I avoided writers very carefully because they can perpetuate trouble as no one else can." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald.

"Perpetuating Trouble" is the personal memoir of novelist Chris Orcutt and shows how true this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald reallyis.

Debunking the myths, Orcutt reveals that the writing life is really one of crushing solitude, chronic dissatisfaction, mood swings and self-doubt, and where successes, when they come, are like diner mints -- sweet, but short-lived. And everyday life is equally stressful, with callous urologists, curmudgeonly painters, flirtatious receptionists, personal feuds and petty thefts.

For the writer, all of this leads to one thing -- perpetual trouble.

Yet, Orcutt's deep love of language, his saintly wife, and his indomitable sense of humor keep him going. Whether picking up two female hitchhikers who later turn out to be aliens from another planet, or divesting himself of a hoard of tacky paintings, or using philosophy to get out of a traffic ticket, Orcutt finds the humor and the art in his trials.

It's also a life of love and sadness, as he recounts a whirlwind love affair with a ravishing redhead, and the death of his beloved writing companion, his cat.

In the end, Orcutt discovers that to be a writer, he must be part adventurer, crusader, humorist, lover, philosopher, and, of course, troublemaker.

Critique: An absolutely fascinating and entertaining read from cover to cover, "Perpetuating Trouble" will have particular interest for anyone familiar with (or themselves living) the life of a writer. While emphatically and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Perpetuating Trouble" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Finally -- 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:

Sarah Glaz
Arthur G. Siegel
Inge-Lise Goss -- "Compelled"
Susan Alcorn -- "Healing Miles"
Paul McHugh -- "The Blind Pool"
Louise Clark -- "The Cat Came Back"
Nancy Shugart -- "Prove Them Wrong"
Henry Hoffman -- "The Ephemeral File"
Leanna Englert -- "Compromise With Sin"
J. Michael Dolan -- "The Trumpets of Jericho"
Mary A. Havens -- "The Shadows in My Heart"
Donald W. Kruse -- 'If I Ever Go To The Moon"
Nan Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
L. P. Hoffman -- Hope Springs Media
Jerome Tiller -- ArtWrite Productions
Howard Schrager -- Lemon Tree Press
Caroline Shearer -- Absolute Love Publishing
Jane Wesman -- Jane Wesman Public Relations
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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