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Jim Cox Report: January 2005

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Another new year has come around and now that I'm officially recovered from the Xmas through New Year's round of celebrations, deadlines, and resolutions, let me turn my attention to the business of publishing and being published as viewed from the prospective of someone who has been reviewing books and observing book industry trends since the Fall of 1976.

Three major trends continue to dominate:

1. The percentage of the public that reads books for pleasure is continuing to steadily diminish. Partly because an older and "pre-electronic" generation is dying off. Partly because the younger generations coming up are spending their leisure time in video gaming, web surfing, and all that computer cyberspace has to offer them.

2. The sheer numbers of books being published continues to increase. Partly because with the continued improvements associated with desk-top publishing making self-publishing and small press publishing easier and cheaper, and partly of the increasing sophistication of print-on-demand companies allowing previously unpublished authors to see their work in print easier and cheaper.

3. Online book selling continues to increase "market share" over brick & board book retailing. It has become the rare retail bookstore (new or used) that does not incorporate a website and online selling into their retailing mix. And the even rarer self-published author and small press publisher that does not rely on the internet to promote and merchandise their book(s).

What these three trends clearly imply is that any author and any publisher wanting to be commercially viable with their book(s) must be as computer literate and internet marketing savvy as they are accomplished in the simple arts of writing and editing.

What follows is "The Writing/Publishing Shelf" -- something that will now be a regular feature of these "Jim Cox Reports" to the small press community. I mean to include reviews of what I consider to be the best of the "how to" books coming out specifically for aspiring authors and dedicated publishers seeking to be as competitive as possible in the dramatically competitive field of publishing given a dwindling clientele of readers and a mushrooming of available titles clamoring for attention and pocket books.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Goodbye Gutenberg
Valerie Kirschenbaum
The Global Renaissance Society, LLC
111 Woodale Ave., Peekskill, NY 10566
0974575038 $47.95 1-800-266-5564

Goodbye Gutenberg: How A Bronx Teacher Defied 500 Years Of Tradition And Launched An Astonishing Renaissance is written and designed by a remarkable author who created her own font and enhanced her text and page layouts with 860 full color images (many never previously published in the United States). Funded in part by the International Reading Association and the Children for Children Fund, Goodbye Gutenberg presents a wealth of innovative new solutions designed to "get American reading again" -- especially young readers. Seven major sections comprising this remarkable and unique volume include Hello to a New Generation of Writers; Hello to a New Generation of Readers; Hello to a New Generation of Women; Beauty and the Book; Hello to a New Generation of Teachers; Hello to the Critics and Skeptics; and Goodbye Gutenberg (A Revaluation of Visual Values; Dawn of Designer Prose; The Visual Vernacular; The Old Way of Reading and the New; Terror in the Arts; And So Begin the Beautiful Books). Enhanced with footnotes, a bibliography, and a user friendly index, Goodbye Gutenburg is especially enthusiastically recommended reading for writers, publishers, educators, librarians, bibliophiles, and book reviewers!

Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript
Cynthia Laufenberg
Writer's Digest Books
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
1582972907 $19.99 1-800-289-0963

Create appropriate, notable submissions for publication, from proposals and cover letters to complete manuscripts, using Cynthia Laufenberg's Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, an invaluable informational guide for prospective authors seeking publication. Now in an updated and expanded second edition, Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript is a 'must' for any writer aspiring to publication. Especially valuable are the tips on common mistakes made in the usual submission, whether it be the initial query letter or the completed work.

The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines
Brigitte M. Phillips, et al.
Quill Driver Books
1831 Industrial Way, #101, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956408 $29.95 1-800-497-4909

Now in an expanded and thoroughly updated fourth edition, The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines is collaboratively compiled and jointly edited by Brigitte M. Phillips, Susan D. Klassen, and Doris Hall. With current and invaluable information drawn from more than 1,100 magazine editors and 400 book publishers, The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines is designed specifically for the freelance writer seeking to be published commercially. Listed by category (book publishers, periodicals, etc.) and arranged in alphabetical order within categories, each entry includes basic information concerning submission guidelines for writing (and photographs if applicable), contact information, a summary of the mission and general inclination of the publisher, and more. An invaluable resource for locating potential customers for one's work and conforming to the requirements that will protect one's labor from being instantly rejected, The American Directory Of Writer's Guidelines is a snap to consult and a first-class resource for freelance writers that literally pays for itself.

I've been reviewing "how to" books on writing and publishing for, quite literally, as long as I've been a reviewer. On the Midwest Book Review website I've archived my reviews of hundreds of such books and organized them into two sections: "The Writer's Bookshelf" and "The Publishers Bookshelf". The nice thing about these books is that if a review catches your interest, you can usually access the book, for free, through your local community library's "Interlibrary Loan Service". Just copy down the usual title, author, publisher, ISBN info and if they don't have it in their local collections, they can obtain it through a network of library systems that can reach out to any library in your state or in the nation. Then, once you've read the book, you can decide if it's something you want as a permanent reference and resource. And if so, usually order it either through Amazon, one of the other online bookstores, or directly from the publisher (as you can see, all of the publisher contact information available to me at the time of the review is included as part of the review).

Now let's move on to another popular part of the "Jim Cox Report" - tips, tricks & techniques of interest to anyone wanting to make a living from what they are writing and/or publishing:

1. Subj: Re: request for permission

Dear Mr. Cox,

Thank you very much for your kind message giving permission for use of the quotation from the review of my book 'In the Gardens of Impressionism' - I greatly appreciate this and am sorry for not writing to thank you before now.

Since I contacted you, there have in fact been quite a number of further favourable reviews of the book in publications here in Britain, so I will send you in due course both the piece in the University of Glasgow Newsletter giving the MBR quote, and some extracts from these other reviews - I am sure you and your reviewer will be pleased to know that the MBR's judgement of the book is being corroborated by others!

With many thanks again, and best wishes,

Dr. Clare Willsdon

Clare's little "thank you" missive points out a couple of things that authors and publishers should note. Even though Clare is in Great Britain and hers is a book published in England, (we regularly receive a lot of books submitted for review from Canada, English, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand) I offer her email as a template because it shows two excellent things for building rapport with reviewers:

A. Clare has thanked the reviewer for the review -- making any future submissions by her received with a small but important edge over anyone else submitting books that particular day -- she will be favorably remembered as an author and/or publisher who abides by the common courtesies of "please" and "thank you" that our mothers were forever trying to instill in us.

B. Clare has informed the reviewer how and where the review has proved useful in her overall promotional campaign. Reviewers like to know that their work is of practical value and that their opinions are validated in the marketplace.

2. Subj: Arena Editions

Dear Miss,
Dear Mister,

I tried to contact ARENA EDITIONS in Santa Fe on the address, mentioned at your site ( but I never received any reaction. I wasn't also able to visit their website, as mentioned at your site...

Can you give me their actual address (postal or email) or website? Many thanks and kind regards,

Luc Van Hoogenbemt
Louizastraat 11, B-2800 Mechelen, Belgium

This time a reader of our reviews residing in Belgium (the Midwest Book Review is actually quite global in scope thanks to shortwave radio and the internet) wrote about a difficulty he was having in using the review's publisher contact information. This little incident points out a couple of things I want to emphasize:

Anytime you have a question or comment about anything you find on the Midwest Book Review website please feel free to send me an email about it. It's one of the major ways in which we find out that a publisher's website, or email account, or toll free phone number has become obsolete or otherwise inoperative.

Publishing houses and publisher imprints quite commonly go out of business, get bought up by someone else, or change their contact addresses and sources without bothering to notify reviewers. Just to give two examples of this from the hundreds of December publisher notification letters that we sent out, we got the letters (containing tear sheets) bounced back from the U.S. post office from two publishers: New Millennium Audio and Sonoma Publishing.

I've often debated whether of not I should have our webmaster go up onto the Midwest Book Review website and delete those reviews whose publishers who could no longer be contacted for one reason or another. That debate still goes on. The reason for it is to prevent reader frustration on being pumped up with a review of a book that they cannot get access to for purchasing purposes. But on the other hand, many of these titles can still be accessed through Amazon (for whom we are a content provider) or through an Internet search.

So far, we leave them up on the website simply because my webmaster has a lot of other things that keep her busy. And I suppose that's the way it will remain -- at least for a while.

Now it's time for my personal favorite with these "Jim Cox Reports" -- the Midwest Book Review Postage Hall Of Fame where I gratefully acknowledge all the wonderful men and women who have donated postage stamps (we don't allow anyone to give us money in order to avoid conflict of interest issues) to us as a way of saying they appreciate and support what we try to do here in behalf of the small press community. So this month my heart-felt thanks go out to:

Hank Kellner
Catherine C. Pickle
John Britt
Diane Glynn - book publicist
Sylvester Allred - "The St. Petersburg Addendum"
C.S. Manifold - "Knowing Me, Knowing You"
Sandra Cline - "Pug Sheridan"
Robert A. Chechile - "The ABCs of Mutual Funds"
Carse Ferrott - Our Child Press
Joe Landwhr - Ancient Tower Press
Eileen Wyman - Calliope Press
Barbara Whitaker - Ginger & Spike Publications
Lance O. Ong - Chromisphere Press
Madelene Towne - Green Mansion Press
Maureen Harrison - Excellent Books

If you would like to donate postage stamps as a gesture of support and solidarity, or if you would like to submit a book for review consideration, direct them to me here at:

Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

Be sure that your book is accompanied by a cover letter and a publicity release. Any stamp donations will be used when I start mailing out all those monthly publisher notification letters and tear sheets.

Incidently, if you've never created a publicity release or cover letter, you'll find "how to" articles for doing just that in the "Advice For Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website.

Everything we do here at the Midwest Book Review and everything you will find to the benefit of readers, writers, librarians, and publishers on our website at is free of charge. And that includes subscribing to the "Jim Cox Report" so that you can get it sent to you directly! Just send me an email asking to be signed up.

So until next time -- Goodbye, Good Luck & Good Reading!!

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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