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Jim Cox Report: January 2015

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

It being the first of the month (January 1, 2015) I've only got the office for a few minutes this morning before my web master and the managing editor of the Midwest Book Review (both of whom are my daughter Bethany) kick me out of the office so she can commandeer the computer to upload all the January book review publications to our web site, send them out to our subscribers, notify all the reviewers having reviews appearing this month, as well as generally setting the stage for spending the next 7 to 10 days sending out notifications to authors and/or publishers whose books are being reviewed in our January publications.

So here are some quick bits of advice and commentary that may prove of interest to reviewers, authors and publishers wanting to take advantage of the Midwest Book Review's resources:

In a message dated 12/10/2014 7:35:35 A.M. Central Standard Time,

Hi Jim,

I have one more question. I actually had an email from an author and he was wondering if the MBR ever publishes negative reviews? Of course since I pick the best ones to submit each month mine are not negative. But are the "in house" reviews always positive. I thought it was a great question! Thanks so much.

Melissa Beck

Subject: Melissa Beck -- Re: Reviewer Question
Date: 12/11/2014 1:54:11 P.M. Central Standard Time

Dear Melissa:

The Midwest Book Review will publish negative reviews.

But I encourage reviewers not to waste time on any book that they quickly perceive as not being able to be positively referred to its intended readership. There's just too many good books out there and not enough time -- so why waste time on something inferior or flawed.

That's just my subjective opinion and I don't hold any freelance or volunteer reviewer to the same criteria I personally follow.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 11/28/2014 6:24:19 A.M. Central Standard Time


Your advice on cover letters seems intended for nonfiction ("Lead with the most prominent benefit your book offers to this particular target market"). What are you looking for in a fiction cover letter? Presumably it would include a summary, but that's already in the publicity release.

Mark Lipsman

Subject: Mark Lipsman -- Re: Question
Date: 11/28/2014 10:51:12 A.M. Central Standard Time

Dear Mark:

A publicity release tells me all about the book and is a "universal" document that can go to any and all reviewers, booksellers, librarians, etc.

A cover letter is an "customized" letter and tells me why you are sending a review copy of the book to me.

For example:

You found our web site and were duly impressed.

You heard we give priority consideration where possible to small presses and self-published authors.

You've seen our monthly book review publications (archived on our web site) and note that your book is thematically appropriate for one of our regular book review columns.

We engaged in an email exchange or a phone call and I invited the submission. Etc., etc., etc.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In summation, if ever you have a question about any of the things we do (or the way we do them) here at the Midwest Book Review, please always feel free to send me an email and ask for a clarification or an explanation.

Now some more reviews of 'how-to' books of special relevance to writers and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Great Grammar Book
Marsha Sramek
Arch Press LLC
27 Innsbrook Road, Asheville, NC 28804
9780984115725 $24.95

The Great Grammar Book is a top recommendation over other grammar books for several reasons: its format is nicely arranged and logical, grammatical rules are reinforced by over 2,000 sentences in over a hundred practice sessions, and the entire layout and presentation are designed to be entertaining as well as education - which means that information is more likely to be retained. It presents a detailed diagnostic test to identify the user's particular grammar problem areas, it explains only what's needed and avoids flooding readers with too much technical information, and it reinforces concepts with writing exercises designed to improve one's sentences. The result is a powerful and highly recommended pick for any seeking to improve their writing.

Book Fairs For Authors
Larry DeKay & Peggy DeKay
Darby Press
PO Box 4486, Louisville, KY 40204
9780983414438, $12.95, 188pp,

Dozens of book fair links are included "The Authorís Guide to Book Fairs", an essential resource and reference for all authors, both traditionally published and self-published, who want to learn how to leverage book fairs to build their platform and sell more books. "Book Fairs For Authors" covers hy go to a book fair; who can be in a book fair; where to find book fairs; applying to be in a book fair; preparing to go to the book fair; tips on engaging buyers at the book fair; post book fair marketing; and book fair traps and pitfalls. "Book Fairs For Authors" is enhanced with the inclusion of a sist of book fairs by state; a list of book festivals by state; resources for authors; book expos and trade shows. Informed, informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, as well as thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end, "Book Fairs For Authors" should be considered mandatory reading for authors (and their publishers) who hope to expand the audience for their books -- and the financial revenues that expanded readership would engender.

Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age
Debbie Elicksen
Self-Counsel Press Inc.
4152 Meridian Street, Suite 105-471, Bellingham, WA, 98226
9781770401952, $18.95,

In "Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age", Debbie Elicksen draws upon her more than 20 years of direct media experience as a content creator and transmedia producer to write a 180 page instructional guide designed specifically for authors and publishers working in an increasingly digital world. "Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age" covers digitally based content creation, publishing platforms, marketing, funding resource development, website creation, blogging, audio and podcasting, YouTube, webcasts and webinars, social media platforms, Google +, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, transmedia, and public relations. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age" is an informed and informative read that should be considered mandatory for aspiring authors and novice publishers, and which has a great deal of practical value for even the more experienced professionals within the publishing industry.

The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin
Kim Bancroft
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597142878 $20.00

The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin: The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher is the true-life story of Malcolm Margolin, creator of the cultural institution of Heyday Books, which has served since 1978 as a publisher of books about California - from the tales of Native peoples to hardworking immigrants, from efforts to protect Calliope hummingbirds to knife-edge political tensions along the California-Mexico border. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this adventurous, insightful, and delightful saga of storytelling.

The Book Trade In Early Modern England
John Hinks & Victoria Gardener, editors
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
9781584563273, $55.00,

In the late fifteenth century, the book trade in England was modest in scale and ambition, hamstrung by legislation, centered in London and heavily dependent on its European connections. During the seventeenth century a nationwide market for books emerged and in 1695 the Licensing Act lapsed, allowing provincial printing to develop. By the early decades of the eighteenth century the trade had been radically transformed: it was national in character, better organized and perceptibly 'modern' in its structure. These essays, from recent 'Print Networks' conferences, shed light on this transformation, revealing the practices and perceptions of authors, translators, producers and collectors, the shifting geographical networks that characterized the early modern book trade and, crucially, what these changes meant for readers. Contributors: Maureen Bell, Bernard Capp, Sara Barker, Stacy Erickson, Victoria Gardner, John Hinks, Lucy Lewis, Dan Mills, Harry Newman, Charlotte Anne Panofre, Renae Satterley, Louise Wilson. A seminal anthology of outstanding scholarship, "The Book Trade in Early Modern England: Practices, Perceptions, Connections" is the twelfth volume of the outstanding Oak Knoll Press 'Print Networks' series and provides an invaluable historical overview of how the publishing industry for the English speaking reader evolved into a viable commercial enterprise. Informed and informative, "The Book Trade in Early Modern England: Practices, Perceptions, Connections" will prove to be an invaluable and much appreciated addition to academic library collections.

A Long Way from the Armstrong Beer Parlour
Richard Landon
Oak Knoll Press
310 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720-5038
9781584563303, $49.95,

Richard Landon (1942-2011) was the long-time director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, where he also taught courses in bibliography, book history, as well as rare books and manuscripts librarianship. "A Long Way from the Armstrong Beer Parlour: A Life in Rare Books: Essays by Richard Landon" is a 440 page compendium comprised of Landon's personal essays deftly collected into three major sections: Autobiography; Bibliography and Book History; Collecting and the Antiquarian Book Trade. Erudite, informed and informative, these essays will be of special interest to bibliophiles, as well as those actively engaged in the publishing industry, academic and community library systems, and rare book collectors. Of special interest for dedicated collectors and rare book librarians in charge of acquisitions is Landon's essay 'Who Owned it and Why It Matters: Provenance'. Enhanced with an excellent introduction by Marie Elena Korey, "A Long Way from the Armstrong Beer Parlour: A Life in Rare Books: Essays by Richard Landon" will prove to be a prized addition to personal, professional, and academic library collections.

Publishing: A Writer's Memoir
Gail Godwin
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620408247, $25.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Publishing: A Writer's Memoir" is a personal story of Gail Godwin's hunger to be published, the pursuit of that goal, and then the long haul that turned out to be forty-five years as a published writer and all that goes with it. A student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1958, Godwin met with Knopf scouts who came to campus every spring in search of new talent. Though her five pages of Windy Peaks were turned down and the novel never completed, she would go on to publish two story collections and fourteen novels, three of which were National Book Award finalists, five of which were New York Times bestsellers.

"Publishing: A Writer's Memoir" reflects on the influence of her mother's writing hopes and accomplishments, and recalls Godwin's experiences with teachers Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Coover at the Iowa Writers' Workshop; with John Hawkins, her literary agent for five decades; with John Irving and other luminaries; and with her editors and publishers. Recollecting her long and storied career, Godwin maps the publishing industry over the last fifty years, a time of great upheaval and ingenuity. Her eloquent memoir is illuminated by Frances Halsband's evocative black-and-white line drawings throughout. There have been memoirs about writing and memoirs about being an editor, but there is no other book quite like "Publishing: A Writer's Memoir" for aspiring writers and book lovers everywhere.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read that is an informative as it is entertaining, "Publishing: A Writer's Memoir" is very highly recommended reading for anyone who has ever aspired to become and/or actually succeeded in becoming a published author. An unexpected and welcome perspective on how the publishing industry itself has evolved over the past half-decade is enormously worth while. With "Publishing: A Writer's Memoir", Gail Godwin proves herself to be as adept at writing an autobiography as she has been in every other aspect of her writing and editorial career. Also available in a Kindle edition ($14.49), "Publishing: A Writer's Memoir" is very highly recommended for personal and community library collections.

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:

Grigor Fedan
Maria I. Leach
Charles B. Neff -- "Dire Salvation"
Donald W. Kruse -- "Hey, Charlie!"
Ellen Jean Diederich -- "Samson's Gift"
Linda M. Johnson -- "The Book of Barkley"
Robert P. J. Cooney -- "Remembering Inez"
Robert Brown Butler -- "Disaster Handbook"
Ken McKowen -- "Best of the California Coast"
Thaddaeus U. Montgomery -- "Beyond Expectations Out of the Surf"
Pointed Leaf Press
Propnometrics Press
Mainly Murder Press
The Cadence Group Inc.
Falhad Shizad -- Ibex Publishers
Barbara Brewer -- Safari Publishing
Richard Baldwin -- Buttonwood Press
Dino Price -- John Hardy Publishing
Deborah Lindler -- First Light Publishing
Millie Young -- Socrates Solutions Incorporated
John R. Guevin -- Biographical Publishing Company
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company LLC

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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