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Jim Cox Report: July 2003

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

It's July already and things have so busy around here it wasn't until today, the Fourth of July, when the rest of the business would is pretty much shut down, that I've got some unoccupied and uncommitted time to myself in order to write this month's little missive -- that extended monologue that I not-so-modestly call "The Jim Cox Report".

Now for some tips, tricks, techniques and advice for the small press community:

1. Quoting reviews on cover

Ken McNamara writes:

> Obviously I should quote the source, such as, Midwest Book Review or
> Library Journal.
> Should I also quote the reviewers name?

It's up to the publisher. Usual you want to quote the reviewer by name if the reviewer has some sort of "name brand recognition". Otherwise, simply citing the book review publication or review organization is sufficient.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

2. Something Interesting about Amazon

Rose Rosetree writes:

> It has been a while since I checked out books at Amazon for research
> purposes, and I discovered something fascinating today. It's nearly
> impossible to find out who the publisher is for any given book. You must
> search long and hard into the listing for the item.

Clicking on the "Production Information" line on the book's Amazon webpage will automatically zap you to the block of information that contains the publisher's name, the ISBN number, page count and other bits of the book-as-product information.

I use this feature regularly to identify a publisher's full name (some reviewers will turn in only a partial name like "Lighthouse" leaving me to guess if they mean "Lighthouse Publishers"; "Lighthouse Books", or "Lighthouse Editions".

Then, if I also need a publisher address, I will use the Google search engine armed with the complete publisher name.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

3. Permission to reprint article

Helen Schmidling writes:

> I am the editor of Publishers' Focus, a newsletter for the Northwest
> Association of Book Publishers. We are a PMA affiliate in Portland,
> Oregon. (How is it that we can both be in Oregon and be some 2000 miles
> apart? When you're in Oregon, Michigan!)

Actually, it's Oregon, Wisconsin. The story is that back around 1847 a group of wagons was headed to the Oregon Territory. When they got about 12 miles south of Madison the wagons broke down. The wagon folk declared the place to be Oregon and created the village there and then!

> I would like permission to use one of your articles, "Author Photo
> Advice," for our snail-mail newsletter. We cannot pay you for it, but we
> will issue proper credit, letting our members know about your web site
> and online publications. We will also send you a copy of the newsletter.

Permission granted -- and thanks for the copy for our files!

> Thanks for seeing to this. I hope to hear from you soon.

> Sincerely,
> Helen Schmidling
> Editor
> Publishers' Focus

Anytime -- that's one of the major reasons I'm here.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

4. Library list

Rob Sanchez writes:

> Who is it that provides the list of public libraries and their
> acquisitions managers?

There is an entire section of the Midwest Book Review website devoted to "Libraries & Universities" resource and databank links. And it is massive! The URL is:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

5. The Book Review as a promotional device.

The central and core purpose of a book review is to function as a promotional device to draw the attention of the reading public to the book in question and advice potential readers as to whether or not that book is worth their time (and money!).

What a lot of folk don't realize is that their is a closely related purpose as well -- to advise the author/publisher as to potential reader groups that they might not have otherwise considered in their efforts to promote and market a given title. Here's a case in point:

Dear Mr. Cox,

I am truly amazed at your ability to capsulize a book in a few sentences. Your recent review of Gene Del Vecchio's book, "A Knight's Code of Business," was a real shot in the arm for us. We have been trying to figure out how to reposition the book since a focus on "evil doers" has not been successful. Your review did a great job in helping us take a fresh look. Besides, it will no doubt help us sell books. Thanks again for paying attention to small specialized presses. We need all the help we can get!

Sincerely, Doris Walsh Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.

I sometimes make the tongue-in-cheek remark that my volunteer reviewers do all the work while I (as their fearless editor-in-chief) get all the glory. But it is very much a part of my job description to make certain that our reviewers receive whatever feedback the publishing community (and the public at large) have for them with respect to their efforts and skills at the art & science of book reviewing. For example:

6. Thank Cindy for the Review

Dear Jim,

Thank you SO much for the insightful and thoughtful reviews of two of my titles, IN ENGLISH, OF COURSE, and THE WEIGHT OF A MASS. These are written with so much understanding of the dynamics of these titles that I had to do a double-take! Please let Cindy know that I very much appreciate her time, trouble and effort, and that I am in her cheering section as she does this wonderful work.

Please call on me if there is anything I can do for the MBR.

With gratitude,

Josephine "Joi" (pronounced "Joey") Nobisso Gingerbread Books

We often get such expressions of appreciation as that of Joi from Gingerbread Books. At least once a month I have to repeat to some enthusiastic supporter in the publishing community our policy forbidding their financial contributions (we accept no money from authors or publishers in order to avoid any conflict of interest issues).

But so many folk feel about the Midwest Book Review the way Joi does that a few months ago we had an amendment to our policy allowing authors, publishers, and anyone else who wishes us well to send us postage stamps. I use those stamps to send out tear sheets and publisher notification letters each month for those who were fortunate enough to have their book(s) make the final cut and be featured in one or more of our month book review publications.

Incidently, the "Postage Stamp Honor Role" now includes author/publishers Wendy Beahn and Peggy Swager. Thanks folks!

7. Thanks & Typos

Hi Jim,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate that you reviewed our new book, Look What I See! Where Can I Be? With My Animal Friends. It is not often that one gets a review that includes the word "ideal."

I also wanted to say how much I appreciate all the support you offer to new publishing houses. As a new, independent press, the learning curve is huge and the cost to play is substantial. It is so nice that you spend time writing newsletter articles, explaining the process, offering advice and providing encouragement. I just wanted to make sure you know how much we appreciate that.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that there is a typo in my name in the review. You have me listed as Dia Michaels -- there should be no a in the last name. I think you mentioned in one of your articles that typos could be fixed in the on-line versions.

Thanks again. We'll be sending you our new books and looking forward to working with you in the future!

Dia Michels

A couple of comments:

Firstly, it's always nice to be appreciated and Dia's little "thank you" post made my day!

Secondly, typos are a fact of life in any kind of publishing enterprise and that most emphatically includes the Midwest Book Review. Even after two sets of eyes and the spell checker go over everything, typos still creep in. Fortunately, when pointed out (usually by the author and/or publisher, but almost as often by a librarian or general reader!), they are very easy to correct.

I never, never, never take offense. In fact, what I usually feel is a sense of embarrassment and a motivated rush to make it right. I forward all such notices to our webmaster and that same night she makes the corrections on our website and on Amazon (we are a content provider for Amazon and have been for many years now).

Those corrections are well worth doing because the reviews are up on the Midwest Book Review website for one year -- and on Amazon as long as the book in question has a page there.

So the moral of the story is that should you ever spot a typo in any of our reviews -- please feel free and comfortable and welcome to bring it to my grateful attention.

8. Email release, successful, almost too successful...

Eric Dondero writes:

> 1. Would you all send out review copies to all 200 who have requested them?

No. Reviewers not only come in the two main categories of "thematically appropriate" and "not thematically appropriate", they also divided in the categories of the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Therefore whether you are approached by 1 or 101 reviewer requests you must do some judgement exercising and evaluating in order to get the biggest and most reliable bang for your marketing buck.

> 2. Would you limit it to just verifiably legitimate media outlets?

Yes. Just think about it. Would you want to give your book away to an illegitimate media outlet? And all legitimate media outlets can document themselves as being appropriate for your title -- if they indeed are thematically appropriate.

> 3. Would you be highly selective with the freelancers?

Yes. Some freelancers have established relationships with reputable book review outlets (such as those in service to the Midwest Book Review). But other freelancers have no track record either because they are simply too new to the game (do you really want to be someone's experimental first -- only to have them find out for themselves -- using your book as the text -- that they simply aren't up to the time and effort it takes to actually write a review and then find an outlet for it) or because they are perpetrating some form of scam in the hopes of gaining something for nothing.

> 4. Can you think of any ways to weed out the "freebie searching" book review requesters?

Yes. Read the article "How To Spot A Phony Book Reviewer" that you will find (along with several other informative articles on book reviewing and the book review process) in the "Advice For Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website at:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

9. Midwest Book Review Volunteer Reviewers

M. Abheeti writes:

> Also...we'd love to know your idea of a 'best place' for selling remaindered
> books of a spiritual nature online, and how terms for remaindering books with
> sellers tend to well as things to watch out for and/or to be sure
> to ask about. is always a good place for selling remaindered books as "used".

> Our small operation is near Santa Cruz, CA. Any contacts in this neck of
> the woods that you can turn us on to?

You might contact the closet publisher association for possible local leads tounloading remainders. Check in the "Publisher Associations" section of the Midwest Book Review website for those nearest you.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

I know of publishers that actually make more profit selling their brand new titles on Amazon as "used" than they make selling them to wholesalers -- especially when their sales figures are eroded by returns.

It has always been my earnest advice that novice publishers should join the closed Publisher Association to them. And their are associations for pretty much every part of the country now. Also, for those new to publishing and having to cope with a "learning curve" in this profession, they should join both PMA (Publishers Marketing Association) and SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North America) for at least a year in order to obtain their respective monthly newsletters. PMA also sponsors PMA-U which offers a variety of often exceptional workshops.

10. Posting To

Edwin Perley writes:

> 1. How do your reviews get posted on and other sites? Do you
> do it, or does the publisher?

Our webmaster and/or our volunteer reviewers do it.

> 2. Also, I would appreciate it if you have any suggestions concerning
> other organizations that might be interested in reviewing my novel.

You can find a list of reviewers, review publications, and review organizations in the "Other Reviewers" section of the "Book Lover Resources" webpage of the Midwest Book Review website at

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

Additionally, I would always advice publishers not to wait upon reviewers to post great reviews on Amazon or any of the other online bookstores that have that feature. Post them yourselves! Just be sure to give the proper reviewer and/or reviewer publication credit citation when doing so.

Well that's enough for now. I hope you all have a terrific holiday and a mellow summer! Until next time I bid you Goodby, Good Luck, and Good Reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Revew

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

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