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Jim Cox Report: July 2023
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
The subject for this month is the value and importance of the cover of a book as a marketing tool and its fundamental contribution to a book becoming an economic success.
My favorite example comes from a few decades ago. A paperback book by the now legendary Science Fiction & Fantasy author George R. R. Martin which had a weird and off-putting cover art that featured some large winged lips. The book was a commercial flop - big time! Then about ten years later and George R. R. Martin had become something of a celebrity in the science fiction and fantasy community, his book was republished with a new cover with a more standard SF imagery -- and was a huge commercial success. Same book, (and if I recall correctly, same publisher), but two different covers.
It turns out that prospective readers do, in fact and in practice, judge a book by it's cover -- at least initially and against that book's competition within its genre or subject matter and sitting beside it on a bookstore or library shelf.
With respect to the importance of book cover art as a marketing tool, here is an exchange between me and a newly self-published author whose first efforts were rather minimal in marketing success:
In a message dated 5/20/2020 3:13:50 PM Central Standard Time, Gray Arthur writes:
It was lovely speaking with you yesterday. I appreciate you taking the time to educate me and lead me to the resources I need to help successfully market the novel. I have been despairing about getting this book out into the world and you have lifted my spirits immensely!
Anyhow, the link to Master William and the Finman is:
Thank you so much for your generosity!
On Thu, May 21, 2020 at 9:41 AM Jim Cox wrote:
I rather enjoyed our conversation as well.
I've looked at the cover as pictured on Amazon and it's okay -- but nothing special to help the book stand out against its competition on a library or bookstore shelf.
My advice if you ever go to a second edition (given the descriptive summary as described on its Amazon page) is to go with a public domain color photograph of a sailing ship on the high seas -- or something of that nature.
Here is a link to an abundant source of public domain photographic images that you could draw from should you want to ever give this book a different 'image' for a more attractive draw with respect to potential buyers/readers.
Midwest Book Review
Thank you for taking the time to check out the cover and assisting with my much needed education! I will check out the images.
My final piece of advice -- An art image/illustration for a book cover is more effective as a marketing tool than a plain cover with only the title and the name of the author printed on it. If you don't have access to a good illustrator or artist for your cover art, then use a thematically appropriate public domain photograph. To help you get started in researching for thematically appropriate cover art for your book, here is a link to a website showcasing 1,097 free images of cover art suitable for a book:
Now here are reviews for books of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and bibliophiles:
How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers
Dr. Judith Briles
9781885331984, $20.00, PB, 174pp
Synopsis: Being a writer and trying to get published can (and often is) a lonely occupation. That's why "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles (a successful author who is known throughout the publishing industry as 'The Book Shepherd" can be inspiring and useful in get an author through the inevitable 'writer's block', writer fatigue, or those isolation blues.
Briles' favorite advice over the years to her many author clients is repeated in "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" as it is comprised of some 400 of her favorite quotes that over the years she has created and shared with her clients and followers.
Divided into six sections, read them one at time and highlight what talks to or inspires you. Open it randomly or start at the beginning. This is a collection of quotes that writers and authors (and bibliophiles!) will go to over and over again.
Critique: A fun read that is also a seriously useful resource for inspiration, motivation, and encouragement, "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles is an impressive compendium of memorable and thought-provoking quotations that is especially and unreservedly recommended for anyone aspiring to, or in the business of, writing for a living -- or are engaged in a writing project just for personal satisfaction. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.31), "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" fully lives up to the promise of its title and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Literary Humor and Writing/Publishing collections.
Editorial Note: Dr. Judith Briles (http://www.milehighpress.com) is the author of 43 books and known as The Book Shepherd, working with authors globally to create and publish books in all subject categories and genres. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Briles) A number of her titles have been previously reviewed and archived by the Midwest Book Review website at https://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=8779737&pid=r&mode=ALL&n=0&query=%22Judith+Briles%22
Looking Backward, Going Forward: Reflections on a Writer's Life
Hannacroix Creek Books
9781938998942, $19.95, PB, 353pp
Synopsis: From the first novel she wrote at the age of ten to her most recent books published by commercial houses "When Friendship Hurts", (Simon & Schuster); "Essentials of Victimology" (a textbook published in 2022 by Aspen Publishing), "How to Promote Your Book" (Square One Publishers, February 15, 2023), or through her own small press, Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc ("Friendgevity"; "Work Less, Do More"; "On the Run"; and "Friendshifts") Jan Yager is a prolific and award-winning writer has done it all.
Starting off by working full time in such amazing publishing companies as Macmillan (2 years) followed by learning everything about trade book publishing as she worked alongside Barney Rosset (the legendary founder of Grove Press) for a year, Jan has a lot to share about writing, getting published, and some of the adventures she has had going on cross country and even international author tours.
With the publication of her memoir, "Looking Backward, Going Forward: Reflections on a Writer's Life", Jan shares her insights and experiences about interviewing everyone from puppeteer Jim Henson to playwright Harold Pinter. Her memoir covers working with and in a range of genres that include nonfiction, fiction, and illustrated children's books. She's been on several 5 to 18-city cross-country author tours in the U.S. as well as international author tours throughout the UK, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.
Critique: A fascinating, informative, and articulate memoir that will have a very special interest to aspiring authors, publishers, booksellers, literary publicists, amateur and professional book reviewers, students of the publishing industry, and dedicated bibliophiles. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing and American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted that "Looking Backward, Going Forward: Reflections on a Writer's Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note #1: Jan Yager (https://www.drjanyager.com) has published 50+ books in several genres including nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and children's books, with one or more titles translated into 35 languages. She worked in publishing, first at Macmillan, then at Grove Press; she went on to publish her own books with major houses including Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, Wiley, Grove Press, and Penguin Random House. In 1996, she founded Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc. Jan holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Since August 2014, she has taught in the Sociology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she is an Adjunct Associate Professor.
The Bookseller at the End of the World
A&U New Zealand
9781988547756, $18.99, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "The Bookseller at the End of the World", Ruth Shaw (who runs two wee bookshops in remote Manapouri in the far south of New Zealand) weaves together stories of the characters who visit her bookshops, musings about favorite books, and bittersweet stories from her full and varied life.
Ruth has sailed through the Pacific for years, been held up by pirates, worked at Sydney's Kings Cross with drug addicts and prostitutes, campaigned on numerous environmental issues, and worked the yacht Breaksea Girl with her husband, Lance.
Underlining all her wanderings and adventures are some very deep losses and long-held pain. Balancing that out is her beautiful love story with Lance, and her delightful sense of humor.
"The Bookseller at the End of the World" will provoke the reader to sorrow and laughter -- and motivated to want to read more books.
And there is a standing invitation for visitors to New Zealand to visit Ruth and her three wee bookshops!
Critique: A deftly presented and informative memoir certain to delight the hard core bibliophile and of compelling interest to anyone who has ever contemplated operating a bookstore of their own, "The Bookseller at the End of the World" is a an inherently fascinating read and a truly exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Bookseller Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted that "The Bookseller at the End of the World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: Twice arrested and married four times, now at age 75, Ruth Shaw has led a colorfuly life crammed with incredible adventure, and at times damned by terrible tragedy. There have been pirates and prostitutes, protests, and pig farming; gold mining, gambling, and grief. (https://www.nzedge.com/news/fiordland-bookseller-ruth-shaws-extraordinary-life)
Thriving as a Graduate Writer
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472039128, $29.95, PB, 236pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Thriving as a Graduate Writer: Principles, Strategies, and Habits for Effective Academic Writing", Professor Rachel Cayley offers a comprehensive guide to the multifaceted challenges of writing in graduate school.
Professor Cayley shows readers how to think about academic writing, how to manage an academic text, and how to establish an effective writing practice. Graduate students from all disciplines will find concrete strategies and motivation for the enterprise of academic writing.
Intended for both multilingual writers and those for whom English is a first language, "Thriving as a Graduate Writer: offers essential writing support in quick, easily digestible chunks.
Readers of Thriving as a Graduate Writer will: Learn how to establish an effective writing practice; Discover how to position themselves as competent and engaged writers; Learn how to structure their writing, craft effective sentences, and create movement with a text; Develop processes for draft revisions; Create individual writing strategies that will last throughout their careers.
Critique: In addition to graduate students there is another readership that will greatly benefit from the information, instructions, tips, tricks and techniques that comprise "Thriving as a Graduate Writer: Principles, Strategies, and Habits for Effective Academic Writing". Its authors of academic and non-fiction books involving any and all subjects. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Thriving as a Graduate Writer" will also have an immense value to anyone with an interest in Foreign Language Instruction, English as a Second Language, and Writer/Author Technical Education. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections and supplemental Writer's Workshop curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Thriving as A graduate Writer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.95).
Editorial Note: Rachael Cayley (https://explorationsofstyle.com/author-bio) is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication at the University of Toronto. She also writes Explorations of Style, a blog on academic writing for graduate students.
Writing That Gets Noticed
New World Library
9781608688364, $19.95, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published" by successful essayist, columnist, published author, writing instructor, and magazine editor Estelle Erasmus will show you how to find your voice, how to write stellar pieces, and how to get them published.
In 'real-world practical' and experience based chapters, "Writing That Gets Noticed" covers: Mining your life for ideas and incubating those ideas; Choose the perfect format (essay, op-ed, feature article, and more); Research publications and following editor etiquette; Crafting a perfect pitch; Protecting your psyche from inevitable rejections; Revising your work for maximum impact; Delivering what you promise, protecting your work, and get paid!!
Critique: An ideal and comprehensive DIY instructional guide and manual, "Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published" is informatively enhanced for the aspiring writer with the inclusion of a three page listing of Resources for Writers, a three page Glossary of Publishing Terms, fifteen pages of Notes, and a twenty-two page Index.
Throughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published" is an invaluable and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections. It should be oted that "Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: Estelle Erasmus (EstelleSErasmus.com) is an award-winning journalist, a writing coach, and an in-demand speaker who has written for more than 150 publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, HuffPost Personal, Good Housekeeping, and Writer's Digest. She has been the editor-in-chief of five national magazines and hosts the Freelance Writing Direct podcast. She is also an adjunct instructor at NYU and frequent panelist for professional writing organizations.
"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly 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 to our postage stamp fund this past month:
J. David Pruett -- "To Be Human"
Brian Kaufman -- "A Shadow Melody"
Michael Joseph Oswald -- Your Guide to the National Parks: 3rd Edition"
Ramona L. Wheeler -- "Ancient Egypt and the African Roots of Civilization"
Portia Little -- Panntree Press
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR
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] aol.com
(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 www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. 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!
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James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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