Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: March 2015
Home | Jim Cox Reports Index

Jim Cox Report: March 2015

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The sale of review copies by reviewers and book review publications is always a point of controversy and misunderstanding -- especially on the part of self-published authors and small press publishers who are new to the publishing industry. On this particular subject I speak from some 39 years of professional experience as a book reviewer, as the editor of other book reviewers, and as a publisher of nine monthly book review publications:

If you are a small press, and especially if you are a self-published author, you are already working under a tremendous handicap with respect to getting reviewed.

If the reviewer is competent, if the review publication is legitimate, they will be chronically inundated with far more books submitted for review than they have the time or resources to handle.

If you deface your review copy submission in any way, even if it's just stamping it "Review Copy" or (even worse), "Review Copy -- Do Not Sell", it will almost always be passed over in favor of a pristine review copy from some other author and/or publisher.

Reviewers sell their review copies in order to supplement their income from whatever their day job might happen to be. It's their self-appointed compensation for their time, expertise, and efforts the creating a review entail from them.

The thing that authors and small press publishers working on very limited financial budgets for marketing and publicity must do in order to insure the "biggest bang for their review copy buck" is to check out the reviewer and/or review publication that has requested a review copy.

One simple way to do this is to examine their web site and see the kind and quality of the reviews they do.

Another is to ask for references from other authors or publishers that reviewer has worked with in the past.

Still another is to go online to one of the author/publisher discussion groups like , Publish-L, PubForum, and SPAN and ask for other folk's opinions or experiences with a particular book reviewer or book review publication.

And one final piece of advice, especially for those new to the publishing industry and how it works. Go to:

Then read the half dozen or so articles I've written on book reviewing, the book review process, how to spot a phony book reviewer so that you don't get ripped off by scam artists, what to do with a review when you get one, etc.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

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

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Paper Camera
Suzzanne Kelley
New Rivers Press
1104 Seventh Avenue, Moorhead, MN 56563
9780898233001, $15.95, 228pp,

Founded in 1968, New Rivers Press is an American non-profit poetry press located in Moorhead, Minnesota and affiliated with the Minnesota State University - Moorhead. The first title published by New Rivers Press was "So Many Rooms Has a House But One Roof", a poetry collection by Margaret Randall. Compiled and edited by Suzzane Kelley, with the assistance of Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, "Paper Camera: A Half Century with New Rivers Press" is a wonderful celebration of a dedicated publishing house, including the men and women who have worked so hard to make it a literary success. A compilation of original articles ranging from C. W. Truesdale's 'New Rivers Press: A History' and 'The Future Status of New Rivers Press'; to Donna Carlson's 'New Rivers Becomes a Teaching Press'; to Nancy Swan's 'An Internship at new Rivers Press'; to Ryan Christiansen's 'The Digital World' and Ryan Christiansen's 'Crossing the Digital Horizon', "Paper Camera" is a seminal body of work that will be read with particular interest and appreciation by anyone who has enjoyed New Rivers Press titles over the last five decades. An extraordinary read, "Paper Camera" could well serve as a template for other independent and scholarly publishing house histories.

Comedy Writing Self-Taught
Gene Perret
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610352208, $16.95,

The term comedy refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film and stand-up comedy. In "Comedy Writing Self-Taught", Emmy award winning comedy writer Gene Perret has created a 175 page instruction manual for aspiring writers of comedy including stand-up, sketch, and situation-based (sit-com) comedy. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Comedy Writing Self-Taught" should be considered a 'must' for all aspiring comedians, as well as novice writers trying to write jokes and comedic ideas for those comedians. Also very highly recommended is the "Comedy writing Self-Taught Workbook" (9781610352405, $15.95) by Gene and Linda Perret that is a specially designed companion workbook.

Art Journal Courage
Dina Wakley
North Light Books
c/o F+W Media
1140 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10001
9781440333705, $24.99,

Art Journal Courage: Fearless Mixed Media Techniques for Journaling Bravely is for any who want to journal in handwriting, and discusses everything from developing a handwriting style to adding drawings and developing a unique art perspective to creating a journal. As chapters add mixed-media techniques to help overcome fears of using new materials, teaching the basics of adding photos, art, and written word to the journal effort, they successful address eight common journaling concerns while providing techniques that bolster creativity and courage. Add in dozens of art journal page examples and you have a colorful, inviting presentation perfect for any working on journaling projects.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults
Regina L. Brooks
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402293528, $14.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Writing Great Books for Young Adults" is a complete insider instructional resource on how to succeed in the flourishing world of YA fiction and nonfiction. In this updated and revised edition, veteran literary agent Regina L. Brooks offers invaluable advice for YA writers on everything from shaping a YA novel to crafting the perfect pitch for your book. Aspiring authors will learn how to: Develop an authentic, engaging voice and writing style; Construct dynamic plots that will resonate with YA readers; Avoid common pitfalls related to tone and point of view; Navigate the emerging genres of YA nonfiction and New Adult literature; Create an exceptional query letter and proposal that will grab the attention of agents and publishers. Filled from cover to cover with invaluable tips and practical advice from agents, editors, and popular YA authors, "Writing Great Books for Young Adults" is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end and should be considered mandatory reading for anyone seeking to write and market for a young adult readership. It should be noted that "Writing Great Books for Young Adults" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.18).

Adventures in Writing for Children
Aaron Shepard
Shepard Publications
PO Box 280, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
9780938497653, $12.50, 112pp,

Synopsis: Fifteen years after publishing "The Business of Writing for Children" --'s all-time bestseller among guides to children's writing -- award-winning author Aaron Shepard returns with a new collection of articles on the art and business of creating literature for young people. Topics include managing time in stories, structuring a chapter book, retelling folktales and legends, obtaining permissions, databases and business forms for children's writers, performance tips for author readings, online interaction with young readers, reviving a book with print on demand, converting from picture book to ebook, and more. Whether you're aiming at traditional publishers or choosing to self publish, let "Adventures in Writing for Children" help you pursue an adventure of your own.

Critique: Simply stated, anyone aspiring to write a book, any kind of book, for a child should spend a half-hour of their time and read Aaron Shepard's "Adventures in Writing for Children: More Tips from an Award-Winning Author on the Art and Business of Writing Children's Books and Publishing Them". This little instruction volume fully and completely lives up to the hype of its title. It will prove to be an invaluable addition to personal and community library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections and reading lists. It should be noted that "Adventures in Writing for Children" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

How to Write a Drama
Megan Kopp, author
Shutterstock, photographs
Crabtree Publishing Company
350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York, New York 10118
9780778716532 $26.60

From a compelling Text Styles educational series for mid-grade authors/readers ages 8-11, "How To Write a Drama" presents the exciting process of drama creation from a deconstructed approach. Beginning with a thumbnail working definition of drama, the student follows an example of a brief drama created about Lazy Kate, a girl whose mother wishes her to get up to go to school. Brief chapters with easy to understand sidebars and highlighted examples cover concepts of dramatic characters, dialogue, stage directions, dramatic plots, theme, and more. Further details arise in later chapters exploring all the previous subjects plus creative response to the drama, and ultimately the student is asked to create their own drama. A helpful step by step process is outlined in headlined sidebars, and a drama creation example is presented. The whole process is exciting, fun, tempting, and compelling. Students will love having this handy Text Styles volume to encourage them in their Thespian aspirations, and the helpful Glossary, and further resources list point to yet more resources in this fascinating writing area. Additional titles in the Text Styles educational series that are equally successful in stimulating young writers include the following: "How to Write Realistic Fiction (9780778716563, $26.60)" by Lizann Flatt, "How to Write an Adventure Story (9780778716556, $26.60)" by Natalie Hyde, "How to Write a Fantasy Story (9780778716549, $26.60)" by Natalie Hyde, and "How to Write Science Fiction (9780778716570, $26.60)" by Megan Kopp.

How To Publish High-Quality Research
Jeff Joireman & Paul A. M. Van Lange
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433818615, $29.95,

Being able to publish research findings is absolutely critical to academic and corporate success. Co-authored by Jeff Joireman (Associate Professor of Marketing, Washington State University) and Paul A. M. Van Lange (Professor of Social Psychology and Chair of the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University at Amsterdam), "How to Publish High-Quality Research: Discovering, Building, and Sharing the Contribution" is a 344 page compendium comprised of three major sections: Developing Ideas, Designing Studies, and Writing Manuscripts; paradigms for Publishing High-Quality Research; and Conclusions (including 'A Process Model for Publishing High-Quality Research). Enhanced with four pages of References and an eight page Index, "How to Publish High-Quality Research: Discovering, Building, and Sharing the Contribution" is an exceptionally well written, informative, insightful, and practical instruction guide that is ideal for the novice researcher seeking to eventually publish their findings, and has a wealth of information and usefulness for even the more experienced researcher, especially attempting to secure tenure, successful grant applications based on past performance, etc. Simply stated, "How to Publish High-Quality Research: Discovering, Building, and Sharing the Contribution" should be a part of every academic library reference collection.

The Great Grammar Book
Marsha Sramek
Arch Press
27 Innsbrook Road, Asheville, NC 28804
9780984115723, $24.95, 268pp,

Grammar books are a necessary tool for writing, but few actually enjoys reading them. "The Great Grammar Book: Mastering Grammar Usage and the Essentials of Composition" by Marsha Sramek is enhanced with fun facts, news article excerpts, and goofy trivia to demonstrate the principles of grammar. "The Great Grammar Book" focuses on the commonly encountered bulk of real-world writing. If proper use of capitalization, quotation marks, and apostrophes has you pulling your hair out; if you need some little trick to help you remember whether to use "lie" or "lay;" or if you mistakenly think a lengthy sentence is the same thing as a run-on sentence, you will benefit from "The Great Grammar Book". Of special note is the inclusion of a practical guide to better writing called "Successful Writing Strategies" which addresses wordiness, unclear pronoun references, and meaningless phrases. Especially important to students is the advice on writing essays, research papers, and works of literary criticism. "The Great Grammar Book" even includes a how-to on business letter writing.

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. All aspiring writers should be well grounded in the rules of good grammar -- especially if they want to bend those rules to create a colloquial 'voice' for their writing. Very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library English Studies and Writing Instruction reference collections, "The Great Grammar Book" is as informed and informative as it is 'user friendly'.

Tell Me A Story In The Dark
John Olive
Familius LLC
9781939629586, $14.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: Tonight, don't read your child a story. Instead, dim the light, lie down, and create storytelling magic. Weave a spell that will enchant your child. Written by an award-winning playwright John Olive, "Tell Me a Story in the Dark: A Guide to Creating Magical Bedtime Stories for Young Children" provides every tool needed to tell great and entertaining stories. In a day when parents want to spend more quality time with their children, "Tell Me A Story In The Dark" shows how to prepare and tell a story that will communicate such enormous benefits as ending the bedtime battle of wills, building vocabulary, and making room for effective parenting moments. "Tell Me a Story in the Dark" provides a treasure trove of stories that parents (and grandparents) can adapt for their children. But most especially, "Tell Me a Story in the Dark" teaches how to make up and tell original stories suitable for children.

Critique: A unique 'how to' guide and manual, each page of "Tell Me a Story in the Dark: A Guide to Creating Magical Bedtime Stories for Young Children" has made arrangement for the reader to add their own notes. Although basically intended as an instructional primer on oral storytelling, "Tell Me a Story in the Dark: A Guide to Creating Magical Bedtime Stories for Young Children" has an important relevance for aspiring authors seeking to create and write entertaining and original stories for children of all ages and is therefore very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing as well as Parenting instructional reference collections.

Scholarly Metrics Under the Microscope
Blaise Cronin and Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Information Today Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
9781573874991 $49.50

Scholarly Metrics Under the Microscope is a weighty reference recommended for any interested in bibliometrics - the quantitative analysis of publications, authors, and book-related concepts. Lest this sound like a specialty item, it should be mentioned that bibliometrics is actually a hot topic in university, research, government and some corporate circles, and this book gathers together a wealth of writings on the topic from papers previously published in journals across disciplines. It covers not only the process of assembling and assessing performance metrics, but provides a critical approach to the use and applications of such metrics as they apply to scholarship and research. Any interested in learning more about exactly how these metrics are applied in real-world scenarios will find this a complex and revealing survey.

Handbook of Academic Writing for Librarians
Christopher V. Hollister
Association of College & Research Libraries
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838987360 $56.00

Handbook of Academic Writing for Librarians appears in a revised, updated edition to cover both the elements, style, and mechanics of good academic writing and its applications in variety of scenarios, and covers not just the basics of producing a scholarly paper, but assessing and submitting it to journals. Chapters cover broad topics from how manuscripts are reviewed and processed to understanding journal ranking systems, peer review processes, contrasting academic with nonacademic journals and processes, and more. The result is an excellent critical survey librarians will find tailored to their academic needs and useful for critiquing writings and journals alike.

59 Reasons To Write
Kate Messner
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781625310033, $23.00, 216pp,

Julie Summers

In order to teach writing effectively, teachers must be writers themselves. They must experience the same uncertainty of starting a new draft and then struggling to revise. As they learn to move past the fear of failure, they discover the nervous rush and exhilaration of sharing work with an audience, just as their students do. Only by engaging in the real work of writing can teachers become part of the writing community they dream of creating for their students. "59 Reasons to Write: Mini-Lessons, Prompts, and Inspiration for Teachers" shows teachers and librarians who teach writing how to be stronger role models for their students. Dozens of guest authors also share their writing processes and secrets, from brainstorming ideas and organizing research to developing characters and getting unstuck from writer's block. "59 Reasons to Write" is for anyone who has always wanted to write but never managed to get into the habit.

Although principally intended for the use of K-12 classroom teachers as part of a school's literary skills curriculum, "59 Reasons to Write: Mini-Lessons, Prompts, and Inspiration for Teachers" is also ideal as a do-it-yourself instruction manual for anyone of any age wanting to learn how to write well and deals with such critically important issues as Getting Started; Organizing; Characters; Point of View, Voice, and Mood; Setting; Plot and Pacing; Flowing Between Nonfiction and Fiction - Finding the Story; Poetry; I'm Stuck; Revising and Critiquing; and Time to Reflect. Enhanced with the inclusion of a list of Recommended Resources and a useful Index, "59 Reasons to Write: Mini-Lessons, Prompts, and Inspiration for Teachers" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections.

How to Write Short Stories That Sell
Jane Bettany
Dormouse Press
Guidemark Publishing Limited
185 Lambourn Drive, Allestree, Derby, DE22 2US
9780957670433 $16.50

Diane C. Donovan

Many fiction writers believe they have to start big, with a full novel; but as Jane Bettany demonstrates, they do not. How to Write Short Stories That Sell is all about mastering the short story format, and it covers all the writer's basics that are needed in order to craft not just a short story, but one that is salable.

This is the point that separates How to Write Short Stories That Sell from other writer's guides: while it covers the usual approaches to plot, structure, characterization and description, it also focuses on the editing process and adds important points on sales potential that are often missing from other creative writer's how-to guides.

It pairs description of technique with reinforcing exercises and examples of solid short story writing, it shows how to identify the right markets for a particular type of story and how to submit them to a publication, and (most importantly) it encourages creativity, experimentation, and a deeper attention to understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different short story approaches.

How to Write Short Stories That Sell isn't just about how to write: it's how to produce a superior short story that deserves to be in the public eye. And that's why How to Write Short Stories That Sell, more than many of its competitors, deserves to be in the writer's eye.

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:

Michelle Bergerassor
Jeffrey B. Archer-Burton
Ann J. Lloyd -- "Gizmo"
Sneed Collard -- "Fire Birds"
Todd Murphy -- "Go Fast, Goo"
Karin Larson -- "Bedtime Kisses"
Donald W. Kruse -- "Hey Charlie!"
Richard Brawer -- "Love's Sweet Sorrow"
Maynard Person -- "A Presentist Path to World Peace"
Brooks Olbrys -- "The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob"
David W. Trimble -- "Contacts with the Gods from Space"
Kirt Manecke -- Solid Press
Kathy Floyd -- Wisdom Tales
Kim Ressler -- Wigu Publishing
Maureen Kanefield -- MK Innovations
Isabella Michon -- ImMedia Publicity
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company Communications

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design