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Jim Cox Report: March 2020

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

There are times when I think that Wikipedia is the best thing to happen for the advancement of civilization since the creation of the printing press. In an era when you can't automatically trust anything coming at you via social media (think Russian Trolls) the Wikipedia has this self-correcting aspect that means that anyone spotting something misleading or simply wrong they can correct it for the benefit of the rest of us.

Then there is the fact that Wikipedia is this wonderfully comprehensive and ever expanding database of information on all manner of things, stuff, and people.

For example let's take up the subject of Self Publishing. -- Suppose you have just written something that you would dearly like to have published and have as many people read as possible -- but have no clue as to how to turn your manuscript into a book and/or have been turned down by the traditional publishing industry.

My advice is to start with Wikipedia on the subject of getting published -- beginning with looking up the word Publishing. This is what you'll find:

Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works, such as books, newspapers, and magazines. With the advent of digital information systems, the scope has expanded to include electronic publishing such as ebooks, academic journals, micropublishing, websites, blogs, video game publishing, and the like.

Publishing may produce private, club, commons or public goods and may be conducted as a commercial, public, social or community activity. The commercial publishing industry ranges from large multinational conglomerates such as RELX, Pearson and Thomson Reuters to thousands of small independents. It has various divisions such as: trade/retail publishing of fiction and non-fiction, educational publishing (k-12) and academic and scientific publishing.

Publishing is also undertaken by governments, civil society and private companies for administrative or compliance requirements, business, research, advocacy or public interest objectives. This can include annual reports, research reports, market research, policy briefings and technical reports.

"Publisher" can refer to a publishing company or organization, an individual who leads a publishing company or an imprint, or to an individual who leads a magazine.

Self-publishing has become very common.

Then look up Self Publishing. This is what you'll find: Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. The term usually refers to written media, such as books and magazines, either as an ebook or as a physical copy using POD (print on demand) technology. It may also apply to albums, pamphlets, brochures, video content, and zines.

In the traditional publishing model, in which the publisher bears all the costs and risks of publication, but retains most of the profit if the book is successful. In self-publishing, the author bears all the costs and risks, but earns a higher share of the profit per sale.

The $1 billion market of self-publishing has transformed in the past two decades with new technologies providing increasing alternatives to traditional publishing. Self-publishing is increasingly becoming the first choice for writers. Most self-published books sell very few copies. Those which sell large numbers are newsworthy because they are so rare. The quality of self-published works varies considerably, because there are no barriers to publication and no quality control.

The above gives the neophyte author a solid understanding of what they are up against if they go the self-publication route.

Now if they still want to pursue it, then next comes the How-To part of the learning curve. There are a number of excellent 'how to' books available -- such as:

2015 Guide To Self-Publishing
Robert Lee Brewer, editor
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
9781599638478, $29.99,

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. A self-published physical book is said to be privately printed. The author is responsible for and in control of the entire process, including, in the case of a book, the design of the cover and interior, formats, price, distribution, marketing and public relations. The authors can do it all themselves or out-source all or part of the process to companies that offer these services. Writer's Digest Books specializes in publishing 'how to' books for authors and "2015 Guide to Self-Publishing, Revised Edition: The Most Comprehensive Guide to Self-Publishing" is their newest instructional reference manual for aspiring authors who wish to publish their own work. This 362 page instruction guide is as comprehensive as it is "user friendly" and includes such do-it-yourself features as self-publishing checklists, a pay-rate chart, sales tax tips, and so much more. Of special note are the interviews with successful self-published authors, a self-publishing calendar, access to an exclusive e-book formatting webinar, lists of conferences, organizations, book fairs, and festivals that will prove invaluable to the commercial success of a self-publishing author. Simply stated, the "2015 Guide to Self-Publishing, Revised Edition: The Most Comprehensive Guide to Self-Publishing" is an absolute 'must' for anyone contemplating or already embarked on a self-publishing project -- and is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Otherwise you can do a Google search for Self Publishing and come up with a number of useful and informative resources such as:

Then there is the subject of selling your newly self-published book. For that try:

Now here are reviews of books that are of particular and special interest to writers and publishers:

Storycraft: How to Teach Narrative Writing
Martin Griffin & Jon Mayhew
Crown House Publishing
81 Brook Hills Circle, White Plains, NY 10605
9781785834028, $22.95, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Martin Griffin and Jon Mayhew's "Storycraft: How to Teach Narrative Writing" is an inspiring and practical resource to support secondary school teachers in developing their students creative writing.

Not a style manual, "Storycraft" deftly picks apart the craft of narrative writing and equips teachers with activities designed to help their students overcome the difficulties they experience when tasked with creating something from nothing.

"Storycraft" also packs in expert guidance relating to idea generation and the nature of story and provides off-the-peg writing prompts that teachers can immediately adopt and adapt in the classroom. It continues by breaking down the simple components that must be in place for a narrative to work the crafting of character, setting, shape and structure and shares fifty-one stimulating activities that will get students writing narratives regularly, more creatively and with greater confidence.

"Storycraft" also include helpful advice in a chapter dedicated to the process of editing in which they provide activities designed to help students diagnose and improve misfiring narratives, and they close the book with invaluable tips for GCSE exam preparation written directly for students and with an impending creative writing exam in mind.

Critique: An ideal curriculum textbook, "Storycraft: How to Teach Narrative Writing" is especially designed for English teachers of students aged eleven to eighteen. While very highly recommended for school district in-service training programs, "Storycraft" should be a part of every college and university library Teacher Education instructional reference collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of aspiring authors seeking to expand their narrative writing skills that "Storycraft" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Martin Griffin has over two decades experience teaching students aged eleven to eighteen, and has been a head of faculty, an assistant head teacher and a deputy head teacher. He is also an award-winning writer of children's fiction, whose books include 'The Poison Boy' written under the pseudonym Fletcher Moss and young adult thrillers 'Lifers and Payback'.

Having worked as an English and special educational needs teacher for twenty-five years, Jon Mayhew is now in demand on the school event circuit delivering writing workshops to students from Key Stage 2 to sixth form. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow, helping students to improve their academic writing at Chester University. Jon is the author of the Monster Odyssey series and the multi-award-winning 'Mortlock'.

A Friendly Guide to Writing & Ghostwriting
Andrea Cagan
Palmetto Publishing Group
9781641115803, $25.99, HC, 220pp,

Synopsis: Most aspiring authors have experience having an intriguing idea for a book that has captured their imagination. A story or concept that follows them everywhere they go with an insistence that demands that they can't wait to get the words on the page.

But first, they have to learn how to turn that idea or concept into a finished manuscript ready for publication. In "A Friendly Guide to Writing & Ghostwriting", prolific author, editor, writing coach, Andrea Cagan, shows just how to transform our inner critic from (as she puts it) 'a demanding ogre into an encouraging fairy godmother'.

Cagan's thoroughly 'user friendly' approach teaching about writing and ghostwriting will help even the most novice of authors to dissolve the blocks to creativity and reveal the hidden gateways that exist beyond the words. "A Friendly Guide to Writing & Ghostwriting" shows, step-by-step, how to shorten the distance between the couch and the computer so aspiring authors can do the thing they want to do most -- write.

Whether engaged in journal writing, finding a way to begin a book, making our way through the halfway point, or searching for a great ending, when we see our words as tiles in the mosaic of our lives, we can unburden our hearts and get our authentic message onto the written page.

Critique: Deftly organized and presented in four major sections (Preparing to Write; Getting Down to Business; Ghostwriting & Collaborating; The Finishing Touches), "A Friendly Guide to Writing & Ghostwriting" will prove to be an immediately useful and enduringly practical instructional reference guide and manual for the novice author and the experienced writer alike. While especially and unreservedly recommended for professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Friendly Guide to Writing & Ghostwriting" is also available in a paperback edition (9781641115506, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Andrea Cagan is an author and writing coach who has over a dozen bestsellers to her credit, many of them iconic celebrity memoirs. She has written her life story, "Memoirs of a Ghost: One Sheet Away," and is well known for her unique approach to making friends with the writing process.

Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide
James Essinger
The Conrad Press
9781911546542, $13.00, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: The twenty-four chapters comprising "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide" by James Essinger cover every important matter an aspiring novelist or short story writer would need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, 'plants', backstory, suspense, dialogue, 'show' and 'tell', and how to make the writing feel real to their reader.

Along with a number of others, ranging from Anthony Burgess to J.R.R. Tolkien, "Writing Fiction" is enhanced with the inclusion of 'special guest advice' from professional screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal 'Back to the Future' movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster 'Twins' (1988).

Simply stated, "Writing Fiction" is a highly entertaining instructional guide and manual that will provide aspiring authors all the advice and practical guidance needed to make their dream of becoming published fiction writers come true.

Critique: Expertly written, impressively informative, and thoroughly living up to the promise of its subtitle, "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all aspiring novelists that "Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard's Web (2004), Ada's Algorithm (2013), and Charles and Ada: The Computer's Most Passionate Partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2020).

A Writer's Guide to Speculative Fiction
Crawford Kilian & Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Self-Counsel Press Inc.
9781770403161, $19.95, PB, 168pp,

Synopsis: "A Writer's Guide to Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Crawford Kilian and Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a instructive 'how to' manual that is comprised of of hands-on, practical, put-the-book-down-and-start-writing advice that speaks to new and emerging authors of science fiction and fantasy.

Crawford and Silvia are bestselling SciFi writers who have compiled this instructional guide offer far more than pep talks and success stories; they explain genres and how to bend and blend them, giving concrete suggestions for overcoming inevitable writing problems across genres: self-editing, creating plausible characters, and building a plot without writing formula fiction.

With a combined fifty years of experience, Kilian and Moreno-Garcia will save aspiring writers time, energy, and grief by showing them how to master the craft of storytelling and how to market their stories as successfully as possible. Their invaluable advice persuades readers to go beyond expectations of market and genre, pushing them to be better writers, and to add their own unique voices into the growing speculative fiction arena. For aspiring writers of the SciFi & Fantasy genre, this book will light the way to creating your own books.

Critique: Impressively informative, expertly organized, accessibly presented, and especially recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections, "A Writer's Guide to Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction and Fantasy" will prove to be invaluable and practical addition to the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in writing (and having published!) their books and stories in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Editorial Note: Crawford Kilian has been teaching and writing online since the 1980s. He has published more than twenty books, including Writing for the Web, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Sell Your Nonfiction Book.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Signal to Noise, Certain Dark Things, The Beautiful Ones, and the science fiction novella Prime Meridian.

The Author's Checklist
Elizabeth K. Kracht
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608686629, $15.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: The bad news for all aspiring writers seeking to get their work published -- even really good manuscripts have weak spots that are enough to garner rejections from agents and publishers. But the good news is that most of these problems are easy to fix once the writer sees and understands them.

After several years of evaluating manuscripts, literary agent Elizabeth Kracht noticed that many submissions had similar problems, so she began to make a list of the pitfalls. She has compiled those observations into "The Author's Checklist: An Agent's Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript" and offers her short, easy-to-implement bites of advice, illustrated by inspiring (and cautionary) real-world examples.

Most aspiring authors yearn for a friend in book publishing. "The Author's Checklist" is just that.

Critique: Expertly organized and presented, the information, observations, insights, and information comprising "The Author's Checklist: An Agent's Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript" will prove to be an invaluable and practical resource for the novice author and even the seasoned professional. An ideal addition to writer workshop supplemental studies lists, "The Author's Checklist" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Elizabeth K. Kracht is a literary agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates and a freelance editor. She often participates in writers' conferences nationally and internationally.

Word Savvy Handbook: Use the Right Word
Nancy Ragno
Baneberry Books
9781733928731, $19.95, HC, 296pp,

Synopsis: A quick, easy-to-use reference on word usage, "Word Savvy Handbook: Use the Right Word" by Nancy Ragno provides immediate answers to the word-usage questions that most frequently interrupt writers, causing them to stop writing and ask, "Is that the word I want?"

Now there is no need to search the Internet with the Handbook at hand because the deftly organized sections include: Words Commonly Confused; Words Commonly Misused; Non-Words and Other No-No's in Your Speech and Writing; Tricky Singulars and Plurals; and Words Commonly Misspelled.

"The Word Savvy Handbook: is not only a quick and easy reference, but a self-teaching tool. In addition to dictionary definitions it provides clear explanations, examples, memory aids, and self-correcting quizzes. As a bonus, the subject matter of examples and quizzes is informative and fun.

Critique: Impressively 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Word Savvy Handbook: Use the Right Word" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to the personal reference collections for all aspiring writers. While especially appropriate for school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that the "Word Savvy Handbook" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781733928700, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).

Editorial Note: Nancy Ragno is an educational writer and co-author of a language arts series for grades K-8, "World of Language". In addition to language arts texts, she has written children's books and adult nonfiction. Her recently published books include: "Use the Right Word: Your Quick & Easy Guide to 158 Commonly Confused and Misused Words" (2016); "21-Day Journal: Start a New Habit" (2016); The President Did What?: Presidential Trivia Quiz" (2014); and "The Money Savvy Spending Journal" (2013).

How to Get Published in the Best Management Journals, second edition
Mike Wright, David J. Ketchem Jr., Timothy Clark, editors
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781789902815, $165.00, HYC, 392pp,

Synopsis: Now in an updated, revised and expanded second edition, "How to Get Published in the Best Management Journals" continues to be an ideal career guide offering fascinating insight into the publishing environment for the management discipline, drawing on a wealth of knowledge and experiences from leading scholars and top-level journal editors. Responding to the continuing emphasis on publishing in the top journals, "How to Get Published in the Best Management Journals" offers a wealth of invaluable tips and practical advice for anyone looking to publish their work in management oriented publications.

"How to Get Published in the Best Management Journals" now includes brand new chapters on managing a research pipeline, positioning papers for publication and maximizing the chance of success with a novice editor as well as an in-depth look at research impact. Existing chapters provide additional insights into the value of peer review, the importance of a chosen methodology, ethics and integrity in the industry, securing repeat publication, tips on publishing in new disciplines and the nuances of special issues and open access publications.

Offering an insider perspective and candid advice, this second edition once more takes aspiring writers on a journey through the journal review process, providing behind-the-scenes insight into the potential pitfalls and advantages.

The contributors include: P. Andries, J. Barney, Y. Baruch, J.E. Baur, D.D. Bergh, S.K. Bhaumik, B. Boyd, M.R. Buckley, P. Budhwar, T. Clark, J.G. Combs, B. Connelly, K.G. Corley, D. Cumming, S. Estrin, G.R. Ferris, D. Gioia, B. Harley, A.-W. Harzing, M.A. Hitt, G.P. Hodgkinson, R.D. Ireland, F.W. Kellermanns, D.J. Ketchen, Jr., B.T. Lamont, A. Leiponen, B. Martin, W. Mitchell, G. Molina Sieiro, T. Pedersen, P.L. Perrewe, A.L. Ranft, P.L. Roth, B. Schinoff, C.C. Snow, A. Smith, W.H. Starbuck, W.H. Stewart, Jr., S. Tallman, B. Taylor, S. Toms, R. van Dick, G. Wood, M. Wright, D. Yiu

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally organized, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college and university library Writing/Publishing collections, "How to Get Published in the Best Management Journals" is an essential and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual for authors, academics and scholars of all levels seeking to advance their careers and expand their journal publication success.

Editorial Note: The late Mike Wright was formerly Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director, Centre for Management Buyout Research, Imperial College Business School, London, UK.

David J. Ketchen, Jr. is the Harbert Eminent Scholar and Professor of Management at the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, US.

Timothy Clark is the Provost and a Professor at the Singapore Management University, Singapore

Finally, "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:

Russell & Merida Johns
Peter A. Grimes -- "Gus The Goose"
Janna Lopez -- "Me, My Selfie & Eye"
Robin Marsett -- "Comes A Red Horse"
Maureen Sherbondy -- "Dancing with Dali"
James L. Baumann -- "Annie Russo: Tenacity Born"
William Pillow -- "Near-Death Experiences Are Real"
Felicity St. John -- "The Thirteen Trials Of Dr. Marion Bailey"
Zarahemla Books
Trinity McFadden -- HarperCollins
Jeff Howard -- Rand-Smith Publishing
Beverly Newman -- International Jewelry Publications
Kama Timbrell Communications
Joanne McCall -- McCall Media Group
Sherry Frazier -- Frazier Public Relations
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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