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Jim Cox Report: March 2021

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

I want to begin this month with a review on a decade old instructional guide and manual on the subject of self-publishing and POD book marketing by one of our volunteer reviewers here at the Midwest Book Review.

Book Marketing Demystified: Self-Publishing Success
Bruce Batchelor
Agio Publishing
9781897435007, $14.99,PB, $4.99 Kindle, 180pp

Annette Meeuwse

I appreciate this book because it is a very practical ‘how to’ guide. Bruce Batchelor is not just someone guessing at the theory of self-publishing... first, he had a positive experience with self-publishing two bestselling books in the 1970s... which led him to invent the Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing process (more about this in a second...), while simultaneously operating a communications consultancy.

He was the founding publisher and CEO at Trafford Publishing, which “grew to become one of the world’s most prolific publishing houses with more than 10,000 active titles from indie (i.e. independent) authors living in more than 100 countries”. He and his wife then founded Agio Publishing House, a small publishing company.

Clearly, Bruce knows the industry, and he makes a solid case for self-publishing! POD publishing was a new concept to me but it makes total sense! Authors notoriously struggle to get published by traditional publishing houses. Getting one’s book into print in the traditional process is so competitive... and in the era of self-publishing, internet, and social media, it’s not
even necessary anymore!!

He also makes a case for POD from an environmental point of view. Traditional book publishing is the second largest user of water in the world! And traditional printing in large batches and then discarding all the unsold books is a substantiable waste of paper and energy resources. POD is about printing only as many copies needed as they are needed.

Once Batchelor establishes a solid rationale for self-publishing, he proceeds to give the reader chapters packed full of practical tips and suggestions, offering guidance from his own and others’ experiences as well as websites to visit for more specific information. For example, he recommends having book launches on week days rather than weekends, and donating part of the sale profits to a charity who in turn agrees to sell your book as a fundraiser.

I like that he organizes the book within a “14-P framework... each chapter discusses an aspect of marketing that begins with the letter P”. Some of those ‘P’s’ include purpose, place, positioning, promotional mix, profits, and planet. At the end of the book, he provides a helpful 14-P template and reflection questions to support the reader with planning and implementing self-publishing. I like how he acknowledges two necessary levels of awareness in the marketing process: the buyer needs to know the book exists... and the buyer needs to be able to find the book in order to buy it.

I also like how I learned so many book world vocabulary words and concepts, things like “rack jobber” and advanced reading copy (ARC) and returnable options.

My only wish is that Batchelor would publish a sequel. This book was published in 2010, just when the internet was starting to be more widely used for all the things that we know it can do today. He mentions ads in Facebook and some websites, but we’ve made so many advances in technology in that past eleven years. Batchelor would give us a great helping hand if he would write a sequel that updates us with the latest tips and hints about successfully self-publishing in this new decade and leveraging the internet and social media for marketing.

Self-publishing is not a task I have attempted or even explored until now. But Bruce has... and this book shows it! Who knows... maybe I will too... I’ll keep you posted!

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

Self-Publish & Succeed
Julie Broad
Stick Horse Publishing
9781736031506, $15.99, PB, 238pp

Synopsis: In these days of POD publishing, anyone can write a book. But for those who want to write a book that people will want or even need to read, it's not as simple as sitting down to write and then turning your manuscript over to someone else to turn into a book for a fee and then thinking that the hard part of being a commercially successful author is pretty much done. In fact, that's one of the biggest mistakes unsuccessful authors make.

Writing a book can be one of the smartest moves for any business success. But you need more than writing skills to create an impressive book that readers will love. You also need a plan to market, sell, and leverage your book into a new level of leadership within your industry to reach your professional goals.

In the pages of "Self-Publish & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Writing a Non-Fiction Book that Sells", self-published author and entrepreneur Julie Broad shows you that writing a successful nonfiction book starts long before you write your first chapter. To write a book that boosts your brand, generates a profit, and makes you an influencer in your industry, you need to give this DIY instruction guide and manual a close and careful reading.

"Self-Publish & Succeed" deftly explains: The reason why you're not finishing your book and how to overcome it; Why most books are boring, and how to keep yours from being one of them; Which editors you need to perfect your story and where to find them; The one simple page that could generate thousands of sales; Seven places to sell your book -- and only one of them is Amazon.

For writing a money-making non-fiction book that delivers meaningful impact, "Self-Publish & Succeed" is your ideal step-by-step guide to writing, publishing, and marketing a book that will get attention, dramatically propel your career as a writer, and change people's lives -- including your own.

Critique: An impressively detailed compendium of practical advice, invaluable insights into the writing, publishing, and marketing of books, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Self-Publish & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Writing a Non-Fiction Book that Sells" is a complete course of DIY instructions for aspiring non-fiction authors wanting to be commercially successful in their efforts. Of special note is the chapter on 'Amazon Isn't Going to Sell Your Book for You'.

Also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and especially recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional guide and manual collections, "Self-Publish & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Writing a Non-Fiction Book that Sells" is essential reading and unreservedly recommended reading for any and all non-fiction authors be they novice or experienced.

Editorial Note: Julie Broad, founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author, knows what it takes to be a successful self-published author. Her previous titles include More than Cashflow and The New Brand You. Through Book Launchers and her popular YouTube channel, BookLaunchers.TV, she helps subject matter experts write, publish, and promote nonfiction books.

Geraldine Woods
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393714814, $29.95, PB, 384pp

Synopsis: Every English teacher has experienced it: students staring at an empty page, seemingly paralyzed by a writing assignment. The same is true of almost every novel and professional writer when faced with a blank computer screen awaiting whatever their writing project was to be. It's a phenomena popularly referred to as 'Writer's Block'.

When this happens, it may be time to back off from the Big Idea approach to the art of reading and writing, and zero in on a single sentence.

In "Sentence.: A Period-to-Period Guide to Building Better Readers and Writers", Geraldine Woods, a master teacher, offers a complete guide to a sentence-level approach to overcoming Writer's Block. Helping students (and authors) recognize the techniques that make sentences great is the first step, and there are plenty of examples here from YA novels, TV shows, and song lyrics as well as the novels, poetry, and nonfiction pieces that form the canon of middle and high school reading lists.

Lesson plans include activities to introduce the featured element of style; questions to guide students in their analysis; and writing prompts and activities to spark students' interest and creativity.

With this Little-to-Big strategy, students (and authors) can move quickly from analysis of the words between two periods to the universe of ideas of which that sentence is a part.

Critique: A complete course of detailed instruction in a single volume, "Sentence.: A Period-to-Period Guide to Building Better Readers and Writers" is an extraordinary, effective, DIY approach to overcoming writer's block and getting started with any form of literary project. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and most especially, aspiring writers, authors, and novelists, that "Sentence.: A Period-to-Period Guide to Building Better Readers and Writers" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.16).

Editorial Note: Geraldine Woods has taught English at every level from fifth grade through Advanced Placement, most recently at the Horace Mann School. She is the author of numerous nonfiction books for adults and children, including "25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way" (W.W. Norton, 9781324004851, $25.95 HC, $13.64 Kindle).

Studying with Miss Bishop
Dana Gioia
Paul Dry Books
1700 Sansom Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5214
9781589881518, $16.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: In "Studying with Miss Bishop: Memoirs from a Young Writer's Life", poet and literary critic Dana Gioia discusses six people who helped him become a writer and better understand what it meant to dedicate one's life to writing. Four were famous authors -- Elizabeth Bishop, John Cheever, James Dickey, and Robert Fitzgerald. While two were unknown -- Gioia's Merchant Marine uncle and Ronald Perry, a forgotten poet. Each of the six essays provides a vivid portrait; taken together they tell the story of Gioia's own journey from working-class LA to international literary success.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and memorably thought-provoking study from beginning to end, "Studying with Miss Bishop: Memoirs from a Young Writer's Life" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to the personal reading lists of all aspiring and practicing writers. While unreservedly commended for community, college, and university library Literary Biography collections. It should be noted that "Studying with Miss Bishop: Memoirs from a Young Writer's Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dana Gioia is a poet and critic. He has published five full-length collections of verse, most recently 99 Poems: New & Selected, which won the Poets' Prize as the best new book of the year. His third collection, Interrogations at Noon, was awarded the American Book Award. An influential critic, Gioia's controversial volume, Can Poetry Matter? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Gioia has also edited or co-edited two dozen best-selling literary anthologies, including An Introduction to Poetry (with X. J. Kennedy) and Best American Poetry 2018. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Washington Post, New York Times, Hudson Review, and other journals. Gioia has served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and as California State Poet Laureate. He is currently the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California.

So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That'll Knock Your Socks Off
Shirley Kobliner, author
Harold Kobliner, author
Tiller Press
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
978-1982163761, $16.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: We use expressions all the time. When you feel sick, you’re “under the weather.” When you feel great, you’re “on top of the world.” You may be fine with “half a loaf,” or you may insist on “the whole enchilada.” But whether you’re a “smart cookie” or a tough one, you (and almost everyone you know) have a veritable smorgasbord of expressions stored deep in your brain.

"So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That’ll Knock Your Socks Off" by the team of Shirley and Harold Kobliner is the largest collection of its kind. Thoughtfully divided into sixty-seven categories ranging from Animals to Food & Cooking, from Love to Politics, this is not your run-of-the-mill reference guide. Don’t look for definitions and etymologies, because the book is just the beginning.

"So to Speak" is the launchpad for your lifelong journey to explore the universe of expressions. In fact, it’s designed to get readers off the page -- and verbally engaging with each other. "So to Speak" spurs discussion, debate, and gameplay, while encouraging the art of listening and celebrating the joy of words.

Authors Shirley and Harold Kobliner spent more than half a century nurturing and teaching children. "So to Speak" is a reflection of their deeply held belief that regardless of a person’s age, the most impactful learning happens when you’re having fun. Whether it’s grandparents teaching their favorite expressions to their grandkids, teens helping adults with the latest lingo, or millennials indulging in their love of wordplay and games, "So to Speak" is the ideal book for any lover of language.

Critique: Of immense and lasting interest to dedicated language enthusiasts, "So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That'll Knock Your Socks Off " also serves as an excellent English language expression resource for writers, authors, and novelists. Unique, informative, and an inherently fascinating volume to simply browse through, "So to Speak" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Slang, Idiom and Semantics Reference Book collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of dedicated word smiths that "So to Speak" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

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:

Shelly Phelps
Peter Warmka
Joseph Everett
Davison Soper
William J. Hart
David McElrath
Marla Anderson
Danni Chithlaapily
David Loux -- "Chateau Laux"
Theresa Rodriguez -- "Sonnets"
Matt Ritter -- "Something Wonderful"
Mary McSwain Steele -- "Betty: A Memoir"
Dorothea Jensen -- "Liberty-Loving Lafayette"
C. Arthur Ellis, Jr. -- "Blood on the Suwannee"
February Media
Sucker Punch Pictures
Folklore Entertainment, LLC
Sarah Ritter -- Pacific Street Publishing
Joseph Brient -- Commonwealth Publishing
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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