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Jim Cox Report: May 2023

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

I just got in a nifty little email from the folks at Atmosphere Press advertising their services for aspiring authors. What particularly caught my eye is this quote: "A writer is someone who writes. An author is someone who publishes."

Here is a link to their article, "Finding Joy in Writing and Publishing"

There are more than a hundred Publish On Demand (POD) companies nowadays. They will turn a writer's manuscript into a book -- for a fee. While most of them are quite honest and ethical, there (as with anything and everything else in this world) will be a few bad actors -- scam artists and the incompetent. So here is my recommendation for anyone seeking to self-publish with the services of a POD company:

1. Seek out several different POD companies and examine their websites carefully. Here are two links that can get you started:

2. Select a list of three and then contact each of them to confirm their services offered and the fee schedules associated with those services. I would also ask them for references from other authors who have used their services.

3. Then go online to discussion groups like this one to fellow writers and authors if anyone has dealt with any of your listed PODs and relate any comments about their experience with any of them.

Basically, you are a potential customer looking to get the best value out of a vendor for your service purchasing dollar, getting the best deal you can by comparing what the different PODs offer and charge.

And as always, read any proffered contracts very carefully.

Now here are reviews of new books that will be of particular interest and value to authors, publishers and bibliophiles:

Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller
Oliver Darkshire
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9781324092070, $27.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd (est. 1761) to apply for a job. Allured by the smell of old books and the temptation of a management approved afternoon nap, Darkshire was soon unteetering stacks of first editions and placating the store's resident ghost (the late Mr. Sotheran, hit by a tram).

A novice in this ancient, potentially haunted establishment, Darkshire describes Sotheran's brushes with history (Dickens, the Titanic), its joyous disorganization, and the unspoken rules of its gleefully old-fashioned staff, whose mere glance may cause the computer to burst into flames. As Darkshire gains confidence and experience, he shares trivia about ancient editions and explores the strange space that books occupy in our lives -- where old books often have strong sentimental value, but rarely a commercial one.

By turns unhinged and earnest, "Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller" is the colorful story of life in one of the world's oldest bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly, fascinating, and frustrating world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.

Critique: Simply stated, "Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller" is a fun and memorable read from first page to last. Written with insight, humor, and authenticity, "Once Upon a Tome" is a 'must read' selection for all dedicated bibliophiles and anyone else who has ever spent time browsing through an old bookstore not really knowing what they want but certain to recognize it when the see it. Certain to be a treasured addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for readers with an interest in Booksellers and Bookselling -- along with the wonderfully arcane world of antiquarian bookstores, that "Once Upon a Tome" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.66).

Editorial Note: Oliver Darkshire (@DeathByBadger) is an antiquarian bookseller at Henry Sotheran Ltd, and the voice of @Sotherans twitter account. He lives in Manchester, England, with his husband and his neglectfully curated collection of books. There is an informative online essay by Oliver Darkshnire of considerable interest to booksellers, writers, and bibliophiles at

How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers
Dr. Judith Briles
Mile High Press
9781885331922, $20.00, PB, 114pp

Synopsis: "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles is the ideal 'how-to' manual for aspiring self published authors who need money for design and printing; money for marketing; money to develop a website; even money for a PR campaign.

The principle promise of Dr. Briles is that if your financial resources are low, there are ways to increase it. You want the odds to be on your side. You want to be in the 35 percent minority that succeeds if you are an author or authortobe. Not the 65 percent that don't.

It's the power of OPM (Other People's Money!).

"How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" shows how to:

Create rewards that your donors want.
Identify timelines: pre, during and post a crowdfunding campaign.
Determine which crowdfunding sites are best for authors and writers.
Pinpoint the essentials that every successful crowdfunding campaign has.
Get hot tips for creating momentum and the final push.
Structure a social media checklist that's ideal for your project.

Here is the perfect step-by-step instructional guide on the subject of how to set budgets and limit costs.

Does crowdfunding work for financing authors and writers? Yes it is. Can you as an author or writer succeed at it? Absolutely -- Start with a careful reading of "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers"

Critique: It costs money to turn a manuscript into a book. It costs money to persuasively bring a book to the attention of its intended readership. Over the years, Dr. Judith Briles has earned her nickname of 'The Book Shepherd' and is one of the most respected and knowledgeable book marketing and promotion experts in the publishing industry today. Simply stated, anyone and everyone that aspires to becoming a successfully self-published author needs to give a careful 'note-taking' read of "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers". While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, it should be noted that "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.67).

Editorial Note: Dr. Judith Briles ( 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. ( A number of her titles have been previously reviewed and archived by the Midwest Book Review website at

The Book Lover's Joke Book
Alex Johnson
British Library Publishing
c/o Independent Publishers Group
9780712354516, $16.95, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Joke books have a long publishing history dating back to the ‘Philogelos’ from ancient Greece and ‘Facetiae’ of the 15th century. But while there are themed joke books on everything from cats to lawyers, there have surprisingly been few with a literary theme. "The Book Lover's Joke Book" compiled by Alex Johnson includes a huge range of comic material concentrating exclusively on the themes of books, reading, libraries, bookshops, and the literary life.

As well as one-liners, puns, knock-knock jokes, and shaggy dog stories, "The Book Lover's Joke Book" features sections including gravestones, book titles, jokes in acknowledgements/ copyright/index pages, literary hoaxes, literary snark, and authors’ in-jokes in novels, as well as sections such as Charles Dickens’s humorous fake book decorations. It also features the favorite jokes of well-known writers, and a selection of literary cartoons.

Critique: Simply stated, "The Book Lover's Joke Book" compiled by Alex Johnson is a bibliophile's delight from first page to last with the jokes ranging from a gentle smile of recognition to a laugh out loud trying to keep from falling off your chair belly buster of a guffaw! Of particular relevance to dedicated bibliophiles, writers, publishers, and anyone else that likes a good laugh, "The Book Lover's Joke Book" is wonderfully entertaing compendium of puns, wordply, jokes, and riddles, a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Langauge & Literary Humor collections.

Editorial Note: Alex Johnson is a journalist and author. Previous books for The British Library include Famous Writers and Their Pets (“the perfect stocking filler for people who love books and trivia”, Interesting Literature, 2019), The Book of Book Lists (“every list reveals another way of thinking, another way of figuring things out”, The TLS, 2017) and Shelf Life (“a lovely anthology… a perfect Christmas present for book lovers”, The Idler, 2018). His book How To Give Your Children A Lifelong Love Of Reading was published by the British Library in 2019. (

"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:

Lisa Hewitt
Clarisse Tur
Bethany Cox
William Wong
Lynn Johanson
Michelle Romano
John E. McNellis -- "O'Brian's Law"
Roxana Arama -- "Extreme Vetting"
Rob Couteau -- "Intimate Souvenirs"
Richard M. Moss -- "Matilda's Triumph"
Talzoya -- "Your Brain and Your Happiness"
Carolyn B. Daley -- "Grief: The Beacon of Love"
Donald H. Mengay -- "The Lede To Our Undoing"
Annette Rivlin-Gutman -- "Wally Wants A Cuddle"
David Horn -- "The Lobster Tale: Eurdor Space Kid"
Deborah Shouse -- "An Old Woman Walks Into a Bar"
Erica Miner -- "Aria for Murder: A Julia Kogan Opera Mystery"
Lawrence Borok -- "Rama Speaks: The Teachings of Rama-Dr. Frederick Lenz"
Laura H. Gilbert -- "My One and Only Love: A Big Band Love Story 1938-2021
HomePort Press
Jan Yager -- Hannacroix Creek Books
Donovan's Literary Services
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]

(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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