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Jim Cox Report: November 2013

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Perhaps it's because I've been around for so long, I'm on a lot of mailing lists from publicists, marketing directors, book shepherds, and publisher industry experts who like to send me articles, essays, and columns germane to writing and publishing. I'm always glad to see them -- especially if they cover new ground or (more often) provide new approaches to old issues.

Here is one of the most practical articles to cross my desk this past year:

Darlene Quinn is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years with Bullocks Wilshire specialty department stores. Her newest, "Unpredictable Webs" (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 9781608324248, $24.95 HC, $7.99 Kindle), is the winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards for Excellence in Fiction and was selected as the number-one President's choice before publication.

An award winning author with a successful background in business, Darlene Quinn shares four critically important tips for marketing a book.

Here is the article:

If you want people to read your book, you have to be more than a talented storyteller or researcher - you will need plenty of persistence, says Darlene Quinn, a 75-year-old award-winning novelist whose passion for the written word trumped her lucrative position as a top executive at the legendary Bullocks Wilshire department stores.

"Sometimes an author has it easy; either they're already a celebrity, or their name has been widely reported in a major public scandal - or both - but not even those criteria guarantee readership," says Quinn, author of "Unpredictable Webs", (, the newest in her stand-alone series of suspense-filled dramatic novels.

"Many authors will tell you just don't get into the book-writing business, because writing something that people will want to read is challenge enough. Then you face the daunting process of getting people to buy it!"

She offers these tips for getting your book in front of the masses - and enticing them to buy it.

Draw on the strengths that helped you meet previous challenges: Quinn found professional footing decades ago, in a time when it was rare for women to rise to executive positions. After earning a bachelor's at San Jose State University, she became a schoolteacher. She later climbed her way up to working as a department store executive during a time of tremendous upheaval in the retail fashion industry. The tenacity and perseverance required to achieve that dream served her well when she fixed on another dream - writing - late in life. She sharpened her writing chops by penning articles for trade journals, magazines and newspapers.

Book awards: Simply entering your book in a contest gives it some exposure. Should it be selected for an award, you've got a great marketing tool that can open doors otherwise closed to you. Awards sticker or seals, which can be added to the book cover, can help persuade book stores to carry it. The press release announcing winners of local, national or international book awards also trigger Google Alerts, positively increasing exposure. Announcements of winners prior to publication alert avid readers to upcoming releases.

Book awards II: Do your research; make sure that the contest is well-established and legit. Read the rules, and if at all possible, research the judges who will be reviewing the books. Try to avoid contests that have high entry fees and those that appear to be non-discriminating. National and international contests such as the Indie Book Awards, Writers Digest Book Awards, USA Best Book Awards Reader's Favorites, and International Best Book Award (sponsored by USA Book News) are just a few respectable contests that meet these criteria. There are also many legitimate regional and local book contests to consider.

Quality in every respect: With power comes responsibility. In the past, the only real hope an author had of being read by anyone beyond his or her immediate family was going through a major publisher. Today, authors can take production matters into their own hands with self- or independent publishing, which may lead to a contract with a major book company. Either way, a writer should ensure quality in every aspect -- from the plot and characters, to the cover art, design and paper. Make sure the book is edited by an objective professional.

(I have permission to share the above article with you from Ginny Grimsley, National Print Campaign Manager, News and Experts,

Here are reviews of some new books of special interest to writers and publishers:

The Self-Publisher's FAQ
Jacqueline Church Simonds
Beagle Bay Books
2325 Homestead Place, Reno, NV 89509
9780974961095, $14.95,

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 and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR. The authors can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services. In the past, self-published authors had to spend considerable amounts of money preparing a book for publication, and to purchase bulk copies of their title and find a place to store them. Print-On-Demand technology means the author, via numerous, accessible global distribution channels like, can have a book printed only when an order has been placed and it is available for purchase world-wide. In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76% of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced the number of books they produced. Against this background of an ever evolving publishing industry, Jacqueline Simonds draws upon her thirteen year experience and expertise as a publisher producing more than twenty books, her work on some thirty-five publishing projects, and her book distributor work with over forty titles to write "The Self-Publisher's FAQ", a 258 page compendium covering every aspect of the self-publishing process including starting a press, standard publishing industry practices, producing print and ebook editions, required forms and web site registrations, and marketing. From developing a marketing plan, to answering such basic questions as to buying an ISBN and the role of book reviews, "The Self-Publisher's FAQ" will prove to be and enduringly valuable and practical reference. Of special note is the introduction provided by Dan Poynter, who is justifiable considered to be the leading pioneer of self-publishing. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "The Self-Publisher's FAQ" should be considered mandatory reading for anyone engaging in or otherwise considering self publication.

Writing Children's Fiction
Yvonne Coppard and Linda Newbery
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10010
9781408156872 $24.95

Featuring tips directly from successful children's authors including Malorie Blackman, Anne Cassidy, Michael Morpurgo, Celia Rees, and more, Writing Children's Fiction: A Writers' & Artists' Companion lives up to its title as a first-rate guide, reference, and resource to the art of writing novels for young adults. Part one analyzes the history of children's literature and the modern-day diversity of its genres; part two is packed with tips, tricks, and techniques from professionals in the field; and part 3 includes broad-minded guidance such as how to shape a solid plot, create well-rounded characters, handle tricky subjects, and even finding a capable agent or publisher when ready for print. Writing Children's Fiction is an absolute "must-have" for any nascent writer trying to create a middle grade or YA novel; published children's authors will very likely discover beneficial suggestions and ideas as well!

Shady Characters
Keith Houston
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393064421, $25.95,

SHADY CHARACTERS: THE SECRET LIFE OF PUNCTUATION, SYMBOLS AND OTHER TYPOGRAPHICAL MARKS provides a fine history of punctuation marks, creating a reference that will appeal not just to literary collections, but those involved in typographic history and social history alike. It begins with early Alexandria and moves to modern times with its survey of the evolution and changing use of eleven punctuation marks, linking punctuation choices with religion, technology, culture and literacy. With its lively dialogue and literary
insights, this is a reference that will appeal across the board from scholarly to general-interest readers.

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:

Anonymous (Texas)
Anonymous (Florida)
Marilyn Perlyn
David & Darlene Barker
Evelyn & Marvin Marshall
Reg Down -- "The Treasure Cave"
Deborah Robillard -- "The Crickets Dance"
Pen-Tech Prof.
Synergetic Press
Stone Bridge Press
Lisa Blair -- Belly Song Press
Mimi Schroeder -- Max Communications
Dahlynn McKowen -- Publishing Syndicate
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Carol von Raesfeld -- The von Raesfeld Agency

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. 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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