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Jim Cox Report: October 2004

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Another month has sped by with a velocity that my own advancing years simply seems to escalate. There's been some nice things happening around the old Midwest Book Review homestead.

We've now "outsourced" the job of posting our monthly reviews to -- a friend of our webmaster in another state has taken on that task, freeing me and the webmaster to turn our attention to other matters. It allows me time to review more books myself -- and provides the webmaster with more time to do her webmastering thing.

This turned out to be a timely thing because the numbers of reviews our volunteer reviewers and our staff reviewers are turning out has significantly increased. I can tell by the numbers of pages three of our online book review publications has increased.

We also received a very nice little grant from a benefactor in Minnesota to cover the increases in the added expenses that our quite massive and continually expanding website involve.

It seems that last February the Midwest Book Review I had garnered another accolade:


It will come as no surprise to you that MBR made a prestigious list for reviewers. Here's the URL:

It appeared in Writers Weekly. Another author sent it to me. -- Laurel

Assembled by Angela Hoy, this is a list that includes the Midwest Book Review along with such powerhouse review operations as Publishers Weekly; Kirkus Reviews; Library Journal; Los Angeles Times Book Review; and one I'd not known about previously -- Hollywood Inside Syndicate.

Angela has made it so that a visitor to this webpage can click on each of these review resources and be informed as to their submission guidelines.

Incidently, this is how I usually learn about the diverse and various honors garnered by the Midwest Book Review. One of our volunteer reviewers stumbles across them and then zaps me a little email bringing it to my attention.

Thanks Laurel!

But enough office gossip and personal ego boosting. Let's move on to some "tips, tricks & techniques" of interest to writers and publishers -- and are presented in the form of some email correspondence.


Dear Jim:

Georgia told me she had a great telephone conversation with you the other day and told me some of what you discussed However, she mention that you gave her some information regarding Library Associations and she asked me to contact you and see if you wouldn't mind sharing that with me too? I have contacted the Utah Library Association to see if they do any reviews in their newsletters and they responded that they did not. Is there another means of getting our information into Librarians hands? Any suggestions or guidance you might be able to share on the topic of Librarians would be greatly appreciated.

We are so grateful for the reviews that you have done for us and for putting them on the site too! Hope you are having a great day.


Vachelle Johnson
Marketing Assistant
Cedar Fort, Inc

For small presses and self-published authors, penetrating library markets can make all the difference between operating in the red or in the black. Being a library acquisitions consultant here in Wisconsin for a good number of years, I can offer some insights and perhaps a helpful hint or two.

The two biggest reasons libraries reject a book are identical to why bookstores and readers reject a book:

1. Substandard cover art.

2. The expense (in both staff time and paperwork) involved with single title direct ordering from the small press.

If you want to crack the library market your best route is to cut a deal with a library marketing firm such as Quality Books in Chicago. There are others, that's just the first one that leaps to mind as I type this.

If you need a do-it-yourself library marketing approach then here are some resources and ideas:

Check out the "Libraries & Universities" section of the Midwest Book Review website at That's where I have a wealth of links to academic and public libraries, library systems, library websites, etc. You can begin to develop a substantial library marketing database of your own with these resources.

Some libraries will run book reviews in their newsletters. Others will not. For non-fiction titles, your best bet is to create an informative, thematically appropriate library or library science article that incidently includes information about your book -- including contact info to order a copy.

For fiction the work is harder. You need to make your article focus on the genre of your book and incorporate your particular title in such a manner as to interest the librarian.

Don't forget to also consider submitting your article(s) to "Friends of the Library" support groups as well. For mailing addresses, you can just direct your submission as follows:

Friends of the Library c/o the particular library's name the particular library's snail-mail address

The library staff will make sure that your letter will get passed on to the president of their particular library's Friends group.

Plus, if you've gone to all this work for library newsletter inclusion, try also submitting it to the Library Journal as well. It's a bit like playing the lottery -- but if you hit, you hit big.



I'd like your permission to include a brief introduction and a link to Midwest Book Review in a future issue of Write On!, the monthly e-newsletter I provide to subscribers and friends of my writing programs. Each month we address a different aspect of writing. The current (February) issue, for instance, is on romance fiction. March will deal with business and financial journalism, and April will be about humor writing. I'm researching resources now for free-lancers and people hoping to get started in writing, and your site has good advice and useful links in those directions. You can see the current issue of Write on at this URL: If you have anything you'd like to say to encourage writers or potential contributors or reviewers, I'd be glad to consider including that in the introduction as well.

Thank you for considering the request.

Best regards,

Ron Rhodes
Write Stuff Tools for Writers
1-14-3 Yoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0097

This email from Tokyo, Japan, served to remind me just how global the Midwest Book Review has become. On the subject of links -- you do not need prior permission to link to the Midwest Book Review website. We developed that thing to be of service to anyone, anywhere, who wanted to write, publish, or simply read good books.

It would be nice if you let me know -- and if your own website would be of interest to writers, publishers, readers, or librarians, then I would happily link to your website in what ever section of the Midwest Book Review website would be thematically appropriate.

As to Ron's email newsletter -- it's pretty good. Especially for those relatively new to the complex and often frustrating world of publishing.


Hello Jim:

I've repeatedly requested by PMA to submit an article re my company's accomplishments, lessons learned, recommendations for others, and so on. I can no longer procrastinate and I am ready to submit my article.

One of the paragraphs reads:

Lessons learned and recommendations to other small-press and self-publishers on same or similar genre: No matter how good the content is, the cover appearance including the spine matters; I've learned a good lesson on this subject from my friend, Mr. James Cox of The Midwest Book Review who posted a related and very informative article with good advice on the Yahoo Self-Publishers Group sometime ago. The content should be written with the average student/reader in mind. Is it OK with you to let it go as is? I am not the best editor so any comments for changes are most welcome. BTW, we now see your postings.


Steve Karris
Orchard Publications

This is an excellent example of a permission request letter. I offer it as a template for anyone seeking to ask permission from me or anyone else with respect to quoting from them or citing them in the course of an article or any other form of publication.

You can never go wrong asking permission. Even if permission is denied. In the latter case you at least win on points on courtesy and professionalism -- and avoid the bother of disgruntled legal action.

In my particular case, it nicely stroked my ego and I was all to happy to comply with Steve's request. -- Besides, it was great publicity for the Midwest Book Review!


I do a regular monthly book review column dedicated specifically to books on and about writing and/or publishing. Not only do these columns run in our library newsletter and online book review publications, they are also archived on the Midwest Book Review website under either "The Writer's Bookshelf" or "The Publisher's Bookshelf". I used to post them to the listserves, but haven't done so for the last few months simply because of time constraints brought on by increasing duties arising from increasing book submissions from a constantly growing number of publishers and authors.

Here's what a typical and recent column looked like:

Quit Your Day Job!
Jim Denney
Quill Driver
1831 Industrial Way #101, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956041 $14.95

Aspiring authors who dream of quitting a day job for the life of a professional write will find Jim Denney's Quit Your Day Job! to be a candid assessment plan for building a paying career as a full-time writer. Quit Your Day Job! covers both the positives and negatives of a writer's careers, from keeping multiple projects in the pipelines to setting goals - and attaining them.

How To Write A Book Proposal
Michael Larsen
Writer's Digest Books/F&W, dist.
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
1582972516 $15.99 1-800-289-0963

Now in its third edition, How To Write A Book Proposal by Michael Larsen is a practical, step-by-step, 280-page "how to" guide to creating a successful book proposal. Ranging from test-marketing the potential of a book idea; to choosing the best agents and editors; to creating a professional quality proposal package; to negotiating the best possible offer from publishers, and so much more, How To Write A Book Proposal is a superbly organized, highly accessible, "must-read" reference for aspiring writers and authors seeking to become financially successful professionals.

George Arnold
Eakin Press
Drawer 90159, Austin, TX 78709-0159
1571687998 $18.95

Bestseller: Must-Read Author's Guide To Successfully Selling Your Book is a very handy guide written more for authors seeking to be picked up by a publishing house than for self-publishers braving the volatile book markets on their own. Nevertheless, Bestseller is filled from cover to cover with practical wisdom and advice relevant to both groups. A wry, humorous tone pervades the wealth of down-to-earth serious tips concerning how not to annoy a prospective publisher; the plans must be laid down in advance in order to succeed; how to work with retailers who "don't owe you the time of day", and so much more. An excellent and highly readable resource that focuses on how to get one's words out there for visibility as well as profit. Bestseller is an enthusiastically recommended addition to any aspiring author's personal and professional reference shelf.

The titles for this specialized book review column come from small presses, large houses, and specialty publishers like Writer's Digest.

If you'd like to be sent this particular column (it's free) each month, just send me your email address and ask to be signed up for "The Writing/Publishing Shelf".

And now we come to one of my favorite things to do -- gratefully acknowledging the supportive appreciation of what the Midwest Book Review tries to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Here's this month's "Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Donation Hall of Fame":

Barbara Sala
Aaroncroft Publishing
Thieme Works
Christopher Rogers - CSR Productions
Lisa Ruzicka - Winepress Publishing
Rodney Saulsberry - Tomdor Publishing
Ed Hunt - Luminous Epinoia Press
Mildred Wakefield - NewSouth Books
Meredith Rutter - VanderWyk & Burnham
Madelene Towne - Green Mansion Press
Patrick Guilfoile - ForSte Press, Inc.
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania
Eve A. Wood - "Medicine, Mind and Meaning"
David Truskoff - "Rebirth of A Realist"
Dale C. Nathan - "Minnesota Injustice"
Susan K. Wehrley - "The Secret to I AM"

If you have a book to be reviewed or you'd simply like to show your support for the Midwest Book Review, then send your book and/or postage stamps to:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

And if you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (it's free like everything else I do around here) then just drop me an email and ask to be signed up.

Until next time I'll tell you what I tell my world-wide KNLS Bookwatch radio audience -- Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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