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Jim Cox Report: October 2006

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

It's October and already time for another installment of free tips, techniques, and advice on the fine art of writing and the sophisticated business of publishing -- and all worth exactly what I charge for them. :-)

The big news is that the print editions of our library newsletters (The Bookwatch; Library Bookwatch; Wisconsin Bookwatch) are now available online and that beginning with their October 2006 issues will begin to be archived in their own right on the Midwest Book Review website at

The small news is that my 26 year old Macintosh computer finally died a true and un-resurrectable death. So now we are operating entirely within the PC environment -- along with a whole lot of new and updated software which I had to have our new Assistant Editor Jason Smith teach me how to use.

I belong to those generations for whom learning the computer was akin to learning English as a second language. For my computer science daughter and my new assistant editor Jason, the computer is their "naive language", they having grown up throughly immersed and versed in it.

I'm currently deep into judging bulging boxes of audiobooks. Here's why:

Subject: 2007 Call for Judges
Date: 7/13/2006 10:16:24 A.M. Central Standard Time

Congratulations! On behalf of the Audio Publishers Association, you are invited to be an Audies Judge for the 2007 audiobook competition! Please respond to the survey below as soon as possible to participate.

We are underway with the 2007 Audies (R) Awards! Your assignment is as follows:

Round 1: Judges: Politics
Round 2: Nonfiction Unabridged

Cheers, Thank YOU and happy listening!

Traci Cothran
Audies Judge Chair

I've been an Audie judge for what must be the better part of a decade now. I've honestly lost count of how many years its been. But every year its been fun -- and quite often I've already reviewed (for my monthly column "The Audiobook Shelf") some of the entries I've been sent, which is a real time saver. But I do enjoy it all and appreciate the confidence folk have in my judgement.

If you have an audiobook project or are considering an audio edition of your print title, then you should visit the Audio Publishers Association website at and see what services they can help you with.

I have no affiliation with them other than being one of their volunteer judges for the annual Audie awards. I just think they are a valuable asset for anyone involved with producing and marketing audiobooks whether in cassette or CD or the new MP3 formats.

Now here's some Q&A:

In a message dated 4/17/2006 9:11:41 P.M. Central Standard Time, christianalighieri@VERIZON.NET writes:

A quick question. One of our books recently got a rave review in Library Journal - and this terrific review happily occurs just as we are about to go into a third printing. We would like to quote from the review on the back cover of the next printing, and I am wondering if anyone can offer specific guidelines?

On Amazon, you are allowed to quote 20 words, and I thought we'd use the same LJ quote for the book that we use on Amazon. Can anyone confirm or refute that this is generally OK?

Many thanks,
Christian Alighieri

If the review came from a review copy of the book that you provided the Library Journal and/or that particular reviewer, then you can utilize the review in any manner you deem useful in your own publicity/promotion/marketing campaign. You can quote as much or as little as you wish. The one proviso is to always cite the reviewer and/or review publication in which the review appeared when quoting it.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 6/9/2006 11:26:59 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Dear Jim: My next project is coming soon and I will be sending a new book for review. I will contact you in the normal manner when it's ready. The reason I'm writing now is that in your last news letter you talked about defacing review copies again. What about an author signing the book? Does this help it on the resale market, or is this defacing? Please let me know.

Ciao, Wolf
Wolf Wootan
"Edge of Tomorrow"

A simply autographing on the inside title page is usually okay. It's when the autographing includes personal messages that potential reviewers tend to pass over them for some other title.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 6/10/2006 9:13:55 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

I have recently written a short children's story, which I intend to be in picture book form. I am not a published author and I would like to know if you have any suggestions for me as to the best way to find a publisher. The genre of the book would be considered Health and Well-Being. Thank you for your time,

Hayley Parlen

1. Go the Midwest Book Review website at
2. Click on "Writer's Bookshelf"
3. Scroll through the reviews and pick out those that specifically deal with getting published.
4. Go to your local library and ask for them -- all are available through InterLibrary Loan.
5. Read them.
6. Apply what you've learned.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 6/16/2006 2:35:30 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Have you ever thought of actually selling the very books you review on your site. Surely if you review a book I am sure it would be acceptable and appropriate to have that very book for sale.

Should this be the case I would be delighted to send you 3 books, complimentary, for this purpose. Other authors, I am sure, would also gladly do this. Additionally, Midwest Book review would also be an excellent outlet for books you review. Please let me know your thoughts on this matter.

With very kind regards,


Long ago when we first started up back in 1976 our board of directors felt (and I feeling I still share) that to sell books off of our Midwest Book Review website or places like would create conflict of interest issues. It's the same reason that we don't accept cash contributions from authors or publishers.

It was only after many years of authors and small press publishers (and the occasional free lance publicist) wanting some way to thank us for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the publishing community that our board felt that the donation of postage stamps would be an acceptable and non-conflicting way for folks to say thank you, "support the cause", or otherwise express their appreciation of our efforts.

It's worked out quite well. We use the stamps when sending out tear sheets and publisher notification letters -- and when we pay the monthly bills.

In fact, this practice of "thank you & keep up the good work" postage stamp donations has become so popular that I started the "Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame & Appreciation" in my monthly Jim Cox Reports as a way to recognize their kindness and thank them right back.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subject: Review of Europe quiz book
Date: 6/21/2006 6:02:09 P.M. Central Standard Time

I am the author of The Europe Quiz Book. While checking my book on the Amazon website I was very surprised to discover that it had been reviewed by Buhle's Bookshelf. I was naturally thrilled with the positive review for my book which I had spent three years researching and writing on a part-time basis. I am living in Ireland and it was published here at the end of November 2005. It is also available in some British shops. But I never expected that it would be available in America and I am delighted that it was discovered and reviewed by you.

I feel that it should be of interest to anyone wishing to learn more about Europe, anyone taking European Studies courses in college and certainly anyone planning to tour Europe. Many thanks and best wishes to you.

Helen Meade

It's always nice to hear from folks like Helen. I'm including her email in this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" because it illustrates two things:

1. Authors can't automatically depend on being notified by publishers when reviews are done on their books. It may be that the publisher isn't even aware of the review (so very often that's the result of reviewers and/or review publications not sending publishers a copy of the review and a notification letter announcing that the review has occurred). It may be that the publisher is amiss in forwarding that information to their author -- especially is this a common lapse with POD publishing houses.

2. Our reviews at the Midwest Book Review end up in surprising places quite literally all over the world. I do a regular book review column called "The Health/Medicine Shelf". And I just found out this morning that the 'Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology" and the "Indian Journal of Ophthalmology" feature some MBR reviews! How our reviews got clear over to India and I have absolutely no idea. I don't even know which books were featured! But I'm totally delighted about it. We don't charge for our reviews here at the Midwest Book Review. They are free for anyone who would like to have them, enhanced their publications with them, enrich their websites with them, or just print them out and use them for wall paper!

The way I look at it, it's a just bit more publicity squeezed out in behalf of authors and publishers beyond our regualar venues such as our own book review publications and website,, Lexus-Nexus, Book Review Index,, etc.

Now let's turn to a couple of excellent book reviews by two of our talented reviewers on the subject of writing at a professional level. This will be followed by our own book review column "The Writing/Publishing Shelf":

Writing for the Soul: Instruction and Advice From an Extraordinary Writing Life
Jerry B. Jenkins
Writer's Digest Books
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
1582974179, $24.99, 223 pages

Ann Allyn Slessman

This writer is always seeking to hone her craft. I read a lot of how-to books on writing and find most of them of little use to me. However, Jerry B. Jenkins' book, Writing for the Soul, Instruction and Advice from an Extraordinary Writing Life, had just the opposite effect.

Jenkins background includes a journalist background where he learned to write concise and meaty. And, I mean meaty. He doesn't use a lot of flamboyant word play and doesn't believe in adjectives, the result being a book worth its price.

This book is filled with Jenkins' experiences with various sports and religious leaders as he researched them for biographies. These accounts provide some real insight on these public figures. From Walter Payton and baseball's, Hank Aaron, to Billy Graham to singer, B.J. Thomas, you will find these experiences worth the read.

Jenkins also includes a must-read section at the back of the book which this reviewer intends to explore. This book should also be added to that list. To wrap up this review, I will use the words used by B.J. Thomas as he wrapped up a particularly good recording session, "Put the chairs on the wagon, the meetin's over!"

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Lynne Truss
Gotham Books
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
1592400876, $19.95, 209 pages

Betty Winslow

Lynne Truss, a book reviewer for The [London] Sunday Times, takes the subject of punctuation very seriously. Indeed, she takes it so seriously that she was constrained by her conscience to write an entire book about it, in the hope that she'd make a difference in the world. It seemed unlikely, despite her rallying cry of "Sticklers unite! You have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion (and arguably you didn't have a lot of that to begin with)." After all, how many sticklers are there, anyway? When's the last time anyone you know spent any time at all discussing the importance of comma placement (unless it was after telling the joke that the book is named after)?

In fact, Truss says the book was originally aimed at the tiny minority of British people "who love punctuation and don't like to see it mucked about with" and she freely admits that she didn't expect much. "Grammatical sticklers are the worst people for finding common cause because it is in their nature to pick holes in everyone, even their best friends. Honestly, what an annoying bunch of people," she says.

So, imagine her surprise when her book became a New York Times best seller. Who knew so many Americans were sticklers about punctuation (or at least, wanted to read about it)? I hope she doesn't read my review, though, because I'd hate to be the one who breaks it to her that there probably aren't that many.

What the US does have (in great and growing numbers) are readers who enjoy almost any topic if it's written about in a witty and interesting manner. And if Truss is anything, it's witty and interesting. From her opinion on the abuse of the apostrophe by greengrocers to her belief that "hyphen usage is just a big bloody mess [that is] likely to get messier", Truss makes punctuation as fascinating as almost anything I've ever read does. Fascinating punctuation. Now, there's a first. I can't wait to see what she takes on next.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Don't Murder Your Mystery
Chris Roerden
Bella Rosa Books
P.O. Box 4251 CRS, Rock Hill, SC 29732
1933523131 $17.95

Don't Murder Your Mystery: 24 Fiction-Writing Techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Turning Up D.O.A. by Chris Roerden (40 years experience as an editor in niche publishing) is a no-nonsense guide to improving one's professional writing skills, making one's manuscript more publishable and not subject to common rejection flaws, and learn from the experience of over 140 published writers. While Don't Murder Your Mystery is written especially for mystery, suspense, and crime fiction writers, the tips, tricks and techniques from bewaring cliches or avoiding clumsy and confusing body language descriptions to making one's dialogue snappy, sharpening self-editing skills and much more will prove invaluable to fiction writers of all genres. An enthusiastically recommended, energetic, easy-to-follow guide.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance
Alison Kent
Alpha Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
1592575463 $16.95 1-800-847-5515

Alison Kent (the pseudonym of an experience author in the genre of erotic romance) draws upon her considerable expertise in "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" to help aspiring authors master the specialized genre of the erotic romance. All too often writers veer into crude pornography while trying to avoid prudish conventions in storytelling. "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" will take the novice writer through a series of practical and effective techniques for creating compelling characters, interesting plots, and engaging dialogue laced with sexually provocative eroticism. Enhanced with advice and examples drawn from successful romance writers and editors, "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" will also prove an invaluable resource that includes lists of available publishers in this select genre. If you want your writing to be hallmarked with chemistry, spice, plot twists, complete characters, and "page turning romance", then add "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Writing Erotic Romance" to your instructional reference bookshelf.

The Erotic Writer's Market Guide
The Circlet Press Collective
Circlet Press Inc.
1770 Massachusetts Avenue, #278, Cambridge, MA 02140
1885865457 $19.95 1-617-864-0492

"The Erotic Writer's Market Guide" is compiled by The Circlet Press Collective and is a compendium of listings of literally hundreds of paying markets for erotic writing. This unique and "user friendly" writer's reference also includes practical, step-by-step advice contributing by working professionals on how to not only write good erotica, but how to sell it and make a career in the genre. There is invaluable information on pay scales and pay rates, tax deduction tips, "writer's rights", notations on the difference between men's and women's erotic fiction, what the editors of erotic magazines and presses want to see in submitted material, and a great deal more. Anyone wanting to write professional in the specialized genre of erotic short stories and novels will find "The Erotic Writer's Market Guide" to be an indispensable asset and a core reference for marketing their work.

Publish Your Own Magazine, Guidebook or Weekly Newspaper
Thomas A. Williams
Sentient Publications
1113 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
1591810035 $24.95

If you're thinking of starting a home-based publishing business, you can't be without Publish Your Own Magazine, Guidebook or Weekly Newspaper: it tells how to not just publish a winning title, but how to make it profitable with no money up front. All kinds of successful periodicals and what made them tops are reviewed in a title which covers circulation, readership, proposal writing, optional publication formats, niche markets and more.

From Gutenberg To Open Type
Robin Dodd
Hartley & Marks Publishers
3661 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6R 2B8
Publishers Group West, distributor
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
0881792101 $29.95 1-800-788-3123

From Gutenberg To Open Type: An Illustrated History Of Type From The Earliest Letterforms To The Latest Digital Fonts by Robin Dodd (Associate Lecturer, London College of Communications) is a seminal and detailed historical survey of the printed letter from the era of the Gutenberg press moveable fonts down to today's desktop publishing software typefaces. Profusely illustrated throughout, From Gutenberg To Open Type is especially recommended to the attention of academicians, authors, publishers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of printing as well as professionals, artists and designers who work with type design and print. Of special note are the side panels to the regular text that explains how to use individual typefaces, notes common pitfalls, and showcases specifically related benefits to a given font. Informed and informative, From Gutenberg To Open Type is a welcome addition to personal, professional, and academic library reference collections.

Don't forget that these reviews -- plus hundreds of others -- on writing and publishing are archived and available for free in two sections (Writer's Bookshelf & Publisher's Bookshelf) of our Midwest Book Review website at

Now it's time to wrap it up with our monthly tribute I called "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame & Appreciation" with all the good folks who have gestured their support and belief in what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community through the donation of ordinary postage stamps:

Roy Scheele - "Eitherland"
Pam Christe - "The King's Lizard"
Fashola Olajide - "Paris Business Directory"
Jeannette Belliveau - "Romance on the Road"
Katie Marsh - "The Parenting Game Plan"
Cathal Liah - "Blood on the Shamrock"
Red Sable Press
St. Padraic Press
Penfield Books
The Vendome Press
Mary & Liz Clare - Blind Rabbit Press
F. William Bauers Jr. - Edgewood Publishing Company
Alexander Tressor - Tressor Group
Robin Eldredge - Bumble Bee Productions
Linda Bairstow - Verity Publishing
John McGrath Sr. - Aaroncroft
Robert Spearman - Pentecostal Publishers
Rodney Saulsberry - Tomdor Publishing
Deborah Robson - Nomad Press
Weston Blelock - Woodstock Arts
Kathleen T. Egan - Dragon's Beard Publishing
Judy Jewel - Dunamis Development
Karen Kalton - Chalk Hill Books
Robert W. Olmstead - Conservatory of American Letters
W. Royce Adams - Rairarubia Books
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania!

If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly and for free, just send me an email asking to be signed up. If you have a book needing review or postage needing donating, just send directly to my attention.

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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