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Jim Cox Report: October 2008

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Dan Poynter is an encyclopedia of information on and about small press publishing. He's also one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet -- and was very generous with his advice and support when I began my career as a book reviewer and book review editor some 32 years ago. It's always nice to hear from him so I was pleasantly surprised when this came in:

In a message dated 10/2/2008 11:52:29 A.M. Central Daylight Time:


Hope you're well.

There's new praise for you and MBR in our October newsletter:

Thanks as always for all you do on behalf of our community!

As ever,


It turns out that it's a link to one of my "Jim Cox Reports" that I had written back in 2005. For those of you unfamiliar with his electronic newsletter for self-publishers, I would enthusiastically recommend that you check it out as an invaluable resource.

I write this report for just precisely this kind of thing. That folks would find what I have to say to be of practical use, help them to more quickly master their learning curves as writers and as publishers, to not have to re-invent so many wheels.

So I'll repeat yet again that anyone can utilize anything I've ever written to supplement, enrich, or provide content for their websites, newsletters, books, or training manuals. Just give the usual citation credit when doing so. I've specifically designed (with a lot of help from folks who seem to sincerely appreciated what we do here in behalf and in support of the small press community) our Midwest Book Review website at to be a combination publishing seminar and extended workshop for self-published authors and novice publishers.

For those of you who are new to the Midwest Book Review, everything on our website is free of charge. If after you've put in time reading and studying what is there for you and you still have questions about any aspect of the publishing and book marketing processes, please feel free to send me an email and ask them.

Now here are some reviews of the latest 'how to' books for writers and publishers to have crossed my desk:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Words to Inspire Writers
Gregory Victor Babic
F.C. Sach & Sons Publishers
9780980372205, $20.00,

Writing is a mentally draining job, and inspiration is the fuel to keep that tank filled. "Words to Inspire Writers" is the battery many writers will enjoy. With quotes to help with every stage of writing to pondering a concept, putting it to paper, or editing it down, the book will prove to be many a writer's best friend. "Words to Inspire Writers" is a strong choice for a gift to any writer.

Spider Speculations
Jo Carson
Theatre Communications Group
520 Eighth Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10018-4156
9781559362832, $16.95,

What really makes a good story? "Spider Speculations: A Physics and Biophysics of Storytelling" is a collection of writings from Jo Carson seeking to answer those questions and dive into the bare science of storytelling. The dissection will intrigue and inform readers, and grant them many a tip on improving their own writing, through understanding the audience, much like a cook would benefit from knowing who he is cooking for. "Spider Speculations" contains invaluable advice for writers, granting it an enthusiastic recommendation.

Silence, Language, & Society
Robert Hartwell Fiske
Vocabula Books
5A Holbrook Court, Rockport, MA 01966
9780977436873, $12.95,

Language not only expresses out thoughts, it shapes them as well. Robert Hartwell Fiske has a very special expertise with language as the editor and publisher of 'The Vocabula Review', a publication dedicated to the study of language. He applies that expertise in "Silence, Language, & Society: A Guide To Style And Meaning, Grace And Compassion", a pocket-sized compendium of information and insight that will prove invaluable for students of the English language, as well as writers aspiring to a deft and definitive elegance in whatever they choose to write about. How words, language and thoughts intermingle, their relationship with 'silence and society' is the focus of this remarkable little volume that continues definitions, word usage examples, and such miscellanea as imprecations and misspent words. "Silence, Language, & Society" is a treat for anyone who finds the study of the English language to be of interest either as a pastime or a profession.

You Can Be Famous!
Danek S. Kaus
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, 1380 Face Rock Drive, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759110, $14.95

You Can Be Famous! Insider Secrets to Getting Free Publicity is a practical, no-nonsense guide for anyone in search of publicity, whether an author trying to get the word out for their book, an employee seeking to promote their company, an aspiring actor or actress trying to get their name out there, or anyone else yearning to make a well-known name for themselves. Chapters discuss the positive benefits and negative consequences of fame, how to get on a journalists' good side (be aware that most journalists are under deadline pressure, so always be respectful of their time - be concise, polite, keep your appointments, and ask their permission to make a follow-up call one or two weeks later), the right way to pitch oneself, how to prepare for an interview, how to dress in a manner that's camera-friendly, and much more. Other matters such as harnessing the Internet to its maximum potential, creating a quality publicity release, or holding a charity event to garner a buzz are also discussed. A user-friendly, easy-to-follow guide, enthusiastically recommended for anyone seeking fame, especially if seeking to promote their artistic creation or business product.

Hebrew Writers on Writing
Peter Cole, editor
Trinity University Press
One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212-7200
9781595340528, $24.95

Hebrew Writers on Writing is an anthology of tracts from a vast array of Hebrew writers, about the wonder of finding one's voice through writing, the spiritual dimensions of communication, the nuances of how language changes with time, the impact that modern technology and record keeping abilities have on the evolution of writing, and much more, all from a distinctly Jewish perspective. Each short piece is prefaced with a brief biography of the author. A deeply thought-provoking collection of reflections that amateur and professional writers alike are sure to find inspirational. "Hebrew, a synchronic language, holds certain precise ethical and philosophical value concepts that belong only to Hebrew and to Judaism that are really untranslatable. Such words cannot be learned simply as words, without their philosophical context. Some are whole teachings. Thus the concept teshuva (repentance) is not what we think of today as repentance, or more commonly, becoming religious. In Judaism it covers a process involving a complete change of personality - sometimes even a change of name, work, and address. This significance is all but lost in its modern usage." A welcome addition to Hebrew and Judaic Studies shelves, as well as being a worthy contribution to "The Writer's World" series.

In addition to my own reviews of 'how to' books about writing and publishing, every now and then one of our reviewer's assesses a relevant title. Here's an example:

Reviewer's Bookwatch: October 2008
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

Molly's Bookshelf

The Fine Print of Self Publishing
Mark Levine
Bascom Hill Publishing Group
9780980245578 $17.95

Mark Levine has written a work devoted to the growing number of Self Publishing book publishers. The Fine Print of Self Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 45 Self-Publishing Companies-Analyzed Ranked & Exposed is presented as an aid to those writers who may be considering using one of the Self Publishing book publishers rather than languishing while waiting for a major publisher to notice their work.

Levine points out in his Introduction 'the publishing world is changing, thanks to advances in digital printing and the Internet, new authors are realizing they don't really need traditional publishers.'

From presenting advice on how to make your own big break in Chapter 1 in which he explains that whether a new, unknown author decides to self publish, or is so fortunate as to be offered a contract from one of the major publishers, readers discover the author is likely the one who will be doing most if not all marketing of the finished product.

And, Levine points out that should the book actually do well, sell many copies, become well accepted, and appear on a best seller list; then the large publisher will take most of the credit and most of the profit leaving the writer with perhaps 10% royalties at best. Levine says bluntly, 'If you believe in your book, then publish it.'

As a reviewer I frequently receive a query from a writer who hesitantly tells me that they are self pubbed and will understand if I choose not to read or review. I point out that Hemingway, Twain and Dickens all self published their work at some time in their careers.

Chapter 2 details why the hopeful writer needs to read this book: one big idea offered by Levine is that by reading The Fine Print of Self Publishing authors will discover what is needed to avoid many of the pitfalls which may be waiting if Self Publishing is the method used for getting the manuscript into print. That is valuable information.

I found Chapter 3 to be especially interesting. Levine details what he views as nine qualities of a good Self Publishing Company. Some of the qualities he lists includes: a good reputation among writers, fair publishing fees, low printing costs, ISBN as part of the basic package. Levine goes on to explain fully what he means regarding each of the qualities he feels are essential.

Chapters 4 and 5 are filled with a good bit of information regarding publishing contracts and how to understand the fine print of various publisher contracts and service.

Chapters 6 – 9 then list a number of publishers in categories ranging from excellent Self Publishing Companies to the Publishers to Avoid. The various publishers listed in each category are detailed as to what is good, bad or just plain outrageous regarding fees, what to expect and the books themselves plus much more valuable information which will serve to help the writer get a book printed and hopefully launch a career as a writer.

Levine rounds out the book in the conclusion in which he discusses marketing the book and making it sell; he makes no bones about the fact that for every book printed there are many which are little known, little read. "There is no guarantee that if a book is published it will sell. Writers must be ready to get out and market their work." Levine points out that one big help to writers today is the Internet itself, and he explains how he himself uses the Internet to his advantage to sell his books.

I enjoyed reading The Fine Print of Self Publishing, the book is filled with many helpful suggestions, hints and ideas for writers who may have decided to Self Publish, but have no idea regarding how to go about locating a publisher. Publishing a book yourself can be very expensive, The Fine Print of Self Publishing provides information regarding a number of the best known names in the business, those who are reputable, and those who while not totally dishonest are going to do little more than publish the work and wait for the author to get it sold, or not.

Because I review I am often asked about Self Publishing, whether or not I know anything about one or another of the various publishers. So, I sent off two manuscripts; one each to the two about which I am most often queried, and which happen to be in the list of to avoid. Both companies were pleasant to work with, in due time I received my package copies, I am not a marketer, neither publisher did much to provide any marketing and on a rare occasion someone actually buys one or the other of the books.

If I should get the yen to self publish another work I'll check Writer Levine's The Fine Print of Self Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 45 Self-Publishing Companies-Analyzed Ranked & Exposed to find a publisher who may charge a bit more, but with whom I may have more success in seeing the books actually moved into the hands of readers.

Filled with information about how to go about locating a publisher and what to expect; The Fine Print of Self Publishing is reader friendly, detailed and filled with valuable information which can help direct a hopeful author to the perfect, for him/her, Self Publishing house. Levine's writing style is very readable, he guides the reader into an understanding regarding which of the well known houses are perhaps not the best and lists exactly why in an instructive manner that is not preachy or authoritarian. He also lists which of the houses may be the best, and again lists exactly why. Enjoyed the read. Happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:

I began my book review career hosting and producing a local radio talk show called "The Madison Review of Books" which ultimately evolved into the Midwest Book Review. So I have a fair bit of expertise in the subject of utilizing radio talk shows to promote books. That's why I wanted to share this with you from Marsh Freidman:

In a message dated 2/12/2008 10:03:10 A.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Are You New to the World of Talk Radio? Then You Need to Read This!

In my nearly twenty years in the publicity industry, I have seen a fair bit of evolution in how the media reaches their audience. Some newspapers and magazines have turned into websites or blogs and several television shows have turned into streaming videos on YouTube. Talk radio seems to be the only media outlet that has remained untouched, right? Wrong!

If we use the 1990's as a reference point (and all of you radio pros from that era will back me up on this) the landscape of talk radio has most definitely changed from then until now. In the 90's the average time allotted for a guest interview was anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes and most of the interviews took place in-studio.

Today if you want to find a 45 to 60 minute interview you have to focus on smaller markets (and/or smaller stations in big markets). Why? It all comes down to format. Today, the format for guest interviews in top markets can be as short as 3 to 5 minutes and as long as 10-15 minutes. So the same major market talk show that used to have one guest per hour will now how 3-5 guests in one hour!

Also, say goodbye to in-studio interviews. Most hosts today don't want guests coming to the studio. Now with shorter interviews, having to meet and greet an in-studio guest can be an unnecessary distraction, not only for the hosts but for other employees at the station as well. And, where quality of sound used to be a factor, we've seen enough technological advances in equipment that phone interviews now sound far superior to those of the earlier days.

Ok, so things have changed. But it isn't necessarily for the worst. Any opportunity to be a guest on a radio show is an opportunity you want to take advantage of - regardless of the amount of airtime, the size of the market or the power of the radio station!

For years I have told my clients about the power of radio, and have watched many campaigns produce fantastic results. Here are just a few helpful tips I share with my clients about the value of talk radio and how to maximize these opportunities to connect with their audience.
Work With However Many Minutes You Have on the Air!

Be careful not to fall into the negative mindset about short interviews. Even if your interview only lasts say 10 minutes, these are 10 very valuable minutes of airtime…just learn how to maximize it!

* Develop those Sound Bites. If you only have 10 minutes to talk about your product or service you just need to develop your message so that it's concise and will grab the audience's attention. The secret for doing this is to make every word count in being able to communicate your message.

* Know Your Message and Stay On it. Figure out what your key message is and stick with it! You don't have time to be thrown off topic by the host or caller. When that happens, your job is to briefly acknowledge what was said and bring the conversation back to your message. It can be done as politely as, "…yes, that's a good point, but…" (the rest of your answer would be your message). This kind of response allows you to keep your manners in so that the host doesn't feel like you've ignored his comment, but at the same time, you're in control of the communication and able to get your point across.

* Know the Host and the Show. If the show is simulcast on the internet, take the time to listen to it before your interview. This will allow you to get a feel for the overall tone of the show and host and how he or she communicates with guests and callers. It will also give you a feel for the pace of the show. Then when it comes time for your interview, you'll know what's expected of you as a guest and you'll be able to stay in stride. I promise you, the host will appreciate that you're keeping the same pace and tone as he or she is! The benefit to you? The more the host likes you the more inclined they will be to promote your product or service for you!

Bottom line? Advertisers pay hundreds of dollars for a single minute of time on the air. So, a 10 minute interview is very valuable and can be worth thousands of dollars in advertising time!

Only Want a Long Interview? Ditch the Major Markets!

If you only want longer interviews, then look to smaller markets. If you are not sold on the benefits of these seemingly lesser markets, let me share some terrific facts about these rough diamonds:

* Get Your Feet Wet: Interviews in smaller markets give you the opportunity to gain experience as a radio guest providing terrific insight as to the workings and rhythm of talk radio.

* Fine Tune: Knowing your message and knowing the right way to communicate it are two different things. These interviews allow you to test your messages and identify which ones resonate best with the host and listeners.

* Question Time: As a standard rule in talk radio, you always want to provide hosts with sample questions to ask you – as the host won't always have the time or discipline to study your topic prior to speaking with you. But, after doing a number of small market interviews you'll know which questions present the best opportunity for communicating your message and keeping listeners tuned into the show!

* ……and a higher concentration of listeners!

Yes, it's true. In smaller markets, there just aren't as many stations to choose from as in the larger markets. So, what's the benefit of this for you? Well, simply put, less choice of stations means listeners aren't able to do as much channel surfing. Think about it: in Gainesville, Florida there are 3 stations that have a talk show format whereas in San Francisco, California there are 10. So even though the population in Gainesville is minute compared to the population of SF – it's very feasible to have a larger audience listening to your interview in Gainesville, than the one you conduct in San Francisco. It's the channel surfing factor at play. In smaller markets listeners have less choice of talk stations to listen to and so they tend to have favorite stations and hosts they often view as a trusted advisor or friend. So being on a small market show with dedicated listeners and a host who endorses your product or service, can be far more impacting on your sales.

Not In-studio – Not a Problem!

With in-studio interviews you have to:

* Schedule time off from work;

* Be away from your family;

* Spend time and money on travel (planes, trains and automobiles…remember?);

* Incur cost of hotels and meals while on the road.

And what if you arrive at the station and there's hot, late breaking news and the show cancels or the interview goes short? Yikes! There goes your time and money down the drain. What a waste!
Radio phone interviews are so much more beneficial for you. Traveling isn't necessary! Time of day is no longer an issue. For example, if you have an interview on a popular overnight show, you can still do it, but from the comfort of your bed! Just imagine, talking to people all over the country while lounging in your pajamas!

And what about those interviews during office hours? Are you a busy executive? You can integrate radio phone interviews into your work-day, around client meetings, staff briefings or in-between those important reports you're on deadline to get done. You can even coordinate radio interviews when you're traveling on business. We've had clients conduct live interviews from airports and even abroad on an overseas business trip!

Yes, in-studio interviews are great for establishing camaraderie between you and the host – but that same camaraderie can be created with phone interviews. It just requires that you become more adept at your communication skills so that your ability to have a quality communication isn't hindered simply because the person isn't sitting in front of you!

If you are interested in more tips, please visit our website: and sign up for your free Ebook 50 Tips on Becoming a Top Guest on Talk Radio.

Marsha Friedman, CEO
Tel: 727-443-7115, Extension 201
1127 Grove Street, Clearwater, FL 33755

I'm now going to conclude this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "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:

Chuck Edmonson
Joan L. Kelly
Budh-Aditya Roy -- "Anastasia"
Elaine Williams -- "A Journey Well Taken"
Dayna Hilton -- "Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog"
Doris Davis -- "Science + Religion = God"
Nancy Richards -- "Heal and Forgive II"
Matthew J. Pallamary -- "Spirit Matters"
Carol Barton -- "The Pocket Paper Engineer"
Bernard Schatz -- "Chronic Pain Self-Treatment"
Roger Grubbs -- "for the Victims"
Donna Unrue -- "The Third Life"
Dark Sky Publishing
Golden Horse Ltd.
Book Peddlers
Tolana Publishing
Wordtech Communications
Toni Dockter -- FWE Publishing
Maryglenn McCombs -- Oceanview Publishing
Catherine M. Rudy -- Wolf Pirate Publishing
Don Bracken -- History Publishing Company
Al Cloutier -- World Class Productions
Marty Schupak -- Youth Sports Club
Denny Durbin -- Bodega Publishing
Bryan T. Marshall -- Mermaid Press
Kathy Oxley -- Preschool Prep Company
James Nemad -- Avanty House
Robert Flowers -- The Gilchrist Institute for Achievement

If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), 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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