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Jim Cox Report: October 2010

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

I want to begin with a bit of Midwest Book Review 'office gossip'.

I'm again going to be one of the Audies Awards judges for the annual Audiobook Publishers Association's annual Audies Awards for excellence in audio book publishing. I think this makes eleven or twelve years now that I've been one. I guess it's one of the 'perks' for longevity in the book review business in general, and that fact that I've been doing a regular monthly book review column called "The Audiobook Shelf" for going on 33 years now.

I began reviewing audio books when they were, quite literally, 'books on tape'. This was long before the coming of CDs. Now we have MP3 and all manner of 'download to your computer and listen at your desk' options when it comes to audio books. Technology marches on -- whether we want it to or not!

I received an interesting email that I'd like to share with some commentary:

Subject: Reading Midwest Book Review sooner would have saved us over $700
Date: 9/24/2010 2:38:29 P.M. Central Daylight Time

Hi James. Your website has a wealth of information. I only wish I would have studied it sooner. It would have saved us over $700. See, our galley proof campaign directed at booksellers and reviewers was a wasted effort to say the least. Oh well, lesson learned the hard way. Just want you to know that Pants On Fire Press appreciates the website and your efforts. All the best,

Cris Francet
Marketing & Publicity
Phone: 407.347.7947
Pants On Fire Press
A different kind of children and teen fiction publisher.
13750 West Colonial Dr. Ste 350, Winter Garden, FL 34787

I hear this kind of response several times a year from authors, publishers, and publicists. They engage in a marketing campaign, then discover the Midwest Book Review website and realize that there are Pre-Publication and Post-Publication reviews and that each of these categories have their own submission guidelines so distinct that not adhering to them is simply a waste of resources both in terms of money and time.

Not a week passes by that I don't get a phone call from a newly self-published author or newly established publisher inquiring into our own submission guidelines here at the Midwest Book Review. Often they've discovered us through mentions in some 30+ 'how to' books on publishing, sometimes from a Google search for book reviewers, sometimes from simple word of mouth recommendations from someone they know.

More often than not, when that first contact is made I spend a couple of minutes pointing out our web site resources to them beginning with the book reviewing articles archived in our Advice For Writers & Publishers Section, followed by recommending their use of our "Other Reviewers" database for freelance book reviewers, book review magazines and publications, book review web sites, etc.

Now and again I also point them to the archive for these "Jim Cox Reports" on the Midwest Book Review web site as an on-going source of commentary, advice, 'tips, tricks & techniques' for publishing and marketing books.

Judging by the numbers of hits on our web site every month we get a lot of 'return business'. And that's one of the hallmark of a successful web site -- if people find it of such immense value and interest that they keep coming back to see what's new and to revisit what's old.

Enough of such self-congratulations. Let's move on to something of more practical value and interest to people who are trying to write and publish profitably:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches, & Proposals, second edition
Moria Allen
Allworth Press
10 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010
9781581157437, $19.95,

To write to persuade is a truly powerful skill. "The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches, & Proposals" is a guide to writing when it counts the most, to get your idea heard, known, and sold. With tips on crafting a query letter, proposing a fiction or nonfiction book, preparing a manuscript, syndication, win grants, public speaking, and dealing with rejection, "The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches, & Proposals" is a very useful resource that should be at hand for any writer.

How To Be A... Writer
Barbara Baig
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
9781582978055 $16.99

How To Be A... Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play is a self-training resource for writers of all skill and experience levels. Chapters offer useful exercises to encourage one's natural talents for communication, expression, memory, creativity, and characterization. Tips, tricks, and techniques for finding one's voice as a writer, getting obligatory projects done to free up time for the writing one wants to do, understanding the nature of the relationship between writer and reader, and more fill this handy and practical volume. An invaluable supplementary skill-improvement resource for writers everywhere, How To Be A... Writer is highly recommended.

Six Pigs in a Tub
Gene Cox
Capital City Books
1 N. 5th Street, Richmond, VA
9780984288120 $12.95

The English language can prove quite annoying at times. "Six Pigs in a Tub: A Grammar Repair Kit" seeks to help readers evade the many pitfalls and complexities that come along with English grammar and how popular culture and media are not helping. With no shortage of humor, anyone looking to command a greater mastery of English should consider "Six Pigs in a Tub".

Living Write
Kelly L. Stone
Adams Media Corporation
57 Littlefield Street, 2nd floor, Avon, MA 02322
9781440506246, $16.95,

Writing things down, often in a personal journal, has been a long and established psychotherapeutic tools and creative psychological exercise. This practice has also proven to be an invaluable approach for authors seeking inspiration and substance for their literary efforts. "Living Write: The Secret to Inviting Your Craft Into Your Daily Life" by Kelly L. Stone is a 224-page instructional manual that will teach anyone how to make writing a daily priority, create and maintain enthusiasm for their writing activities, gain confidence in their abilities as a writer, and establish a professionalism in their writing quite distinctive from those who simply sit down on occasion to write something. Of special note is a comprehensive program specifically constructed to overcome and eliminate negative writing habits. Enhanced with an accompanying CD, "Living Write: The Secret to Inviting Your Craft Into Your Daily Life" will prove to be useful for the novice seeking to establish good writing habits, as well as more seasoned authors seeking to tap the power of their subconscious mind and harness it to their writing agendas and projects.

New Perspectives On Technical Editing
Avon J. Murphy, editor
Baywood Publishing Company
26 Austin Avenue, Amityville, NY 11701
9780895033949, $47.95,

The newest addition to the Baywood Publishing Company's 'Technical Communications Series', "New Perspectives On Technical Editing" is a collection of ten informed and informative articles by experienced and knowledgeable editors that have been compiled by Avon J. Murphy, a professional technical editor and owner of Murphy Editing and Writing Services. Murphy is also a fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and currently the book review editor for "Technical Communications", the quarterly journal of the Society for Technical Communication. With the articles providing a range of perspectives, aspiring editors will find informed and informative information on a range of editing issues such as ethics, legal issues, strategies for diverse media, electronic editing, editing technical journals, and a great deal more. Each chapter features extensive references. Enhanced with an annotated bibliography that provides an evaluated description of one hundred editing resources. A critically important read for anyone who aspires to an editorial career, "New Perspectives On Technical Editing" is an exceptional reference and highly recommended for professional and academic Writing/Publishing reference collections.

Views from the Loft
Daniel Slager
Milkweed Editions
1011 Washington Avenue South, #300, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1246
9781571313232, $20.00,

The exchange of ideas is a key factor in improving oneself to become a better writer. "Views from the Loft" discusses the importance of the writer's group and a method of constant feedback. Filled with musings from countless writers, they offer insight on how to create ideas, getting it onto paper, criticizing and being criticized, and the success and failure of publishing. "Views from the Loft" is filled with inspiration and push for the would be writer who wants to better master their craft, very highly recommended.

Now here are some Q&A's on writing and publishing:

This one came in from one of our newer volunteer reviewers -- who is rather good at what she does!

In a message dated 2/3/2010 8:57:58 A.M. Central Standard Time:

Mr. Cox,

Can you tell me what all you do with a review? An author asked me about it and I have forgotten. I am just reading and trying to get out the best reviews I can. Plus, make sure I have the two books needed to keep my shelf.

As of today I have three books for March that I have sent to Midwest.


Sandra Heptinstall

Dear Sandra:

1. We publish the review in one or more of our nine monthly book review on-line magazines.

2. If the book is on Amazon we post the review there.

3. We provide the review to Cengage Learning for inclusion into their Book Review Index, a CD that goes out to several thousand library systems in the United States and Canada.

4. We archive the review for five years on the Midwest Book Review web site.

5. We provide publishers with a copy of the review and a notification letter. They have automatic permission to utilize the review in any manner they deem useful to promote and market the book. They also have the responsibility of notifying their authors, editors, illustrators, and anyone else they deem appropriate.

6. We send out an email notice to the reviewers notifying them when there review(s) are featured and in which issue of either Reviewer's Bookwatch or MBR Bookwatch.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 2/27/2010 4:49:48 P.M. Central Standard Time:

Dear Mr. Cox,

I have recently had a children's book published titled Luke and Morgan Learn A Lesson. The publisher is Mirror Publishing, and they are a small children's book publisher. They have no marketing department, so I am on my own trying to get the word out about my book. I wanted to send it to your company for a book review, but I do not have a media kit or publicity release. Do you know how I could obtain one of these, or could I send to book without them? I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank You,
Michelle Velky

Dear Michelle:

Thank you for your information. Please send two copies of the published book for review, accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release, to the attention of:

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

You will find explicit instructions on how to create a cover letter and a publicity release on the Midwest Book Review website. They are quick and easy. Within about 5 minutes you will turn out professional quality documents to accompany your review submissions to us -- or to anyone else.

Here are the links to these two 'how to' articles:

Writing An Effective Cover Letter:

Writing An Effective Publicity Release:

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Just an additional note: "What is a publicity release?" is the single most often asked question by a newly self-published author.

In a message dated 4/1/2010 9:08:42 A.M. Central Daylight Time:

I've heard that reviewers, etc. don't like getting press releases and info about the book separate from the book itself. Well, this is the only way I can do it, since books are sent from the printer to the reviewer. So press releases have to be sent separately. But I can print a different copy with no ISBN attached as a review copy. If I put info about the book and a little cover illustration AS the cover, do you think this would work? Or, should I do a version that says REVIEW COPY on the cover, and the first page inside is basically the PR (info about the book, author, etc)?
Thanks for the input.

Ben Ohmart
New books on the old stars

Dear Ben:

Here's the problem with sending cover letters and PRs separately from the book itself:

The Midwest Book Review is about a middle-sized book review operation. Even so, we receive an average of 2300 titles a month. Having to set aside paperwork for a book before it has arrived is an enormous hassle -- it's just not going to happen.

Receiving the paperwork some days and or a week or more after the book has arrived is also a hassle. Not as much as scenario #1, but still extra work in terms of keeping track of things.

The very last thing any author or publisher wants to do is make a reviewer have to work harder to keep track of their book than those of their more than 2000 competitors offering that reviewer a book that is nicely accompanied upon its arrival with the proper paperwork.

Printing a 'special edition' with the core info printed on it that would otherwise be found in a standard cover letter and/or publicity release will only work with pre-publication reviews like Publishers Weekly or The Library Journal -- but there your competition increases to around 5,000 or more titles a month.

'Special Editions', or other forms of ARCs won't work at all with post-publication reviews like TV shows, Radio venues, trade magazines, or the Midwest Book Review.

My advice in your particular situation? Order a couple of cases of your own book from the publisher at the best discount you can get. Create a dynamite cover letter and publicity release. Then send those to a selected and vetted list of thematically appropriate reviewers and review publications.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 8/11/2010 2:12:40 P.M. Central Daylight Time:


Can you tell me what a 'capsule review' is? Is it a particular type of review?



Dear Lisa:

A 'capsule review' is a review that is a single succinct paragraph in length.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Finally we have "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:

T. Drake
David Nghiem
Susan L. Zappo
Denise L. Meyer
Johnny Townsend
Tatyana Elmanovich
April Martin Chartrand -- "Angel's Destiny"
Grey Perry -- "Letters from Grampy"
Diana Symons -- "Where the Jewels Are"
Marshal Taylor -- "The Amargosa Blues"
Kathleen Smith -- "A Puppy for the White House"
Marion Elizabeth Witte -- "Little Madhouse on the Prarie"
Tom Schwartz -- "Spaceship Earth"
Tal Leverett -- "The White Bear"
Totem Tales Publishing
Willowrose Publishing
Day's Eye Press and Studios
Nan Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
Judy Ivy -- Mainly Murder Press
Tyler Larsson -- Thriller Press
TaeHun Kim -- aStoryTelling, Inc.
Butch Drury -- Rivendell Books
Kathy Brodsky -- HelpingWords
Paul Weldon -- Indian Publication
Ellen Schofield -- Galactic Publishers
Merry Rosenfield -- The Magic Zoo, Inc.
John McClure -- Signalman Publishing
Janice Phelps Williams -- Luck Press
Beverly Newton -- International Jewelry Publishers
Dedwin B. Reeser III -- Sericin Publishing Company
Doug Hoddaway -- Stratosphere Publishing
Charles D. Hayes -- Autodidactic Press
Patricia Weenolsen -- Rubythroat Press
William Just -- Kanspira Publishing
Jancie Vandyck -- Winston-Higgins Press
Lynn McGlothlen -- North Country Publishing
Nigel J. Yorwerth -- Yorwerth Associates

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, uncorrected proofs, or Advanced 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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