Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: October 2015
Home | Jim Cox Reports Index

Jim Cox Report: October 2015

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

I want to present my views on what I considered to be an exceptionally important tool for self-published authors -- Letterhead Stationary.

The Midwest Book Review is widely known throughout the publishing industry in general, and POD publishing companies in particular, as being particularly welcoming to the self-published author. Indeed, over the past four decades we have been listed as a book review resource for self-published authors and small presses in more than dozen "how to" books on the subject of do-it-yourself publishing. The result is that I see dozens of self-published and POD-published titles coming into the Midwest Book Review every day seeking our services.

It is our policy that a review copy sent in by a self-publishing author must be accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity or press releases. Almost always, with respect to self-published authors, those pieces of paper are not presented on letterhead stationary but simply typed (and occasionally handwritten) on ordinary plain paper.

That's perfectly okay with respect to me as the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review because I understand that I'm probably dealing with someone for whom this is their first venture into the highly competitive world of publishing -- and the equally (if not more!) competitive world of book reviewing.

However -- what is demonstrated by the lack of letterhead stationary is that the author is a novice, a beginner, an amateur, a newbie -- and that can be a critical turn-off for other book review publications and resources, not to mention wholesalers, booksellers, librarians, etc.

The use of letterhead stationary provides the distinctive impression that the book to be reviewed is coming in from someone who is experienced, professional, and knowledgeable about publishing in general, and book reviewing in particular.

Letterhead stationary serves a very utilitarian service. The masthead will typically include the name of the publisher, the publisher's address, web site, email, and phone number. Which are vital contact elements for reviewers because it insures that we will have somewhere (and someone) to send our reviews and notifications that the book has been reviewed.

Every single month I have at least two or three publisher snail-mail notification letters (which includes copies of the review) bounced back to me by the post office as undeliverable because the address is apparently obsolete. The same thing happens with a similar frequency with respect to emailed publisher notifications.

So I then have to do a Google search trying to find more recent contact information -- and all too often have to simply give up because I can't find anything online.

Letterhead stationary is simply more reliable in terms of up-to-date (and complete) contact information than a hand-typed or hand-written letter.

By the way, letterhead stationary can also sport a logo -- which is always a nice touch. My own Midwest Book Review letterhead stationary features a bookshelf logo that is actually public domain and therefore free. I got it out of a printing company's public domain logo reference book some forty years ago. If and when you contact a printer to run off some letterhead stationary, ask them if they have a public domain logo reference book and pick one out that suits you. It just adds a little visual "umph!" to a masthead.

Along with stationary and envelopes, I also recommend having a business card with all your contact information on it. They are especially useful when hand-selling your books at meetings, conventions, speeches, etc.

Now, on to reviews of some exceptional titles about writing and publishing:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Stop Talking & Start Publishing Your Book
Terrance Zepke
Safari Publishing
9780990765356, $12.95, 140pp,

In just 144 page, Terrance Zepke lays out everything an aspiring author needs to know about the business of book publishing including copyrights, DRM, filing taxes, distributors, book covers, aggregators, query letters, book proposals, DBAs, book pricing, EINs, LLCNs, trade discounts, Bowker, ISBNs, worldwide and territory rights, offset printing, and much more. Impressively 'user friendly' in organized and presentation, "Stop Talking & Start Publishing Your Book" is enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-seven listing of Resources & Inspiration, and a six page Index. A very practical introduction to book publishing, "Stop Talking & Start Publishing Your Book" is enthusiastically recommended for all aspiring authors seeking to have their manuscripts become books, and their books brought to the positive attention of an intended readership. It should be noted that "Stop Talking & Start Publishing Your Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Slay the Dragon: Writing Great Video Games
Robert Denton Bryant & Keith Giglio
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932290, $24.95, 232pp,

Video games are a multibillion-dollar industry. Writing video games is substantially unlike writing for any other forum, format, or medium. The collaborative work of video game writing experts Robert Bryant and Keith Giglio, "Slay the Dragon: Writing Great Video Games" will enable even the most novice of aspiring video game writers to understand the challenges and offer creative solutions to writing for a medium where the audience not only demands a great story, but to be a driving force within it. Aimed at traditional writers who want to learn interactive narrative as well as game creators who want to tell better, more emotionally involving stories, "Slay the Dragon" is comprised of informed and informative discussions, as well as self-paced exercises covering such topics as: the "no-act" structure of video games; writing great game characters; making game play emotionally meaningful; and bringing the game world alive. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in both content and tone, "Slay the Dragon" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Gaming and Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Slay the Dragon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($17.67).

Writing for the Green Light
Scott Kirkpatrick
Focal Press
c/o Taylor & Francis Group
8th Floor, 711 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA
9781138016460, $29.95, 202pp,

Scott Kirkpatrick is the Director of Distribution for MarVista Entertainment, a Los Angeles based production and distribution company that produces original Lifetime and SyFy channel films, co-produces TV movies with Disney and Nickelodeon, and has managed international TV deals on major franchises including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Digimon, and Julius Jr. Scott has also produced and directed TV series and feature films including Eye for an Eye, Muslims in America, and Roadside Massacre. In "Writing for the Green Light: How to Make Your Script the One Hollywood Notices" Kirkpatrick shows the novice playwright just how to craft their screenplay so that it will sell. Aspiring playwrights will find out what Hollywood script readers, producers, and studio executives want in a screenplay (and why) from someone who's been there, as well as discover what it takes to begin a lasting career as a screenwriter. Peppered with interviews from established professionals, "Writing for the Green Light: How to Make Your Script the One Hollywood Notices" will provide playwrights a sharp competitive edge by showcasing dozens of everyday events that go on at the studios but are rarely if ever discussed in most screen writing books. With his behind-the-scenes perspective, Scott Kirkpatrick shows you why the system works the way it does and how you can use its unwritten rules to your advantage. He answers such questions as: Who actually reads your script?; How do you pique the interest of studios and decision makers?; What do agents, producers, and production companies need in a script?; How much is a script worth?; What are the best genres for new writers and why?; What are real steps you can take to 'break in' to television writing?; How do you best present or pitch a project without looking desperate?; How do you negotiate a contract without an agent?; How do you exude confidence and seal your first deal?. Simply stated, "Writing for the Green Light" is a "must read" and a "must have" addition to all personal, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Writing for the Green Light" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.45).

The Handy English Grammar Answer Book
Christine A. Hult, Ph.D.
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578595204 $21.95

The Handy English Grammar Answer Book is a straightforward, accessible guide to the fundamental English grammar, including punctuation advice, insights into writing, analysis of the different parts of a sentence, organizing a well-argued essay, and much more. Created to be accessible to speakers and writers of all ages, The Handy English Grammar Answer Book is especially valuable for high school and college students, and professionals in almost all fields of work. In today's knowledge-based economy, more and more good-paying jobs require solid writing skills! Highly recommended for public and college library as well as personal reference collections.

2015 Guide to Self-Publishing
Robert Lee Brewer, editor
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
9781599638478, $29.99,

Thoroughly updated and revised every year, the "2015 Guide to Self-Publishing" continues to be one of the most 'user friendly' and practical information oriented references that authors considering self-publication have available to them. Comprehensive, and deftly organized, "2015 Guide to Self-Publishing" covers all aspects of self-publication organized into seven major sections (Production; Management; Promotion, Interviews; Listings; Resources; and Index). The contributed articles comprising these sections are provided by experienced and successful men and women who emphasize the practical. Informed and informative, "2015 Guide to Self-Publishing" is a critically important and highly recommended resource for anyone considering or who are already engaged in self-publication.

So I Published A Magazine
Lorraine Phillips
360 Books, LLC
9780988953536, $44.95,

"So I Published A Magazine: Conversations with Independent Publishers from Around the Globe" is a 286 page compendium based on the results of sixteen candid conversations with independent publishers from around the globe to find out exactly what it takes to start and run a magazine. The publishers were specifically asked how did you fund their magazine?. Whether or not they did they do any market research or create a business plan prior to launching?. How do they attract readers? What did they do to attract advertisers? How important is social media to their operation? Who handles their distribution? What factors do they think contribute to the success or failure of a magazine? And a great deal more. The featured magazines include: Blow, Cereal, Concrete Wave, Delayed Gratification, Disegno, HOLO, IdN, Katachi, Lionheart, Little White Lies, PAPER, Sneaker Freaker, Things & Ink, 3x3, Very Nearly Almost (VNA) and Wax Poetics. Impressively informed and informative, "So I Published A Magazine" should be considered a "must read" for anyone contemplating or already involved in establishing a magazine. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in composition, content, and presentation, "So I Published A Magazine" is very highly recommended for professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections.

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon
Penny C. Sansevieri
Author Marketing Experts
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781508563365 $6.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon is a book marketing guide specifically tailored to improving one's sales on Amazon, the sales goliath of industry. Author Penny C. Sansevieri discusses skillful timing of pre-order campaigns; how to earn a high rank in Amazon's search engines with the proper use of keywords and descriptions; how to use Kindle Unlimited to one's advantage; identifying the categories that will net greater sales; the advantages of selling book bundles (especially with regard to ebooks), how to attract customer reviews, and much more. How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon is reader-friendly and absolutely invaluable for any author who is not already independently wealthy! "Shorter books rock. I've said before that short is the new long, but that applies even more with your avid reader group. They love the quick read, they read a lot, and shorter books tend to do much better on KU [Kindle Unlimited]. Also, one of the terms of KU is that you don't get paid until the reader reads 10 percent of your book. For this reason alone it makes a ton of sense to do shorter fiction books."

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:

Calen Sifferman
Margaret E. Mack
Mark O. J. Esping -- "Nequa"
Michelle Muriel -- "Essie's Roses"
Len Brass -- "Creation of a Family"
Chad Bishoff -- "Surviving Puberty"
Laura E. Jensen-Kimball -- "Momster"
Shayne Hayes -- "The Last Dreamgirl"
Patrick Ian O'Donnell -- "Final Words"
Barbara Baig -- "Spellbinding Sentences"
Heather Latimer -- "Is Forever Too Long?"
Reginald Down -- "King Red and the White Snow"
Sands Hetherington --"Night Buddies Go Sky High"
Judith Fitzsimmons -- "Not at Your Child's Expense"
Bernard Leo Remakus -- "The Malpractice Epidemic"
Sherrill S. Cannon - "Mice & Spiders & Webs...Oh My!"
Karen Roberts -- "Journeys: Healing Through Nature's Wisdom"
Alva Press
Clark & Mitchel, P.C.
Irv Kratka -- MMO Music Group
Adam Marianski -- Bookmagic LLC
Joe Morey -- Dark Renaissance Books
Mary-Kathryne Steele -- Wisdom Tales
Linda F. Radke -- Five Star Publications
James Madden -- Paramount Market Publishers
Larry Kennedy -- Systematic Innovative Management
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Ellen Kleiner -- Blessingway Author Services Inc.
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company Communications

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 at 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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design