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Jim Cox Report: October 2017

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Some sixteen or so years ago I wrote an article called "War, Religion, and Publishing" in response to the 9/11 attack in New York. I had quite forgotten that article until Mark R. Anspach (an author living in Bologna, Italy) submitted his book "Vengeance in Reverse: The Tangled Loops of Vilence, Myth, and Madness" and included a reference to my article in his accompanying cover letter as the reason that he thought I would find his book of particular interest.

That prompted me to go back and re-read what I had written so long ago. It's archived, as most of my stuff is, on the Midwest Book Review. Here's the link to that specific article just incase you are interested or curious:

I think it still applies to the world as we see it today -- only add North Korea and the Russian corruption of the American electoral process to the mix.

The reason I'm referencing all this is actually because author Mark Anspach's referencing that article in his cover letter was an excellent (and effective) marketing tool used by him when submitting his book for review against all the competing titles for my attention -- and underscores the importance of the cover letter as a tool of persuasion. If you as an author, publisher, or publicist know something about a reviewer that would incline him or her to view your book submission favorably then use it.

Perhaps you are aware that the reviewer has reviewed other books in the same genre or subject matter as yours. That's always a good 'opener'. It also tends to flatter the reviewer (who will have an ego at least as large as any author) that you are aware of their work.

In the game of poker, 'suited connectors' (that is two cards of the same suite that are in line with each other such as 8 & 9, or King & Ace) has an additional 2% statistical chance of winning over two connected cards that are of different suites. That's called an edge. -- Knowing something thematically favorable about a reviewer with respect to your particular book gives you a similar kind of edge over your competition which is comprised of all the other books being submitted to that reviewer whose time is limited. Believe me, any reviewer that is competent and conscientious will always have far more books presented to him or her that he or she will have time to deal with.

By the way, Mark's books turned out to be exceptionally well reasoned, written, and 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation -- and thematically in line with that old article of mine. You'll find the review for his book on the Midwest Book Review website this month (October 2017).

Now on to some reviews of new 'how to' books that will prove to be of special interest for writers and publishers.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Write a Book Proposal
Jody Rein & Michael Larsen
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash, OH 45242
9781440348174, $19.99, PB, 328pp,

Jody Rein, former executive editor with divisions of HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House, is the founder of boutique literary agency Jody Rein Books, Inc., and respected publishing consulting and coaching firm Author Planet Consulting. Jody has represented, published and coached hundreds of authors through successful publication in every form, from e-books to international bestsellers to major motion pictures. Michael Larsen, co-director of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference, is the author or co-author of eleven books. He is an author coach and a former agent, having co-founded the Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency, which sold books to more than 100 publishers and imprints. Together they draw upon their years of experience and expertise to publish updated and expanded fifth edition of "How to Write a Book Proposal: The Insider's Step-by-Step Guide to Proposals that Get You Published". Being a complete and comprehensive course of step-by-step instructions and impressively informative commentary, "How to Write a Book Proposal" is absolutely essential reading for any author wanting to 'turn pro' and make a living with what they write be it fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of both. Of special note are the four appendices (The Publishing Process; The Virtual Media Kit; Four Sample Proposals; Sample Proposals Index), a listing of Additional Resources, and a four page Index. Simply stated, no personal, professional, community, or academic library's Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections should be without a copy of this newly revised fifth edition of "How to Write a Book Proposal: The Insider's Step-by-Step Guide to Proposals that Get You Published".

Divergent Trajectories
Flore Chevaillier
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814213438 $79.95 hc / $19.95 Kindle

Divergent Trajectories: Interviews with Innovative Fiction Writers is an anthology of scholarly interviews with contemporary fiction writers, in order to examine modern fiction through political, philosophical, and cultural lenses. The result is a studious exploration of the writer's journey and the complex choices that shape the creative process. An index rounds out this welcome contribution to personal and public library Writing/Publishing collections. Highly recommended.

I'm not the only one here at the Midwest Book Review that takes on books of special interest to writers and publishers. Here is a review that will be of interest to most of you from one of our MBR volunteer reviewers who utilizes us to expand her audience for her literary critiques -- which I encourage!:

Dog Eared: A Year's Romp Through the Self-Publishing World
W. Nikola-Lisa
Gyroscope Books
9780997252446, $14.99, paperback, 346 pp
9780997252453, $6.99, e-book,

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

W. Nikola-Lisa has finally made a New Year's Resolution: to clean his office, aka the lost-and-found. But the resolution is not the point; the point is the story of a year making order where there apparently is none. The point is the man who tells the story, whose office cleaning provides, as all experience does for a writer, a metaphor. He's a creative type and a Gemini. He has multiple projects going at once and procrastinates, to boot. This is the story of how he sorts, sifts, climbs, stacks, presents, reads, writes, travels, promotes... in short, takes stock of his craft from top to bottom.

Read it like a manual or a memoir, or even an inspirational. This is not just a year's romp through, but a lifetime's worth of experience with the publishing industry, as writer, teacher, and eventually a publisher and bookseller himself. Nikola-Lisa offers funny anecdotes about giving up his safety deposit box as well as reading recommendations and instructions for setting up a vendor's table. It's as difficult to put a label on this book as it is to label the author himself. And lucky for us! The pleasure of this read is not in categorizing it but in listening to Nikola-Lisa sing. Again and again he comes back to this as a writer's job: to enjoy the sound of words by singing them more than analyzing them.

There are those for whom a book takes on a life of its own, such that knowing about the author detracts from the power of the book. Not so in this case. Now that I know a bit about the man, I'm eager to read more of his books for beginning, primary, intermediate and adult readers. This glimpse into the process of creating not only content but the product of a book inspires me to take my reading, and writing, to the next level.

Finally -- 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:

John Brennan
Michael Ferro
Victoria Hartmann
Margaret Lampman
Katrina Shawver -- "Henry"
Ralph Welsh -- "Bombs Away!"
James L. Dickerson -- "Mojo Rising"
William Classen -- "Risks: A Memoir"
Sarah Baker -- "The Timekeeper's Son"
Henry Hoffman -- "The Ephemeral File"
Donald W. Kruse -- "Please Turn Green!"
Michael Hill -- "The North Carolina Gazetteer"
Gina LoBiondo -- "Button Nose The Sad Little Bear"
Jerome Tiller -- "Mark Twain's The Diaries of Eve and Adam"
Dave Whteitner & Evan Ocean - I Fell in Love with an Asexual"
Red Feather Publishing
Surf Star Media
Everthing Goes Media
Kira Henschel -- Henschel Haus Publishing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!

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

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