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Jim Cox Report: October 2019

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

My life is full of little ironies, coincidences and serendipities. Just a few days after writing about Handmade Books in last month's "Jim Cox Report", and another little book has crossed my desk. This one was specifically written for elementary school aged children and is titled "Making a Book". Here is a review of that one!

Making a Book
Meg Gaertner, author
The Child's World
1980 Lookout Drive, Mankato, MN 56003
9781503835092, $28.34, Library Binding, 24pp,

"Making a Book" is a grade level 1 how -to instructional guide and manual for children from the Child's World series, 'Sequencing Stories'. It describes the process of creating a book from a child author's viewpoint. It outlines the process of writing a book, including imagining and creating a story, plus specifics about characters, setting, and plot. Green highlighted sidebars detail various fun facts related to the process of making a book. The process of making a book is broken down into multiple steps, including imagining, writing, revising, drawing illustrations, and finishing. For additional help, "Making a Book" has a glossary of terms, a resource section titled To Learn More, and an index. "Making a Book" is an inspiring workbook for early elementary students to use for help in creating their own stories.

I give "Making a Book" an unreserved endorsement and recommendation for any of you who has a child with an interest in how books are made -- and might even harbor ambitions of becoming a writer and/or publisher someday.

A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is an official statement delivered to members of the news media for the purpose of providing information, an official statement, or making an announcement. A press release is traditionally composed of nine structural elements. Press releases can be delivered to members of the media both physically and electronically. (Wikipedia)

When it comes to introducing a book to a reviewer, a bookseller, a librarian, a distributor, even the general reading public, a well crafted PR is an essential and core part of every marketing campaign. I've long had my own succinct formula for creating a professional quality PR in a matter of minutes.

You can find my little step-by-step instructional guide at:

But there are other excellent 'how to' instructionals out there. Here's a particularly good one.

7 Ways to Keep Your Press Release Out of the Garbage:

Now here are reviews of other new books with particular relevance and interest for authors and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Publish with Purpose: A Goal-Oriented Framework for Publishing Success
Tara R. Alemany
Emerald Lake Books
9781945847158, $13.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 126pp,

Romuald Dzemo, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite

Publish with Purpose: A Goal-Oriented Framework for Publishing Success by Tara R. Alemany is a practical guide to a successful writing and publishing career. With the number of book publishing options in the market, authors still find themselves trapped, unsure of what to do when it comes to getting their book in front of the right audience. While writing can be hard work, marketing a book can be even more demanding. Making the right decisions when it comes to publishing tools and an effective marketing strategy is the secret to not only getting books to the right audiences but building a career that is fruitful. In this self-help book, the author offers great advice and helps authors with tools they need to create a winning publishing strategy.

Tara R. Alemany breaks ground for both new and existing authors and discusses the importance of knowing why they write and connecting that why to the needs of their audiences. This book will help any writer learn the art of defining their purpose of writing, of knowing who their audience is, and of writing a book that addresses concrete needs while helping the author reach specific goals. The author explains the framework in this book and what it is designed to achieve: reader experience and the experience the author wants them to have, the author and their business, and the overall impact of the book. The ideas in this book are well arranged and the bullet points, combined with the step by step process, make a great working tool for readers. Publish with Purpose: A Goal-Oriented Framework for Publishing Success is written in an easy-to-understand conversational style that makes for a great reading experience. Filled with wisdom and insight, it is an excellent companion on the publishing path.

The Frugal Book Promoter, third edition
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Modern History Press
9781615994694, $36.95, HC, 292pp,

Synopsis: Simply stated, this newly updated third edition of "The Frugal Book Promoter" by Carolyn Howard-Johnson assures even the most novice of authors to get their book gets the best possible start in life, whether their publisher assigns zero dollars or thousands to their book's marketing campaign. Carolyn is a former publicist and draws upon her years of experience to enable authors provides no-nonsense basics to build the essentials needed to build a time-saving social media campaign and knock'em dead lists of influencers that will be more effective than anything paid advertisement you could buy. Authors can pick and choose from dozens of ideas for promotions that Carolyn developed or refined through extensive (and award-winning) book campaigns of her own. There are campaign ideas, techniques and strategies to match any pocketbook and personality considerations.

Critique: It should be noted that the Midwest Book Review is positively cited three specific times as a valuable and valued resource for an author's book marketing campaign, along with a positive endorsement citation for Carolyn's work on her previous 'how to' books for authors and publishers. That said, this new third edition of "The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher" continues to be an unreservedly endorsed and recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional collections. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, it should be noted for personal reference and reading lists that this new edition of "The Frugal Book Promoter" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615994687, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).

Editorial Note: Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program.

The books in her How To Do It Frugally series of books for writers have won multiple awards. including from USA Book News, Readers' Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books, and the coveted Irwin award among others

Howard-Johnson is also the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community's prestigious Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing and Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list of "Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen."

Of particular interest for the publishing community is a complete listing of her published works which can be found at:

Admitting to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes, Carolyn's website is Those interested can subscribe to her free #SharingwithWriters newsletter by sending an e-mail with "subscribe" in the subject line to HoJoNews [at] aol [dot] com.

MLA Handbook: 8th Edition
The Modern Language Association of America
85 Broad Street, Suite 500, New York, NY 10004-2434
9781603292627, $15.00, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: The Modern Language Association is the premier authority on research and writing. The MLA takes a fresh look at documenting sources in this newly updated and revised eighth edition of the "MLA Handbook".

Works are published today in a dizzying range of formats. A book, for example, may be read in print, online, or as an e-book or perhaps listened to in an audio version. On the Web, modes of publication are regularly invented, combined, and modified. Previous editions of the MLA Handbook provided separate instructions for each format, and additional instructions were required for new formats. In this groundbreaking new edition of its best-selling handbook, the MLA recommends instead one universal set of guidelines, which writers can apply to any type of source.

Shorter and redesigned for easy use, this new eighth edition of the MLA Handbook guides writers through the principles behind evaluating sources for their research. It then shows them how to cite sources in their writing and create useful entries for the works-cited list.

More than just a new edition, this is a whole new MLA style.

Critique: Simply stated, this new 8th edition of the "MLA Handbook" is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to both community and academic library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, and should be considered mandatory reading by every author and every publisher and a permanent part of their professional reference collection. Students, academia, authors and publishers should also note for their personal reading lists that this 8th edition of the "MLA Handbook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Founded in 1883, the Modern Language Association of America provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy. MLA members host an annual convention and other meetings, work with related organizations, and sustain one of the finest publishing programs in the humanities. For more than a century, members have worked to strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature.

Calligraphy and Lettering: A Maker's Guide
Victoria & Albert Museum
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500294307, $29.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world's leading museum of art, design, and performance, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The V&A is located in London, England.

Calligraphy (along with brush lettering, sign writing, and the chalkboard) is undergoing a surge in popularity. Examples of beautiful lettering and penmanship are all around us, and all over Instagram, depicted on book covers, posters, and invitations.

Perfect for anyone wanting to learn more about calligraphy and lettering, "Calligraphy and Lettering: A Maker's Guide" from the Victoria & Albert Museums provides a practical introduction showcasing a great many extraordinary examples from the museum's collection, and will offer a new understanding and appreciation of letterforms.

Detailed instructions, complete with sample alphabets, lead you through the essentials of classic styles such as Gothic and Italic lettering, on to vintage- inspired sign writing and chalkboard design and even into the elegant, image-led worlds of illuminated capitals and zoomorphic calligraphy. Projects include a handmade booklet, banner, menu, gift tags, a monogram rubber stamp, greetings cards, and more.

Lettering often has a decorative as well as informative function, and with "Calligraphy and Lettering: A Maker's Guide" and a bit of practice, it is possible for anyone to elevate their message, whatever it may be, into a personalized piece of art.

Critique: Profusely illustrated with some 230 full color illustrations, the expert organization and presentation of "Calligraphy and Lettering: A Maker's Guide" make it an ideal DIY text for aspiring calligraphers and an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections in general, and Calligraphy Arts supplemental studies lists in particular.

Write Better
Andrew T. Le Peau
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426
9780830845699, $18.00, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: "Write Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality" is primer on nonfiction writing and offers insights learned by Andrew T. Le Peau as a published author and an editor for over forty years, training, guiding, and cheering on hundreds of writers.

Here is a compendium of skills that writers can master ranging from finding strong openings and closings, to focusing on an audience, to creating a clear structure, to crafting a persuasive message.

With wide-ranging examples from fiction and nonfiction, Le Peau also demystifies aspects of art in writing such as creativity, tone, and metaphor. He considers strategies that can move writers toward fresher, more vital, and perhaps more beautiful expressions of the human condition. One aspect of writing that rarely receives attention is who we are as writers and how writing itself changes us.

Self-doubt, fear of criticism, downsides of success, questions of authority, and finding our voice are all a part of the exploration of our spirituality as writers found in these pages. "Write Better" reveals how the act of writing can affect our life in God.

Critique: Reflecting the experience and expertise of its author, "Write Better: A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality" is unreservedly endorsed and recommended for the personal instructional reference collections of veteran writers, the occasional practitioner, a publishing professional, or any student just starting to explore such skills. While a core addition to community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Write Better" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.10).

Marion's 25
Marion Hill
Red Mango Publishing
9780998761268 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle

Marion's 25 is the book to turn to when you run out of inspiration for selecting a read practically guaranteed to be a page-turner. It comes from a professional book reviewer whose recommendations are backed by the authority of nine years in the book reviewing business, plowing through mundane readers to unearth the gems that make up this compilation. As readers browse through the chapters and learn why each book is exceptional and worthy of attention, they receive a rare opportunity to broaden their typical book choices—and this is the unique attribute of Marion's 25. Hill does more than review the books as individual entities, but often interrelates them in ways that cross genres and expectations to reveal why readers of one will be attracted to something that at first seems entirely different. The result is especially recommended for readers looking to branch out from their normal comfort zones of genre reads, but who want to pick exciting, better-quality reads that surprise, delight, and promise that the risk taken to expand one's repertoire will result in superior choices.

Finally, "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly 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 to our postage stamp fund this past month:

Zoe Roy
Phyllis Okon
Jeanette Isbell
Peter Blaisdell
Kathy Brodsky
Weston Blelock
Henry Hoffmann
Tracey Laviolethe
Julie Evans -- "Joy Road"
Carter Dreyfuss -- "Avalanche"
Wendy Elliot -- "Sid the Sasquatch"
Pat Young -- "Life After Losing A Child"
Catherine Jones -- "Eating for Pregnancy"
DeBora Mapp -- "Our Children and Future"
John B. Metzger -- "The Law, Then and Now"
Steven Burgauer -- "Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou"
David Steinman -- "Money, Blood and Conscience"
Deborah Elum -- "Miss McDoogle Has the Giggles"
Frances Maureen Richardson -- "Not All of Me is Dust"
Jeffry Glover -- "9 Lively Cat Tales and Other Pet Poems"
Bertha Mkwelele -- "Nature Is Unlimited Broadcasting Station"
Lisa Turner -- "Dream Take Flight: An Unconventional Journey"
Susanna Janssen -- "Wordstruck! The Fun and Fascination of Language"
Wizdom Media, LLC
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company, LLC

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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