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Jim Cox Report: September 2002

Dear Publisher Folk, Family & Friends:

The big news this time around is that the Midwest Book Review (and yours truly) are again to be found in the two latest "how to" books for aspiring book publishers.

Alton Pryor's "Publish It Yourself: Five Easy Steps To Getting Your Book In Print" is targeted to those considering self-publishing as an option. Penny C. Sansevieri's "Get Published Today!" has Jim Cox and the Midwest Book Review referenced on page 98, 122-123, 132-133.

I think that makes the total of "how to" books for publishers referencing Jim Cox and the Midwest Book Review somewhere around 12 or 13. I probably should have kept count, but it's always a thrill to find what we do here, or what I've written for the publishing community, has been found to be worthwhile enough to find a home and an enthusiastic recommendation to newcomers entering the publishing industry.

Still another bit of welcome news was the arrival of the August issue of the SPAN newsletter and finding one of my articles (Promoting Books on the Internet) had been deemed worthy of being the front cover lead.

And still another nice development was being offered a contract by Katie DuMont (Executive Editor, Writer's Digest magazine) to write a 1000 word article on the importance of appearance for self-published books. This all came about when Patti Fields brought a little post I did some months back on how I had rejected a half-dozen self-published titles on the basis of their flawed or substandard covers. I have a January deadline -- but most of you know me well enough to not be surprised that I can grind out 1000 words on just about any small press publishing topic at pretty much a moment's notice! I think this will be the easiest (and quickest) $350 I've ever earned! :-)

It's a writing fee that I will immediately apply to the $4000 annual property tax bill that I've just been served by the little village of Oregon because the Midwest Book Review is a property owner of record in our fair community.

All of our September online book review magazines (Children's Bookwatch, Internet Bookwatch, MBR Bookwatch, Reviewer's Bookwatch, and Small Press Bookwatch) are up on the Midwest Book Review website.

Anyone wanting to subscribe (they are free) to any of these online book review magazines can do so by just sending me their email address and pointing out which ones they'd like to sign up for. Subscribers have permission to use any of the reviews to enrich the information content of their own websites, organizational newsletters, online discussion groups, etc. Just be sure to credit the Midwest Book Review when doing so.

I've also had our webmaster add about a hundred more resource links to our website -- especially in the area of writer and publisher resources, and a goodly number of Book Lover resources as well.

But enough office gossip. Let's get on to the heart and core of these little monthly Reports -- the publishing related Q&A:

Subj: [Pub-Forum] Incorporating Jim Cox material into your websites

Dear Publisher Folk:

Debbie Thurman (Cedar House Publishers) is a long time cyberspace pen pal of mine and subscribes to my "Jim Cox Report". In the Report for May, she came across my comments on POD publishing and found it to be very germane to her work at Cedar House in general -- and her Cedar House website in particular.

She requested permission to incorporate my little commentary into her website and I cheerfully granted my consent. She then worked her webmaster magic and when she was done, sent me the following:


Your POD comments from the latest MWBR newsletter are up on our web site. Here is the link to the "For Authors" page: You can click through quickly to your comments using the link in the third paragraph.

Thanks again for letting me use your sage wisdom.

Debbie Thurman
Cedar House Publishers

I'll leave the "sageness" of my wisdom to others to judge (although it was very nice to hear!). The reason for my bringing Debbie and what she did to your attention is that it is a perfect example of what I've always encouraged folks to do when the come across something I've written, and have a website that would benefit from being informationally enhanced in ways appropriate to their publishing or writing enterprises.

I recommend you visit Debbie's website as listed above, see how she wrote that third paragraph incorporating and referenced my name -- and then did that internal linking thing so that the visitor can be taken directly to my POD publishing comments.

Then if you ever read something from one of my Jim Cox Reports, one of my articles in the "Advice For Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website, or come across some posting I've made on this publisher discussion group -- feel free to do what Debbie has done in order to informationally enrich your own website for the benefit of attracting visitors and promoting your publishing house.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: How The Book Review System Works
From: (Carmen Leal)

Dear Jim,

It's been a while since I've been in touch with you but I have a question.

I am in the process of writing a book specific ally slanted for the Christian market. The Book Marketing Workbook: is blueprint for selling your published book. It's filled with "proven strategies and case studies guaranteed to get your book to the people who need it."

I have a section on book reviews and remembered your excellent article posted on BookZonePro. I would like to consider featuring all or part of that in my book. What I'm doing is inviting industry professionals to submit topical information of interest to my readers. Your article, "How The Book Review System Works" would make a wonderful addition. In exchange I can give you a bio and of course a Web site link. I'd also send you a copy of the book and add you to my links page.

Please let me know if this works for you. If you'd like to write something else on book reviews I'd be happy to consider that instead.

I look forward to hearing from you, Jim.

Carmen Leal
Touching Hearts; Changing Lives

This is another example of how the articles and commentaries I write can be employed by publishers, editors, and writers to enrich the informational content of their online operations and websites.

Needless to say, permission was granted and was apparently much appreciated.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: Book Reviews

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you from the editing and publishing department of the commentary pages section of the "Al-Ittihad Newspaper" from Abu-Dhabi, U.A.E. Going through your website, we found that we were really interested in various book reviews you listed, therefore; we have a few inquiries regarding republishing those book reviews in the Arabic Language and would be glad if you could respond as soon as possible.

We would like to know all about the terms and conditions of republishing some of those book reviews according to our choice in the Arabic Language in our pages. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Below is a list of our contact details:

The Emirates Media Incorporation
Al-Ittihad Newspaper "Wajhat Nazar" Department
POBox: 6879 Abu-Dhabi
The United Arab Emirates
Tel: 00 971 2 44 50 200
Fax: 00 971 2 44 55 332

Thank you so much for your consideration.

Rashed Al-Oraimi, Head of Department

I get such requests as this from time to time. Over the past couple of years it has not been uncommon to get these requests from pretty much anywhere around the world. So far India, Egypt, Ireland, Britain, France, Singapore, Japan, Italy, and Canada have made such requests, quite often from academia.

In this particular case, permission was granted and my advice/commentaries about book publishing will be appearing, in Arabic, in Professor Rashed Al-Oraimi's website associated with the Al-Ittihad Newspaper, EMI, "Wajhat Nazar", Abu-Dhabi, U.A.E.

My policy has always been to freely provide permission for anything I do to be utilized by others for the good of the publishing community as a whole -- and individual writers, publishers, librarians, and educators in particular.

I've found it all pays off in the end. In fame, if not fortune!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subject: Verbatim use of press releases

In a message dated 02-05-17 05:33:59 EDT, Shel Horowitz writes regarding how promotional copy he creates is often utilized by reviewers when framing their review commentaries:

> This is not all that unusual. In fact, the one time I saw a New York
> Times story covering a book I'd written about, I was amused to see
> that this bylined article by a well-known columnist (no, I won't
> mention names!) took several entire paragraphs straight out of my
> release. And Jim Cox has publicly stated that many MWBR reviews draw
> heavily from the accompanying press release.

This is why your press release accompanying your review copies should always contain a one paragraph descriptive summary of your book, written so that you would be pleased to find yourself reading it in the pages of Publishers Weekly or the New York Times Review of Books.

> That's OK! That means that *I* did my job right and the journalist
> thought it was good enough. I am long past the need to see my own
> byline attached to my words, especially in this sort of situation
> when my work doesn't carry a byline in the first place. (Though I
> wouldn't be in a rush to hire that reporter for anything where
> plagiarism would be an issue!)

This is in fact a key and critical element in the job description of the Publicist. To write promotional copy that is so well-constructed and presented as to be ideal for editors or reviewers or columnists looking for "filler" to complete their magazine or newspaper or newsletter based assignments when under deadline pressures.

Reviewers come in three basic categories: Good, Bad, and Mediocre.

The bad ones will disregard everything you send (including the book!) when expressing what passes for the self-serving opinions or twisted critiques.

The mediocre ones will repeat what you send them without any particular twist, spin, or embellishment of their own -- including an opinion as to whether the book is good, flawed, or to be recommended to anyone in particular. But at least through the use of your promotional copy they will present their readers with an accurate description of your book!

The good ones will range from folks who are writing what amounts to literary essays that use your book as their intellectual launching pad, down to the folks who want to voice a recommendation and are taking the time-saving short-cut of incorporating your book summary to describe what they are about to recommend -- and to whom.

> So what's the lesson here?
> When sending out book press releases, always send your best work. Not
> only does it increase the chances of coverage, but it may be used
> essentially as is. Lesson 2: never send anything you'd be ashamed of
> if it landed in print.

Amen. Amen, and again I say AMEN!

This is a lesson committed to memory and policy by the promotion/publicity departments for all the major New York houses, all the successful and thriving independent publishers, and most of the self-published/POD published authors who have spent any time on the Midwest Book Review reading through the "Advice for Publishers" section, or lurked for any length of time listening in on publisher discussion forums like this one.

Shel is a true professional. Listen carefully to what he says. Then think carefully about how you can best apply his seasoned advise and experienced counsel to your own promotional materials and publicity efforts.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: On the sending of tear sheets to publishers.

In a message dated 02-05-16 20:30:53 EDT, C. G. Kase writes:

> Oh... and a special note to Jim Cox... and the Midwest Book Review... Thank
> you sooooooo much for the review of my book. It was waiting for me when I
> returned and it was an ego brightener.

We aim to please! -- I start sending out tear sheets accompanied by our fairly standard "publisher notification letter" about the second or third day of the month (spending about 3 hours a day on them because there's a whole of other stuff that demands my time as the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review) -- and I'm still at it here on the 17th -- and it looks like it's going to be another three days before they are all mailed out.

It used to be that the whole process only took a week to ten days. But the numbers of reviews generated by our volunteers and in-house staff has been growing rapidly. I think this month (May) it's somewhere around 550 or so.

[Editorial update: It's now September and the number is around 650]

Still, it's more than just a labor of love or reviewer ego -- it's also a core element of my commitment to my reviewers, the authors, the publishing community, and a big piece of the bedrock upon which I founded mission statement of the Midwest Book Review so many years ago to promote literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: Can I use your review
From: (Robert Ambros)

Hello, Midwest Book Review reviewed my book (The Brief Sun) in its May 2002 issue. Many sites allow you to submit a book review. Do you have anything against me submitting your review to such sites?

Robert Ambros

This is still another variation on the theme of "can I have your permission to..."

I'm always happy when a review written for Midwest Book Review can be utilized in other forums and formats to promote a title that we have endorsed (in the sense of providing a positive review). So if, as a writer or a publisher, you get a review from the Midwest Book Review, please feel free to post it or publish it elsewhere -- as long as you remember to give the Midwest Book Review the usual citation when doing so.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: Re: [ReviewersChoice] Reviewers?
Date: 02-05-19 17:29:47 EDT

In a message dated 02-05-19 13:17:20 EDT, Ted Wilkinson writes:

> I am looking for a list of the physical addresses of book reviewers.
> (I am about to come out with a with of mystical philosophy/scientific
> theory) Could anyone here steer me in the right direction?

There is a section called "Other Reviewers" on the webpage "Book Lover Resources" on the Midwest Book Review website at:

Here you will find a rather lengthy list of book reviewers and book review publications along with links to their various and individual websites -- where you will also find their snail-mail addresses.

Then, of course, there is always:

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
The Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

Subj: Librarian gathering places?

In a message dated 02-05-20 17:14:49 EDT, Susan D. Goland writes:

> Anyone know of message boards, forums like this etc. that librarians read?
> I know they exist; my question is where to find them.

Browse through the "Libraries & Universities" section of the Midwest Book Review website at

One of the lesser known sections of the Midwest Book Review websites is the one devoted to Academic and Public Library systems, resources, and issues. I've often felt that any small press publisher with a title that would be appropriate for the academic market (including the general campus library as well as the more specialist department libraries) should find their visit to these resources to be invaluable in addressing the academic markets. There are a wealth of library and university oriented resource links that can be utilized in developing any kind of library or university oriented marketing plan for a thematically appropriate book of just about any topic, subject or genre -- often the more unique and niche oriented, the better!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: A question about Pub-Forum

In a message dated 02-06-11 14:09:41 EDT, you write:

> I continue to learn from your site, and I'd like to follow your advice
> and learn more by joining Pub-Forum and Publish-L. I just can't quite
> figure out where to find them so that I can sign up. If you could
> mention this in your next newsletter, I'd appreciate it!

Go to the Midwest Book Review website and click on the "Publisher Associations" link you'll find on our home page. This calls up all the PAs we know about and deal with -- including the online groups Pub-Forum and Publish-L (and a third one, SPAN).

Their respective links will take you directly to their various websites -- and there you will learn how to sign up for them. They are all free and well worth the time it takes to become acquainted with them.

Editor's note: This kind of inquiry comes in quite routinely. I always advocate newcomers to the publishing business to avail themselves of one of the best "how to" resources around -- the online publisher discussion groups and their regional/national publisher associations (regarding the latter, if only for their truly excellent monthly newsletters/magazines).

I see this as partially fulfilling the Midwest Book Review mandate to promote literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. That's why a small section of the Midwest Book Review website is devoted to "Publisher Associations". Incidently, if your particular publisher group is not listed there -- please let me know!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subj: terrific website!
From: (kathy sue dorey-pohrte)

Mr. Cox: I just came across your website and haven't left it in about 3 hours. What an informative website. I am embarking on book publishing and am about to publish my first children's book. Your website has been so informative and will probably be bookmarked forever more! I am by no means done perusing it and can't wait until I can get back to it. I have been researching book publishing for about 2 years. I first started by thinking I would sell my children's book to a major book publisher but then realized that I didn't want such an important endeavor entrusted to anyone but myself. That's when I bought my self-publishing book by Marilyn and Tom Ross. It is absolutely a wonderfully instructional book on how to become self-published. I have since also purchased the book entitled "Guerrilla Publicity" by Levinson, Frishman and Lublin. It too, seems to be a very good book. However, your website seems to wrap it all together and is probably by far the most useful tool I've come across to date. And, I just had to thank you for all your years of research it must have taken you to put together such an informative and up-to-date website.

Good luck to you in all your current and future self-publishing endeavors!

Kathy Sue Dorey Pohrte
Dorey Pohrte Publishing Inc.
917 Maple Road Williamsville, NY 14221

This is my last MBR website notation for this time around. I just thought it a nice way to conclude this Report's segments about the virtues of the Midwest Book Review website by way of an "unsolicited testimonial". But be warned, as a writer or a publisher, while the MBR website will become your new best friend -- it is also addictive! Many's the time someone dropped into visit for 10 or 15 minutes, only to look up at their clock and find that an hour or two had passed by -- and there was so much more to study!

Now (as they used to say on Monty Python), for a little something different:

In a message dated 02-06-21 05:43:59 EDT, Darlene Turner writes:

> Do you know the standard font and size for children's books?

There are many variables to consider in selecting a font, and then in selecting an appropriate font size. Is it a picture book or a non-illustrated novel. What age range is the intended readership, etc.

I would recommend that you go to your local bookstore or library, find books that would be similar to the one you seek to publish, and then ask the librarian or bookstore people to identify the font for you.

If they don't know (and it is quite possible they wouldn't), then take the book to any local printing company -- because they would.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

We will now conclude this month's report with a few more responses to what we do here at the Midwest Book Review:

From: (Jerry Smith)

Dear Mr. Cox,

I certainly appreciate the sensational book review that you did for me on my book, Boom Towns & Relic Hunters of Northeastern Washington. It was extremely kind of you to take the time out of your busy schedule to consider reviewing my book for Midwest Book Review "Reviewers Choice."

Again, thank you for your time and professionalism.

Jerry Smith

Jim Cox: I put in a good 40+ hours a week here. Some of the best and personally most rewarding of those hours are the ones devoted to sending out tear sheets and publisher notification letters. This is because they generate such pleasant and motivating responses as Jerry's, and a lot of snail-mail cards and letters with similar expressions. As to professionalism, well that's pretty much a function of the job. Remembering that if it wasn't for the writers and the publishers sending me books to review, I'd probably have to go out and get honest work! :-)

From: (Marotta)

Dear James,

I wanted to thank you James - Mr. Cox - Sir - for writing such lovely things about my book. Your review came a week ago Friday and I have not found a minute until now to thank you for it and to say what a difference it will make in this small publisher's life (for I am the author and the publisher.)

I just feel as if I'm on my way now! And, I've now learned, both the Boston Glove AND the Palm Beach Post will print a whole chapter from it, and that's no doubt at least partly thanks to you too..

Again bless you for giving me this early boost, this gift, this piece of pure goodness, descending, like grace, from the heavens

Terry Marotta -

Jim Cox: There is no doubt in my mind that a well written review can be used to springboard additional publicity/promotional opportunities such as those to be found in local newspapers, regional magazines, and specialized journals. And then there is the review's motivational boost factor to keep striving to get the word out about a book and why it is of value to its intended readership. Incidently, it's little thank you notes like that from Terry that continues to motivate me to do my best in my little corner of the publishing world.

From: (Bob Swartzel)

June 2, 2002

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

Dear Mister Cox:

I would like to thank you and The Midwest Book Review for your kind review of my novel "Diverting The Buddha". The review is already helping generate keen interest in the book.

Again much thanks.

Best regards: Bob S.

Jim Cox: This is the other (and major) reason to capitalize on positive reviews. They actually help to sell copies of books to people who might otherwise never know of the book's existence nor why it might appeal to their particular interests.

Subj: To Jim Cox, From Dana De Zoysa, Re. Afton Press referral

Cheerio, Jim ...

My friend, you utterly amaze me. Here you are, in charge of one of the most productive websites in the book world, fielding Lord knows how many hopeful publisher and author queries, popping off informative notes to various self-publishers and heaven knows how many other interest groups ... and you *still* find the time to track down a reviewer on behalf of a superb but tiny local press like the Afton Historical Society. Has anyone ever nominated you for a MacArthur?

I m glad you did track me down, because that tiny little press has done some truly superb work. Their photography books "Death of the Dream" and "American Ruins" (sepulchral titles notwithstanding) are paeans to a time long gone but a powerhouse when it lived in the hearts and sweat of anonymous thousands who made the Midwest. Would that there were jillions more like the Afton folks.

Cheers ... Dana

Jim Cox: Dana is one of our 76 volunteer reviewers and has his own book review column in our "Reviewer's Bookwatch". What he is referring to here is another little known aspect of what I do as an Editor-in-Chief. Every now and then someone somewhere (very often a librarians or a bookstore retailers having been approached by a patron or a customer) will have read a review but can't find the book. So I put them in touch with the author and/or publisher whenever I can. It's no big deal and (because my database of publishers is so monumentally huge) usually quite quickly accomplished.

Over the years this little bit of a service has won the hearts and minds of a rather substantial number of publicists and marketing directors!

Well that's a wrap for this month. If you'd like to subscribe to the Jim Cox Report directly (it, like everything else I do in behalf of the publishing community is free of charge) just send me your email address and ask to be signed up.

As I say when signing off my monthly radio book review commentary (heard in 124 countries!): Goodby, 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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