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Jim Cox Report: September 2018

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

Every now and then I come across a genuinely inspiring and quotable quote. Like this one that is a part of the descriptive introduction for Karen Swallow Prior's "On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books" as part of that book's entry:

"Reading great literature well has the power to cultivate virtue. Great literature increases knowledge of and desire for the good life by showing readers what virtue looks like and where vice leads. It is not just what one reads but how one reads that cultivates virtue. Reading good literature well requires one to practice numerous virtues, such as patience, diligence, and prudence. And learning to judge wisely a character in a book, in turn, forms the reader's own character."

I couldn't say it better and just wanted to share it with you.

This month (September 2018) marks the 43rd year of the Midwest Book Review, and me as it's editor-in-chief. At the ripe old age of 75 -- (76 come this November 6th) -- that means that I've been the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review for more than half my life!

To celebrate this 43 year milestone (and just for fun) I went and looked us up on the internet with some Google searches. I really don't know what it means, if anything, but here is what I found:

1. Just typing the Midwest Book Review into the Google search box came up with so many entries that I got tired of clicking on all them after about 15 minutes or so. I was amazed at how many web sites that I had never heard of referenced the Midwest Book Review in terms of specific reviews from us or the services we provided, or the interviews I have given over the years.

2. I then typed in James A. Cox but ran into a lot of James A. Cox's out there. Then I tried James A. Cox + Midwest Book Review and got pages and pages of entries. And my ego being what it is, spent all too much time browsing through them -- blew another hour or so!

3. Then it occurred to me to enter Jim Cox + Midwest Book Review and while a lot of earlier entries turned up there were a fair number of new ones including one for a magazine interview I did for the Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Volume 9 (Spring 2017) which is apparently still for sale at:

and notes that "This issue includes an interview with Jim Cox, who has been editing the "Midwest Book Review" for over four decades, publishing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of book reviews, with a focus on books from small presses that typically struggle with finding interested reviewers. Jim opens up about the realities of making a living from operating a review publication. His insight is essential to any author interested in self-promotion, and who is interested in how the review process looks from the other perspective. "

I also found still another long forgotten interview that I did with Marya Calvani for Blogcritic back in June 2008. You can find it at:

It's nice to be well thought of pretty much throughout the publishing industry down through all these many years.

But my own ego aside, the little exercise I went through this morning is something I would recommended all authors and publishers do in their own behalf at least once a year. For one thing, you could come across references to your work or reviews of your books that you might otherwise never know of.

Incidentally, I just plugged Midwest Book Review into the search box and it came up with 427 results. Not too shabby!

Now on to reviews of new books with particular relevance and interest for authors and publishers:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781536948370, $17.95, PB, 340pp,

James A. Cox

Full disclosure -- I have been the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review for some 43 years now and I have known Carolyn Howard-Johnson in a professional capacity as a freelance book publicist and promoter for more than two decades. I and the Midwest Book Review are mentioned quite positively a number of times in the pages of "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically", which also includes her adaptation of our "Reviewer Guidelines". We are cyberspace pen-pals and I have given positive reviews for her two previous 'how to' books for writers and publishers: "The Frugal Book Promoter" and "The Frugal Editor".

"How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically" deftly draws upon Carolyn's many years of experience and expertise in helping writers avoid various kinds of pitfalls, misconceptions, and in dealing with the out-and-out scams perpetrated on unsuspecting authors, as well as helping them reach their dreams of great reviews, great book tours, and great launches.

Every aspect of acquiring usable reviews on a 'shoestring/no-string' marketing budget is covered. Of special note to me as an editor of reviews is the fifth section (Writing Reviews Are Powerful Platform Builders) with its instructions on writing professional quality reviews.

Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, style, commentary and presentation, I have only one little quibble with this first edition -- half the references to the Midwest Book Review are not on the page numbers cited in the Index but are to be found a couple of pages later! I know because (my ego being what it is) that's the first thing I looked at when picking up the book for review! But this is something easily corrected in what is certain to be the next printing now that I've drawn Carolyn's attention to it (she is a notorious stickler for detail!).

A fundamental and superbly organized do-it-yourself instruction manual and guide, "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically" should be considered mandatory reading for every self-published author aspiring to a professional career and every independent press publisher seeking to achieve financial success. It could well serve as a curriculum textbook for college Writing/Publishing courses.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically" is appropriately subtitled -- The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

Unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Simply stated, this comprehensive, definitive, do-it-yourself guide, "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically", is the next best thing to hiring Carolyn to personally create a review driven marketing campaign for your book.

Gareth's Guide to Writing a Best Seller
Kristen Rajczak Nelson
Gareth Stevens Publishing
111 East 14th Street, Suite 349, New York, NY 10003
9781538220634, $27.93 List/S&L $20.95 HC, 32pp,

When it's time to book the talk shows and literary journals, everyone wants to know how a best-selling author gets their ideas and crafts a masterpiece! A part of the simply outstanding 'Gareth Guides to an Extraordinary Life' series for children ages 9 to 12, "Gareth's Guide to Writing a Best Seller" is engrossing instructional manual for becoming a successful writer as author Kristen Nelson deftly explains the painstaking work behind beloved books. Young readers will discover what they can do now to prepare for a literary triumph as well as how some of their favorite authors broke into the scene. The appealing design includes illustrations, sidebars, fact boxes, infographics, and a graphic organizer to better organize young aspiring authors the path to literary fame and fortune.

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:

Carole Marsh
Isabell McAren
Bruce Ario -- "City Boy"
Shirley Dawson -- "Billy"
J. S. Kirkland -- "Bestow"
Michael Craft -- "FlabberGassed"
Robert J. Saniscalchi -- "Freedom's Light"
Mark J. Engels -- "Always Gray in Winter"
Reena Kumarasingham -- "Shrouded Truth"
Richard Robbins -- "Love, Loss, and Lagniappe"
Warren E. Hunt -- "Reflections on the Vietnam War"
Mona Perera -- "What is Man: From the World of Ro and Mo"
JA Zehrer Group
Dark Sky Publishing
Jennifer Reich -- Momosa Publishing
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company
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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