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Jim Cox Report: September 2023

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

My always stressing the importance of a website as being a fundamentally important marketing mechanism for authors and their publishers has got me thinking. In the course of my daily work I often run across truly excellent examples of an effective website created by authors and independent publishers. So starting with this month's Jim Cox Report I am going to pick one to showcase as an example to perhaps inspire others. To launch this new idea I present:

Chris Enss: Books, Movies and Films about Wild West Women and the Old West

Here is a second new feature that I'm thinking of adding to my monthly column for you and the rest of the publishing industry:

Quote of the Month: We shouldn’t teach great books, we should teach a love of reading.
-Burrbus Frederic Skinner

Simon & Schuster is one of the giants of the American publishing industry today. That's why its acquisition by a private equity firm called KKR is a matter of interest and concern to both authors and publishers. I have permission to pass along an email by professional ghostwriter and writig coach Joshua Lec about this new development and its possible effect on self-published and mid-list published authors.

In a message dated 8/8/2023 2:40:05 PM Central Daylight Time, Alison Beckwith writes:


Internationally acclaimed ghostwriter and persuasive writing coach Joshua Lisec, who has ghostwritten more than 80 books since 2011 and is author of the new Amazon bestselling book "So Good They Call You a Fake", weighs in below about the recent acquisition of Simon & Shuster by private equity firm KKR and talks how it bolsters the business model for ghostpublishing, in which authors work with a private editor to self-publish and market their own books.

--The trouble is that an increasingly shrinking traditional publishing market now needs to extract more value to be more profitable and make back what it's paid, in this case, with this acquisition.

When you buy something, you want a return on investment, so it's not just about the profit, it's about the return on investment for the private equity firm, KKR.

Previously, a number of independent publishers have been acquired and become imprints underneath these large businesses, and then those businesses were acquired by even larger businesses. The trouble with this situation is those organizations are opting for authors who already have large audiences, who are already effective writers and have a proven track record, so that even if those people published their books themselves, they are going to make money from it.

The traditional publishing path offers authors of all types a more expensive alternative to the totally independent path using services like ghostpublishing.

Smaller and smaller advances are given to authors and, of course, most books never make back their advance, and the author is expected to effectively be an employee or function as an employee for the publisher for a number of years in order to make back that advance, even if it's not advantageous to them because they have other books they want to write. --

Please let me know if you would be interested in talking with Joshua directly more about the acquisition and what this means for the publishing industry.


Alison Beckwith
On behalf of Joshua Lisec

Now here are reviews for more books of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and bibliophiles:

Get Your Book Seen and Sold
Claudine Wolk, author
Julie Murkette, author
Lost Valley Press
9781935874447, $14.99, PB, 122pp

Synopsis: With modern computer software it is easier than ever to publish a book, but many authors find out too late about the actual work that book marketing required by the author to be done in order to achieve sizable (and profitable) book sales. Instead of embracing the opportunities to promote their books, many authors are intimidated and simply shut down.

But with the publication of "Get Your Book Seen and Sold: The Essential Book Marketing and Publishing Guide" by co- authors and book marketing specialists Claudine Wolk and Julie Murkette those days are over! This is the combination instructional guide and 'how-to' many that novice authors must utilize in order to give their books the best chance to be seen and sold in a highly competitive marketplace.

An essential, easy-to-understand guide offering graphs, examples and exercises to learn, "Get Your Book Seen And Sold" covers: The fundamentals of book marketing: Message, Audience, and Hook; The breadth of book marketing options and how they work, presented with examples; How to create a list of media contacts and develop a pitch that will reach them; How to develop a doable book marketing plan; How to develop media kit items for their book publicity efforts: Press Release, Author Bio, Sell Sheet, etc.; The types of book reviews and how to get them; The best social media channels for promoting books; The best places to spend book promotion dollars; Why book distribution is a crucial part of book marketing -- and so much more!

Critique: Informative, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presented, "Get Your Book Seen and Sold: The Essential Book Marketing and Publishing Guide" is an ideal and invaluable resource for aspiring, published authors who are new to the publishing industry and the effective promotion, publicity, marketing, and selling of books to their intended readerships, as well as bookstore placements and library acquisitions. With a great deal of value as a refresher resource for even the more experience author, "Get Your Book Seen and Sold" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, university Writing/Publishing collections and supplemental Writer's Workshop curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Claudine Wolk ( is a published author, journalist, podcast host and book marketing coach. Her first book, "It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers", (Harper Collins) is translated into three languages and was released as an audio book in November 2022.

Editorial Note #2: Julie Murkette ( is passionate about words and the ways they can be combined to transmit complex transformative ideas. She began her career while still in college as the founder of Womanchild Press, publishing chapbooks and an annual poetry magazine using a 19th century treadle-operated letterpress. Later, she established Satya House Publications, which has published numerous fiction and non-fiction trade books, as well as the award-winning series of bilingual picture books.Julie also provides a range of creative services to writers and small publishers.

The One-Idea Rule
Mark Rennella
Matt Holt Books
c/o BenBella Books
9781637743980, $19.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: Focused on a simple principle and designed to bolster writers' confidence and skills, writing coach at Harvard Business School, with the publication of "The One-Idea Rule: An Efficient Way to Improve Your Writing at School and Work", Mark Rennella offers practical advice for students, novice writers, and aspiring authors -- with the specific goal of leveling the playing field between beginners and those with more experience.

After a 30-year career as a writer, instructor, and editor, Mark Rennella has crafted a battle-tested method to help students and young professionals who want to improve their writing. It called the One-Idea Rule and is anchored on the assertion that every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.

With "The One-Idea Rule", readers embarking on their adult lives and professional journeys as writers will have a reliable methodology they can easily remember and count on for all of their writing tasks, as well as increased confidence about the cogency of their writing and its potential for impact in the public sphere.

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of dos and don'ts. For those already accomplished as writers, these lists can be a helpful addition to an already-developed communication style. But for teens and young adults starting college, as well as young professionals entering the workforce, it can be challenging to wield such complex advice to tackle increasingly demanding writing assignments.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The One-Idea Rule" is an ideal, effective, and thoroughly 'user friendly' how-to writing primer aligned and empathetic with any new or experienced writer's needs. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, or university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections and Writer's Workshop curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The One-Idea Rule: An Efficient Way to Improve Your Writing at School and Work" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Mark Rennella is a respected author, teacher, and scholar with a gift for storytelling. He has taught writing and composition throughout his career, including his current role as writing coach for MBA students. His publications include Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders: What the Airline Industry Can Teach Us About Leadership, co-authored with Nitin Nohria. Mark earned a Ph.D. in American history from Brandeis University and has taught literature and American history at Harvard University, the University of Miami and the University of Tours (France).

Launch Pad: The Countdown to Marketing Your Book
Mary Helen Sheriff, author
Grace Sammon, author
Red Penguin Books
9781637773789, $12.99, PB, 266pp

Synopsis: Your book is now written, and published. Now you discover that, as a self-published author the burden of marketing, publicizing, promoting, and bringing to the attention your potential readers, booksellers, librarians, and reviewers rested entirely on you. Even if your have become a mid-list published author with a large and well known publisher with publicity/promotion directs and managers, marketing will still falls principally on your shoulders.

That's why co-authors and book marketing experts Mary Helen Sheriff and Grace Sammon have published "Launch Pad: The Countdown to Marketing Your Book".

From Dan Blank's marketing mindset guidance to practical tips on leveraging social media, book clubs, reviews, and so much more, "Launch Pad" (the third in a series of three on writing, publishing, and marketing your book) will help you get it done! Each focused chapter engages you in a process that will raise your marketing IQ, build your skill set, and set you on a path for a successful book launch and marketing plan. Replete with countdown tips, ways to connect directly to the authors, and bonus downloadable planning sheets, "Launch Pad" delivers a marketing book that speaks right to you.

Critique: A complete and comprehensive instructional guide and 'how-to' DIY manual comprised of fourteen major contributions by experts in the field, and with immense and practical value for novice authors (and novice publishers as well), "Launch Pad: The Countdown to Marketing Your Book" is amazingly 'user friendly' in commentary style, organization, and presentation. Of special note is the inclusion of several '10 Point' countdowns on such specialized subjects as Book Getting Reviews, Networking, Social Media, and so much more! While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Launch Pad: The Countdown to Marketing Your Book" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, university, and writer workshop Writing/Publishing collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Mary Helen Sheriff ( is the author of Boop and Eve's Road Trip, which won the American Fiction Award for Coming-of-Age books in 2020, as well as co-author (with Grace Sammon) of "Launch Pad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book" and "Launch Pad: The Countdown to Publishing Your Book".

Editorial Note #2: Grace Sammon ( is an entrepreneur, educator, speaker, radio show host, and an author. She has started and managed two for-profit and two not-for-profit companies, and she has travelled to 35 states and 8 foreign countries.

How to Create a Million Dollar Speech
Judith Briles
MileHigh Press
9781885331953, $20.00, PB, 294pp

Synopsis: These are the core reasons for a published author to also become a skilled public speaker: To change lives, sell truckloads of books, make money from speaker fees, go places you never thought you would, make a difference, and to have fun!

For authors, public speaking is the #1 way to sell thousands of books. As an author you have written a book, you know the content of that book, and you are passionate about that book's topic and message. Now it's up to you to share it -- especially to potential buyers of that book.

With the publication of " How to Create a Million Dollar Speech", Julie Briles (also widely known as 'The Book Shepherd', shows you: How to pitch to the decision-maker; How to move from "free" to "fee"; How to identify your key points and create stories to engage your audience.; How to hook an audience within the first few minutes of your presentation; How to create a closing that delivers the "buzz" factor; How to discover sponsors and secure them; How to market your speech to meeting planners.

Critique: Giving public speeches on the subject matter, genre, or information thematically relevant to their book is an often overlooked or under-appreciated source of revenue for self-published authors. For those authors (and any others) who feel they don't have the skills or expertise to speak publically I would bring "How to Create a Million Dollar Speech" by book marketing expert Judith Briles to their attention. Comprehensive and exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, this effective combination of instructional reference and 'how-to' manual will help the inexperienced public speaker to talk in front of an audience of any size from a handful in a bookstore signing event to an fully populated auditorium assembled for a convention or a regional event with poise, interest, and persuasion. While motivational, inspiring, and very highly recommended as essential for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Public Speaking and Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted that "How to Create a Million Dollar Speech" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Judith Briles ( is the founder of and, a membership organization designed for aspiring writers who want to be seriously successful. She is also the founder of the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame, a 501c3 that is dedicated to ensuring the legacies of Colorado connected authors.

"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:

Samuel Narh -- "Milko"
Carol Potenza -- "Sting of Lies"
Bonnie Oldre -- "Flood of Memories"
Leslie Brooks -- "The Magic Willow"
James Gardener -- "A Chance To Breath"
James M. Langdon -- "Jazz Fiction: Take Two"
Tracy Smoak -- "Who Brought the Dog to Church?"
Bill M. Harvey -- "A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and God"
Mark Weiman -- Regent Press
Melody Fowler -- Poetic Gem Art
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR

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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