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Cox Report: August 2005
Jim Cox Report: August 2005
Dear Publisher Folks, Friends & Family:
In the past four weeks I've had to screen more than 2200 books, personally dealt with around 14
incoming telephone calls a day, averaged two hours a day in processing email, written about 800
letters, edited nine book review publications, held two telephone interviews, composed and
recorded a ten minute radio column for international broadcast, spent three hours one morning
paying the bills and balancing the checkbook, and averaged two hours a day processing snail-mail,
publisher catalogs, and filling out reviewer request forms.
I've had our webmaster add 6 articles to the Advice for Publishers section:
Are "Author Tours" Still Valuable?
How Important is a CIP?
How to Get a CIP or PCIP
Ten Ways To Find Your Book's Best Publicist
Why You Should Publish Articles: Part 1
Why You Should Publish Articles: Part 2
I've also managed to review a few books along the way. Of special interest to most of those
receiving this monthly "extended monologue" that I do for the small press community are the
books on the subject of writing and publishing.
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
How To Write Kids' Mysteries
Stargazer Publishing Company
PO Box 77002, Corona, CA 92877-0100
1933277009 $24.95 www.stargazerpub.com
How To Write Kids' Mysteries: A Guide For Teen And Adult Writers by author Jeanne Lazo is a
practical how-to guide for writers specializing in the genre. Chapters address story preparation,
secrets specific to mystery writing, a practical toolkit for writers (such as alternatives to the word
"said"), further resources, sample exercises, excerpts from the author's book "If Looks Could
Kill" to illustrate sample points, and more. Easy-to-grasp, How To Write Kids' Mysteries is
especially intended for those who need to learn the mystery writing craft effectively in a minimum
amount of time.
The Selling Of An Author
Bruce E. Mowday
White Mane Publishing Company
PO Box 708, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0708
1572493631 $19.95 1-888-948-6263
The Selling Of An Author is a marketing guide written especially for writers seeking to increase
their book sales. Written by an award-winning journalist of more than 25 years' experience, The
Selling Of An Author covers the basics of the publishing business, how to prepare to meet one's
public at book signings and other events, how to keep book sales alive, and more. The Selling Of
An Author is focused particularly upon the craft of marketing; other aspects of publishing or
self-publishing are not as explored in-depth. Written in straightforward, no-nonsense vernacular,
The Selling Of An Author is ideal for anyone aspiring to make a living from the craft of writing,
regardless of personal experience in the marketing realm. Highly recommended.
Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.
57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322
1593372795 $14.95 1-800-872-5627 www.adamsmedia.com
Sentence building, modifiers, and common grammar are usually covered in grammar school and
long forgotten in adulthood, so it's refreshing to find a fun review by grammarian Dr. Laurie
Rozakis who links sexual innuendoes with basic grammar for maximum effect. Modern examples
and fun social and historical references add spice to the topic, with plenty of examples and
exercises throughout encouraging all ages to identify and repair common grammatical errors. A
lively, whimsical yet solid references, highly recommended for audiences from young adults
And while I'm at it, here are the writing/publishing book reviews I did for July's review
Producing Successful Magazines, Newsletters and E-Zines
How To Books/Parkwest Publications
PO Box 20261, New York , NY 10025-1512
1857039645 $24.75 646-215-9003 http://www.parkwestpubs.com
Producing Successful Magazines, Newsletters and E-Zines by Carol Harris is a practical and
accessible "how to" guide that is ideal for the non-specialist general reader wanting to venture
into a commercial publishing activity. Currently the publisher and editor of "Effective Consulting"
magazine, Harris teaches the reader how approach printed and electronic publications, helping the
reader decide just what kind of publication is right for them, how to set up and run a magazine or
newsletter, how to attract articles and paying advertisers, as well as how to interview and write
articles. Of special note are the provision of additional contacts and resources for aspiring
publishers. If you are contemplating publishing a magazine or newsletter, then begin by giving a
careful reading to the informative advice to be found in Carol Harris' Producing Successful
Magazines, Newsletters and E-Zines!
The Weekend Novelist
Robert J. Ray & Bret Norris
Billboard Books/Watson Guptill
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823084507 $16.95 1-800-451-1741 www.wgpub.com
The Weekend Novelist is deftly co-authored by Robert J. Ray (author of eight novels) and Bret
Norris (founder of the Norris Literary Agency) who collaborate to provide the reader with a
collection of practical lessons on successfully writing a novel. This revised and updated edition is
a superbly organized and presented "how to" workbook and manual that offers the novice a 52
weekend schedule that will enable the writer to plot their novel, sculpt their characters, develop
plots with more than one protagonist, build sciences and scene sequences, create rough drafts,
and even tap the power of their manuscripts by writing a memoir, rewriting the novel, or writing a
screenplay. A year-long workshop under one cover, The Weekend Novelist is a perfect initiation
into the work and techniques of writing a novel from scratch to finished manuscript.
The Making Of A Bestseller
Brian Hill & Dee Power
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606
0793193087 $19.95 1-800-245-2665 www.dearborntrade.com
The collaboration of Brian Hill and Dee Power, The Making Of A Bestseller: Success Stories
From Authors And The Editors, Agents, And Booksellers Behind Them answers the fundamental
question of why certain authors seem to be able to have what they write consistently end up on
best seller lists. Readers will learn how literary agents affect the publishing process, how good and
bad reviews affect sales, what the role of the bookseller is with respect to a book's success or
failure in the marketplace, the importance of marketing and publicity in determining a books
impact upon the reading public. The Making Of A Bestseller reveals just how more than fifty
best-selling authors approach the craft of writing and marketing their books in ways that aspiring
authors can emulate with their own works. If you want to be a professional author whose books
are commercially successful, then give a very careful and considerate study to The Making Of A
Every dedicated writer (regardless of the genre or format you are working in) and every publisher
(regardless of the size or scope of your publishing operation) should consider themselves to be
"life long learners" if they truly want to succeed in having a successful "life long career" as a
writer and/or publisher. And that means reading and studying and practicing your craft day after
day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Otherwise you will
miss out on the every expanding wealth of ideas, concepts, practices, discoveries, developments,
resources, and technologies that can assist you in become better and more profitable at what you
I've been a book reviewer for just shy 30 years now, and hardly a seasons passes by that I still
don't pick up a new idea, a new twist, a new perspective, a new inspiration that substantially or
tangentially contributes to making the Midwest Book Review (my own publishing house) and my
own skills as a reviewer and/or a book review editor more effective, more successful, and more
respected within the publishing community, as well as the broader world of librarians and readers
whom I serve.
A few days ago I had a bit of spare time (actually it was my lunch hour and I was eating a
sandwich at my desk) so I went online and Googled my own name. It turned out that there were
165,000 citations for James A. Cox -- but the first page (citations 1-10) had only one for me. The
other 9 turned out to be nine other guys who share my name. That one hit that was for me was on
the Xpress Press website and turned out to be one of the articles I had written many years ago. So
many years ago that the Midwest Book Review only had 39 reviewers at the time! I had
completely forgotten about the article (this was decades before I started the "Advice for
Publishers" section of our website or began writing the "Jim Cox Report". Here is that "blast from
Press Releases and Announcing Your New Book to Reviewers
1. The best one, two or three paragraph publicity releases summarize the contents (nonfiction) or
storyline (fiction) and if done well enough are a wheel that doesn't have to therefore be reinvented
by the reviewer in the crafting of a review for publication or broadcast. What a good reviewer will
do, in addition to utilizing the publicity release in this manner, is to then add a line or two or three
of personal commentary or advice to the reader of the review as to the value or
"recommendability" of the book the prospective reading public for which the book would be
2. Editors of newspapers, newsletters, magazines and journals are on deadlines and must
occasionally resort to "filler" to round out the column of a page, or the page of a section, or a
section of an issue. Currently I have 39 volunteer reviewers (and the same would hold true for
other publications with paid staffs), some of whom wouldn't know a deadline if it was to bite them
on the ankle! So an editor's resorting to incorporating the publisher's publicity release info is ideal
tactic to use as a fall back measure to getting an issue out on time.
3. Still others reviewers are but fledgling in the art and craft of book reviewing and what they turn
in must be augmented by the incorporation of publicity release info. I can't tell you how many
times an ISBN or even a price has been left out of an otherwise perfectly good review. Or that a
reviewer had a comment which would have made a whole lot more sense to a reader if the
reviewer had given a bit more "book content" background, precisely the kind that good publicity
releases provide the reviewer when the editor sends it back for a re-write.
4. Publisher originated publicity releases should be written so as to be able to be printed verbatim
in the pages of a local newspaper or a national newsletter. Think of it this way -- you were able to
reach that one person with the apparently persuasive information of why your book should be
bought, taken home and read. That the one person you reached was then able to turn around and
provide that same persuasive information to hundreds, perhaps thousands of other people is a
cause for publisher celebration.
And the better crafted your PR the better your chances of that "publicity release chain reaction"
will take place.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
The advise in this old article of mine is still valid today. But I must say that encountering it was
like unexpectedly coming upon an echo of my younger self. Now on to some other stuff:
On Ascertaining The Value Of A Book:
In a message dated 7/1/05 10:12:59 AM Central Daylight Time, email@example.com
I don't even know if I'm asking the right person this question. I was hoping you could help me
with a question. I bought this book at a yard sale and was wondering if it was worth anything. It
is a 1929 Rally Book, Boy Scouts of America used by troops and councils. For demonstrations
and round-ups and other activities. I was wondering if it was worth putting on E-Bay. I also have
two others. Scout Field book 1944 boy scouts of America and a hand book boy scouts of
America 1948. If you cant help I hope you can tell me who can. Thank you
This is my advice:
1. Go to the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com
2. Click on "Book Lover Resources"
3. Click on "Antiquarian Bookstores"
4. Go down the list and click on their respective links.
5. As you get to their sites, type in your books and you will see what they
are currently going for.
This is the quickest and easiest way I know of to get an idea of the current value parameters (a lot
depends on the physical condition of the book) for an out-of-print title.
Midwest Book Review
On Why There Is Sometimes More Than One Review Of The Same Book:
In a message dated 6/23/05 3:34:15 PM Central Daylight Time, MDShomion@aol.com
I recently received the May and June issues of BookWatch from you with several of our books
reviewed. Going back into my records, I see that the same titles were reviewed by you back in
February and March. (Volcanoes and Earthquakes - Mar and now May and Young Musicians in
Feb and now June).
The reviews are not the same, they are different. Is this typically done by Bookwatch? And if so, I
don't understand why. I look forward to hearing from you.
The Creative Company
We sometimes run two or more reviews of the same book (or book series) because I have always
felt that different reviewers bring differing levels of skills, perspectives, life experiences, and
critical literary abilities and expertise to their reviews.
I also believe that it never hurts to have librarians, booksellers, educators, parents, and the general
reading public to have more than one exposure to a given book (or series) -- especially if the
reviews are of a positive nature and stressing differing virtues of what is being reviewed.
Midwest Book Review
I almost forgot. I've had my first "PodCast" interview. It apparently went quite well. Poor
interviewer -- she didn't know how easy it is to get me started talking and how difficult it is to get
me to stop!!
I have posted your podcast at www.writingshow.com. I think it came out fantastic. I hope you
like it, and I hope you will link to us and/or tell everyone about it!
I have also posted your article advising authors how to do their best on TV.
Thank you so much!!!
The Writing Show, where writing is always the story
> In a message dated 7/13/05 1:54:19 PM Central Daylight Time,
> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> I have edited your interview. Now my husband, who also serves as my
> audio engineer, has to play with the sound quality, and then it
> will go up on the site. It came out great!
> I just wanted to clarify something. Is it okay to use the articles
> from your site even if you're not the author, or can I only select the
> ones you've written yourself?
> The Writing Show
I gave Paula my permission for those "Advice for Publishers" articles that were mine and
suggested she contact the contributors of the other articles. Most of whom are only to happy to
grant such permissions. Here's another example of such permission giving:
In a message dated 5/22/05 11:15:46 AM Central Daylight Time, email@example.com
Mr. Cox, I'm the editor of Michiana's Rainbow Gazzette, a free regional GLBT newsletter (1000
copies/month and an online archive) for northern Indiana/southwestern Michigan. Am I allowed
to reprint your reviews? The Gazzette is only 16 pages at the moment, so I don't always have the
space, but I very much want to be able to promote authors, books, and small presses that would
be of interest to our readers.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I would be happy to give you complete permission to reprint any of our reviews as long as you
provide the usual credit citation: Midwest Book Review. It would also be appreciated if you (for
our own records) could send me a copy of any issue in which you run one or more of our
Incidently, a number of diverse publications around the country utilize our reviews as filler. I'm
always happy to oblige because it expands the readership for our reviews.
Midwest Book Review
Now I'd like to brag just a little bit. When I started reviewing books on WORT-FM back in the
fall of 1976, the my listening audience was pretty much just those few square blocks around a
fledgling radio station whose signal was so weak that it couldn't hardly make it to the other side of
Madison. Now almost thirty years later my audiences and readerships are virtually world wide. I'm
happily reminded of that every now and again when I get emails like this one:
Subject: to buy book
Date: 3/7/05 7:56:51 AM Central Standard Time
Messrs. James A. Cox, I am interest to acquisition of book: The Games we Payed of Margaret
Hofer. I'd like to know if you accept the payment in Euros by postal order. Yours truly, Cosimo
Mitt. Prof. Cosimo Giannuzzi
via C.Palma, 27
Of course I had to inform Professor Giannuzzi that we don't sell books, we review them. But still,
it pleases me to know that over on the other side of the world people are reading our book review
publications and listening to my on-air book review commentaries for overseas broadcasts.
Enough ego-stroking! Now it's time to record the real heroes of the Midwest Book Review. All
those wonderful people who so appreciate what we try to accomplish in behalf of the publisher
community that they donate postage stamps to us as a way of saying "thank you" and "keep up
the good work"!! Here is this month's roster for the Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall
of Fame & Appreciation:
Davy L. Johnson
Rick Salter - "The Wishing Star"
Attainment Company, Inc.
Brody Communications Ltd.
19th Century Books
Anne - Beachfront Publishing
Charlie Girsch - Creativity Central
Bill Pursche - Varzara House
Deborah Robson - Nomad Press
Lyn Follett - Arctos Press
Pam Schwagul - Tsaba House
Matthew Moscato - Harvest Sun Press
Adrienne Ehlert Bashista - DRT Press
W. C. Wright - Stochastic Books
Angelina Heart - Heart Flame Publishing
Suzanne H. Schrems - Horse Creek Publications
Stachey Kannenberg & Linda Desimowich - Cedar Valley Publishing
If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (it's free), just send me an email asking to be
signed up. If you have stamps to donate, or a book you'd like reviewed, send those stamps or a
published copy of that book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs) accompanied by a cover letter and
a publicity release, directly to my attention at the address below.
That's pretty much it for this time around. For now, Goodby, Good Luck & Good Reading!!
Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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