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Cox Report: November 2006
Jim Cox Report: November 2006
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
I'll be turning 64 tomorrow (November 6th) and have been reflecting on my life, which from the earliest years I can recall, have been closely associated with books and libraries. I come from what is euphemistically referred to as a 'broken home'. My refuge as a child was in the reading of books and in visits to my local neighborhood and school libraries. One of my early memories is being so short that I couldn't see over the community librarian's desk as she was asking me if I could truly read the history books that I had gotten from the grown-up section of the library and didn't I want to go to the children's section instead. I opened one of the books and read from it. She checked them out to me and I had full access to every part of the library's collections after that.
Now here I am more than half a century later and books are still my refuge and sanctuary from the cares of the world and the inevitable stresses of life in the opening years of the 21st Century.
Enough nostalgic rambling. Now on to providing you with something useful like this email request I received on the subject of book reviews:
In a message dated 11/2/2006 2:33:27 P.M. Central Standard Time, Publisher@BookSaleFinder.com writes:
You wrote a great review for our book "Book Sales in America" about 8 years ago; and I had the pleasure of meeting you when you spoke to the New England Publishers Assoc. in Framingham, Massachusetts several years ago.
My husband and I publish information (dates/locations/details) about used book sales run by libraries, non-profits, etc. Our information is no longer in book format - we've published www.BookSaleFinder.com for the past several years. The internet is the only way to go for this subject, as information changes constantly (I update the web page several times a day).
I have a question for you that has probably been answered many times over. My questions is not about a BOOK review. It's about a review (unsolicited!) about our web site, www.BookSaleFinder.com. The review is far and away one of the best we've ever received. My question is: Is there any way I can use this article in promotions? Can I forward it to any print media? Web media?
And how about mentions in blogs? Are they handled differently?
I know it's not exactly what you talk about, but you're so knowledgeable about these things that I turned to you first. And I'm assuming a review of a web site is bound by the same rules regarding a book.
Please don't answer if you don't have time - I completely understand.
And continued good luck with the wonderful work you do,
Book Sale Finder
I gave Helen my professional opinion (which is free and worth exactly what I charged for it!)
Publishers can use a review of there book from any online source as long as they do the following:
1. If they furnished the book to the reviewer it doesn't matter what print or online publication or electronic forum the review crops up in -- they can use it as long as they cite both the reviewer and the source when doing so.
2. If they did not furnish the book, then it is required that they secure permission to use the review from the source and the reviewer before utilizing the review in other formats or forums.
Midwest Book Review
On October 16th I was sent a very nice letter by Cheryl R. Towers from The Local History Company that I'd like to share -- and not just because it stroked my ego. There's some points that I'd like to make. Here's the letter:
Dear Mr. Cox and Ms. Donovan:
Thank you for including "The Bridges of Pittsburgh" by Bob Regan with photos by Tim Fabian in the current issue of "The Bookwatch". Naturally, we're all pleased with a positive review. In addition, I'm sometimes amazed at the number of people who have called us to order a particular book that they've seen in MBR -- you've clearly got an extensive and enthusiastic readership not confined to the Midwest.
I will be certain to share the review with Bob and Tim who join me in thanks.
Cheryl R. Towers
As a small press publisher, Cheryl has done something here that I recommend that all other publishers emulate. She sent me what amounts to a 'Thank You' note for the attention paid to her book. Reviewers (the Ms. Donovan referred to is one of my senior reviewers and a co-editor of our monthly book review publication "The Bookwatch") are human beings who have egos like everyone else (and maybe a bit more than everyone else!) who appreciate being appreciated just like anyone. The next time Cheryl sends in a title from The Local History Company she is bound to receive a few psychological points in her favor when we are faced choosing from among more titles than we have available reviewers to assign them to.
Another point is just how wide spread and unpredictable the power of a single review can be. A bit like dropping the proverbial pebble in a pond and seeing the ripples spread out far and wide. In this age of the internet our reviews can pop up and have an impact half-way around the world and even I don't know how they got there.
And the final point is Cheryl mentioning how she as a publisher was going to share the review with the author and photographer of the book. That's a class act that should be routine for every publisher regardless of the size of their book list. Authors like feedback just as much as reviewers do! It's an inexpensive and courteous way to win the 'hearts and minds' of the people you are doing business with -- now and in the future.
Now for another topic -- navigating through the massive Midwest Book Review website:
Subject: How to use FreeFind - was Re: Hello . . . Question
Date: 8/6/2006 9:01:29 A.M. Central Standard Time
"Where on earth on your website can I find the review of my latest title - CD AudioBook - Spirits and their Popular Drinks ? I did receive it in the mail a few weeks ago, but I've tried by clicking on this and that and did a search on your site, and after 20 minutes have come up empty. Isn't there a more specific directive link for title submitters, like a simple 'Find Your Review' ?"
I turned this question over to our webmaster who sent the following response to email@example.com
Your review is in the July 2006 "Internet Bookwatch" as part of The Audiobook Shelf, at http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ibw/jul_06.htm#audio
Our search engine, FreeFind, allows for the easy search for books by title or 10-digit ISBN number. Type "Spirits and their Popular Drinks" in quotes (the quotes tell FreeFind to look for that exact phrase) into the search engine, click on the "Find" button, and it gives the correct page, in this case the July 2006 Internet Bookwatch.
Once you're on the page, CTRL-F should call up a "Find in Top Window" function on virtually any PC; that will allow you to find a book review in the newsletter by its title.
The Midwest Book Review
The reviews we produce are now being archived on the Midwest Book Review website for five years. Without that little onsite "FreeFind" search engine it would be an horrendous task to locate a specific review our massive website. But with it, finding a particular book review is a snap.
I would recommend that anyone developing a theme-oriented website do a search of our website looking for thematically appropriate book reviews to bolster and augment the information content of your own website. Just be sure to include a citation for the Midwest Book Review when doing so.
Then there is the phenomena that is the Amazon.com website. The Midwest Book Review is a content provider for Amazon.com and we automatically tag our review of a particular title to that book's Amazon webpage if the book is registered there. But what if our review predates the book's arrival on the Amazon website?
Subject: Amazon's "Not Yet Released" designation
Date: 8/7/2006 2:43:17 P.M. Central Standard Time
"The review from Wisconsin Bookwatch, May 2006, for the book titled: Study Abroad, Travel & Vacation in College, ISBN #0976004909 has not yet been posted on Amazon."
>Would you please help me with this?
To which our Midwest Book Review webmaster (who is in charge of posting reviews to Amazon) replied:
Amazon's listing for this title declares it to be "not yet released", and because of this, amazon.com does not allow customer reviews to be posted for it. Reviews that fall in this category are normally posted within 1-2 months after amazon.com does allow customer reviews to be posted about the title in question.
The Midwest Book Review
Here's the review so you can see why Wwpublishing was so eager to have it posted on Amazon.
Study Abroad: Travel & Vacation In College by Stephanie M. Oxford suggests an innovative approach to an active and fun pursuit of foreign study for college students. Introducing reader to a quite comprehensive but thoroughly "user friendly" guide for overseas studies preparation, determining study objectives while traveling, learning how to vacation overseas while earning a college degree, the diverse research opportunities of the varying programs for studying abroad, establishment of a budget and expenses, as well as "know-how" for the needed money, detailed preparation of checklist for packing needs, insight from the personal experiences of former travel students, and an exclusive companion for aide in achieving set goals, Study Abroad is an engaging, practical, invaluable planning resource for studying abroad.
My advice is simple. If we have reviewed your book before you could register it with Amazon, then when you do have it registered, just send us an email noting when (the date) and where (which Midwest Book Review publication) the reviewed appeared and we will go back into those five years worth of archives to fetch it out and then post it to it's new Amazon webpage.
The Midwest Book Review is once again one of the prizes offered winning authors and publishers in the Writer's Digest Press annual contest. Here's the invite I got awhile back:
Subject: Writer's Digest Contest
Date: 8/9/2006 2:15:39 P.M. Central Standard Time
Last year you offered a prize of a review for the winners of the Writer's Digest Contest. Will you do that again for the 2007 contest?
I can't remember if this is the 3rd or 4th year we've had this honor. My memory really is a pitiful thing. If I didn't have calendars to write on or this computer to put files in, I'd be in real trouble anniversary wise, birthday wise, doctor appointment wise, etc.
Winning a contest is always good for the ego. But there are also practical values to be gained in marketing books and their authors as being award-winning, gaining prestige and the ability to attract new authors and getting the attention of reviewers, developing distribution resources, attracting new investment capital -- and, of course, selling more copies.
My advice is for small press authors and their publishers to Google the Writer's Digest website, look up the contest rules, and try your luck.
By the way, if you're curious about who Brian Jud is, check out these credentials!
Brian Jud is host of the National Special Sales Conference (tm) presented by Simon & Schuster, Publishers Weekly and R. R. Bowker. Brian also conducts the Masters of Book Marketing (tm) seminars and the Book Marketing Monthly (tm) teleseminars. He is the author of Beyond the Bookstore (a Publishers Weekly book) and The Marketing Planning CD-ROM describing new ways to sell more books profitably to special-sales buyers. Brian is also the author of the new series of printed booklets published by R. R. Bowker with Proven Tips for Publishing Success. Brian is editor of the Book Marketing Matters special-sales newsletter, and creator of the Special-Sales Profit Center used by R. R. Bowker to sell other publishers' books to special markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; (800) 562-4357; firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.bookmarketing.com.
Irene is a long time cyberspace penpal and an experienced publisher. She sent me an email a couple of weeks ago with a rather interesting idea. Here's her idea and my response:
In a message dated 10/18/2006 2:21:34 P.M. Central Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
Hi Jim and Nancy, I'm writing this e-mail to both of you at the same time. I've been thinking for quite some time that we need a "Reviewers Association" or something like that. I'm finding out that there are more and more scam reviewers out there that are taking advantage of authors. With no intention of reviewing the book or just giving a review based on the synopsis, the intent of some reviewers is more for selling the book on amazon or other sites, than providing a review.
My thoughts are that we should have an organization similar to PMA and a resource center like Predators and Editors. Basically an organization that gives credibility for the reviewer, with of course a membership fee.
We are all busy but if each one of us took a small part, we could create something that would benefit a whole community. I'm only writing this to the two of you, however, I'm sure there are others that would like to be associated in this start up.
Comments? When replying please reply to all.
To which I replied:
The idea has a great deal of merit. The problem is one of manpower and finance for its implementation. I simply don't have the time. The only thing I could do in behalf of authors on helping them to avoid being ripped off was to write the article "How To Spot A Phony Book Reviewer" and the various articles describing the book review process, book review ethics, and publishing industry standards with respect to book submitted for review. These articles are archived on the Midwest Book Review website in the "Advice for Publishers" section.
One other thing I did to help the novice small press publisher was to create a list of legitimate and vetted freelance book reviewers, book review publications and magazines, book review websites etc. called "Other Reviewers" and located on the Midwest Book Review website as part of the larger section titled "Book Lover Resources".
My articles and the vetted book reviewer list are at the disposal of anyone trying to establish a "clearing house" for publishers with respect to avoiding scam artists masquerading as book reviewers.
I'm going to make our little exchange part of the next "Jim Cox Report" for the benefit of my readers who may be interesting in your proposed project.
Midwest Book Review
So far in this edition of the "Jim Cox Report" I've been mostly talking to publishers. Here's something for aspiring authors considering self-publishing:
In a message dated 7/14/2006 4:56:54 P.M. Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Dear Mr. Cox:
I am considering self publishing. Do you have a self- publisher that you recommend over the rest?
Lastly, will literary agents be put-off if I tell them that I seek representation for a book that is self published?
To which I responded:
Go to the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com
Click on Publisher Resources
Then click on "POD Publishers"
There you will find a lengthy list of print-on-demand publishers -- each of whom has been vetted by the Midwest Book Review and found to be legitimate. But there services very, as do their prices. So visit each of their respective websites to determine which one would be the best fit for you in terms of the services you require and whatever your budget will (or will not) allow.
Self-published books are discriminated against by most professional literary agents. If someone is willing to be your literary rep be sure to check their credentials and ask for references. -- And examine their proposed contract very carefully.
Midwest Book Review
Now it's time for my favorite part of these monthly columns of advice and commentary -- The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame & Appreciation.
The following wonderful folk have decided to say thank you for, and 'support the cause' of, what we work so hard at every day here at the Midwest Book Review -- trying to give a forum and format for small press publishers and self-published authors who so often have a rough go of it against the 'big guys' and the established names of the publishing and media industries. So a big Midwest Book Review 'thank you' of our own to:
Piotr Gwiazda - "Gagarin Street"
Amy Gorman - "Aging Artfully"
Paul A. Bethel - "St. George and the Dragon"
Deborah Capone - "Dumplings are Delicious"
Shonnie Lavender - "Marriage Vow Workbook"
Christopher Meeks - "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea"
Christiana Press, LLC
Pickled Herring Press
Hawk Publishing Group
Herb Haslam - Windspur Press
Susan Davis - Principle Publications
Debra Murphy - Idylls Press
Lois Qualben - Langmarc Publishing
Walt Shiel - Slipdown Mountain Publications
Morrow Wood - River Birch Publishing
Frank Salazar - WPI Publishing
Vaishale - Purple Haze Press
Sue Johnson - Heartstrings Press
Fred R. Sias, Jr. - Woodsmere Press
Dawn R. Carrington - Vintage Romance Publishing
Elizabeth Aumua - Bumble Bee Productions
Kathy Labosh - Labosh Publishing
Burton H. Wolfe - Wild West Publishing House
Kellie Stallman - Martini's Ogrille
Carol Adler - Dandelion Books
Linda Aschbrenner - Marsh River Editions
Katherine M. Miller - Sylvan Dell Publishing
Kathleen Marsh - Otter Run Books, LLC
Rusty Wilson - Songbird Publications
Father Kevin - Saint Cecilia Church
Waldmania! (Book Publicity)
Yorwerth Associates (Book Publicity)
Ann Arbour Media Group (Book Publicity)
Maryglenn McCombs (Book Publicity)
Piper and Associates (Marketing, Design and Production)
If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly and for free, just send me an email asking to be signed up. If you have a book needing review or postage needing donating, just send directly to my attention.
Incidently, if you are in Canada or France (or any other country for that matter), I can't really use foreign postage stamps. I sent some Canadian postage that was donated to us to a Canadian-based charity, and gave the French postal coupons we received to some friends who have relatives in France that can use them. But Canadian and oversea's authors and publishers could simply send a check or money order for us to buy stamps with here at our own local post office. Same advice if you are an American author or publisher who doesn't have ready or convenient access to a post office where you live. But if you do send a check or money order please be sure to note that its for the postage stamp fund.
So until next time, I bid you Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!
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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