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Jim Cox Report: April 2010
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
I've been an Audies judge for a number of years now. The Audies are the annual awards given out by the Audio Publishers Association every year. After doing a regular judging stint in one of the regular audio book categories, this year I was also asked to be one of five judges that would determine the Audie Award in the special category of Production Values, that is, how well was the original print title adapted to a multicast audio format. Our little group consisted of 3 gals and 2 guys. The other fellow was an experienced audio book producer who was expert in the technical and studio side of audio book productions. One of the ladies is a producer for Sirius XM satellite radio, the other two ladies were experienced, long time audio book reviewers like myself. (I do a regular monthly column called 'The Audiobook Shelf'.) I can't announce the winners we picked -- that info will be released in May at the APA convention. What I can do is pass on to you how important Production Values are in publishing -- whether what's being published is a magazine, a book, and audio, or a DVD.
All too often budget restricted novice publishers (and that most especially that includes the self-published) try to take short cuts -- be it in editing, proofing, type selection, binding, cover art, paper selection, illustration, etc. Often these short-cuts work out to be economically self-defeating in the long run because they result in an inferior product. You can create the most riveting novel, the most germane work of non-fiction, and if the packaging it comes wrapped in is substandard, your print run will languish in storage -- unknown, unloved, and worst of all, unsold.
So how do you insure high quality production values if those kinds of technical areas of the publishing process are outside of your own expertise, experience, or skill set?
1. Learn how to do it properly yourself.
2. Hire the job(s) out to experts.
For the first solution, there are tons of instructional guides available on every single aspect of the publishing process from manuscript preparation, to printing, binding, and beyond. You can ask other folk on these on-line author/publisher discussion groups for recommended titles. Then take those recommendations down to your local public library and have them get the books for you (and for free!) through the InterLibrary Loan Service.
For the second solution the Internet can come to the rescue. I resort to a Google search when I need specialized services of any kind. I once needed some info on book binding resources in Wisconsin so I typed in "Book Binding + Wisconsin" and up popped an enormous number of resources.
But whether you do it yourself or hire it out, never skimp on the production values of what you are producing. Not if you hope to survive financially in this highly competitive field of publishing!
Speaking of recommended instruction guides and other 'how to' books for writers and publishers:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
The Power of Memoir
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.
989 Market St., 5th Floor, San Francisco CA 94103-1741
9780470508367, $16.95 www.josseybass.com
THE POWER OF MEMOIR: HOW TO WRITE YOUR HEALING STORY offers a fine step-by-step program on how to use memoir writing to aid in emotional and physical healing. From how to tell truths and shape a narrative to tools for healing pain. From preserving memories to exploring motivations, this is a pick for any would-be memoir writer.
Writing About Dance
Wendy R. Oliver
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
9780736076104, $29.95, www.amazon.com
From classical ballet to street corner brake dancing, the art of the dance comes in a seemingly endless variety with new forms being invented (or rediscovered) by each new generation. Writing about dance is a specialized field with its own particular demands. That's why "Writing About Dance" by Wendy Oliver (Professor of Dance and Women's Studies at Providence College) is such an invaluable instructional guide and reference, especially for the novice in the field. Professor Oliver draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to offer practical strategies for developing critical thinking skills when it comes to assessing, understanding, interpreting, and communicating about any form, type, or category of dance. Providing fourteen writing assignments; approaches to creating effective dance critiques, essays, and research papers, "Writing About Dance" is an ideal textbook for formal academic curriculums, as well as a thoroughly 'user friendly' guide for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in writing coherently with respect to dance appreciation. Of special note are the many checklists that will aid in writers organizing their writings on and about dance. Enhanced with an appendix that will provide 'real world' assistance with crafting dance critiques, "Writing About Dance" is a very highly recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library collections.
Hans E. Roosendaal, et al.
c/o Neal-Schuman Publishers
100 William Street, Suite 2004, New York, NY 10038-4512
9781843344902, $95.00, www.neal-schuman.com
"Scientific Publishing: From Vanity To Strategy" is an informed and informative examination of diverse business models associated with scientific publishing, and how they relate to the processes of scientific research and development. "Scientific Publishing" assesses how these models advance or impede the growth of human knowledge. Of special note is the impact of the computer and web-driven digital information environment upon access to scientific data and analysis with respect to publishing. Enhanced throughout with tables and figures, and featuring extensive references and a comprehensive index, "Scientific Publishing" is especially commended to the attention of the publishing community, as well as an invaluable addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library reference collections.
How To Write About The Media Today
Raul Damacio Tovares & Alla V. Tovares
Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9780313375194, $35.00, www.amazon.com
Mass media has become every more complex and fragmented with the advent of technological innovations, so that where once radio and television news were the main sources of information for the general public, now there is everything from cable news and social networks, to blogs and instant messaging. The latest addition to the outstanding 'Writing Today' series from Greenwood Press, "How To Write About The Media Today", the collaborative project of Raul D. Tovares (Associate Professor, Department of Communications, Trinity University, Washington, DC) and Alla V. Tovares (Assistant Professor, Department of English, Howard University, Washington, DC), is a comprehensive instructional manual and guide for aspiring writers for all of these media forms and formats and includes doing research, preparing reports and papers, making presentations, and more. From a step-by-step process for selecting topics to securing and utilizing information resources, "How To Write About The Media Today" is an ideal introduction for novice journalists, very highly recommended as a textbook for Journalism curriculums, and an invaluable reference for non-specialist general readers wanting to utilize internet opportunities for expressing their opinions and research on the social, cultural, political, and economic issues of the day.
Now here are some Q&A's on writing and publishing:
In a message dated 4/21/2009 1:28:29 P.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
The reviews on the website are extremely short, most are really just summaries of the content rather than critiques, and the reviewers are given no credit. Am I looking in the wrong place?
I would like to become a reviewer but would also like to write a more in-depth review, as well as receive credit for the publication of my work. If this isn't the right place for me, could you possibly point me in the right direction?
Thank you for your time,
Dawn M. Viray
Reviews come in various shapes and sizes and lengths. Some are little more than blurbs. Others are full-out literary analyses and critiques. These differences in review forms and formats serve different audiences.
Librarians and booksellers want there reviews to be succinct at-a-glance summations along with a declarative recommendation up or down. The kind that you encounter in the pages of the Publishers Weekly. That's because of time constraints on their part and having to scan more titles in more areas for their acquisition selections than the general reading public.
Academicians and members of the general public tend to want there reviews to be detailed and analytical. The kind that you encounter in the pages of the New York Times Review of Books.
The first category of reviews are what tend to dominate in the pages of six of our monthly book review publications.
The second category of reviews are to be found (mixed in with 'blurb reviews') in our "Reviewer's Bookwatch" and "MBR Bookwatch". You'll find some reviewers like to write extended, analytic, even scholarly critiques -- and I encourage it.
So with respect to your own reviews (which if we published would be in the pages of "Reviewer's Bookwatch") I give you the same advice I give everyone.
In your review of a given book, write as much as you need to in order to say everything you wish to say. There are no minimum or maximum word counts. Just remember that whatever and how much you have to say about the book that is the focus of your review will be published under your by-line so you are the person responsible for what and how much and how well you have written.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 4/16/2009 12:16:36 P.M. Central Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Dear Mr. Cox,
I am interested in having my self-published novel reviewed by your organization. I can certainly provide two copies of the book and a cover letter. But I have no "publicity release" or "media kit." Also, what should be included in the cover letter?
My book, Squire William's Lucky Day, is fantasy/fiction. It was published in September of 2008 and is available on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.
I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me.
Mark R. Brewer
Go to the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com
Click on "Advice for Writers & Publishers"
Scroll down to two 'how to' articles:
Writing an Effective Cover Letter
Writing an Effective Publicity Release
Follow the instructions you will find there.
It will take you all of about 4 minutes apiece to produce professional quality documents to accompany your book review submissions.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 4/22/2009 12:38:11 A.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
I still can't find a publisher for Anatevka. People say I need to find an agent, first. You couldn't possibly suggest somebody, could you? I would then, obviously, send him/her the book to have a look at.
I'm afraid not. But there is are excellent "how to" books on finding a literary agent. Here is the info for one of them:
Insider's Guide to Getting an Agent, The
Writer's Digest Books/F&W Pub.
1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45207
0898799090 $16.99 1-800-289-0963
In The Insider's Guide To Getting An Agent: The Definitive Writer's Resource, Lori Perkins shows the aspiring author where and how to target the right agents; the "10 Commandments" for writing an effective query letter; what should be expected from an agent; the anatomy of an attention-getting book proposal; how to build and maintain a great working relationship with an agent; protocol for handling a first book deal; the potential of subrights, publicity and foreign sales; and how to know when it's time to make writing your day job. Lori Perkins is the founding partner of Perkins, Rubie, and Associates, a New York literary agency representing about 150 authors, with foreign representation in eleven countries. She draws upon her more than fifteen years of practical, real-world experience to make The Insider's Guide To Getting An Agent one of the most useful reference books any aspiring or fledgling author can read.
Go to your local library and ask them to obtain a copy for your through the free InterLibrary Loan System.
You'll find about a half-dozen other 'how to find a literary agent' titles on the Midwest Book Review website in the subjection "Writers Bookshelf". Pretty much all of them are available through your local community library courtesy of the free InterLibrary Loan Service.
Midwest Book Review
As is customary, I'm going to conclude this issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "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:
Edward Ryder -- "The Departments"
Barbara Joe -- "Triumph & Hope"
Jeane Rhodes -- "The Birth of Hope"
Timothy Ackerman -- "For a Reason"
Frances Ruh -- "The Schepp Family Chronicles"
Sandra Huntes -- "On My Way To Someplace Else"
Karen Gail Lewis -- "Why Don't You Understand?"
Sharon Lester -- "The Boy Who Wouldn't Sit Still!"
Nancy Henderson-James -- "At Home Abroad"
Deborah L. Jacobs -- "Estate Planning Smarts"
Steven M. Ullman -- "Bad Moon Arising"
Madaline Hall & Julie Keye -- "Recipes for a Beautiful Life"
Northern Wilds Media
On Air Media Inc.
Two Horizons Press
Treble Heart Books
Janice Phelps Williams -- Lucky Press
Lee Jackson -- Images Unlimited
Linda L. Isaacs -- New Spring Press
Tim Schulte -- Variance Publishing
Wayne Simmons -- Highlander Farm Press
Don Bracken -- History Publishing Company
Robert Scott Leyse -- ShatterColors Press
Juan Dies -- Sones de Mexico Ensemble
Birke R. Duncan -- Northwest Folklore
Yossi -- Hachai Publishing
S. A. Ricks -- Rixkin
Tom Tolnay -- Birch Brook Press
Carol Fenster -- Savory Palate Inc.
Carl M. Powe, Jr. -- Simulation Training Inc.
Anna E. Kravis -- Baby Rose Music
Marilee Geyer -- No Voice Unheard
Sherri Cappabianca -- Off The Leash Press
Anna Florin -- Featherwood Publishing
Susan Poitras -- For Beginners LLC
Jody Banks -- Axios Press
Tiffany Laufer -- Bellaboo Books
Ray Litrides -- Litrides Associates
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Karen Villanueva Author Services
Also I want to thank Bill for the Starbucks coffee card. And Alexa for the chocolates!
If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advanced 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. 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!
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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