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Jim Cox Report: August 2004

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

If there are unsightly line breaks in this email, click on the "expand the email button" that you will find at the top (and usually right-hand side) of this email document. That allows the email document to be seen at it's largest setting and all those unsightly and bothersome line breaks will disappear and make reading this issue of the Jim Cox Report much easier. This little trick with the expand button will work whenever you recieve emails with those noxious and out-of-place line breaks.

There's a lot of news, office gossip, and "tips, tricks & techniques" to share with you this time around so let's get started!

1. I was a guest on a radio show called "The Small Press Center" on Wednesday morning, July 14th. It was hosted by Antoinette Kuritz. There were two other guests on the show -- a small press publisher and the head of a book publicity firm. As it turned out, both the publisher and the publicist had sent many a book to the Midwest Book Review, were well aware of who I was, and turned the show into a meeting of the Jim Cox fan club for a couple of minutes! I pretty much talked briefly to the basics of what the Midwest Book Review does, along with the fundamentals of the book review process. It was a lot of fun!

2. Our webmaster has been very busy (and frustrated) this past month. It seems that has changed their review posting software. Their intent was better service. But alas, that old adage about good intentions going astray has come home to roost on their cyberspace website with a vengeance. It now seems that their brand new software will no longer permit us to make a correction to a previously posted review. It once was so easy!. Just correct the typo on the review, then simply re-post it. -- No longer. If you try now you get a form letter email response saying you can't.

Here's what our webmaster emailed to the Amazon folk:

Subj: Please restore the missing edit button for reviews
Date: 7/28/04 5:35:06 PM Central Daylight Time

I represent the Midwest Book Review. We post many reviews upon Sometimes a review contains typos which need to be fixed.

Your recent site revamp has removed the edit button from our reviews. We can no longer fix review typos. The edit button exists in the "see all your reviews" section, but that is useless because I can see no way to locate a specific review in that section out of the thousands of reviews we send to Please fix this so that we can quickly look up a book by its title/ISBN number and edit our reviews once more, or tell us how to work around this bug.


B. Cox, Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

And when our webmaster lodged the above complaint about this new snafu, she got a form letter email response thanking her for taking an interest in -- but no action. This is the Amazon reply:

Subj: Your Inquiry
Date: 7/29/04 10:49:20 AM Central Daylight Time

Thank you for writing to with your comments about our recent changes to the review features.

These recent changes included changes in how we maintain our review database which will allow for more immediate processing of review and review edit submissions. Unfortunately, due to these changes, we are no longer able to offer the edit review function on a product's detail page. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

I will, however, be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.

Thank you for shopping at We hope to see you again soon.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please use the appropriate link above if you need to contact us again about this matter.

Best regards,

Joshua S.
Customer Service

We will see how things work out in the long run. Surely I cannot be the only one whose reviews occasionally suffer from an inadvertent typo! The moral of this little story seems to be that not all software upgrades are actual improvements!

3. This past month I received two phone calls. One from the publicist at Cornell Maritime Press and the other from the publicist at John Wiley & Sons. Both were calls prompted by someone approaching them, identifying themselves as being reviewers for the Midwest Book Review, and requesting review copies.

The problem was that I had never heard of either the woman (Cornell Maritime Press) or the man (John Wiley & Sons) who made the requests. To compound things even further, the guy is reported to having become quite belligerent and verbally abusive on the phone when he was turned down.

Both publicists did exactly the right thing. They were approached by people they had never heard of and proceeded to call me to check them out.

There is a never ending supply of scam artists seeking to fleece publishers out of free books (which they will then turn around and sell for whatever they can get). The newest wrinkle in this con game which is as nearly as old as the Gutenberg Press, is to represent themselves as being associated with established and reputable book review publications and organizations like the Midwest Book Review.

So if you are ever approached with a review copy solicitation from someone you do not know -- check them out! If they say they are from the Midwest Book Review, call or email me and I'll be able to either verify that they are one of our authorized reviewers or just some scam artist practicing their illicit craft.

If you've already been so approached, please let me know. I've got this chilling mental image of a couple of con artists going down some publisher reference book and making "cold call contacts" on the assumption that by trading on the reputation of the Midwest Book Review, their requests will succeed in going unvetted, untested, and unchecked.

4. It seems that in May, the Midwest Book Review got written up in still another publication. This came in:

Subj: Your are Featured in May Newsletter

Dear Colleague,

Please see below. You (or your company) will be featured in the following bulletin for hundreds of authors and publishers, due out soon.

We hope you will benefit from the added exposure. Please con- sider adding a link to our site ( ) from your own, and please tell your constituents about the newsletter copied below, which is free upon request to anyone in the book world.

Thanks for your time and consideration, and please keep in touch!

Kind regards,

Dan Snow

I operate on the general assumption that it is usually a good thing for an author, a publisher, (or in this case the Midwest Book Review) to have their websites linked to as many other websites on the internet as possible. It increases the likelihood of someone discovering you who would otherwise never know you (or your website) existed. And one sure way to get your website linked to others is to have a section on your own website devoted to links to other thematically appropriate websites.

5. Our webmaster now has all of our August online book review magazines up on our Midwest Book Review website. Tonight's chores will focus her attention on uploading 128 new resource links onto our website. These are links to online resources that will prove of particular interest to readers, writers, publishers, and librarians. Including 11 new links to "Other Reviewers"; 16 new links for "Book Lover Resources"; 7 new links for "Writer Resources"; 5 new links for "Publisher Resources"; and even more publisher website, author website, and on-line bookstore website links.

Once those links are uploaded, our webmaster will then turn her attention to adding three more "how to" articles to our Midwest Book Review website's "Advice for Publishers" section:

Marilyn LaCourt's "It Takes a Team of Davids to Persuade Goliath to Change His Ways"; Laura Bell's "Getting Your Name In Print"; and Al Canton's "Coming to a Business Like Yours: Webware!"

And now onto to the "tips, tricks & techniques" portion of our program!

1. I'll use this email to illustrate a bit of advice:

Subj: Request for book blurb

Dear James,

I got your message through my wife Nancy that you will review The Parthenon Code after we send you the finished books. You wrote this about my book Athena and Eden:

"Original, seminal, ground-breaking, unforgettable, and highly recommended."

I ask if you will allow me to put that quote on the book jacket of The Parthenon Code. This book is a combination and culmination of my first two books. The essence of Athena and Eden appears in The Parthenon Code, with much improved graphics, so the quote is certainly true.

May I please? -- Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. (bob)

If a review was generated by a complimentary copy supplied to the reviewer by the publisher, the publisher has the right to utilize the resultant review in any manner the publisher deems useful -- providing that publisher gives an identifying credit citation identifying the reviewer or review source. You don't need to ask formal permission to do so. This is the publishing industry normative standard.

Having said that, it is ever so nice and politic to make a request of the reviewer for permission to use the review. This is because: 1) it's a courteous thing to do in polite society; 2) you are nicely setting up that reviewer to give you consideration (and maybe an competitive edge) the next time you have a book that you'd like that reviewer to consider; and 3) even with respect to it being a "publishing industry normative standard", a permission sign off is still a very nice thing to have on file.

With respect to Bob and his request, I whipped off a little email reply granting him full permission to use our review anyway he wanted. It is the formal policy of the Midwest Book Review to always grant such permissions to authors and publishers.

2. A snail-mail letter came in from Tom Peric of Galileo Communications. I'm going to reproduce it here to illustrate another bit of "how to" advice:

Dear Jim:

I thoroughly enjoyed your "Pitching By Phone" tips in a back issue of SPAN. Joe Sabah sent me a back issue and I found your article to be one of the most clear-headed descriptions of how to pitch by phone that I've ever read.

Then I went to your web site and read all your articles about how the review system works, "stamping" copy reviews, and a few other topics. You're a very clear writer and it's wonderful to have someone put things down in a lucid, orderly fashion for us neophytes. The position of the stamp (or not using one) was an issue to which I never gave much thought until your articles. (I'm now going to stamp "Review Copy" on the bottom of my books.)

I'm a small publisher and a member of PMA. I've written "Wacky Days: How to Get Millions of $$$ in Free Publicity by Creating a "Real" Holiday & Other Tactics Used by Media Experts".

I hope you find it an interesting read. I've picked two random chapters that you might find interesting (the stickies), but naturally it's all your call.

Regardless of what you do (or don't) with my book, Keep up the marvelous work.

Best Regards,

Tom Peric
Galileo Communications, Inc.
2040 Fairfax Avenue, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
856.874.0049 856.874.0052 (fax)

I post this as a perfect example of a cover letter. It arrived with a review copy of Tom's Book. It succeeded in "personalizing" the cover letter, was completely non-aggressive in tone, and flattering to the recipient's ego.

It also resulted in my personally accepting the review submission and resulted in a review of "Wacky Days" which, fortunately, turned out to be a very good and recommendable title. While addressed to entrepreneurs and businessmen in general, it was also very germane to book publishing as marketing enterprise as well.

The function of a Publicity Release (also called a News Release and/or Press Release) is to provide succinct descriptive information about the book.

The function of a Cover Letter is to provide succinct descriptive information as to why the book is being submitted to that particular reviewer or review resource.

The other reason for showing you Tom's letter is to underscore the value of those various and diverse "how to" articles archived in the "Advice for Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website -- including the one on "Pitching By Phone" which was picked up by the SPAN newsletter.

Now let's turn our attention to that part of the show I call "Unsolicited Testimonials & Postage Stamp Roster of Fame and Appreciation"

Subj: thank you

Dear James Cox,

I am amazed at just how thorough you are in your reviews. A person can tell from your words that you do delve deeply into these publications in order to formulate your opinions. Thank you for all that you do to get the word out to the world about our smaller press publications. It's been an honor to be reviewed by someone as well-read as you, knowing it is being placed into the quality circulation of MBR, which has truly claimed a notoriety and a respect that is all its own.

Thanks for your efforts,


Sandy Jost, Ph.D.
Cancer Involvement Program Your Body, Your Mind & Their Link to Your Health
ONE Health Publishing, LLC

Subj: Thank You From:


You are one of the most conscientious reviewers when it comes to sending tear sheets. That's a big help. We are receiving some finished copies now, so you'll receive them soon. Many, many thanks for all that you do.

Ted Parkhurst
August House Publishers, Inc.
201 East Markham Street, Suite P-50 Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone 501-372-5450, ext 105Fax 501-372-5579

Well, what can I say and still pretend to be modest? Ah -- I've got the perfect response:

Sandy, Ted, and the dozens and dozens of other authors and publishers who sent thank you notes via email, snail-mail and postcards -- you are quite welcome. And thank you for your very kind words. Every time one of these little "thank you" communiques come in, it just makes my whole and complete day.

And then there are the even more tangible "thank you" expressions represented by the donations of postage stamps in appreciation and support of what we here at the Midwest Book Review try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and now decade after decade.

Here are the latest wonderful folk who donated postage stamps "for the cause":

Gaia & Friends, Inc.
Dale Schusterman - Great Falls, Virginia
Harold J. Kassel - Chicago, Illinois
Jerry Hooker - "Motorcycle Memories"
Anna Houislan - Vedantic Shores Press
Kam Ruble - "Black Lily: Have No Mercy III"
Kathleen Walls - Global Authors Publications
Julia Rogers Hamrick - New Realities Publishing
Roheela Malik - Imaginative Publishing
The Bluedorns - Trivium Pursuit
Lance Ong - Chromisphere Press
Bill Hoffman - "Drums Along The Jacks Fork"
Arvin Carson - High Way Publishing
Steve Karin - Orchard Publications
Monette Adeva Maglaya - PDI Books
Amal Bhakta - Krishna Productions, Inc.
Craig Cochran - Paton Press
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania Publicity
Dave Demer - Marquette Books

I also received two rolls of stamps through the "Stamps by Mail" program of the United States Postal Service out of the USPS downtown station in Denver, Colorado. They arrived in a little USPS mailer -- but with no identifying information as to who the author and/or publisher was that sent them. So here's a big time thank you to whoever you are -- your stamps (as will all the other contributions) will be put to very good use sending out the tear sheets and publisher notification letters for the reviews in the August issues of our book review publications.

We don't permit people to donate money -- this is in order to avoid any conflict of interest issues. But we do permit authors, publishers, publicists, readers, or anyone else to donate postage stamps as a way of expressing their appreciation for the long hours and hard work that go into what the Midwest Book Review is all about.

If you've got a book to be reviewed or postage stamps to be donated, send them to the attention of:

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive Oregon, WI 53575

To access our website and its treasure trove of links, resources, and "how to" articles for writers and publishers, go to

To receive the "Jim Cox Report" and/or any of our online book review magazines for free, just send me your email address and tell me what you'd like to be signed up for -- it's all free of charge (as is everything else we do around here).

So until next time, Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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