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Jim Cox Report: December 2008
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
An economic crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
The publishing industry is very much a part of and affected by our nation's national and regional economies. Both the publishing industry and the country are in an economic crisis. But this is a crisis which is also an opportunity. Here's some of my thoughts on the subject of how writers, publishers, and book reviewers can weather the current economic recession -- one that I think will continue through 2009 and not abate until at least the spring of 2010.
1. Revisit your business plan -- and if you don't have one written down and at your fingertips then you absolutely need to stop whatever you are doing right now and create one!! Carefully look through your business plan for ways to consolidate, cut back, switch to more economical alternatives, and acquire the information necessary to be more frugal in your expenditures overall.
2. Keep a daily written record of all of your expenses -- no matter how trivial. You'd be amazed at how much money can be spent on 'autopilot' because we are so used to shelling out for this, that, or the other. By identifying what we spend our money on we can then make informed decisions about what to continue, what to modify, and what to cut out altogether those items of expense that are "nice but not necessary".
3. Pay attention to your working environment. That goes for everything from leaving unnecessary lights on, to leaving computers on when not in use, to failing to ask for competitive bids for such things as stationary print jobs, phone service, equipment repairs, etc.
4. Never drive when you can walk or bike to where you have to go to do what you have to do. My own example is that I was in the habit of driving 14 blocks to the post office to mail off publisher notification letters every day -- when after speaking to my post-office delivery person (who delivers book mail to my place Monday through Saturday) I found that I could simply rubber band the letters together and leave them on top of the emptied mail sacks in our mail room and she would be happy to pick them up for me. So now the only time I make a trip to the post office is when it is combined with other errands that would take me past it anyhow.
5. Explore the possibilities of winning grants to subsidize your operations. There's a learning curve to master here, but the good news is that there are several excellent 'how to' books on the subject of grant writing, as well as some very good Grant Giving Directories of organizations that give literary and publishing related grants. You can obtain these instruction books and reference books for free from your local public library through their InterLibrary Loan Service.
6. Put time and 'sweat equity' into mastering the learning curve associated with marketing. That includes on-line marketing, hand-selling, non-bookstore venues, publicity/promotion tactics and strategies, etc. Again, you don't have to re-invent the wheel. There is an abundance of 'how to' instruction books specific to making money through writing and publishing. Your free public library will prove to be your new best friend in this era of economic downturns and retrenched consumer spending.
7. Avail yourself of the publisher resources you will find on the Midwest Book Review website including the archive of:
A. reviews of 'how to' books for aspiring writers seeking publication at:
B. reviews of 'how to' marketing books for novice and experienced publishers alike:
C. low-cost and no-cost publishing resources
The most effective way for authors and publishers to survive this economic recession to is increase revenues while decreasing expenditures.
The present economic recession has gripped out country for the last year, and it is one which I think will take at least another twelve months before ending. The next twelve months of economic hard times will shake out the weak, the unprepared, the unobservant, and the unmotivated, leaving standing only those who were wise enough to know that it is by educating themselves in the techniques of corporate survival will their own particular entrepreneurial publishing venture succeed, whether they are a self-published author or an independent publisher of other people's work.
Now here are some reviews of the latest 'how to' books for writers and publishers to have recently crossed my desk -- many of which you might never know about otherwise:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009
Three Dog Press
c/o The Jeff Herman Agency
3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262
9780977268245, $29.95, www.jeffherman.com
Having written a manuscript is only the first and initial step toward being published. In many ways, it is the easiest part of the publication process. Turning that manuscript into a published book requires special knowledge, targeted skills, and useful contacts beyond those required to simply write well. That's where a reference and resource like "Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009" will prove invaluable. Now in a completely updated and substantially expanded 19th edition, "Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009" is a 1070-page compendium of practical and descriptive information that begins with five individual sections listing publishing conglomerates, independent U.S. publishers, university presses, Canadian publishers, and literary agents. That alone would make this exhaustive reference a worthwhile addition to any writer's reference shelf. But "Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009" is made even more useful with the inclusion of an impressive 'Advice for Writers' section providing 'real-world' information on all aspects of the publishing process from literary agents, to book proposals, to time management, to rejections, and more. Of special note are the concluding sections dedicated to providing insight and information with respect to Independent Editors and Resources for Writers. Enhanced with a Glossary and an exhaustive Index, "Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009" is an enthusiastically recommended resource guide for novice and experienced authors alike!
My Book's Published -- Now What???
John F. Harnish & Jane M. Martin
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741450003, $19.95, www.amazon.com
'Now What?' is a question that ever published author will have to address whether or not they are self-published, published by an independent small press, an established university publisher, or one of the large New York publishing conglomerates. John F. Harnish is the voice of experience, practicality, and authority in all things related to publishing. Co-authored by Jane M. Martin and featuring contributions by dozens of authors and publishing professionals, Harnish has now published "My Book's Published -- Now What???: The Owner's Manual For Your Books", a compendium of informed and informative essays on every aspect of post-publication operations for the novice author and the neophyte small press publisher. Addresses such diverse but thematically appropriate issues as copywriting; Amazon.com; a 'first book order'; selling in non-bookstore venues; the roles of freelance marketers, book reviewers, and the internet; conferencing, networking, and so much more, "My Book's Published -- Now What???" will prove to be an invaluable source of advice, insights, tips, and ideas for marketing a published book. Of special interest is the extensive chapter on 'Increasing Your Book's Revenue Flows'. Novice publishers should consider "My Book's Published -- Now What???" a critically important addition to their studies as they seek to master the 'learning curve' for successfully marketing and selling a published book, while even experienced authors will find a great deal of useable background information and insights into the marketing and promotion process. Also highly recommended is John F. Harnish's "The Amazing Book Publishing Evolution In The United States" (074145100X, $14.95).
The Amazing Book Publishing Evolution In The United States
John F. Harnish
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
074145100X, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Author and writing seminar instructor John F. Harnish draws upon his many years of experience and expertise in "The Amazing Book Publishing Evolution In The United States: What Every Writer Needs To Know Before Becoming A Published Author!!!". This is a compendium of solid, real-world, 'Dutch Uncle' advice offering insights, tips, techniques, and resource information that will stand any and all aspiring authors wanting to break into print, as well as an invaluable refresher for newly published authors wanting to more firmly establish themselves as professionals able to support themselves through their literary work. Of special note are the chapters devoted to the disadvantages of traditional publishing, considerations associated with subsidy publishing, as well as the advantages of self-publishing. Informed and informative, "The Amazing Book Publishing Evolution In The United States" is a very highly recommended and thoroughly 'reader friendly' addition to any writer reference shelf and supplemental reading list. Also very highly recommended by John F. Harnish is "My Book's Published -- Now What???" (Infinity, 0741450003, $19.95).
Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus
David Auburn, et al.
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780195342840, $40.00, www.oup.com/us
Words are a writers tools. The larger the writer's vocabulary the more options available for expressing ideas. That's why every dedicated writer seeking to master their craft will have a good thesaurus as a core part of their personal and professional reference shelf. Now in a completely updated second edition, the "Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus" provides more than 300,000 synonyms and 10,000 antonyms, with real-life example sentences. enhanced with notes on American English usage by Bryan Garner, Word Spectrums showing shades of meaning between polar opposites, and a comprehensive language guide, The "Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus" is a core reference work suitable for professional authors and non-specialist general writers alike. This new edition also features Word Toolkits and Wordfinder, two invaluable aids that will help to define and delineate nuances of word usage. Simply stated, the "Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus" is a core and recommended addition for personal, professional, community, and school library Writing/Publishing reference collections.
Time to Write
Quill Driver Books
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956769, $16.95 www.quilldriverbooks.com
Frank Milligan's TIME TO WRITE: DISCOVERING THE WRITER WITHIN AFTER 50 is for any who believe themselves 'too old' to learn new tricks. It offers a set of tips on how to take a work from initial idea to published manuscript, reviewing writer's secrets, shortcuts to help make up for lost time, and details on how to make the most of the second half of life. General-interest libraries - especially those catering to older adult would-be writers - will find this a popular lend.
The Grammar Detective
80 Maiden Lane #704, New York NY 10038
9780826498076, $14.95 www.continuum.com
THE GRAMMAR DETECTIVE: SOLVING THE MYSTERIES OF BASIC GRAMMAR offers up a series of short illustrated murder mysteries and exercises based on puzzles, from word searches to crosswords - to introduce and reinforce grammatical skills. From nouns to clauses and phrases, this covers punctuation and grammar and provides a fine method of either introducing English grammar or offering an easy refresher course for adults.
Adventures In Pen Land
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826218179, $19.95, 1-800-828-1894
Marianne Gingher is the author of four published books, as well as numerous pieces of fiction and essays which have appeared in a number of periodicals ranging from the Southern Review; the Oxford American; and the North American Review; to the Washington Post Magazine; Redbook; Seventeen; and the New York Time Book Review. So it is only to be expected "Adventures In Pen Land: One Writer's Journey From Inklings To Ink", her biographical memoir of life as a writer, be a particularly deftly presented and thoroughly engaging account that begins with her story of being a child working a con to obtain a copy of the 'Ding Dong School Book' (which was a blank book in which children could write their own stories), continues her adventures in the world of competition to be a published author, to her experiences as an established Southern writer within the broader context of American literary culture. Packed from cover to cover with anecdotal stories, "Adventures In Pen Land" offers insights into the impact her marriage, family, teaching career, pop culture, writing workshops, and other hinderments to publication has had upon her career as an author of fiction and essay. Although there are a sprinkling of insightful advice and ideas to be gleaned by other aspiring authors yearning for publication, "Adventures In Pen Land" is especially recommended reading for anyone wanting to know what the life of a working writer in the real world is like.
The Successful (Liberty Nut) Author 2009
Contrast Media Press
PO Box 6195, Lakewood, CA 90714
9780981738253, $16.95, www.ContrastMediaPress.com
The well known constitutional principle of "Freedom of the Press" throughout most of American history meant that whoever owned the press was the one who would enjoy the freedom to publish. With the revolution in publishing technology thanks to the computer and the internet has come an expansion of that privilege to the point that anyone can now have their work published thanks to the 'desktop computer revolution' and access to the World Wide Web. This has been especially true of those who would publish in the area of politics, social issues, and the culture wars. John Longenecker is a dedicated advocate of all the constitutional freedoms fundamental to the preservation of an American democracy founded upon freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom to participate. Toward those ends he has published "The Successful (Liberty Nut) Author 2009: The Liberty Purist's Guide to Patriotic Platforming Before You Publish", a compendium of advice, insights, observations, practical information, and real life counsel on how to successfully publish as an independent in an era of expanding government and high-speed communication. "The Successful (Liberty Nut) Author 2009" is especially commended to the attention of aspiring authors of controversial works, novice publishers of iconoclastic materials, and anyone else with an interest in successfully getting published and effectively marketing their work once it has seen print.
Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:
Subject: the Jim Cox Report Date: 12/1/2008 2:55:24 P.M. Central Standard Time
I wanted to let you know that Iíve listed the Jim Cox report as one of my favorite eZines for authors, on the Book Marketing Maven site: http://snipr.com/ezinesforauthors
It would be great if you could pass this link on. Keep up the good work at Midwest Book Review and your other publications!
Dana Lynn Smith, the Book Marketing Maven, is with the Texana Publishing Consultants firm and an experienced freelance book marketer. I went to this particular website and found it to be chocked full of superb resource links for writers aspiring to be published, self-published authors trying to 'learn the ropes', and small press publishers striving for profitability.
I'm keeping good company on this website along side such independent publisher icons as John Kremer and Dan Poynter!
In a message dated 7/4/2008 2:39:01 P.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
My questions are:
1. How do I get these reviews BEFORE publication? Will a reviewer accept a formatted PDF version of the book?
2. If I do send someone a PDF version of the book what is to stop them from copying my book and handing it out to their friends and so forth? (Yeah Iím kinda cynical where people are concerned. Too bad the 4 legged animals donít do reviews. I trust them). LOL
Hoping someone can answer my questions. Thank you so much.
There are two general categories of reviews, reviewers, and review publications:
Here are the steps to follow to acquire a prepublication review:
1. Go to the "Other Reviewers" database on the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com
2. Scroll down the list and click on each reviewer resource entry one at a time. Read through their websites and sort them into your own database as either pre-publication or post-publication reviewers.
3. Take you pre-publication list and start submitting your PDF files, galleys, uncorrected proofs, and advanced reading copies according to each pre-publication reviewer's submission guidelines that you will find posted on their respective websites.
Once your book is published, then send finished (published) copies of your books to your newly formed post-publication list of reviewers according to their posted submission guidelines that you will find on their respective websites.
With respect to unscrupulous reviewers copying PDF files and handing them around to friends -- it's such a negligible problem that I wouldn't worry about it. Professional, legitimate reviewers and the editorial staffs of review publications simply won't engage in such a practice. By reading their websites you should be able to deduce their legitimacy. When in doubt, vette them yourself through online publisher and author discussion groups such as this one.
Remember that galleys, uncorrected proofs, and advanced reading copies become the property of the reviewers to whom they are sent and may be disposed of as the reviewers deem best -- including marketing them for what ever they might bring. That's the quid pro quo publishing industry arrangement by which authors and publishers secure review services from reviewers for free.
If you are paying for a review, then you can require the return of your pre-publication material as part of the contract.
You can also require the non-paid reviewer to return such pre-publication materials -- but you also drastically impair your chances of making the cut to be selected for review when you are in competition with (literally) hundreds of other submissions seeking review.
The same holds true for post-publication reviewers with respect to review copies of finished (published) books. Marking up finished copies with such stampings as "Review Copy - Not For Sale" and the like often simply cripple your chances of selection because so many, many publishers (virtually all the major New York Houses) submit unblemished copies for review.
Your best bet against being taken unfair advantage off when submitting books for review is to first vette the reviewer and/or review publication before making a submission. A process that is not difficulty at all thanks to the internet both in terms of review websites and online publisher/author forums.
Midwest Book Review
The subject of galleys, uncorrected proofs, and book reviewers is perennial. Early this year it was the subject of an extensive online discussion. Here's a response I made to an observation during the course of the discussion:
In a message dated 2/20/2008 8:10:38 A.M. Central Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
My experience with those sites is associated with antiquarian and collectible bookselling,
in which the bound galley or uncorrected proof is a very important artifact and highly
collectible when associated with a collectible author.
To which I replied:
There is one other aspect to this issue. What would you have the reviewer or review publication that receives 20 to 30 galleys, unbound manuscripts, uncorrected proofs, or Advanced Reading Copies every week do with them? Send to the landfill? Crate them into boxes and run them out to a paper recycling plant that will accept such materials?
The one and only way to insure that ARCs of all the various kinds and categories don't end up being sold to the antiquarian and collectors market is to not send them to reviewers in the first place.
It's also one of the reasons why the Midwest Book Review, as a post-publication review, requires published copies of the book as a submission requirement for our services.
But even with this well publicized restriction, we still get a dozen or so every week -- and often from major publishing houses that know our policy and when I send out a form email about not accepting galleys reply with an apology because sending us an ARC was an error at their end and promising to send a copy of the published book when they get them back from the bindery.
Another way to avoid (or at least minimize this issue) is to insure that the reviewer or review publication to whom you are making the submission offers a reputable reviewing service.
Then just relax, abide by whatever the review submission guidelines are, and know that even an ARC can help publicize your work and, in the long run, add to your bottom line as a means of a bit more publicity and promotion.
Midwest Book Review
This next is a brief comment on an article I wrote on the subject of packaging's role in the book marketing process. I'm reprinting here to simply underscore that I know a little something on the subject.
In a message dated 2/22/2008 11:48:35 A.M. Central Standard Time, AcornEntr@aol.com writes:
Mr. Cox, I just wanted to compliment you on your informative article on book cover design. I read it on IUniverse's newsletter, and you are right. Basically, you are speaking at a marketer (my business profession) - if the packaging doesn't sell the product, no matter how good the product itself is, nobody is going to pick it up off the shelf.
Thank you for helping to educate many fledgling writers.
Thank you for your very kind words. They are much appreciated.
Midwest Book Review
Subj: Use of reviews
In a message dated 6/16/2008 12:11:50 P.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> There is no copyright infringement in doing so because it is standard
> publishing industry practice to automatically provide the author and/or
> publisher with a copy of the review to do with as they deem appropriate
> in exchange for accepting the complimentarily provided review copy.
Is this standard written down anywhere?
What are the chances that a reviewer or review publication would be unaware of this standard and challenge an author or publisher's use of their review? Even if the author or publisher provided a review copy and is in the right, it might end up being time consuming or expensive to fight it.
The rights of an author and/or publisher to utilize reviews of their books in their marketing efforts is another perennial issue. Here's what I had to say on the subject:
Subj: Use of reviews
Date: 6/16/2008 2:04:02 P.M. Central Daylight Time
I don't know if it's written down in any congressional codes or laws. It's just been the accepted standard in publishing for the 32 years I've been professionally involved -- and as far as I know has been the accepted Prid Pro Quo arrangement since the founding of the country.
The high cost of litigation is always with us. But in that same 32 years of experience, I've never ever heard of any reviewer taking issue with this standard or otherwise objecting to authors and publishers utilizing reviews of books that they furnished to reviewers with the expectation that any forthcoming reviews would be utilized in marketing the book.
I suppose there's always the possibility of a first time. It just sounds bizarre to me to think it would ever happen. For one thing, such a reviewer would be blacklisted by the publishing industry and never get another complimentary copy for review purposes.
Midwest Book Review
I'm going to conclude this section of the "Jim Cox Report" with an email I received which fairly well underscores why I'm in this business of reviewing books.
Sent: 11/4/2008 3:13:10 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Re: November 2008 Jim Cox Report
Just wanted to say Happy Birthday on the 6th! And how happy I am for you that you have done something you enjoyed for most of your life... not many can say that. It is awesome!
Midwest Book Review was the first review I received back earlier this year for my children's book, "Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog." I'm happy to share with you that it received the National Best Book Award from USA Book News (children's picture book non-fiction softcover category), was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards and also just received another award which I am sworn to secrecy until the awards banquet in Feb. 2009 in NY. Frankie also was recently nominated into the Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame. Why am I telling you all this? Well, because as a first time writer and publisher of a book, Midwest Book Reviews positive and uplifting review of my book gave me the courage to move forward. Thank you!!
Enjoy a SPECTACULAR Birthday!!
Author of "Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog"
And that pretty much sums up why I've got one of the best jobs on planet Earth -- even in a time of deepening economic recession!
I'm now 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:
Richard W. Koestler -- "Nicholas Kristo"
Jenny Pavlovic -- "8 State Hurricane Kate"
Steven M. Ulmen -- "Blood On The Prairie"
Patricia Kokinos -- "Angel Park"
Judy Mezen -- "The Magi of Futurity"
Marlene Clapp -- "The Great Pika Pie Caper"
Robert Egby -- "Cracking The Glass Darkly"
Teri Brown -- "Adoption Records Handbook"
Georgia Weithe -- "Shining Moments: Finding Hope In Facing Death"
Maren Green Publishing
Lemon Grove Press
Gloria L. Scott -- Treasure Bay
Jeffrey R. Young -- Universal Publishers
Leila Joiner -- Imago Press
Mary Jane Hoake -- Floating Word Press
Scott Paul Rush -- Marshall Rand Publishing
Maria Fotopoulos -- TurboDog Communications
Philip M. Cole -- Colecraft Industries
Carol Denbow -- Simple Books
Bill Trimble -- Maricopa Publishing
Sid Jackson -- J-Press Publishing
Dana Lehman -- Lehman Publishing
Richard Hill -- Gale Force Press
Donna McNaughton -- Raindrop Books
Maureen S. Romagnoli -- Romagnoli Publications
Beverly Newton -- International Jewelry Publications
Erik J. Kreffel -- EJK Publications
John Hinman -- Hinman Publishing
Jon R. Horton -- Sunlight Publishing
Sharon Gurwitz -- Greenpoint Press
Ronald G. Nathan -- Upward Press
Milton Kahn -- Milton Kahn Associates
Nigel J. Yorwerth -- Yorwerth Associates
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
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 or uncorrected proofs), 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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