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Jim Cox Report: February 2008

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The mission statement for the Midwest Book Review is quite simple. Promote literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. I review 'how to' books for librarians in a regular monthly book review column called "The Library Science Shelf". This often includes books from the publishing arm of the American Library Association. I've recently received some information from freelance publicist Emily Howe on behalf of the ALA that should be noted not only by librarians, but by authors and publishers who in my opinion should regard libraries as an important part of their market. Here it is:

From: Emily Howe
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 10:19 AM
To: ''
Subject: Hey, Jim: Library Information! :)

Hey, Jim (the multi-media library jackpot!),

It was great hearing a little about what you do. Here's the information about the FINRA grants to American libraries to provide unbiased investing information and money management resources to the American public. As you know, savings rates are down and credit card debt is up in many American families. There is a critical need for financial education – for the American public.

People might not immediately think of their local library as the first place to go to receive this financial education, but The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA) recently announced 13 grants, totaling more than $853,000, to public libraries and library networks across the country, giving millions of library patrons and their families, greater access to unbiased investing information and resources.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at 212-245-0510 or at


Emily Howe (On Behalf of the ALA)

Smart Investing @ your library(R) to Provide Local Communities with Unbiased Investing Information and Resources

FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association Announce $853,000 in Grants to Libraries Nationwide

Washington, DC— The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA) today announced 13 grants, totaling more than $853,000, to public libraries and library networks across the country, giving millions of library patrons and their families, greater access to unbiased investing information and resources.

The grants are awarded as part of a new program, Smart Investing @ your library(R), which is administered jointly by the Reference and User Services Association, a division of ALA, and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

"Libraries are an ideal conduit for individuals looking for unbiased information on investing," said FINRA Foundation Chairman Mary Schapiro, who also serves as FINRA's CEO. "It is our hope that library patrons from small towns to large cities have access to the resources they need to help them make important financial decisions."

Grants last from one to two years, although the projects are designed to be sustained following the conclusion of grant funding. ALA will provide ongoing assistance to the projects throughout the grant period, with a particular emphasis on helping libraries evaluate their progress and engage target audiences through effective marketing and outreach strategies.

"The ALA believes that libraries are places for self-help and lifelong learning," said ALA President Loriene Roy. "Investor education has an impact on people of all ages and economic circumstances, and the grants will assist libraries with the resources needed to provide unbiased investor education resources and programming in their communities."

Smart Investing @ your library(R) addresses the growing need for reliable investor education at the grassroots level. Increasingly, individuals are responsible for their own retirement planning and for navigating complex financial decisions virtually every day. Even knowing where to turn for quality information can be a challenge. Participating libraries will use available technology, along with more conventional approaches, to reach patrons at library facilities, at home via the Web, at the workplace, and at myriad community locations. Investor education opportunities and materials will be available to patrons at no cost.

The grantees cover urban, suburban and rural communities in equal measure. They will use grant funds to establish online and in-person programs, partner with community organizations, augment library collections, train staff and engage in promotional efforts so that diverse audiences have access to effective financial education resources. The grant recipients are:

Alliance Library System, East Peoria, IL, $100,000; to offer onsite and Web-based workshops to provide investor information, establish a Smart Investing presence in the virtual world, and to operate a Smart Investing outreach van that will travel to community events and libraries throughout the Alliance's 14,000 square-mile service area in central Illinois.

Ames Public Library, Ames, IA, $77,672, to partner with Iowa State University Extension to tailor online and on-site investor education classes for (Generation X, Boomers and the Silent Generation) and to train public service librarians on the use of investing information tools and databases.

Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI, $73,370; to improve personal finance collections available at all library branches and online through the library's Web site, to provide advanced training to library staff in the use of print and electronic investment resources and to establish Smart Investing partnerships with organizations serving women, minorities and senior citizens.

Naperville Public Library, Naperville, IL, $77,848; to create online video tutorials on the use of financial databases, improve the accessibility of investing research tools on the library's Web site, train adult services librarians in investment research strategies and provide high school and college students with money management skills in preparation for financial independence.

Natrona County Public Library, Casper, WY, $17,600; to provide a five-part investor education series for young adults, host inter-generational community forums on retirement preparedness and augment the library's collections on personal finance and investing.

Newton Free Library, Newton, MA, $46,100; to sponsor a sustainable, inter-generational retirement planning club for women in partnership with community organizations and to train reference librarians on financial literacy in partnership with the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.

Orange County Library District, Orlando, FL, $96,360; to organize an eight-part bilingual series on basic investing themes for Hispanic families, to provide investor education video-on-demand for library patrons and staff and to create a bilingual "eGuide" on personal finance for users of the library's Web site.

Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento, CA, $60,000; to organize an extensive lunchtime lecture series that provide information to investors and moderated book groups (with concurrent youth activities) for professional women ages 20 to 64.

Schaumburg Township District Library, Schaumburg, IL, $31,000; to produce and market an investor education portal for the library, inclusive of videos introducing teen and adult patrons to investing-related library collections and reference services; and to create a traveling multimedia exhibit (and share it with other Illinois libraries) that will provide a high-impact visual lesson about investing.

Southeastern Libraries Cooperating, Rochester, MN, $99,830; to partner with public television station KSMQ to broadcast 13, half-hour segments entitled Financial Connections in rural and small-town communities, with corresponding library-based programming and Web-based events and resources.

Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA, $99,044; to produce, market and distribute a multimedia series of Ten Minute Topics about investing in partnership with community television and the Service Corps of Retired Executives; to train information services librarians from 27 branch facilities throughout a 7,000 square-mile rural region; and to upgrade the investing collections available online and at each branch library.

Winfield Public Library, Winfield, KS, $16,600; to employ a women-helping-women approach of providing educational and supportive services in a format that will encourage better saving and investing practices; to partner with the Chamber of Commerce in reaching out to women small business owners and respond to their learning needs; and to create a series of reference finding aids on investing topics, allowing library patrons to access quality resources efficiently.

Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Youngstown, OH, $57,950; to partner with community agencies in undertaking a coordinated financial literacy initiative for the county's low- and moderate-income families, with a focus on Earned Income Tax Credit preparation assistance and helping parents save and invest for their children's education.

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. To date, the FINRA Foundation has approved $14.7 million in grants and an additional $10.2 million in direct investor education programming. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. Created in 2007 through the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Member Regulation, FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business — from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms; writing and enforcing rules and the federal securities laws; informing and educating the investing public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit our Web site at

Established in 1876, the American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Its mission is "to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all." For more information, visit

Emily Howe
Senior Account Supervisor
Pro-Media Communications
244 5th Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001
(212) 245-0510; (212) 245-1889 Fax;

Now on to reviews of some new 'how to' titles for authors and publishers.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Art Of The Poetic Line
James Longenbach
Publicity Department
Graywolf Press
2402 University Avenue, Suite 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114
9781555974886, $12.00 1-651-641-0077

Poet and literary critic James Longenbach presents The Art Of The Poetic Line, a discussion of the function of the line in metered, rhymed, syllabic, and free-verse poetry. Drawing upon classic examples ranging from Shakespeare and Milton to Ashbery and Gluck, The Art of the Poetic Line demystifies ambiguous elements in creating poetry to evoke mood and experience. "Poems are poems because we want to listen to them. Some poems have a prominent argument; some poems don't. But all poems live or die on their capacity to lure us from their beginning to their ends by a pattern of sounds. This is why a poem we don't understand may seem wonderfully satisfying, and this is why a poem we understand all too well may also seem wonderfully satisfying. A poem may harness the power of meter, rhyme, syntax, and line to establish and disrupt a pattern of sounds, and a poem may with equal integrity reject the power of meter, rhyme, syntax, and line. But the poet needs to understand what she is rejecting as well as what she is harnessing." Highly recommended for poetry connoisseurs, and an absolute must-read for poets and would-be poets of all walks of life.

How To Publish Your Poetry
Helene Ciaravino
SquareOne Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY, 11040
0757000010, $15.95

Poetry is an especially difficult field in which to be published. An ideal instruction manual for aspiring poets seeking to have their poetry published, "How To Publish Your Poetry: A Complete Guide To Finding The Right Publishers For Your Work" by book editor, freelance writer, and published poet Helene Ciaravino has compiled a step-by-step 'how to' instruction manual that will materially assist the complete novice to publishing to have their poetry put into print and made available to as large a readership as possible. Writers of poetry seeking publication will be able to maximize their chances for becoming published; will learn how to create an effective submission package; avoid common mistakes in their attempt to become published; learn how to craft a cover letter for their manuscript that will attract the attention of acquisition editors; utilize a simple but practical seven-step system for becoming published; minimize the time, effort, and financial costs of becoming published; take advantage of available resources for the aspiring poet; learn about a diversity of outlets for poetry; and benefit from honing their skills at the craft of writing poetry. Of special note is what Helene Ciarvaino has to say about self-publishing with respect to poetry. Especially recommended for academic and community library Writing & Publishing reference collections, anyone contemplating becoming a published poet should give "How To Publish Your Poetry" a very careful reading. It is a veritable gold mine of practical, useful, time-tested information, ideas, and instructions.

Bylines: 2008 Writer's Desk Calendar
Sylvia Forbes
Sylvia Snowflake Press
PO box 522, Fayette, MO 65248
9781933509044, $13.95

I first became aware of Sylvia Forbes desk calendars for writers last year when I reviewed the 2007 edition of "Bylines". Now aspiring and practicing writers and authors have available to them the new "Bylines: 2008 Writer's Desk Calendar" as an indispensable and invaluable work-a-day reference that will provide useful daily structure for achieving their writing goals and ambitions. Enhanced with the inclusion of literary holidays to celebrate, goal planning suggestions, monthly task lists, pages for conference notes, listings of author birthdays, and extra pages for note taking such as marketing tips and email addresses, this new 2008 edition has been expanded to include a reproducible submission tracker form specifically designed for novice authors and professional freelancers seeking to keep track of manuscript and book proposal submissions to publishers; pages for phone numbers and for tracking writing expenses, plus fifty-three new inspirational and thoughtful essays by successful writers. Simply stated, the "Bylines: 2008 Writer's Desk Calendar" is enthusiastically recommended as the single most practical, utilitarian, and motivational resource any aspiring or practicing writer could have.

Webster's Business Writing Basics
Editors of Merriam-Webster
Federal Street Press
25-13 Old Kings Highway North, #277, Darien, CT 06820
1892859270, $9.98 1-877-886-2830

Webster's Business Writing Basics is a no-nonsense, easy-to-use handbook, self-improvement guide, quick reference, and all-around practical resource for business writers of all venues. From fifty different sample professional letters, to a straightforward handbook of grammar, style, and punctuation guidelines, tips on how to effectively use email in business, "netiquette" fundamentals, and much more, Webster's Business Writing Basics is enthusiastically recommended for anyone in or aspiring to join today's modern workforce. An especially invaluable reference for businesspeople who just graduated from college (the scholarly tone of most college writings differs from the brevity necessary to business writing), and businesspeople who may have learned English as a second language.

The Writer's Journey
Christopher Vogler
Michael Wiese Productions
3940 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781932907360, $26.95 1-800-833-5738

Originally published in October 1998, "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers by Christopher Vogler is now available in an updated and expanded third edition and continues to justifiably lay claim to being one of the most relied upon and influential instructional reference works for aspiring writers -- especially screenwriters. Drawing from the late Joseph Campbell's groundbreaking work, Vogler explores the historic and fundamental relationship between modern storytelling and classical mythology, and in the process reveals a set of useful myth-inspired storytelling paradigms, as well as step-by-step guidelines to plot and character development. This newest edition of a writer's reference classic includes a revised chapter that looks back on the 'Star Wars' phenomenon and an analysis of all six of the feature films as an epic on the theme of father-son relationships. There are new illustrations and diagrams providing additional perspectives to mythic principles. Of special note is the final chapter 'Trust the Path', an inspiring call to adventure for those aspiring writers seeking to discover themselves through their writing. A basic component of any personal, professional, academic, or community library basic writing reference collection, "The Writer's Journey" will now be of benefit to a whole new generation of movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, literary critics, academic scholars, writers of fiction and non-fiction, students of pop culture, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the adaptation of ancient myth to contemporary storytelling.

The Complete Guide To Writing Science Fiction
Dave A. Law & Darin Park, editors
Dragon Moon Press
c/o Hades Publications Inc.
PO Box 1714, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2P 2L7
9781896944395, $24.95

A comprehensive, deftly edited, 311-page 'how to' instruction guide for writing in the science fiction genre and any of its many subgenres, "The Complete Guide To Writing Science Fiction: Volume One" is a collection of superbly presented essays and articles by knowledgeable and successful writers ranging from Piers Anthony, to Orson Scott Card, to Tina Morgan. Beginning with Darin Park's 'Timeline: A History of Science Fiction', there are specific chapters dealing with the science and technology in science fiction, world building, the creating of aliens, the use of humor and drama, writing graphic novels in the genre, and even what to do with your science fiction short story or novel once it is written. Whether an aspiring writer yearning to break into science fiction, or even an experienced author with some publication credits in the genre, "The Complete Guide To Writing Science Fiction" will prove to be invaluable reading and instructive reference.

Beyond The Internet
Barbara A. Chernow
Bernan Press
4611-F Assembly Drive, Lanham, MD 20706-4391
9781598881738, $19.95 1-800-865-3457

"Beyond The Internet: Successful Research Strategies" by Barbara A. Chernow (a career encyclopedist, researcher and reference book editor who founded Chernow Editorial Services, Inc. specializing in producing professional books for a variety of publishers) is a critically important instructional reference book for aspiring authors, as well as anyone else engaged in a research project of any kind. Relying solely on the internet for acquiring information will prove to be inadequate because while the internet is a valuable research tool, the majority of documents and resources in the collections of libraries and archives have not been digitalized and made for internet access. Therefore writers and authors who must research their material need to be able to utilize all available resources at their disposal. "Beyond The Internet" was written for just that purpose and covers all the elements and factors relevant to the research process for best results. Thoroughly 'user friendly' itself, "Beyond The Internet" should be considered essential reading for all aspiring authors and is a core addition to any professional, academic, and community library Research Reference collection.

The Writer Within You
Charles Jacobs
Caros Books
16 Pinecrest Drive, Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677
Atlas Book Distributors
30 Amberwood Parkway, Ashland, OH 44805
9780979363603, $19.95 1-800-537-6727

Specifically written to be of value to retirees and other senior citizens, "The Writer Within You: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing And Publishing In Your Retirement Years" by author, editor, and publishing consultant Charles Jacobs provides the aspiring author with practical, detailed, useful and relevant information and guidance on how to write books and articles in six different genres, select the best publisher for a specific book and market, and how to promote their finished work. All of these principles and procedures are relevant for writers of any age, but are of specific utility to those ages 55 and older who have a wealth of life and career experiences to draw from in what they choose to write. While "The Writer Within You" is a stand-alone, single-volume, comprehensive instruction manual whose chapters cover becoming a writer, writing your book, publishing your book, marketing your book, marketing your book, writing and placing your articles, writing and promoting on the internet, and commercial writing. It should also be noted that Jacobs has created a retirement writing website at; plus a Retirement Writing Blog at You can even download a free sample chapter from the book at If you are a senior who wants to try your hand at writing books and/or articles, the begin with a careful reading of Charles Jacobs' "The Writer Within You".

A Book Is Born
Nancy C. Cleary, et al.
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc.
15115 Highway 36, Deadwood, OR, 97430
97819332279504, $24.00

The collaborative effort of Nancy C. Cleary and twenty-four published authors, "A Book Is Born" reveals what it is really like to earn a living as a writer. A after a brief foreword and introduction, "A Book Is Born" is divided into two main sections: Part One - '24 Mom Authors Tell All' in which the contributing authors provided informative examples of going through pre-publication work, author platform-building, pitching manuscripts and story ideas to prospective publishers, post-publication publicity and marketing demands upon the author, and even the 'post-partum'-like depression that afflicts many authors after their book is finished, in print, and available to the reading public. Part Two - 'The Secret to Publishing' is actually a writing/publishing curriculum of instruction complete with visual examples for every step of the publishing (and getting published) process. Of special note in this do-it-yourself curriculum for aspiring authors are the Four Principles every writer should understand and apply; the Universal Laws which are essential to a book being written; and Insider Secrets on the four publishing options available to writers -- and determining which particular one is best suited for them. "A Book Is Born" is especially 'user friendly' reading and an invaluable addition to every aspiring writer's reference collection and professional reading list.

Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:

In a message dated 10/26/2007 4:41:46 P.M. Central Daylight Time, PrevMeasures writes:

I am writing to you as a PMA member who has sent two novels to Midwest Book Review in the last year, neither of which has been reviewed by MBR so far. I'm wondering whether you can tell me what went wrong. We read carefully all the material on your website about what to send and did our best to comply with the guidelines, sending review copies and complete publicity kits for each book. Allan N. Press, Ph.D. -- PMI Books

Dear Allan:

I'm happy to respond because you did nothing wrong, nothing amiss. Both of your titles arrived with the appropriate accompanying paperwork and passed the initial screening process with no difficulty.

The problem lay solely in the dilemma facing all of the small presses that submit their books to the Midwest Book Review. That problem is that, because we are so well established and known throughout the publishing community as being particularly friendly to self-published authors, POD published authors, and small press publishers, we are inundated every month with more than 2,000 titles -- and have a roster of 76 reviewers to try to cope with those kinds of numbers.

Even so, we are able to collectively generate roughly 600 to 700 reviews a month. That's with our reviewers averaging about 9 or 10 book reviews each. Some only come in with one or two, a few come in with 20 or 30 or more, but the collective average for book reviews each month ranges somewhere between that 600 to 700 figure.

Even so, that also means that an average of 1300 to 1400 books never make the final cut and obtain review assignments. Not because they were flawed or inferior, but because there were simply too many of them for our available resources to handle.

So why, when the odds are stacked so highly against them, do so many folks try their luck and submit their books to the Midwest Book Review?

1. Because the odds against them getting reviewed elsewhere are even higher.

2. Because we have a reputation of trying our best to accommodate "the little guy".

3. Because we do succeed about one-third of the time.

And for those one-third who make it and get reviewed, that review hits what amounts to a multimedia book review jackpot.

In addition to the review appearing in one or more of our nine monthly book review publications, it is also tagged to Amazon and other online databases, archived on the Midwest Book Review website for five years, posted to thematically appropriate Internet discussion groups and websites, and is faithfully forwarded to the publisher for use in their own promotion and marketing efforts.

There are three or four categories of books that have a particularly tough time because of the sheer numbers of competing titles in their particular areas. They are (in no particular order):

1. Poetry
2. Fiction
3. Biography/Memoir
4. Self-Help

Still, just look at the review columns devoted to these particular subjects and you'll find that every month some dozen or more such titles in each of these categories do make it through and get reviewed.

Because yours is not an uncommon experience, I will be sharing this correspondence in an upcoming "Jim Cox Report" for the benefit of other publishers who might have the same questions you did.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

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 generous folk decided to say thank you and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Maly M. Kiendl
Robert J. Noonan
Morrie Warshawski
Lisa Earle McLeod
Megusta Publishing
Gerard L. Cullen -- "Areozoo"
Peter F. Crowley -- "Outdoor Follies"
Shelley Parsons -- "Quieting the Storm"
Phyllis Collmann -- "Rose's Triumphant Return"
Donald P. Meyer -- "Jennifer's Plan"
Kelly Lyons -- "One Million Men"
Vivek -- "Lies, Lies and More Lies"
Jeanie Okimoto -- "Winston of Churchill"
Tim Bramlett -- "Sharkey Explores the Unknown"
Ok Soon Schroeder -- "Journey from the Han River"
Bob Gebelein -- Omdega Press
Larry Uri -- Storywright Books
Beth Boyrs -- StarMist Books
E. Andrew Martonyi -- Schoolside Press
Deltina Hay -- Dalton Publishing
Deana Riddle -- Community Press
Lee Hall -- Babbling Books
Ron Kaplan -- Kapland Records
Cathy Feldman -- Blue Point Books
Jocelyn Munroe -- Big Tomato Press
Sylvia Forbes -- Snowflake Press
Linda Austin -- Moonbridge Publications
Wright Giles -- RiverHouse Books
Tolya L. Thompson -- Savor Publishing House
Stacy Kannenberg -- Cedar Valley Publishing
Chris Davis -- Lighthearted Press
Yossi Leverton -- Hachai Publishing
Pat mcDonough -- Terra Sancta Press
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!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

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

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