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Jim Cox Report: January 2009

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the perks I've enjoyed over the last decade or so has been to be continually selected as one of the Audio Publishers Association's annual "Audie Awards" judges. Each year the invitation shows up in the form of an email. For example for the 2008 contest for the 2009 award it was as follows:

Audies 2009: You Have been Selected as a Judge
Date: 9/5/2008 11:32:06 A.M. Central Daylight Time

Congratulations James!

You have been selected to judge the first round of the 2009 Audies (R). Your judging category will be SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY.

You will receive a partial shipment of the titles for your category by September 8. If you do not receive your package by this date please contact APA at The titles included in this shipment will be listed on a letter in the package your receive. Please be sure to check that all of the titles were received as soon as you get your package. The balance of titles will be sent to you in November.

Please note that judging scores for this round are due on January 5, 2009 and that this is a firm deadline.

Also enclosed in the package will be the evaluation guidelines that detail the criteria you should consider while listening to each entry.

Your participation in this process ensures the success of The Audies (R) competition. Thanks again for your participation.

J. Laskas
Audio Publishers Association

My judging for the 2008 entries for the 2009 award is now over and my judgements sent in. It's one of the best jobs on planet earth! All I have to do is play them in the background while I work or at night as I'm in bed and getting ready to sleep. The really good ones are those that are so well done in both execution and content that they either compel me to stop working or to stay up all night!!

I was originally selected those many years (and contests) ago because one of the regular monthly review columns I write is "The Audiobook Shelf". I see virtually all the audiobooks from all the major and most of the minor audio book publishers -- and that includes not only the trade editions from such well known companies as Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan etc., but also the principle library trade publishers of audiobooks like Brilliance Audio and Recorded Books, and even the foreign imports like Canada's BTC Audio Books, Britan's Clipper Audio, and Australia's Bolinda Publishing. Plus scores and scores of the self-published and small publisher equivalents of audio book publishing.

Just as with print book publishing, the marketability of an audio book begins with the packaging. How attractive to the consuming public the audio book's "front cover" looks, how engaging the "back cover" is in turns of descriptive information. But unlike a print book there are two additional and fundamental elements necessary for commercial success. The first is the "listening quality" of the narration. The second is the "technical quality" of the recording itself.

These standards of evaluation, whether in the context of judging a contest or being a prospective purchaser in a store, or as an acquisition selection for a library, will determine which audio books are basically marketable in the short term, as well as commercially successful in the long run.

Fortunately there is no need for anyone to have to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to transforming a print book into an audio book format -- or market that audio book in a highly competitive (and at present a highly stressed) economy.

Here's an excellent "how to" book that should be read by anyone contemplating producing an audio book:

Self-Publishing in Audio and Making Money from the Start
Julian Padowicz
BFI AudioBooks
1397 Hope Street, Stamford, CT 06907
1881288153 $12.95 1-800-260-7717

Audio books (which got their start as books on tape for the visually impaired) has evolved into a significant element of the book publishing industry, attracting a vast consumer public to the delights and convenience of the audio book as they travel, work, or simply relax. Just as in print publishing, the conglomerate companies are finding themselves with an increasing competition in audiobook publishing from the independent publisher. In Self-Publishing in Audio and Making Money from the Start, author and publisher Julian Padowicz instructs the listener with the techniques and "how-to" information necessary to successfully producing and marketing an audiobook. Because recording technology advances, the start up and production costs have significantly decreased allowing almost anyone to produce, duplicate, and profitably market an audiobook. the start up and production costs have is essential listening for any writer or aspiring audiobook publisher seeking to expand into this whole new world of publishing.

Here's another:

Words On Tape
Judy Byers
Audio CP Publishing
1660 S. Albion, #309, Denver, CO 80222
0965572145 $27.95 1-800-582-9392

Words On Tape is a "how-to" manual for creation spoken word audio cassettes and compact discs (CD). Readers will learn how to develop, record and sell audio books, follow tested marketing strategies for bookstore, and non-traditional retailing (seminars, workshops, distance learning courses, promotional tapes, etc.). Also covered is selling on the Internet, virtual products, CD-ROMs, and much more. Words On Tape provides the forms needed, templates that can be used, and a complete resource section for further information. Words On Tape is an invaluable reference for any print publisher considering adding an audiobook component to their inventory lines, and for anyone planning to launch their own audio cassette or CD based book publishing enterprise.

Now on to reviews of the latest batch of "how to" books on the subjects of writing and publishing to cross my desk this past month:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Word Power
John Fleming
University Press of America
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780761838043, $34.00,

Words have power, and a grand vocabulary is a sure way to let someone know you aren't just any old dullard. "Word Power: A Dictionary of Fascinating Learned Words and Phrases for Vocabulary Enrichment" is, if one were to simplify it to the most simple of terms, a dictionary. However, its content focuses on a wider range of words from slang to archaic words to the obscene to even deeply scientific terms. "Word Power" is a must for anyone who wants to paint a picture with the English language and wants all the colors available.

The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
Robert Hendrickson
Facts On File, Inc.
c/o Infobase Publishing
132 West 31st Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001
9780816069668, $95.00 1-800-322-8755

Now in an updated and expanded fourth edition, The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins is a massive reference jam-packed with definitions and origins of more than 15,000 words and expressions. From "all gussied up" to "zoot suit", each entry offers plain, no-nonsense information about the history and usage of each phrase (or the best known theories of the phrase's origin). Highly recommended especially for public library reference collections. "Zombie was originally the snake god worshiped in West Indian voodoo ceremonies based upon the worship of the python god in West Africa. Since dead people were said to be brought to life in these ceremonies, such imagined corpses shuffling along half dead and half alive were called zombies. By the 1920s this word naturally became applied to any oafish 'dummy' without much intelligence or spirit. It is also the name of a cocktail that makes one feel like a zombie."

2009 Writer's Market
Robert Lee Brewer, Editor
Writer's Digest Books
4700 East Galbriath Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
F&W Publications, Inc. (distributor)
700 East State Street, Iola, WI 54990, 1-800-726-9966
1582975418, $29.99

Written by writers for writers, this 2009 edition of Writer's Market packs in over 700 new listings plus interviews and provides the latest contact information and submission guidelines for over 3,500 markets from literary magazines and theatres to greeting card companies and book publishers. The latest information and submission guidelines is accompanied by interviews with Amy Silverstein and others, updated pay rate charts for pros, and tabbed pages for quick and easy location of info. Every lending library at the public or high school forward level must have this.

Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences
Janice Bell
W.W. Norton
500 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10110
9780393067712, $21.95

CLEAN, WELL-LIGHTED SENTENCES: A GUIDE TO AVOIDING THE MOST COMMON ERRORS IN GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION is for any who know they want to write, but who aren't confident in the use of grammar and punctuation. The most common errors in American sentences are covered from a teacher who holds over thirty-five years in a variety of university and business teaching settings, and appear in chapters easy to access and understand. Any library catering to ESL students or high school to college-level users will find this a light, accessible read.

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

Re: December 2008 Jim Cox Report
Date: 12/5/2008 9:52:46 A.M. Central Standard Time

Jim, I know that it's your policy to allow people to use excerpts from your newsletter. I wanted you to know that I would be putting your editorial in the Dec. 11th edition of my Sharing with Writers newsletter. Your lead was just "too good to waste." (-:

Also in terms of helps for writers in a down time, I thought I'd mention that because of cuts in the publishing industry, a great query letter is more important than ever because competition is greater. I just received a letter from a writer (Treacy Clement) who said that the chapters in The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on writing and editing query letters had made all the difference for her. After reading it, she had removed a couple of things from her letter that my list of agent-advisors had warned against and had come up with the perfect attention-catching opening line. (I know you have that book in your collection of writing books. (-; )

I see it was your birthday! My husband was born November 6. You Scorpios are the never-get-old kinds of guys. Did you know that? (-: Happy belated birthday wishes.

So, here's to a happy and, yes, prosperous 2009!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Dear "Jim Cox Report" readers:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a cyberspace "pen pal" of mine in the publishing industry and I thought I'd utilize her latest email to illustrate two things. Firstly, everyone and anyone has complete and automatic permission to utilize anything I write (in this instance it was last month's "Jim Cox Report" editorial on 'An Economic Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste' -- if you missed it, you will find it archived at as content for your newsletter, website, speech, book, or classroom handouts. Just be sure to give the usual citation credit when doing so.

The second is thing is an example of how to "win friends and influence people" by adding a personal touch to your snail-mail and e-mail communiques when corresponding with other professionals (and amateurs for that matter) within the publishing industry. It's such a small thing and it can have such large benefits to future requests and projects!

Now I thought I give you a glimpse into how we here at the Midwest Book Review handle the posting of informative articles to the "Advice for Writers & Publishers" section of the Midwest Book Review website.

When I receive something written of special interest and value by someone esle I first and always ask their permission to add their post to this particular subsection of our website. And if it's something I've written I've always give myself permission to do so -- and see no reason to change anytime in the foreseeable future!

When permission is received (and this has always happened over the better part of the last three decades with but one solitary exception because that author was intending to incorporate her article into a forthcoming book), I then send that article onto my managing editor. Then when it's been posted on our website my daughter send me a confirmation notice that looks like this:

Subject: Advice for Publishers articles added
Date: 12/4/2008 11:51:24 P.M. Central Standard Time

The Advice for Publishers articles

"Amazon Book Review Guidelines"

"Creating Author & Publisher Email Taglines"

"The Five Deadly Sins of Submitting Self-Published Books for Review"

"How to Get Good PR Without Big Retainers"

have been added to our website.

B. Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

Our database of informed and informative "how to" articles of advice and commentary grows larger by the month. If you haven't checked it out lately, then I advise you to go to:

and see what's new since the last time your browsed the list!

As to why this is an on-going service we dedicate so much time and energy and web site space to, there are two fundamental reasons. Here's an example of the first:

Subject: Searching the web
Date: 12/7/2008 9:03:56 A.M. Central Standard Time

While looking for websites that would be appropriate places to list our
startup epublishing venture, we came across Midwest Book Review. Since
then we have spent hours trying to follow as many of the links and
sublinks as we could. What a wealth of information. Thank you for putting
so much together in one place.

Treegard Publishing LLC

As for the second reason -- it's one of the ways we demonstrate and justify our continuing eligibility and worthwhileness to receive a renewal of the foundation grants that help to fund the Midwest Book Review as we strive to achieve our mission goals of promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

Speaking of libraries, selling to them is an important element in most book marketing plans. Here's my response when a relevant question concerning "marketing to libraries" was raised:

Subject: Fwd: [Self-Publishing] Selling to Libraries
Date: 3/3/2008 9:03:05 A.M. Central Daylight Time
From: writes:

I am trying to figure out what the best way would be to sell copies of my book to libraries. What is the best approach? What type of information should I include in an information packet to the library? Any and all help would be very much appreciated.

Thank You,

Jim McIntosh
Mackintosh Jewelry Studios

Dear Jim

If your book hasn't been published yet, try to get your galley or proof accepted for review by "The Library Journal".

If it's already published, try to get your book picked up by Quality Press in Chicago as they have the best sales rep staff for libraries nation-wide.

Utilize your local community library staff to help you identify the regional state library directors in your state, a mailing list of the libraries in your state, and a list of Friends of the Library groups in your state. This would be an invaluable database to utilize in your marketing.

This is also an invaluable resource to identify and plan for state, regional, and the national Library Association conventions.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Well, I think that's about enough Q&A for now.

As usual, 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:

Jim Gill
Pete Roller
Hal Gauger
Henry Hoffman
Sunny Serafino
Bart Brevik -- "Outer Darkness"
Kenneth Shelby Armstrong -- "Robin"
Sandra Worth -- "The King's Daughter"
Wendy Dolber -- "The Guru Next Door"
Vell Sweeny -- "The Moon Says It Will"
Margaret Brettschneider -- "Mutti's War"
Ehtel Lee-Miller -- "Thinking of Miller Place"
Diane Pinkard -- "Just Treat Me Like I Matter"
Robyn Y. Demby -- "What the Storyteller Brings"
KA Shott -- "Hysterical Orgasm-Medical Murder"
Atriad Press
Oak Tree Press
Gingerbread House
Oceanview Publishing
Baad Publishing Company
Edenscape Publishing Company
Barry Nathan -- Vilasa Press
Debra Murphy -- Idylls Press
Toni Dockter -- FWE Publishing
Jennifer Holdt -- Almaden Books
Eddy Wood -- Summertime Books
Jo A. Wilkins -- Mystic Publishers
Shari Faden donahue -- Arimax Inc.
Alan Venable -- One Monkey Books
Joyce Geeting -- Chamber Music Plus
Sheila Waldman -- Tristan Publishing
Ginnetta Corveli -- Marshmallow Press
Kathryn Troutman -- The Resume Place
Pamela A. Johnson -- One World Image
Jerry Pollock -- Shechinah Third Temple
Mark Forman -- Light-Beams Publishing
Michael Cassidy -- Clover leaf Publishing
Lawrence Siddall -- Pelham Springs Press
Robert E. Shofstall -- Nite Owl Publishing
George Scott -- Fountain City Publishing Company
J. M. Ainsworthe -- Prestige Management of Florida
Allice Harrison & Susan G. Hammond -- ArtPress Publishing LLP
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Margyglenn McCombs -- MM Book Publicity

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!

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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