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Jim Cox Report: June 2006

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

It's a beautiful spring day outside, my garden is an explosion of plants with a rainbow of colors, and whole tribes of squirrels and flocks of birds who are becoming re-acquainted with our many different trees. So why am I stuck here in my office in front of a computer keyboard? Because it's once again time for the "Jim Cox Report"!

In a message dated 6/3/2006 4:31:54 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

I was just looking at a book you reviewed on and saw that you had reviewed other books. I clicked and saw over 70 reviews all only 5 star no other star rating. I investigate further and you or your company has done even more reviews all 5 star. I can not believe with all the books you have reviewed that they are all 5 star books.

Please explain how you can justify giving every book 5 stars?


Dear Vivian:

Because they are reviews of books deemed to be appropriate reads for their intended audiences, and many times because they are by mid-list authors, novice authors, self-published authors, POD published titles, or come from small presses that don't have the resources to compete in the marketplace with the big publishing houses I arbitrarily give them all a five star rating.

I've always felt that a "five star" or "thumbs up/down" system to be an un-useful and even misleading shorthand classification mechanism with no objective standardization (one's person's 5 is another one's 3, etc), but Amazon insists upon it, so we go along with it.

If a book isn't good enough to pass our initial screening then it doesn't get reviewed in the first place. If a book passes the screening process but gets a review that is negative we don't run the review in Amazon (although it will make it to our book review archives on our website). That's why we only post on Amazon reviews of books that are deemed by the screening process conducted by myself, and in the reviewer's personal and/or professional opinion, to be worth while reading.

And to get reviewed that book had to be good enough to beat out 2,000 competing titles that arrived for review consideration in the same month it did.

Our bylaws do not permit authors or publishers to contribute financially to the Midwest Book Review in order to avoid conflict of interest issues. All of our services are free and without cost to authors and their publishers. We are principally supported by two annual foundation grants. Our three-fold mission statement is to support literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. So those five star ratings have nothing to do with who their authors or publishers happen to be.

I invite you to visit our website at for more information about who we are and how we operate.

Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review

It has been a lively month for email correspondence! Here's another:

In a message dated 5/31/2006 8:30:46 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Hi Jim, this is Dave Jensen. I used to ask you questions about getting the novel I wrote published, but I haven't emailed you in a while because I ran out of avenues to follow. I was wondering, do you have any advice for finding a literary agent?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Dave Jensen

Dear Dave:

Go to the Midwest Book Review website at then click on "Writer's Bookshelf". Then scroll down the book reviews until you come to the two that are specific for books about how to obtain the services of literary agents. Ask for them from your local library. Read them carefully. Then proceed as you deem most appropriate with respect to your own circumstances and finances.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Note: A good literary agent can go where you can't, see what you couldn't, sell where you'd be refused, -- all while helping you to become a better writer and your book to be a better book. A bad literary agent will waste your time, money, energy, enthusiasm, and morale. So if you are going to go the literary agent route (and it's a tough route to follow) then read the various "how to" books on getting a literary agent, -- and then having gotten one, get your money's worth out of him or her.

In a message dated 5/25/2006 10:04:14 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

Dear Mr. Cox, is an independent online consignment book store for self published authors. You recently reviewed America's Controversies written by Kesenija Arsic, one of our clients. She has requested we use that review on our site to help promote her book. I understand you make your reviews available to online book sellers and would like to use it. How do I proceed? I would appreciate any assistance you could give me. Thank you for your Time.

Anna Derks

Dear Anna:

You have my permission to utilize the review in any manner you deem useful in promoting and marketing the book.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

Note: I've long felt that anything the Midwest Book Review can do to expand the number and types of forums in which our reviews are made available to the reading public was a "win-win" situation for the author, the publisher, the reviewer, and the Midwest Book Review. That expansion of forums most assuredly includes online bookstores well beyond the 800 pound gorilla that is -- For authors and small press publishers who must bear the burdens of publicity and promotion on limited (and sometimes nearly non-existent) promotion budgets, getting reviews of their books into as many online databases as possible is one of the most cost effective strategies you can have when it comes to marketing your title in the increasingly competitive environment that is book selling.

In a message dated 5/6/2006 8:15:22 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

"I would like to understand the process of obtaining professional reviews." This is what I recommend to and anyone else in a similar position:

1. Go to the Midwest Book Review website at

2. Click on "Advice for Publishers"

3. The read the various articles I have written on book reviewing, the book review process, how to get reviewed, and what to do with a review once you have it.

4. Be sure to read the article "How to Spot a Phony Book Reviewer". It will save you a heap of money and aggravation.

5. Then click on "Book Lover Resources" and go to the subsection "Other Reviewers". There you will find a lengthy list of freelance book reviewers, book review publications, book review websites, etc. I've vetted all of them and they are legitimate. But not all of them would be thematically appropriate (e.g., some specialize in poetry, some in feminist literature, some in Science Fiction/Fantasy, etc.). Just go down the list and when you see one that looks promising, click on it and you'll be zapped to their particular website. Look it over and you'll be able to determine if they are a good fit for your kind of title.

And don't forget the Midwest Book Review! Our services are free (in order to avoid any conflict of interest issues) and our submission guidelines are quite simple. We are a general book review that publishes four library newsletters and six online book review magazines, in addition to providing reviews for, Book Review Index, Lexus-Nexus, Goliath,, and other such online databases, websites and internet discussion groups of particular interest to book dealers, librarians, academicians, and the general reading public.

We require a published copy of the book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release.

The more pristine your book (meaning the less scarred by "Review Copy Only, Not for Resale" stamping or disfigurement, the better your chances are of being picked for review. And that's especially important when you consider that we are averaging more than 2,000 titles a month coming in for review consideration -- and I've got 76 reviewers to try to cope with it all.

Direct your submissions to my attention. Here's the address info:

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

I'll now conclude as I usually do with an expression of personal gratitude to all the new inductees into the "Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall of Fame & Appreciation" who have so generously donated postage stamps for our use in mailing out those tear sheets and notification letters to authors and publishers who made the cut and had their books reviewed in one of our book review publications or radio broadcasts.

Michael Perilstein - "The Complete Professional Audition"
Henry Martin - "The Silence Before Dawn"
Richard E. Sall - "Straightjacket"
Guy Dealno - "Delano's Code"
Grant F. Smith - "Deadly Dogma"
Jessie Coleman - "Sex on the Side"
Marv Gold - "Wither, Thou Ghost"
Win Straube - "Enjoying the Ride"
Patrick W. Miller - "Body Language on the Job"
Jean Peelen - "Invisible No More"
Alfred Wllnitz - "Finding the Way"
Liv - "Rock Party Fun for Everyone!"
Joan Hecht - "The Journey of the Lost Boys"
William H. Roetsheim - "Thoughts I Left Behind"
F. Alexandra Brennan - "The Power of Leadership Foundation First"
Rebecca Sharp Colmer - "The Senior's Guide Series"
Sandra Shwayder Sanches - "Envious Shadows
Vera Kaikobad - "Numerology for Relationships: A Guide to Birth Numbers"
Patrick Donovan & Herb Joiner-Bey - "The Face of Consciousness"
Golden Horse Ltd.
URPI Press
Europa Editions
Yard Dog Press
Orchard Publications
Tealemon Publications
Healing Society, Inc.
Future West Publishing
Gemstone House Publishing
Toni Hull - Epic Book Promotions
Kerry Sherck - Bar Nothing Books
Charles L. Convis - Pioneer Press
Reggie Marra - From The Heart Press
Thomas S. Lawrence - Red Ginger Publishing Company
David C. Homsher - Battleground Productions
Carol Swailes - Alpaca Publishing Group
Mary Schupak - Youth Sports Club
Jim Michael Hansen - Dark Sky Publishing Inc.
Mitch Borgosz - Ampol Publishing Inc.
Regis Schilken - Bridgeway Books
Gene Shaffer - Thunder Ridge Publishing
Mark Tomback - Mooring Field Books
Judy Geary - High Country Publishers
Carol Petranchenko - Sun Topaz
Barbara A. Edelman - Gebbie Press Inc.
Stephen R. Bastien - Make A Difference Publications
Diana M. Johnson - Superior Book Publishing Company
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - "Waldmania!"
Sarah Statz Cords - The End Product (indexing, writing, editing)
Anonymous - Madison, Wisconsin

Well that's it for now. I'm heading out into that back garden which is currently filled from fence-line to fence-line with sun and shade. So as I always close my KNLS radio commentaries, I'll bid you 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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