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Jim Cox Report: June 2021

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The theme for this month is publishing as a business beginning with the impact of the digital book upon traditional publishing, publishing as a business in the 21st Century in general, and the business of publishing as it applies to authors in particular.

Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing
John B. Thompson
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781509546787, $35.00, HC, 450pp

Synopsis: "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" by John B. thompson is the story of the turbulent decades when the book publishing industry collided with the great technological revolution of our time. From the surge of ebooks to the self-publishing explosion and the growing popularity of audiobooks, "Book Wars" provides a comprehensive and fine-grained account of technological disruption in one of our most important and successful creative industries.

Like other sectors, publishing has been thrown into disarray by the digital revolution. The foundation on which this industry had been based for 500 years (the packaging and sale of words and images in the form of printed books) was called into question by a technological revolution that enabled symbolic content to be stored, manipulated and transmitted quickly and cheaply. Publishers and retailers found themselves facing a proliferation of new players who were offering new products and services and challenging some of their most deeply held principles and beliefs. The old industry was suddenly thrust into the limelight as bitter conflicts erupted between publishers and new entrants, including powerful new tech giants who saw the world in very different ways. The book wars had begun!

While ebooks were at the heart of many of these conflicts, Thompson argues that the most fundamental consequences lie elsewhere. The print-on-paper book has proven to be a remarkably resilient cultural form, but the digital revolution has transformed the industry in other ways, spawning new players which now wield unprecedented power and giving rise to an array of new publishing forms. Most important of all, it has transformed the broader information and communication environment, creating new challenges and new opportunities for publishers as they seek to redefine their role in the digital age.

An unrivalled account of the book publishing industry as it faces its greatest challenge since Gutenberg, "Book Wars" will be essential reading for anyone interested in books and their future.

Critique: An inherently fascinating history of the publishing industry over the last three decades, "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" is an extraordinary study and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for anyone with an interest in how and why the publishing industry works as it does today. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" is a very highly recommended addition to community, college and university library Media Studies collections in general, and Book Publishing supplemental studies collections in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of authors, publishers, booksellers, bibliophiles, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.00).

Editorial Note: John B. Thompson is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Emeritus Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. His previous books include "Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century" and "Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media".

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century
John B. Thompson
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9780745663616, $67.50, HC, 456pp

Synopsis: Exacerbated by the global pandemic, these are turbulent times in the world of book publishing. For nearly five centuries the methods and practices of book publishing remained largely unchanged, but at the dawn of the twenty-first century the industry finds itself faced with perhaps the greatest challenges since Gutenberg. A combination of economic pressures and technological change is forcing publishers to alter their practices and think hard about the future of the books in the digital age.

In this updated second edition of "Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century" (which, published in 2012 was the first major study of trade publishing for more than 30 years at the time), Professor John B. Thompson situates the current challenges facing the industry in an historical context, analysing the transformation of trade publishing in the United States and Britain since the 1960s. He gives a detailed account of how the world of trade publishing really works, dissecting the roles of publishers, agents and booksellers and showing how their practices are shaped by a field that has a distinctive structure and dynamic.

Critique: A new paperback edition of "Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century" (Plume, 9780452297722, $20.00, 464pp) has been thoroughly revised and updated to take account of the most recent developments, including the dramatic increase in ebook sales and its implications for the publishing industry and its future. It should be noted for personal, professional, community, college and university library Media, Publishing, and Communications collections and supplemental study lists that "Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: John B. Thompson is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Emeritus Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. His previous books include "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" and "Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media".

Business Basics for Authors
Hank Quense
Strange Worlds Publishing
9780985779153, $4.99 ebook

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Business Basics for Authors emphasizes to authors that they aren't just creative spirits by being writers—they are actually running a business that requires the business sense provided in this how-to guide.

The purpose of this book is to review the basics in a user-friendly manner that will appeal to writers who have little economic or business backgrounds.

Hank Quense cultivates a non-technical, almost chatty tone as he explains why so many authors fail to see their books get attention: "I believe a major reason that authors fail to sell books is because they don't think like a business owner. Businesses use highly developed marketing plans to introduce a new product to the public. These businesses do that because it has been proven to work. Many inexperienced authors use a shotgun approach to marketing (when they do any marketing!). Their efforts are without a focus and are piecemeal instead of continuous. In other words, the marketing proceeds without a plan to direct the activities. Most often, the author business, too, will be without a plan."

The focus is on the business of making a book accessible, gaining publicity for it, and handling the basics of keeping track of business income, expenses, and goals.

Chapters do more than generalize about these facets. They provide specific references to computer programs, organizational techniques, marketing strategies, and methods of business promotion and management which offer the nuts and bolts of success.

From identifying customers and competitors and handling both to assessing business resources and even starting one's own publishing company, all the basics are provided for marketing both author and book.

Another added benefit to this discourse is that it doesn't just stem from Hank Quense's own experiences. Other authors were consulted on how they managed their book business, what were the most important challenges they faced during the process, and their successes and failures at being an author.

Their answers, combined with Quense's advice, makes for a how-to guide that will help budding authors navigate the process of turning a book into a business pursuit, avoiding many common pitfalls along the way.

Business Basics for Authors is highly recommended reading for any writer new to the business, or who faces a wall of problems getting their work into print and on the public's radar.

Now here is a review of books that will be of particular and special interest to writers and their publishers:

Your Story, Well Told
Corey Rosen
Mango Publishing
9781642504651, $16.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: Telling stories well is a skill we all aspiring authors and actors need if they are to succeed. We've all got stories to tell -- but how do you make your story the best?

In the pages of "Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience" Emmy-award winning writer, actor, and storytelling teacher Corey Rosen inspires authors and actors tell their story using the best storytelling techniques derived from improvisational theatre.

"Your Story, Well Told" is accessible guide for all ages and skill levels. Crafted to help ordinary people tell extraordinary stories, this laugh out loud handbook covers everything from how to tell a good story to going off script.

"Your Story, Well Told" reveals how to sell yourself through the art of telling stories either in person or on paper. The best story telling uses improvisation to enthrall, entertain, and keep audiences on edge. Laugh along with tales of performance triumphs (and disasters) and explore ways to tell your story with confidence and spontaneity.

From brainstorming and development to performance and memorization techniques, "Your Story, Well Told" shows how to tell a good story with: A variety of structures and editing approaches to bring out your best story; Improv exercises to stimulate creativity without feeling foolish; Quick and easy lessons on building stories; Resources for putting on a showcase to tell your story.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary style, organization and presentation, "Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience" is primarily intended for performing entertainers, but also has great relevance for writers as well. While highly recommended for community library Theatre/Cinema/TV and Writing/Publishing DIY instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?
Bella Mahaya Carter
She Writes Press
9781647420659, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: In the pages of "Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?: Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book", seasoned creative writing coach and author Bella Mahaya Carter shows aspiring writers how to use their present circumstances as stepping-stones to a successful and meaningful writing life by navigated from the inside out. Bella encourages writers and authors to rethink their ambitions (which may be fueled by the tyrannical demands of the ego) and trust in their heartfelt purpose and values in the journey to becoming, or continuing on, as authors.

Many writers believe their self-sabotaging thoughts are trustworthy and true. They take rejection personally. They surmise that if they don't achieve their goals they have failed, and lose sight of who they are and what matters most.

This instructive guide and DIY manual is for writers looking for inspiration and for authors daunted by the publishing process, who might lack the requisite author platform to get published the way they dreamed, or whose careers may not be unfolding as expected. It aims to be the friend and trusted expert writers turn to when hijacked by their own thinking. Ultimately, it reminds authors that they are infinite creators.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, informed and informative, erudite and eloquent, practical and useful, detailed and comprehensive, "Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?: Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation making it an ideal DIY 'how to' manual for being a successfully published author in today's volatile and competitive publishing industry. While strongly recommended, especially for community, college and university library Writing/Publishing reference collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone seeking to establish themselves in a successful writing career that "Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?: Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Bella Mahaya Carter is a creative writing teacher, empowerment coach, speaker, and author of an award-winning memoir, Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy, and Secrets of My Sex, a collection of narrative poems. She has worked with hundreds of writers over the past eleven years and has degrees in literature, film production, and spiritual psychology. Her poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, articles, and interviews have appeared in Mind, Body, Green; The Sun; Lilith; Fearless Soul; Writer's Bone; Women Writers, Women's Books; Chic Vegan; Bad Yogi Magazine; Jane Friedman's Blog; Pick The Brain; Spiritual Medial Blog; Literary Mama; several anthologies, and elsewhere. She lives in Studio City, California. Visit her online:

Tracking Changes
Ramona Richards
New Hope Publishers
PO Box 830711, Birmingham, AL 35283-0711
9781563094163, $9.99, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: More than just another instructive book about how to write, "Tracking Changes: One Editor's Advice to Inspirational Fiction Authors" by veteran editor and publisher Ramona Richards is about how to be a writer for God in an ever-changing publishing industry that can challenge even the most determined writer.

Comprised of a series of 46 essays, "Tracking Changes" looks at what it means to be a working writer in today's market. Some of the topics covered include: What an editor looks for in the first pages of a manuscript; How manuscripts are chosen for publication; Why manuscripts get rejected; What editors look for in a writer; How to work with a publisher after acceptance; The stages of a thorough production process -- and the edits involved; The benefits of networking, social media, and writers conferences.

A writer's journey toward publication can be a struggle. Drawing on her 40 years of work in Christian publishing, Ramona offers encouragement and advice to help make that path a little easier.

Critique: With the underlying messages that 'Our ability to skillfully string words together is a gift from God one we should use to the best of our ability to honor Him', Ramona Richards' DIY instructional guide and manual for aspiring writers seeking to become published authors is especially and unreservedly recommended. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, and also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "Tracking Changes: One Editor's Advice to Inspirational Fiction Authors" should be considered an essential and core addition to personal, professional, community, college and university library Writing/Publishing collections.

Editorial Note: Ramona Richards has been an editor for 40 years and a writer for even longer. The author of 11 books, she has worked on staff with Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Rutledge Hill Press, and Ideals magazine. She is now the associate publisher for Iron Stream Media, the parent company of New Hope Publishers, New Hope Kidz, Iron Stream Books, Ascender Books, and LPC Books.

Word for Word: A Writer's Life
Laurie Lisle
Artemis Editions
9781735980119, $28.95, HC, 290pp

Synopsis: Raised in a traditional 1950s New England family, Laurie Lisle rejected the boundaries of her upbringing and followed her drive to write. Coming of age during the women's liberation movement, she joined Newsweek shortly after it was sued for sexism, hoping to find new opportunities for women writers -- but she had to fight for every step forward.

"Word for Word: A Writer's Life" is the dramatic story of Lisle's determination to become a published author, from her early days in journalism to writing her groundbreaking biographies of legendary artists Georgia O'Keeffe and Louise Nevelson. Lisle discusses the demands of writing honestly about others and herself while unflinchingly sharing successes, stumbling blocks, and relationships that threatened to silence her written voice.

In this frank memoir, Lisle asks what a writer-or anyone devoted to self-expression in the arts-needs to flourish and find fulfillment in work and life. She shares insights from artists and other authors and reflects on the way nature nurtures a literary life. Throughout, she examines how the private and professional parts of a writer's life intertwine, explores what enables words to flow and what stops them, and shows where the writing life can ultimately lead.

Critique: An inherently fascinating memoir, deftly crafted, impressively informative, thoughtful, thought provoking, truly memorable, and especially recommended reading for any and all aspiring writers, "Word for Word: A Writer's Life" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community, college and university library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Journalism/Authorship writing/publishing supplemental studies curriculums in particular.

Editorial Note: Laurie Lisle writes about the lives of American women, including her own. Her first biography was "Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe", which was followed by "Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life". She has also written about being child free in "Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness" and about gardening in the hills of northwestern Connecticut in "Four Tenths of an Acre: Reflections on a Gardening Life". Her fifth book is about her girls' high school, "Westover: Giving Girls a Place of Their Own".

Finally, "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly 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 to our postage stamp fund this past month:

Kitty Daley
Bedri Cag Cetin -- "Sacred Life"
Sarah Zabel -- "Fighting Chance"
Bill Garwin -- "City of Schemes"
Michael Devendorf -- "Deciduous"
Charles Larimer -- "Love & Valor"
Jay Feldman -- "Circumcision Scar"
William Michael Ried -- "Backstory"
Craig Biorn -- "Bilan's Journey of Hope"
Dorothy Rice -- "Gray Is the New Black"
Cheryl Wilder -- "Anything That Happens"
John P. Boyle -- "A Child's Bucket of Lives"
Barry Vitcov -- "Where I Live Some of the Time"
Rosemary Mild -- "In My Next Life I'll Get It Right"
Bill Cotter -- "A Collection of US Army Unit Crests"
Steve Lamperti -- "The Patron Saint of Birds: Stories"
Kitty Felde -- "Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza"
Jonathan & Sherrie Benumof -- "Letters From The Heart"
Alan Kessler -- "A Satan Carol: A Spiritual Horror Story for Secular Readers"
Roberta Paul -- K+P Press
Nan Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
Vivien Schapera -- Lion & Unicorn
Cynthia Kern Obrien -- Pickles House Publications
Alireza Rezaei Labeshka -- Magink Publishing House
Sandy Poirier -- Smith Publicity
Wendy Brickman -- Brickman Marketing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company, LLC

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:

SupportMBR [at]

(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), 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 at 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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