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Cox Report: March 2002
Jim Cox Report: March 2002
Dear Publisher Folk, Family & Friends:
Another busy month here at the Midwest Book Review has come and gone with what feels like
I've been recruited to be a presenter for the AOL Writer's Club Chat Room for a workshop on
writing/illustrating/marketing Children's Books on Tuesday, March 12th from 9-10 (EST). If
you're interested, email Marilyn at WriterBabe@aol.com for more detailed information about
Another of my little commentaries was published. This time in "Publishers" Focus", the newsletter
of the Northwest Association Of Book Publishers. The title of the piece is "Publishing 'Outside
The Release Window' To Increase The Chances Of Getting Your books Reviewed". the good folk
at Northwest send me a copy of the newsletter for my records. I see I was in very good company.
Pat Bell had an excellent little article on "Accessing YOUR Records In The R.R. Bowker Online
A wealth of practical information is to consistently be found in these regional publisher
association newsletters. To find a regional publisher association for your part of the world, begin
by visiting the "Publisher Associations" section of the Midwest Book Review website at
National organizations like PMA and SPAN have virtues -- and vices :-) -- all their own. But
regional groups have services and fellowships that can prove enduringly invaluable for
self-published authors and small press publishers. Most of them have newsletters, monthly
meeting, co-operative marketing opportunities and the like. Connect with the group nearest you
and check it out.
Speaking of our website: We've had another massive infusion of resource links (about 120 or so)
to the Midwest Book Review that will have special interest for writers, publishers, librarians, and
the general reading public.
Some of the MBR website sections that have been beefed up with new links to invaluable internet
accessible resources include (but are not restricted to):
Audiobook Publishers: 19 new ones have been added to the already existing and substantial
roster. Every publisher (but most especially those with fiction, poetry, "how to" and self-help
titles) should consider an audiobook version of their books. And also think seriously about selling
the audiobook rights to an existing audiobook publishing house if you lack the time, expertise or
resources to "do-it-yourself".
Book Lover Resources: You'd be surprised at how often one of these resources can be worked
into a bit of promotional exposure for the self-published author and small press niche publisher.
Here are this month's additions to (if I may be immodest) one of the most impressive, extensive,
and diverse sections in the whole MBR website.
A+ Audiobook Rankings
Resource Central Books Online
Web Sites For Book Lovers
Book Publicity & Marketing: Easily one of our most popular and visited sections. I've
concentrated on adding links to independent publicists that I've worked with over time and can
confidently depend upon their expertise and professionalism -- as well as that of some superbly
presented "do-it-yourself" book marketing resources and advisories that anyone would be well
advised to become acquainted with:
Andrea Reynolds International
Book Marketing (John Kremer)
Children's Educational Cooperative
Phenix & Phenix
Promote Your E-Book
Small Press Publications
eBook Publishers/Dealers/Resources: I repeat my advice about audiobooks and adapt it to ebook
editions. eBook publishing is as specialized an area of publishing expertise as is the production of
audiobook versions of print titles. I've added a number of new ebook publishers, distributors and
resources to this particular section that I think will prove one day to become a staple of the
general reading public. That day isn't here yet, and may take another decade to truly come into its
own. But every small press should be aware of its potential to add a revenue stream to the
operation. Here's the newest entries to join the already considerable list of internet resources
compiled for the MBR website:
Libraries & Universities: In my wanderings about the internet, which I do both in a personal
capacity as a confirmed "bookaholic" as well as my professional capacity as the Midwest Book
Review editor-in-chief and the Acquisitions Consultant for the Dane County Library Services, I
found another little pocket of invaluable research and marketing relatable information for the
small presses working out business plans to sell their titles to all manner of library systems.
Essential Resources for Schools & Libraries
Library Statistics: Academic Libraries
Library Statistics: Federal Libraries
Library Statistics: Library Cooperatives
Library Statistics: Public Libraries
Library Statistics: School Library Media Centers
Library Statistics: State Library Agencies
Online Bookstores: And then, of course, there is the growing market venues represented by the
online bookstores. Here's the latest three added to our MBR online bookstore and book retailing
Other Reviewers: -- Yes, as strange as it might seem at first glance, the Midwest Book Review
has a section where I list all the online book reviewers, book review publications, and book
review resources that I come across. The reason is simple. I know how tough it is to get the major
reviewers (LBJ, PW, New York Times) to pay attention to the small press community. So I
started out to create a resource where the small press publisher could at least make a beginning
with respect to approach the book reviewing community as part of a promotion/publicity
campaign. Here are the latest additions to a steadily expanding resource:
BookZonePro Co-op Reviewer Database
Hyde Park Review of Books
Publisher Resources: This is also one of the largest and most visited sections of the Midwest
Book Review. It is massive. And this month's additions span a wide variety and spectrum of
resources that I think will be reflected by their titles:
Baker & Taylor Pub Title Info Online Submission Form
Center For Publishing (New York University)
FedLink Vendor Services Directory
Grace Publishing Group (self-publishing)
How to Create and Publish Your Own Newsletter for Profit
ISBN Users' Manual
National Association for Independent Publishers Reps
Prospectives: Weekly Publishing Industry Views
Schools, Colleges, Libraries Search Engine
Wexford Press (Indexing & Typsetting)
Writing & Editing At Work
Writer Resources: And, of course, every time we update and expand the Midwest Book Review
website we can't overlook those aspiring authors seeking to break into print and one day be
Are You A Writer?
Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Writer's Digest Bookstore
Virtually every section of the Midwest Book Review got an infusion of new and fresh resource
links. But be warned. The MBR website can prove addictive! Many a poor and unsuspecting soul
has gone there expecting to only browse for a few minutes -- only to tear their bleary gaze from
the computer screen and discover that somehow time and space has become unstuck and it was an
hour or two later!
Now on to some "tips, tricks & techniques" that might prove of practical use in the day-to-day
struggle for commercial success in highly competitive markets:
In a message dated 01-12-13 17:47:04 EST, Best wishes, Peter Gimpel, Publisher, Red Heifer
> Dear Jim Cox:
> I just want to say thank you for this excellent and very helpful site.
> Well done and beautifully and clearly written.
Thank you for your very kind words. We spend a lot of time and energy on the MBR website
every week so that it is constantly improving, expanding, and a place where small press publishers
will want to visit on a regular basis -- if only to see what the newest resources are!
> Two questions though, if I may:
> (1) What, exactly, is this 12 - 16 - week "window of opportunity"?
That's the time between the arrival of a book being submitted for review consideration lands on
my desk and the time it is removed from our shelves and taken out of play in order to make room
for newer arrivals. It is hoped that somwhere in the 12 to 16 weeks after its arrival that it will
achieve a "review assignment".
Review Assignment means being able to recruit a reviewer for the book. Reviewers are
encouraged to submit their reviews to me within 4 to 6 weeks after accepting the book.
When a review is turned in and meets my editorial approval/standards, it is then automatically
featured in the next month's issue of one or more of our book review publications.
A tear sheet is sent out to the publisher with the first two weeks of the month in which the book
And that's basically the cycles and their respective time frames -- except that half my reviewers
wouldn't recognize a deadline if it were to bite them on the ankle! :-)
> (2) As a one-man operation, I count on good reviews to print as blurbs
> on my back covers. This makes it difficult (if not impossible) to meet
> Booklist's and Kirkus's (et al.) requirement that review copies be sent
> to within a 15-week window before publication. Have you any advice to
> offer on this subject?
This is a chronic condition for the small press publisher. What I advise is that you assemble review
commentaries based on galley submissions to pre-publication reviewers on a separate sheet(s) of
letter head stationary and submit them with the review copy submissions to a Booklist or a
Then, when your book is published with selected blurbs on the back cover, follow-up the original
galley submission with a complimentary copy to Booklist or Kirkus.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 01-12-17 01:45:12 EST, Jewell M. Kutzer writes regarding the sending out of
review copies of her book:
> HOW DO I find out IF they reviewed it, and WHAT they said about it. It is
> my understanding that very few reviewers ever send a copy (our own
> wonderful Jim Cox being the exception).
The only reliable way I know of to track what (if anything) happened to all those galleys and
finished copies mailed out for review consideration is to follow them each up separately via phone
call or email. When following up there are a couple of "tips, tricks & techniques" that will serve
you in good stead.
1. Do your first follow-up ten working days after sending your review copy out. This is because
ten working days is long enough to insure that the review copy should have arrived and the
recipient had sufficient opportunity to make an initial decision regarding it.
2. Use my "3 Questions" formula to insure that you secure the information you are seeking in a
way that will not irritate or unduly impose upon the reviewer's ego or time.
This is (your name and publishing house here). I'm calling to confirm that you have safely received
(name of your book here) sent for your consideration on (the date you sent it here).
(No reviewer will object to this query because a certain number of review copies get damaged or
go missing in the mails).
What is the status of our review copy of (your book title here) with respect to your review
(Never, never, never ask "Are you going to review my book?" That is the sure and certain sign of
a pushy or insecure amateur. There are many reasons why that question cannot be answered by a
reviewer. There are simply too many variables confronting the reviewer -- including the volume of
incoming books for review, editor assignments & whims, publishing schedules, etc. What I do is
to verify whether or not a book has made my own initial selection cut as the MBR editor-in-chief,
and if it has made the initial cut, whether it is pending review assignment or has been assigned
Is there any further assistance or information I can provide?
(Sometimes a PR sheet will go missing or didn't accompany the book. Sometimes the book
arrived damaged or is otherwise flawed. Sometimes a bit more author information would be
useful. You can never tell unless you ask.)
3. Never use the follow-up contact to pitch your book. That's what your PR is for. Pitching your
book burns up time -- which for most reviewers is a very precious and limited commodity -- and a
4. It is the policy of the Midwest Book Review to always send the publisher a tear sheet when
their book has made the final cut and gotten reviewed in the pages of our publications, or in the
scripts of our television and radio programming. For the past couple of years we have also been
sending tear sheets to independent publicists and distributors when we know that they were the
source of the review copy.
This policy has made me "stand out in the crowd" as far as reviewers go. Every month I get
stacks of "thank you" posts, cards, and letters from the small press community because of the
simple act of letting them know via tear sheets and our "publisher notification letters" what we did
with their book.
What is really interesting to me, is that I get the same "thank you" responses from publicists and
marketing directors of the major New York houses as well! So the chronic lack of feedback from
the reviewer community is not limited to the small presses!!
Now if I could only solve the problem of distributor returns I do believe I would have a shot at
become the first Patron Saint of Publishing! :-)
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 01-12-18 00:25:59 EST, Irene writes:
> Also, can someone give me the correct form for citing a review? I've
> seen it done several ways, and I don't know which is right.
There is no single "right way". Any way that clearly attributes the proper crediting for the review
> Is it considered bad form to cite the periodical or company doing the
> reviewing and NOT the individual reviewer? I have some ancient reviews
> (70's) for which I have no individual's name, but I do have the name of the
> periodical it came from. Is it okay to use them that way?
When you do not know the name of the individual reviewer it is permissible to use the name of
the periodical, journal, newspaper, or website instead. If the reviewer's name is known, go ahead
and use it along with the name of the forum in which that reviewer's book review was
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 01-12-19 17:39:51 EST, Irene Brady writes:
> I appreciate your setting me straight on review-citing protocol. Another
> thought occurs to me -- would it be polite to inform the person, periodical
> or company who has reviewed your book about any places you use their review
> (like on a web page, on a blurb, etc.)? Or would it just be something
> that leaves them saying "huh?"
It's always nice to notify a reviewer with a little thank you note that you appreciate their review
and will be posting it on your website or other wise utilizing it in your marketing and promotional
> Again, thanks for your great advice.
Anytime. That's what I'm here for.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 01-12-21 14:46:45 EST, William Gehrke writes:
> My local newspaper mentions that my book is available, this information is
> also posted on the web. Is this good enough?
Reviewers will rarely have the time or inclination to go out onto the web to secure information
about a book being submitted to their attention for review. It's is far better to have that
information printed out and physically accompanying the book.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 01-12-21 15:09:32 EST, Jeff Potter writes:
> It's been interesting that I've had very little luck at the big local
> bookstore, where I'm pals with management and wave to the clerks. In
> general I think that I'm despised by the clerks and THAT's a kiss o' death
> for sure. I always get along fine with owners or with clerks with gumption,
> but our disparate local minimall suburbs get a lot of a different kind of
> clerk. A skulking kind.
It's been a while since I addressed this perennial topic. I have a few thoughts that might be found
germane to the subject and based on my many years of observation and conversation with the
retail book community in Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison has a huge number of bookstores (for the size of its population) and runs the gamut from
used bookstores, to speciality/niche bookstores, to the big bookstore chains.
I'm on familiar terms with all of the bookstore owners, managers, and "head clerks".
Remember that clerks are human (weird thought they can sometimes get!) and as such that they
will fall into three general classifications: good, bad, and mediocre.
Most of them in the chains are just minimum wage flunkies who are not particularly book
knowledgeable (or even dedicated readers) and would be just as much at home flipping burgers or
bagging groceries; not a lot can be expected from them at even the best of times.
Nor do the chains offer much by way of any in-service training for these "off the street" clerks
that come and go with a huge rapidity. It's not at all uncommon for the turnover to be 30 to 40
percent per year. And among the part-time college kids the turn over rates are even higher.
Very few small press publishers "hand-selling" their books to the chains will ever get anywhere
dealing with the clerks. Even the store managers hardly ever get anywhere dealing with the
So, if you are going to have any success at placing your books with the national chain stores, you
must deal with the store managers or the corporate headquarter based acquisitions department
And never expect any of the chain store clerks to do any kind of selling in your behalf. It's just not
going to happen, or happen so rarely as to qualify for a Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" column.
The independent bookstores offer a somewhat more hopeful venue. There the owners are often
the managers as well -- or the managers have a personal and vested interest in building up a repeat
clientele of bookstore patrons in the owner's behalf.
Especially the niche stores (feminist, scifi, mystery, etc.) in competition with the chains.
There is usually a better quality of clerk, because the owner/manager is desperate to have as many
sales as possible from the folks who walk through their doors. There is a certain amount of
training in what books are stocked, where they are located, and becoming familiar with repeat
patrons as to their likes and preferences when something new comes in.
But handselling to independent bookstores is so labor intensive as to not be worthwhile for most
small press publishers or self-published authors. But those stores that are local and easily
reachable should be always be approached -- if only for the inservice training such handselling will
provide you in preparation for approaching the chains.
But always remember. You can be successful in placing a book in a particular bookstore -- or
chain of bookstores -- but you can never depend on the store (read clerks) to sell your book for
you. That task is all yours. You must develop a demand outside of the bookstore among potential
readers, who will then have your book title on their lips when they push through the door and
enter their favorite bookstore.
That is where the principal bulk of your marketing/promotional investments of time and money
and energy should be devoted. Especially if the title you are pushing is a readily identifiable
Midwest Book Review
Subj: Re: What Works For You?
Sender: PUBLISH-L@SHRSYS.HSLC.ORG (Publishers Forum)
Dear Publisher Folk:
I am by nature a rather pleasant, easy-going, jovial kind of fellow. But I have been known to
encounter infrequent (thankfully) bouts of lethargy and boredom. What works for me in keeping
on track and on task are the rhythms and cycles built into what I do. The recurring weekly and
monthly deadlines involved with producing four library newsletters, three online book review
magazines, and the radio/television work.
At the beginning of my workday I make a list of all the tasks, errands, and work orders I must
attend to that day. As they are accomplished I cross them off that list. I've been at this for so many
decades that I pretty much automatically know how much time each item on my daily work list
will consume. I'm thereby prevented from overloading my day with more work that can be fitted
into a reasonable work schedule.
I also make certain to reward myself when achieving a deadline or finishing a task series. It used
to be food -- but with an expanding waistline and a wife (in collusion with my daughter and the
family doctor) I've had to replace consuming calories and junk food with watching old movies and
I think one of the keys to "keeping on keeping on" is to celebrate the accomplishment of a task
with some kind of pleasant pastime or celebration. Even if it's only to sip a cup of coffee on the
back porch while watching one's cat do her best to stalk the neighborhood squirrels.
Midwest Book Review
And now some unsolicited testimonials from what seems to be developing as a kind of "Jim Cox
I received your review for our latest story from the Camp Of Champs series entitled, "How Louie
Became A Safety Swimmer." I can't thank you enough for the wonderful review. Because of your
prompt and favorable write up, I can now include it with my pre-publication packages to other
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the time and attention you gave to the important subject of
water safety. Have a wonderful 2002.
Dear James Cox,
Thank you so much for your review of our Vegan Meals for One or Two by Nancy Berkoff from
The Vegetarian Resource Group. Whenever you mention our items, we start receiving numerous
orders from Baker and Taylor. Your impact is greatly appreciated.
I also wanted to thank you for the information you share on Publish- L and other places. It's
always helpful and insightful. Obviously you exist to help people. As a nonprofit, this is
Vegetarian Resource Group's role also. It's sometimes frustrating knowing the obstacles, how
many people you do help, and then receiving the nasty notes. I give you credit in answering these
in a nice way, and proceeding with enthusiasm. It is not easy....
Thanks for all your good work. May you have a happy and healthy 2002.
The Vegetarian Resource Group
Thanks so much for sending us the tearsheets of the beautiful reviews of our three books. We had
written Cindy to thank her, and are so pleased that they are running in the MBR. You know that
we know how much time, care and effort it takes not only to review the books so thoughtfully
and intelligently, but to go the extra step and send our tearsheets. Our deepest appreciation to you
and all your hard-working staff.
Joi and Maria Josephine "Joi" (pronounced "Joey") Nobisso, Publisher
Maria Nicotra, Operations Manager Gingerbread House
Was doing a little "surfing" this AM prior to getting cleaned up and presentable for a signing at
the local BORDERS and found your site. What a breath of fresh air and knowledge packed into
Having been a trade magazine (CHARTER INDUSTRY) publisher for ten years (1985 to 1995) I
experienced many frustrations and lost a lot of hair. Many of the topics on your site ring
Amazingly, after attempting to market a mystery/thriller set here in semi-rural south Florida
(similar to Door County in nature) to the NYers and reaching the maximum level of frustration I
dropped the idea, formed another publishing company (Treasure Coast Mysteries, Inc.) and
printed the book (3,000 copies on first run) and am doing the promotion and marketing. I am
pleased to date with 5-star ratings on AMAZON, B&N and BORDERS web sites. Locally the
book flies off the shelves and it is hard for retailers to keep in stock.
Why am I writing to you? I guess because I appreciate the frustrations that others go through and
the help that you provide over your site. As I fight the battle of "self-published" I feel like Don
Quixote at times but push on towards the summit of the next hill and the next battle.
Please excuse the ramblings but I was enthused over your site. Now it is time to get cleaned up
and off to BORDERS.
Well, that's pretty much a wrap for this issue of "The Jim Cox Report". If you'd like to recieve it
directly, just send me your email address and ask to be signed up.
And if you'd like to have your book(s) considered for review, send a finished copy (no galleys or
uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a publicity release and a cover letter to my attention.
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive Oregon, WI 53575-1129
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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