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Jim Cox Report: March 2007

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

February, shortest month of the year, has just whizzed by with alarming alacrity -- or maybe I'm just getting old!

Remaindering books is the selling off of unwanted inventory to a specialized group of wholesalers. This mass disposal of books can happen when:

1. A new edition is coming out that will supercede the old edition

2. An author needs (or wants) to clear out all that unsold stock boxed up in the garage because they just aren't selling and the spouse wants to be able to park the car in there again -- or the publisher is running out of warehousing space.

3. A publisher wants to avoid paying an inventory tax or decides to go out of business.

4. Any other need or circumstance that compels an author or publisher to not want to invest further in the inventory they've chosen for disposal.

There can be a wide diversity or range of values to be gained from remaindering with a host of factors involved including (but not limited to) the condition of the inventory, the subject matter of the inventory, the urgency to divest the inventory.

It's always best to try and get competitive bids from Book Remainder companies and then go with the one that offers you the best deal. Toward that end, the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com has a database of remainder companies in the 'Publisher Resources' section that you can begin your research with. Here's the list as it is presently composed:

Book Remainder Companies:

Assorted Book Co. 230 Fifth Avenue Suite 1112 New York, NY 10001

Barnes & Noble, 122 Fifth Avenue; 7th Floor, New York, NY 10011, Tel: 212-352-3668, Fax: 212-633-4066

Beekman Books, Inc. 300 Old All Angels Hill Road, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 Phone: 845-297-2690 Fax: 845-297-1002
http://www.beekmanbooks.com

Book Sales, Inc., 276 Fifth Avenue Suite 206, New York, NY 10001, Phone: 212-779-4972, Fax: 212-779-6058

Booksmith Promotional Co. 100 Paterson Plank Rd. Jersey City, NJ 07307

Daedalus Books, Inc. 4601 Decatur St. Hyattsville, MD 20781

Diffusion Dimedia, Inc. 539 boul Lebeau St. Laurent, PQ H4N 1S2 Canada

Faro House 404 Court Street, Binghamton, NY 13904

Granite Impex Ltd. Corp. Lower Mill Rd., Rte 3 North Stratford, NH 03590

JLM Remainders 2370 E. Little Circle Norfolk, VA 23518

Promotional Book Co. 36 Northline Rd. Toronto, ON M4B 3E2 Canada

Publishers Overstock Unlimited, Inc. 149 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016

John K. Sharpe, Inc. Box 442 Wilmette, IL 60091

Sunflower Books Fieldcrest Avenue Edison, NJ 08837

Texas Bookman 8650 Denton Drive Dallas, TX 75235

Trident Promotional Corp. 801 12th Avenue S Suite 302 Naples, FL 33940

Western Book Source, Inc. 2970 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702

Wilshire Book Co. 12015 Sherman Rd. North Hollywood, CA 91605

World Publications, Inc., 455 Somerset Avenue, #2A, North Dighton, MA 02764, Tel. 508.880.5555

There are more remainder companies out there, but this is a good list to start with.

Now here are reviews for the newest writing/publishing 'how to' titles to cross my desk:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Aiming At Amazon
Aaron Shepard
Shepard Publications
1102 Olympia Avenue NE, #18, Olympia, WA 98506
093849743X, $15.00 www.shepardpub.com

Amazon.com is the 800 pound gorilla of online bookselling. There are a large and growing number of other online booksellers (some are independent 'virtual' stores, while others, like Borders.com, are affiliated with traditional 'brick-and-morter' bookstores, and still others are specific to a particular publisher, like iUniverse.com) , but Amazon.com is by far the oldest, largest, best known, successful, and most important of them all. Amazon.com can (and often does) make the difference between a self-published author, a print-on-demand (POD) published author, a small-press author, or a major press mid-list published author being able to make a profit on their books. No small press publisher can afford to not list their titles with Amazon.com for the same reason connecting with the reading public. In "Aiming At Amazon: The New Business of Self Publishing", an experienced writer of children's books for major publishing houses, as well as a successful self-publisher, Aaron Shepard draws upon his considerable expertise to teach novice authors who have (or are contemplating) self-publishing just how to utilize Amazon.com as a marketing resource for selling their book(s). The first major section, 'Publishing for Profit' begins with a basic introduction to the value of (and preparation for) online bookselling. The next section, 'Building Your Book', covers everything from title selection factors, to creating spin-offs, to crafting a marketable cover, to portability, to reprinting. Next is 'Meeting the Marketing' where Shepard covers data collection, publishing dates, pricing, book returns, book classification and description, publicity/promotion, and keeping track of book sales. "Aiming at Amazon' is specific to getting the book registered on Amazon.com, maximizing the benefits of being listed on Amazon.com, the various relevant features of Amazon.com, and 'the other Amazons'. The final section, 'Finessing the Future' addresses the issues of fine tuning a book, 'keeping it fresh', publishing more books, and how to deal successfully with a publishing industry and marketplace that is in a steady state of flux, change, and technological evolution. "Aiming At Amazon" is an essential read for anyone having to market a self-published or POD published book and has a wealth of very practical and valuable information for small press publishers, novice free-lance book publicists, and mid-list authors of the larger publishing houses who find themselves having a major responsibility for promoting and publicizing their titles.

Beating the Odds
Shelley B. Wepner & Linda B. Gambrell, editors
International Reading Association
800 Barksdale Road, PO Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139
0872075893 $25.95 www.reading.org

Edited by professors Shelley B. Wepner & Linda B. Gambrell, Beating the Odds: Getting Published in the Field of Literacy combines essays from seventeen contributors presenting more than eighty guidelines to cope with the often confusing labyrinth that is the publishing process. Though compiled especially for classroom teachers, reading specialists, faculty and administrators affiliated with literacy programs and others seeking to publish their writings in the field of literacy, much of the practical advice in Beating the Odds is applicable to writers of all walks. Whether one is trying to get a literacy article published in a journal, newspaper or magazine, or responding to rejection or revise-and-resubmit decisions, writing or editing a book, or just getting started, Beating the Odds offers sound advice on every step of the way. Of especial note are the topics not covered by most other writing guidebooks, such as the advantages and pitfalls in collaboration in writing for publication, and the importance of establishing a "write-for-publication" mindset. Highly recommended.

Berlitz Spell It Right Dictionary
Christine Maxwell
Lande Communications
PO Box 979, Spring House, PA 19477
9812469818 $7.95 www.berlitzbooks.com

Teacher Christine Maxwell presents Berlitz Spell It Right Dictionary, a one-of-a-kind reference especially for students, English-language learners and others who have extreme difficulty in spelling words - and as a result, find it hard to look up the words' proper spellings in an ordinary dictionary. Berlitz Spell It Right lists both commonly misspelled words and their most frequent misspellings, in two-color format so as to make it perfectly clear which spelling is the correct one. Berlitz Spell It Right Dictionary does not give dictionary definitions of words or pronunciations, though it does offer specific tips for searching for words when a first glance and guess at the word's spelling yields no success. A key to spelling rules is on the bottom of each page for easy reference in this user-friendly, go-to guide for aspiring writers regardless of their personal level of spelling skill.

Vocabulary Dictionary and Workbook
Mark Phillips
A. J Cornell Publications
18-74 Corporal Kennedy Street, Bayside, NY 11360
0972743944 $16.95

University teacher and editor of 30 years' experience Mark Phillips presents Vocabulary Dictionary and Workbook: 2,856 Words You Must Know, a quick-study self-teaching tool for expanding one's English vocabulary. Vocabulary Dictionary Workbook is divided into over two hundred chapters, each chapter presenting a dozen or so words with straightforward dictionary definitions and an example of the word's use in a sentence, plus simple bonus exercises at the end to reinforce the reader's familiarity. The words are organized alphabetically among all chapters as a whole, so that looking up any individual word is a simple matter regardless of what chapter it is from. The words covered include many that are most likely to be on the SATs and other standardized tests, or included on the job or peppering everyday conversation. An absolute "must-have" for anyone preparing for college entrance exams, and an excellent, easy-to-use literacy improvement resource for everyone else.

The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist
Thomas McCormack
Paul Dry Books, Inc
117 South 17th Street, Suite 1102, Philadelphia, PE 19103
1589880307 $14.95 www.pauldrybooks.com

Now in a revised second edition that incorporates author's additional years of experience in the publishing industry since the publication of the first edition, The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist: A Book for Writers, Teachers, Publishers, and Anyone Else Devoted to Fiction is a no-nonsense guide to planning, writing, and revising a novel. Written by award-winning publisher Thomas McCormack, The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist offers constructive advice for each step of the creative process, from how to structure a novel, choose characters, and drive the story, to identifying common flaws in narratives, and apply appropriate remedies. Written in an amiable tone, often using examples, hypothetical writing scenarios, or dialogue-style discourse between industry professionals to clarify its points, The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist is a superb handbook for fiction writers but especially recommended for prospective and professional fiction editors.

The Writer's Quote Book
Jim Fisher, editor
Rutgers University Press
100 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8099
0813538823 $22.95 http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu 1-800-446-9323

Edited by Jim Fisher (professor emeritus, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania), The Writer's Quote Book is intended for aspiring writers combating writer's block, writer's of all walks, genres, and seasons, and book lovers who simply relish the printed word. Compiling the thoughts of five hundred published writers about the quintessence of literary life and what it means to write, The Writer's Quote Book offers passages ranging from one sentence to one paragraph long, each with its own distinct and often witty insight. Highly recommended. "Turning out flashy, dense, complicated prose is a breeze; putting things down in simple terms that anyone can understand takes brainwork." -Patricia T. O'Conner

How To Write A Children's Picture Book
Eve Heidi Bine-Stock
E & E Publishing
1001 Bridgeway, No. 227, Sausalito, CA 94965
3 Volumes, www.EandEGroup.com/Publishing

"How To Write A Children's Picture Book" is an impressive trilogy of instructional books by children's author and illustrator Eve Heidi Bine-Stock that provides other aspiring children's authors with sound, practical, time-tested advice on constructing a picturebook story for children that will hold their interest from beginning to end. Volume 1 is devoted to the structure of writing and draws examples from a series of popular and successful children's books that include 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', 'Where the Wild Things Are', 'Sylvester and the Magic Pebble', and several other children's stories. Applicable to both concept books and picture storybooks, "How To Write A Children's Picture Book: Structure" demonstrates and documents that being able to properly structure a story is the key to writing a picture book that will appeal to children preschool through first grade. Volume 2 focuses upon the use of words, sentences, scenes, and the story when developing a successful picturebook for children. Examples and illustrations are drawn from such picturebook favorites as 'Harry the Dirty Dog', Harold and the Purple Crayon', 'Frog and Toad Are Friends', and several other well known picturebooks, in order to help aspiring picturebook authors understand the critical role of word choice and storytelling strategies for a picturebook's appeal to its intended and age appropriate readership. Volume 3 explores the importance and usage of figures of speech when writing the text for a child's picturebook. Illustrative examples are taken from a series of successful picturebooks that include 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile', 'Where the Wild Things Are', 'Caps for Sale', and 'Fish is Fish'. The deft and careful inclusion of figures of speech are more that just the occasional use of similes, onomatopoeia, alliteration, hyperbole and personification. They are clever, subtle, sophisticated expressions that can make characters and stories truly memorable and raise the level of a good picturebook to the status of a great one a picturebook that will endure in popularity through many generations of young readers. To each volume of this truly outstanding and unique series of 'how to' books specializing in the techniques of crafting picturebook stories, Eve Heidi Bine-Stock brings her own particular expertise in communicating her instructions, advice, recommendations, and observations, making "How To Write A Children's Picture Book: Structure" (0971989885, !8.95); "How To Write A Children's Picture Book: Word, Sentence, Scene, Story" (0974893323, $18.95; and "How To Write A Children's Picture Book: Figures of Speech" (097489334X, $14.95) an indispensable, unique, and enthusiastically recommended instructional reference set specifically intended for dedicated authors wanting to hone their craft in the deceptively demanding field of picturebooks for children.

A Writer's Coach
Jack Hart
Pantheon Books
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0375423273 $24.95 www.pantheonbooks.com 1-800-726-0600

Author Jack Hart is a managing editor at The Oregonian and here shares his advice on how writers can get ideas, make theme outlines and add variety to their writing style. From provocative lead sentences and composition ideas to common ways writers fail, A WRITER'S COACH acts like a writer's personal editor, uses excerpts from major literary figures as examples, and teaches by example of both exemplary and inadequate writing. Any student of writing must have this guide: college-level libraries in particular will find it a popular read.

Remember that you can always obtain these books for free from your local library through the 'Interlibrary Loan System', look them over, and then buy the ones you want for your permanent reference shelf through Amazon or from the publishers directly.

Now for some Q&A from my email box:

The Midwest Book Review website is simply massive. So huge that our webmaster had to install an onsite search engine to help locate a specific review from among the tens of thousands stored on our website -- with hundreds more being added every month. And that's just the book review magazine archives! So when I get inquiries about how to find things on the Midwest Book Review website, I just have our webmaster respond as follows:

Subject: How to use FreeFind - was Re: Hello . . . Question
From: kbranche@earthlink.net

>Where on earth on your website can I find the review of my latest title - CD AudioBook - Spirits and their Popular Drinks ? I did receive it in the mail a few weeks ago, but I've tried by clicking on this and that and did a search on your site, and after 20 minutes have come up empty. Isn't there a more specific directive link for title submitters, like a simple "Find Your Review" ?

Your review is in the July 2006 Internet Bookwatch as part of The Audiobook Shelf, at

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ibw/jul_06.htm#audio

Our search engine, FreeFind, allows for the easy search for books by title or 10-digit ISBN number. Type "Spirits and their Popular Drinks" in quotes (the quotes tell FreeFind to look for that exact phrase) into the search engine, click on the "Find" button, and it gives the correct page, in this case the July 2006 Internet Bookwatch.

Once you're on the page, CTRL-F should call up a "Find in Top Window" function on virtually any PC; that will allow you to find a book review in the newsletter by its title.

B. Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review
http://www.midwestbookreview.com

I'm always pleased to learn that these little monthly compendiums of advice I put out for publishers and authors is felt to be of practical use. Here's a case in point:

Subject: May I have your permission to publish Jim Cox Reports" in my blog,
From: mainwaring@rcn.com

Hello! Good morning Jim,

Always enjoy reading your contributions on Publishers Forum

May I have your permission to publish your "Jim Cox Reports" in my blog, "Printing and Publishing Newsbasket",
Blogging about graphic arts. Commercial Printing and Publishing. Including design, prepress, production, media. http://cppnews.blogspot.com/

Thank you,
Dave Mainwaring
115 State Street, Framingham, MA 01702

You have my complete permission to reprint or excerpt from any of my articles or reports in your blog. Just provide the usual citation credit when doing so -- and please include the Midwest Book Review website address of http://www.midwestbookreview.com when doing so.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Blogs are rather new stuff to me. I treat them the same as folks who have a website they want to enrich with articles I've written or commentaries I've made about writing and/or publishing. The Midwest Book Review is educational in nature and giving such permissions as that to Dave for his blog is a part of how I work to fulfill the Midwest Book Review mandate of promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

And speaking of fulfilling our mandate, here's an example of another kind service we strive to provide the small press community of authors and publishers:

Subject: Hot Link
From: hamburg@centurytel.net

We intend to become a major Internet and Web resource for publishers, writers, librarians, booksellers, and book lovers of all ages and interests. If you have a Web site that you think would interest book lovers, librarians, publishers, and booksellers, we would be very interested in hot-linking your site to the steadily expanding Midwest Book Review resource hotlinks. E-mail your URL to the Midwest Book Review so that your site can be examined.

Philip Hamburg
Yoga for the Young at Heart
www.yogaheart.com

It was very nice of Philip to 'spread the word' to his friends and associates. If you have a website that is thematically appropriate to writing and/or publishing, I'd be happy to consider adding a link to it in the thematically appropriate section of the Midwest Book Review website. That also includes vendors who service writers and publishers. Send me your website address and I'll look it over (along with my staff) and if its deemed to have value for readers, writers, publishers, librarians, booksellers, etc. then it will be added and you will be notified accordingly by email.

Now here's a little something out of the ordinary. Avon Murphy is a technical book reviewer/editor and I thought you'd appreciate his description of just what technical book reviewer/editors do -- in case you are ever in the need of their kinds of services:

Subject: Technical Book Reviewing/Editing
From: avonmu@comcast.net

It's good hearing from you, Jim. If you have the patience, here are what I do and then why I do it.
1. Overall, I edit the book review section of Technical Communication, the quarterly research journal published by the Society for Technical Communication. STC's "20,000+ members include technical writers, editors, graphic designers, multimedia artists, Web and intranet page information designers, translators and others whose work involves making technical information understandable and available to those who need it." (from STC's Web site) The review section is the most ambitious in our field, annually publishing 100-120 reviews of 400-1,500 words.

My specific duties:

* Track details of relevant new books, publishers, reviewers, and volunteers, using a Microsoft Access database. I control the schedule for everything having to do with reviews. Most of the activity mentioned below leads to further database entries.

* Communicate with publishers' PR folks, new and old reviewers, authors, my general editor, and others so that we remain on pretty much the same page.

* Scout for new authors and titles, with the help of several volunteers.

* Get review copies. This is the most fretful part of the work. Because I'm a one-person operation based in a spare bedroom, I can't have publishers sending me everything they have for me to sift through. So I wait until I see what sounds like a relevant title and have a reviewer assigned to it before asking for two review copies, one to the reviewer and one to me (I have to verify all statements of fact, quotations, and page references). Much of the success here depends on how well organized the publisher's staff might be.

* Troubleshoot when review copies don't arrive, publicists leave their jobs without passing along our files, and reviewers fall behind on their schedules.

* Mentor the many reviewers who need help in writing a substantive review that addresses our readers' needs, reads clearly, and is fair to the author. Believe me, not every technical writer can do this the first time out!

* Edit each review. If the piece is well done, the editing can be light. Oftentimes a review requires substantial reworking. I'm not about to let these professional communicators embarrass themselves with a poorly written review!

* Go back and forth with each writer until the review is ready to send off.

* Closely copyedit reviews destined for the next batch. Budget cuts have eliminated the copyediting professionals we used to have, so I fly carefully!

* Batch the edited reviews for a given issue and send them to the general editor at least by the agreed quarterly deadline, usually earlier.

* Proofread the batch (using Adobe Acrobat) when the publisher releases the PDF for proofing.

* Upon publication of the issue, send a volunteer the mailing addresses of publishers who should receive the paper version of the issue, and send reviewers in that issue a PDF of the review section.

* Make presentations about writing book reviews and recruit reviewers at conferences.

* Meet with the general editor in person once a year.

This is a paying contract. Before I took over in 1993, the book review editing was a volunteer task. So I proposed and won a wage--not a large one, mind you, but enough to make me take the work seriously.

Now, why have I done this for 13 years, with more to go? A few reasons:

* Like you, I think, I like books and the creative expression of authors who have something to teach us.

* From age 2 I've been an information junkie. And what better way to keep this habit nourished than to challenge yourself never to lose the will to watch out for whatever is new in your field and to see those wonderful new books arrive on your doorstep. The moment of anticipation while opening the carton, the silence while skimming the table of contents, the reading of sample pages, and the firing off to your reviewer of an e-mail briefly describing your first take on the book are all small things that might be peculiar to our profession.* It's wonderful to be able to continue talking with people at all professional levels about books they want to sell, their plans for books they want to write, and others' books that excite them as readers.

* I take very seriously what I perceive as my duty to mentor. Decades ago, I began professional life as a college English teacher, following the life-altering years of earning an English PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During my 19-year career in the classrooms of three colleges, I directed professional writing programs and closely nurtured future writers. And during my years as a corporate editor (last as senior editor at Microsoft), I was "the old pro" who helped young writers and editors learn how to shape professional documents. This temperament underlies much of what I now do for my reviewers now, whether they be graduate students fretting over their first publications or seasoned publication managers who over the years have lost the innate ability to write with natural ease.

Well, enough of this in response to your simple question, Jim. If you can accept attachments, I'd be happy to send you a PDF of our most recent review section, a how-to PDF that goes to new reviewers, and a document that explains to publishers the kinds of books we review and how we work with publishers.

Yours,

Avon Murphy
Book Review Editor
Technical Communication
1234 Firpark Drive SE, Lacey WA 98503

I'm now going to conclude with "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of some very nice people. These wonderful folk decided to say thank you and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:

Therese Francis
Rick Seely - "The Clock Shop"
Scott Frush - "Ultimate Italian Trivia"
Chris Roerden - "Don't Murder Your Mystery"
Kyra E. Hicks - "Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria"
Diana Johnson - "Cradle of a Nation: A Story of Colonial Virginia"
Lynn F. Jacobs - "Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College"
Bold Strokes Press
Sally Lee - Lee Publishing
Anna Shallman - Raven Productions Inc.
MyLinda Butterworth - Day to Day Enterprises
Marian Baker - New Story Press
Lee Jackson - Snaptail Press
Ronne R. Gleason - Goose River Press
Janet Buell - Innovations Press
Maria Fotopoulos - Turbodog Communications
Diane Tinney - Keene Publishing
Fanhad Shirzad - IBEX Publishing
Milton E. Adams - Beaver's Pond Press
Donna Pikula - Books 2 Help You, LLC
Patricia Ollom - Shenanigan Books
Robert W. Kurkela - Kidzpoetz Publishing
Sharen Forsyth - Bangzoom Publishers
Bobbie Hinman - Best Fairy Books
Robert L. Merz - Values of America Company
Jim Zuber - Zuber Publishing
Earl Phelps - Phelps Publishing
Jim Michael Hansen - Dark Sky Publishing
Niki Behrikis Shandon - Mission Manuscripts Inc.
Lucinda Clark - P.R.A. Publishing
Kellie Watkins - Jahphut
Sofia Steryo-Bartmus - Harmony Book Publishing
Gene Louis - Citizen Control Publishing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania!

If you have postage to donate, just send it directly to my attention.

If you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send a published copy (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up.

So until next time!

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


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
e-mail: mbr@execpc.com
e-mail: mwbookrevw@aol.com
http://www.midwestbookreview.com


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