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Jim Cox Report: March 2014

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the distinctive pleasures of my job as editor-in-chief here at the Midwest Book Review is being able to talk and correspond with folks who are new to the publishing industry and are trying to figure out how to compete with the corporate publishing giants in a volatile and rapidly changing marketplace for the written word in general, and how things work here at the Midwest Book Review in particular.

This time around I thought I would share with you a couple of my email correspondences along these lines:

Subject: Ramin Soltani - Re: Review Question
Date: 9/26/2013 7:03:57 A.M. Central Daylight Time

Dear Sir/Madam,

We have a self published book that has been published less than 1 year ago. Could you please clarify a few issues about the submission for review guideline?

1. The Topic is about Islam, the basic language that is used is English but it has some Arabic sentences as references. Is it OK for review?

2. Is there any guarantee that it will be reviewed?

3. How much time does it take, from the submission to receiving the review?

4. After the review was written, will we have any control on the review in terms of being published or not?

Please let me know about that.


Dear Ramin:

1. That's perfectly okay.

2. There is no guarantee. We receive 2000+ titles a month for review and I have 81 reviewers.

3. If a book passes my initial screening there is a 14 to 16 week "window of opportunity" to secure a review assignment. If it makes the final cut and is reviewed we automatically send a copy of the review and a notification letter to the publisher. It is then the publisher's responsibility to notify their authors, illustrators, editors, publicists, and anyone else they deem appropriate.

4. In addition to appearing in one of our monthly book review publications which are posted to subscribers, we archive the review on our Midwest Book Review web site for five years. It is also made a part of "Book Review Index and distributed to thousands of library systems throughout the United States and Canada. Authors and publishers have no say in which of our publications the review will appear.

Authors and publishers have automatic permission to utilize the review in any manner they deem useful in their promotion/publicity/marketing campaigns.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Subject: Re: Questions about the Reader Fee Review
Date: 9/7/2013 8:18:42 A.M. Central Daylight Time


I am interested in getting a reader fee review for my published ebook, The Starlight Fortress, a military science fiction. However, I have some concerns. Are fee based reviews treated the same way as free reviews? For example, you mentioned "Full permission is given to post in-house book reviews only". Does that mean fee based reviews are excluded? Can I still use your review on my Amazon page?

Thanks a lot!


Yan Gai, Ph.D
Department of Neuroscience
290 Medical Sciences Building
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI 53706

Dear Yan,

Reviews from authorized reviewers who charge the $50 reader fee for reviewing ebooks, pdf files, galleys, uncorrected proofs, or advanced reading copies (ARCs) are treated the same as reviews done for published print titles.

The entire fee goes to the reviewer -- not the Midwest Book Review. Our "compensation" for being the middle man in putting the author together with the reviewer is that we have the right to include the review in one or more of our monthly book review publications and archive that review on our web site for five years.

The authorized reviewer is obligated to furnish a copy of the review to the author as soon as it is done. The author and/or publisher has the right to utilize that review in any manner they deem useful in their marketing campaign -- and that includes posting the review on Amazon.

The reader fee guarantees a review in a timely manner. Whether the review will be positive or negative depends on the literary assessment of the reviewer.

Free reviews of print titles have no guarantee of review. We receive an average of 2000 titles a month being submitted for review -- and I have 81 reviewers to try to cope with it all.

I created the reader fee system to accommodate requests for reviews of digital books that were being routinely ignored by my volunteer reviewers in favor of print titles. These reviewers' only compensation for their time and expertise is that they got to keep the books they reviewed. Most of them then sell those review copies to local used bookstores as a means of supplementing their income.

With digital books that can't happen.

Since I established the reader fee system for reviewers (and again, the Midwest Book Review gets nothing but the automatic permission to run the reviews) there has been a very steady increase in the numbers of digital book review requests being met.

Authors and publishers can post our reviews on Amazon or anywhere else they wish.

I hope this answers your questions. Please feel free to ask any others. Let me know if you'd like to proceed further.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Here are reviews of some new books of special interest to writers and publishers:

Writing Historical Fiction
Celia Brayfield and Duncan Sprott
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10010
9781780937854 $24.95

Writing Historical Fiction: A Writers' & Artists' Companion is an in-depth companion, guide, and resource for anyone working on a great period piece novel of any era in human history. Part one offers reflections, an overview, and a history of the historical fiction genre; part two consists of tips, tricks, and techniques from literally dozens of accomplished authors and guest contributors; and part three offers focused advice on everything from research methods to the writing process to getting published in the increasingly competitive modern era. "Remember that info can be shunted sideways. We don't know what Alexander the Great ate for breakfast. But we do know that the ancient Greeks in general ate hot dough dipped in honey, or in neat wine, for breakfast. It's not unreasonable to assume that Alexander ate hot dough for breakfast too. If you proceed according to this slightly wacky logic, you are writing what is essentially the truth. It's as true as it can be." A bibliography and an index round out this absolute "must-have" for aspiring and practicing authors in the genre!

Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story
Rachel Lynette, author
Jan Lieffering, illustrator
Norwood House Press
P.O. Box 316598, Chicago, IL 60631
9781599535876, $25.27,

From a middle grade educational series called Writing Builders, "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" presents a components construction toolkit for young budding fiction authors that is appealing, carefully sequenced for optimum understanding, and attractively and clearly presented. Frank wants to enter a story writing contest but he is afraid he doesn't know how to write fiction. Fiona encourages him and helps him find a way to begin. First comes a story map, with brief descriptions of the setting, characters, and story line with beginning, middle, and end. Fiona gives Frank many helpful writing tips to make his story more interesting and vivid. Finally, it is up to Frank to begin writing and then to rewrite the story as needed to build it. Using transitions and sensory details help to place the story's action in the imagination more firmly. At the end a 6 step process is outlined for creating a fictional story, with added special ideas, a glossary, and list of resources, including web sites. "Frank and Fiona Build a Fictional Story" is clearly written with likeable young students as budding authors and illustrated in a fun, quirky, colorful comic style, featuring adults and children of varying racial-ethnic backgrounds. Middle grade students from ages 9-11 will enjoy using this helpful literary tool to create their own works of fiction.

Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines
John Schimmel
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615931675 $26.95

Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines is for any performing arts or film holding and covers the basics about what producers and financiers seek in a screenplay, and how that screenplay is translated in film and stage. This comes from a studio executive and producer who offers behind-the-scenes insights into exactly how a screenwriting effort is translated, revealing how screenwriting works and doesn't work. Chapters analyze specific scenes, consider what makes plays work well, and provide tips on how a screenplay effort can be polished to move from ordinary to superior. The result is a top recommendation for any aspiring screenwriter who wants more than generalizations about exactly what qualities differentiate a top-quality effort from one that's just ordinary.

The Science Writers' Handbook
The Writers of SciLance
Da Capo Press
44 Farnsworth Street, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02210
9780738216560 $17.50

The Science Writers' Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Pitch, Publish, and Prosper in the Digital Age is edited by Thomas Hayden and Michelle Nijhuis and provides a fine survey of science writing and its special challenges. Those who would form a career from science writing receive chapters that discuss different career stages, how to hone skills needed for producing quality science writing, and how to balance work and home life. The focus on freelance science writing's special challenges accompanies real-world solutions as each chapter concludes with a SciLance member handling a modern science writing challenge, serving as an example for others. From reporting in multiple media to time management and working with editors, this is a fine reference for any who would write about science for a living.

Here is "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:

Joe Palmer
Lynn Clark
T. G. Symonds
George Traikovich
Melody A. Kloepfer
Mike Brogan -- "G8"
Jeff Alt -- "Get Your Kids Hiking"
Rana Diorio -- "Twelve Thai Tales"
Robert Kmiecik -- "Saved...For Now"
Matthew Stein -- "Geronimo the Frog"
W. R. Klemm -- "Memory Power 101"
Andrea Freeman -- "The Infinite Song"
John C. Plume -- "Insula: Island of Hope"
Silvio Laccetti -- "An American Commentary"
Howard Krum -- "An Animal Life: The Beginning"
Ann M. Hailey -- "Fishscale Girl and the Upside-Down Rain"
Hans Peter Braendlin -- "Through A Venetian Looking Glass"
TM Books & Video
Red Feather Publishing
Age of Storytelling, LLC
Heather Ripkey -- Farcountry Press
Jacob Noricks -- New University Press
Andrea Skyberg -- Wooden Nickel Press
Jennifer Justice -- Endicott and Hugh Books
Amanda Mulholland -- Royal Fireworks Press
Sara Sgarlat -- Sgarlat Publicity
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara Wall -- The Barret Company Communications

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. 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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