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Jim Cox Report: May 2007

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

The first order of business is to make sure that all the recipients of the 'Jim Cox Report' are aware that the postal rates are going up again this month (May 14th). Steve Carlson from Upper Access, Inc. (one of my long-time cyberspace buddies in the publishing industry and a very successful publisher in his own right), has created a terrific website about it at http://www.upperaccess.com/Rate%20Charts.htm to help publishers be able to easily calculate and compare the new postal rates for Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Library Rate, and Priority Mail.

Here's some follow-up info on remainder dealers from Hank Lutrell of 20th Century Books -- my long-time friend and a successful bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin:

Dear Jim:

Here is some information about the show in Chicago.

Chicago International Remainder & Overstock Book Exposition (CIROBE) Oct. 26-28 2007

www.cirobe.com

Information about the individual exhibitors is here:

http://www.cirobe.com/html/program/program.html

There is a list of the exhibitors, and you can click through on each name to get contact information, including url's when available.

Hank Lutrell
20th Century Books

And then there was this that arrived in my email inbox to make my day for the rest of the year!:

Subject: MBR Bookwatch
Date: 2/7/2007 10:32:05 A.M. Central Standard Time
From: clhagedorn@sbcglobal.net

I was ecstatic with your review of PARK RIDGE: A Senior Center Murder in Volume 6, Number 2, of the MBR Bookwatch. I immediately posted to the Chicago Writers Association forum saying, "Jump up and down with me!" I included the quote "PARK RIDGE is an entertaining whodunit that rates with Agatha Christie and could easily convert to an enticing television movie." The responses from my fellow writers indicate their high regard for the Midwest Book Review.

"Thanks for the aerobic exercise, Cheryl/Agatha. I needed the exercise. Oh, and congrats on the awesome review. They don't come much better than that."

"Oh, cool. That's great. Now you've got to find a movie producer! I just sent my book off to them to be reviewed. I hope mine is as good as yours."

"Hooray, Cheryl!!!! That IS a feather in your cap...the MBR's top drawer."

I've posted twice on my blog (http://murder.booklocker.com) about Midwest Book Reviews because the information I've discovered on marketing has been so helpful and any praise I can send your way is well-deserved. Thank you so much.

Cheryl
Author, PARK RIDGE: A Senior Center Murder
Blog: http://murder.booklocker.com
Website: http://www.cheryltime.com/books/
Purchase: http://www.booklocker.com/books/2637.html

A number of excellent books for writers and publishers have recently crossed my desk. So here's the latest installment of 'The Writing/Publishing Shelf' beginning with Shel Horowitz -- another long-time cyberspace publishing buddy of mine:

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers
Shel Horowitz
AWM Books
16 Barstow Lane, Hadley, MA 01035
0961466634, $24.95 www.frugalmarketing.com/shop.html

Shel Horowitz is an accomplished professional consultant and practitioner in the art and science of small press publishing. Shel draws upon many years of hard won experience and expertise to write and publish "Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers", a 292-page compendium of descriptive commentary, advice, tips, techniques, resources, instructions, and examples of how an author can go about successfully marketing their book in a highly competitive and often volatile marketplace. Shel has included seven different marketing models that authors can draw upon to create inexpensive yet very effective websites as part of their overall book marketing strategy. Also included are two complete, full-length marketing plans that are actually based on two of Shel's author clients. Examples of eight actual press releases and six successful media pitches are provided as templates. Exemplary anecdotal stories drawn from some forty-one authors and publishers, plus about a dozen publishing industry experts, provide aspiring authors with real-life examples of what they can do to promote and marketing their book regardless of genre. Enhanced with a 16-page resource appendix listing dozens of useful books, website, publications, book coaches, organizes, etc., "Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers" can be considered an informed, user friendly, 'how to' book marketing seminar/workshop in a single volume. Of special note are Shel's commentaries on why books (and their authors) fail in bookstores, online marketing, and operating profitably in a market where only about ten percent of self-published and small press titles sell more than 1000 copies. It should be noted that the Midwest Book Review is favorably cited on seven occasions within the pages of "Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers". Nevertheless, there is no conflict of interest when strongly recommending "Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers" to the attention of 'midlist' authors of major publishing houses who find themselves shouldering the burden of promoting and marketing their books, self-published authors who have established their own imprint, authors who utilize the services of Print-On-Demand (POD) companies to turn their manuscripts into finished books, as well as authors whose books are published by small presses and niche publishers. "Grassroots Marketing For Authors And Publishers" is the ideal reference manual for anyone having to promote a book with little or no available capital for publicity and promotion. Indeed, studying Shel's advice and instructions carefully could well make the difference between commercial success or failure for an author or a publisher.

Fairy Tales For Writers
Lawrence Schimel
A Midsummer Night's Press
16th West 36th Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10018
0979420806 $6.50 www.amidsummernightspress.com

"Fairy Tales For Writers" is a virtually unique entry into the Midwest Book Review's monthly book review column 'The Writing/Publishing Shelf' which is usually devoted to 'how to' books and manuals for aspiring writers and novice publishers. This small, slender, imaginative, hilarious, and all-to-true 30-page collection of poetry by Lawrence Schimel wonderfully and artfully reflects the almost archetypal hopes, ambitions, frustrations, passions, and processes of writing for publication. Here in a kind of poetic folklore format are 'the new writer who encounters a wolf along the path to publication'; the writing workshop member who must always be 'the fairest of them all'; the writer who for the sake of love gives up her own special voice; the shy, anonymous author who slips away before the end of the reading only to be remorselessly tracked down by the editor wanting to publisher her work. Everyone who has ever put pen to paper, and the tried to submit that paper to a publisher, will recognize the poetically expressed truths in Lawrence Schimel's superb little book, "Fairy Tales For Writers". As the last line on the last page of this marvelous little gem has it: "Sometimes there is a happy ending, even in publishing."

Bulletproof Book Proposals
Pam Brodowsky & Eric Neuhaus
Writer's Digest Press
c/o F&W Publications, Inc.
700 East State Street, Iola, WI 54990
1582973679 $14.99 www.fwpublications.com 1-800-726-9966

For every 100 book proposals submitted to publishers by hopeful authors, two will make it and the other ninety-eight will not. That's why literary agent Pam Brodowsky and successful author Eric Neuhaus teamed-up to create a 'how to' manual of instruction and advice to help aspiring writers seeking to break into print better the odds against them. The first part of "Bulletproof Book Proposals" addresses the book proposal writing process through clear instructions and exercises, along with a ten-step approach designed to teach the author how to craft an overview of their writing project that is clear, concise, and engaging; conduct a thorough competitive-book analysis; define primary and secondary markets, and write effective chapter outlines and summaries. The second part of "Bulletproof Book Proposals" presents twelve real-life book proposals that were successful in getting published. Also featured are informative commentaries from the authors and agents of those proposals, as well as the editors who accepted them for publication. "Bulletproof Book Proposals" is a complete, 'user friendly', and strongly recommended do-it-yourself seminar workshop in the creation of effective, successful, profitable book proposals a skill that is a fundamental necessity for anyone seeking to create a professional writing career for themselves. Also very highly recommended from Writer's Digest Press are two other references for aspiring authors: "The Glimmer Trains Guide To Writing Fiction" (1582974462, $19.99) and Bill Brohaugh's "Unfortunate English: The Gloomy Truth Behind The Words You Use" (1582974438, $18.99).

Writing a Great Movie
Jeff Kitchen
Loan Eagle
c/o Watson-Guptill Publishing
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003
0823067988, $19.95 www.watsonguptill.com

Theory blends with applied instruction in WRITING A GREAT MOVIE, which offers a manual of tools for aspiring screenwriters. From learning how to set theme and understanding basic dramatic situations to working up demo plots and understanding when to stop, WRITING A GREAT MOVIE moves from basics to advanced techniques and will find a home on the shelf of any serious 'how to' library.

Let's Get Creative: Writing Fiction That Sells
William F. Nolan
Quill Driver Books
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956505, $14.95 www.quilldriverbooks.com

William F. Nolan is the successful author of more than eighty works of fiction and so brings to "Let's Get Creative: Writing Fiction That Sells" a very special expertise based on personal experience and hard work. Writing with a much appreciated clarity and occasional touches of human, Nolan covers getting started as a writer, where ideas can (and do) come from, the critical value and necessity of a story's climax, the use of dialogue, 'characterization-within-action, the art of revising a manuscript, the value of humor, achieving a personal writing style, employing all five senses in the art and craft of writing fiction, developing conflict to create and hold reader interest, 'hooking the reader', the differences between writing short stories and full length novels, shifting between prose and script writing, handling rejection (the inevitable lot of even the most accomplished and successful authors), and dealing with publishers and literary agents (also inevitable for aspiring writers seeking to become or continue as successfully published authors). A superbly presented and informative introduction 'how to' manual to the art, craft and realities of writing fiction, "Let's Get Creative: Writing Fiction That Sells" is a 'must' read for the novice author and has a great deal to recommend it to even the more seasoned fiction writing as well.

Now for some Q&A from my email box:

In a message dated 4/22/2007 3:04:56 P.M. Central Daylight Time, rideus@sbcglobal.net writes:

Mr. Cox: I found your site very helpful and informative. I am a soon to be published author of a romance novel. This is my first book. I signed a contract with Publish America and so far I have had no problems with them. They have been very prompt to answer my questions, give me tips, etc. My book is currently in the Cover Art department.

My question is: Why is there so much bad press about them on the internet? The articles seem almost rabid in their hatred of PA. I have had no refusals from bookstores to buy my books and host signings so far. Hastings and a local store are waiting for me to give them my release date. I realize that they don't do much editing, but the book did not come back to me "riddled with errors" as I've seen stated in some articles I've read. They have been accused of not promoting or marketing books for authors, publishing "anyone", etc. From what I've read on your site, major publishers don't do any better by the author. I realize that I need to promote myself and and quite willing to do so. Those sites claim that they are trying to protect writers by warning them, but it seems to me that more harm is done to writers whose friends and families read those articles and lose respect for the writers published by them. It seems to me that with the small number of books the majors publish and the many manuscripts they receive, that if PA gives new authors a chance and makes some bucks in the process, what's wrong with that?

Roberta Ideus

Dear Roberta:

The prejudice against POD published titles has its origins in the unfortunate fact that the POD publishers (even Publish America) will turn any manuscript given them into a book when paid to do so by an author -- regardless of that manuscript's literary merit, typos, flawed writing, or any other errors that print books are susceptible to.

Nowadays, POD companies have steadily expanded the number of services that they are willing to provide their author clients for additional fees, including editing and promotional services.

The other main source of prejudice is the feeling on the part of librarians and book retailers is that POD is the resort for authors whose work simply isn't good enough to enable them to be published through more traditional publishing arrangements with established publishing houses.

When an author pays a publisher to publish their work, that publisher is justifiably called a 'Vanity Press'.

I should also state that most POD books fail to secure review assignments because so many reviewers share that historic prejudice against self-publishing for the reasons cited above.

I don't hold with that prejudice because I think self-publishing has a long and honorable tradition as well as having a value of its own, with the advent of POD companies being simply a reflection of the advances in technology that make publishing your own work easier than it has ever been before.

Your questions arise from time to time and so I'm going to include our little exchange in a future issue of my "Jim Cox Report" for the edification of other aspiring authors for whatever benefit it may have for them.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

Date: 3/17/2007 12:39:15 P.M. Central Daylight Time

>>Hi, I'm one of your reviewers and was wondering if you have any tips for
>>getting free books now and then?

Victoria Kennedy

Dear Victoria

You need to set yourself up as a professional free lance reviewer in the eyes of the publishing community. To do so requires the following:

Printing yourself up some business stationary and a business card.

Develop a contact/request letter that includes a list of your review outlets beginning with Midwest Book Review, Amazon.com, and anywhere else you can post or publish them -- including your own website.

If you don't have a website, develop one that announces and documents you as a freelance reviewer.

When publishers send you books to review, be religiously faithful in sending them copies of your review accompanied by a publisher notification letter outlining where they can find the review posted or published.

Then in that same publisher notification letter, ask for up to five more of their titles.

To develop a relationship with a publisher, get one of their new titles from your local library, either directly or through the free Interlibrary Loan Service. Review it, then send them a review along with your initial contact letter identifying who you are and where that review will be featured.

Ask them for a couple more books (remember their website as a source for new titles) along with their current publications catalog.

Have a turn-around time from receipt of a book to sending out the review to no more than 30 days. It's essential for new and novice reviewers to be as timely as they can when trying to establishing themselves within the publishing community.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 4/2/2007 10:42:35 A.M. Central Daylight Time, maryglenn@maryglenn.com writes:

Hi, James

I hope you had a great weekend! I was getting in touch with a quick question. What is your policy on posting MBR reviews on Amazon? One of my clients asked about the possibility of posting a recent review on Amazon, and I wanted to see what your policy is. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide,

Maryglenn McCombs
maryglenn@maryglenn.com

Dear Maryglenn:

The reviews that are generated 'in-house' by our editorial staff are all automatically posted to Amazon (assuming the book is available on the Amazon website).

The reviews generated by freelance or volunteer reviewers are their property, and it's up to them whether or not to post them on Amazon. Some do, some don't.

Publishers have the right to post any review from any source on Amazon if they supplied the reviewer or the review publication with a copy of the book that was reviewed. They don't need prior permission because it was implicit in the acceptance of a review copy by the reviewer that the reviewer would furnish the publisher with a copy of the review, and the publisher had the automatic right to utilize that review in their marketing/promotion campaign -- including posting the reviews on such online databases as Amazon.com, Borders.com, etc.

This question comes up every now and then, so I'm going to include this response in one of my monthly "Jim Cox Reports" for the general benefit of the publishing community.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 3/11/2007 3:39:59 A.M. Central Daylight Time, vrahiminejad_2000@yahoo.com writes:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I have checked your site and I found it great. But I have a question. Would you please let me know where the name of book reviewer is noted? Thanks

With Regards
Vida

Reviews in the "MBR Bookwatch" and the "Reviewer's Bookwatch" have the freelance reviewer's name attached to them. It the book review column "Reviewer's Choice" the reviewer's name and title are between the 'info block' heading of the review and the review commentary. When the review is part of a reviewer's byline column you will find the reviewer's name and title at the bottom of their column of reviews. When using these reviews, the freelance reviewers should be cited by name in the following fashion:

John Smith, Reviewer
Midwest Book Review

The reviews in the "Internet Bookwatch", "California Bookwatch", "Small Press Bookwatch", "The Bookwatch", "Children's Bookwatch", "Library Bookwatch", and "Wisconsin Bookwatch" are all generated 'in house' by the editors, staff members, and selected volunteer reviewers of the Midwest Book Review and there is no citation as to who the particular reviewer is. When using reviews from these publications the citation should be as follows:

1. just "Midwest Book Review"
2. or the name of the particular publication as follows:

Children's Bookwatch
Midwest Book Review

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In a message dated 3/5/2007 3:45:26 P.M. Central Standard Time, bettyw@wcnet.org writes:

Does Amazon have permission to sell our book reviews? I typed in a title I
reviewed and found that my review of it for MBR is for SALE on Amazon.
That's not right, is it?

Betty

Dear Betty:

Amazon thinks that it has proprietary rights to any review posted on its website by a reviewer or a publisher. But it doesn't.

As to selling reviews -- I think that is pie-in-the-sky thinking on Amazon's part. Who would pay for a review that they can read for free right then and there on the Amazon website? Plus, publishers have a right to utilize any review of any of their titles where they furnished a copy of their book to that reviewer who then generated the review -- regardless of whether that review is published in a magazine, newspaper, or newsletter, or posted on a website or in an online publication.

This is a question that reoccurs periodically so I will include it in the Q&A part of one of my monthly "Jim Cox Reports" for the benefit of other authors and publishers.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

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:

Stuart Franklin Platt - 'Letters from the Front Lines: Iraq and Afghanistan'
Peter Bowerman - 'The Well-Fed Self-Publisher'
Joann Hakala - 'A Baby Brother! Oh No!'
Stephen Eubank - 'Alliences'
Larry Nocella - 'Where Did This Come From?'
Ethan Rappaport - 'The Legacy of Ogama'
Elizabeth M. Brown - 'Aristotle: The Firefly's Message'
Debra Johanyak - 'Behind the Veil'
Tyde Horse Books
Ana Isabel Moura - Pink Granite Productions
Eric Weinstein - Walford Press
Debra J. Slover - Leader Garden Press
Jill R. Lamerc - Minikin Press
Mary Jones - Bladestar Publishing
Audrey Hernden - Greenestff, Inc.
Meredith Rutter - VanderWyk & Burnham
Deborah Homsher - Blue Hull Press
Rainer Kohrs - Stonehorse Publishing
Judi Torres - Spinoza Publishing
Gerald Everett Jones - La Puerta Productions
Jamie Johnson - JamesCafe.com
Carol Teten - Dancetime Publications
Flo Selfman - Selfman & Others Public Relations
Beth Blenz-Clucas - A/V Publicity Services

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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