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Jim Cox Report: May 2008
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
Once again it's been a busy, busy month here at the Midwest Book Review offices. We've made a new record in the number of incoming submissions and a corollary increase in the number of reviewers and reviews. I've also been interviewed again (twice) and that has also resulted in an increase of incoming email inquiries, questions, and requests.
For you folk that might be interested in what I've had to say to interviewers about writing and publishing in general, and book reviewing in particular, here is where you can find that out:
In a message dated 4/7/2008 6:56:59 A.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Just wanted to let you know that your interview is up today on *Murder By 4* . Please feel free to stop in and respond to comments or questions, and spread the work with your contacts if you'd like! We're getting great traffic, even though most folks don't stop to comment.
Aaron Paul Lazar
I had forgotten I'd done the interview and when I got Aaron's email I went to http://murderby4.blogspot.com/ to read what it was I'd had to say. Then it all came back to me. It was one of those Q&A interviews I seem to do every couple of months or so. Reader's of the "Jim Cox Report" or anyone curious about what goes on here at the Midwest Book Review should find it an interesting read.
My next scheduled interview will be on "Authors Access" on Thursday, May 15th at 7 p.m. CST. The topic will be 'All About Book Reviews'. You can access the interview at http://www.authorsaccess.com
"Rebecca's Reads" and "Reader Views" are two very special, independent book review websites under the editorship of Irene Watson. Both of them have become regular contributors to the Midwest Book Review. As the newest addition to the Midwest Book Review roster of volunteer and contributing reviewers I want to give "Rebecca's Reads" a little plug -- so here it is:
Rebecca’s Reads, established in 1998, is a book review and publicity service website. In March 2008 Rebecca’s Reads reopened under new ownership with much more to offer.
(Austin, Texas) The newly revived and renovated Website, www.rebeccasreads.com is a book review and publicity service site for the reading audience, authors, publishers, publicists and buyers/sellers. After a 6-week-renovation, the site now has a new look and pumped up services that are cutting-edge. These new features are sure to impress past visitors and entice new ones to browse around.
A variety of publicity services are available to authors, publicists and publishers to market their books to the reading audience. The budget friendly services include book reviews, advertising on their Website, press release writing and distribution and audiobook production and distribution, just to name a few. Each review is listed with a link so that readers can buy the book immediately. Also, Rebecca’s Reads has been syndicated and reviews will be appearing in USA Today, Reuters, TV station websites, and newspapers.
For buyers/sellers as well as libraries, Rebecca’s Reads offers a list of all reviews in the BRI (Book Review Index) on a monthly basis to speed up this time consuming task. The lists are easy to access and very user-friendly.
Rebecca’s Reads is an easy-to-use Website that attracts the reading audience a reader or author may seek. For complete listings and prices of everything Rebecca has to offer to get a book in the hands of reviewers and readers, just visit www.rebeccasreads.com.
Rachel Riebeling Durfor
Speaking of plugs -- I also want to give the following 'heads-up' to "Jim Cox Report" subscribers:
In a message dated 4/22/2008 5:14:45 A.M. Central Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
First of all I'd like to say thank you for writing the Foreword to The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. My co-author and I are very excited about the book's release.
We're planning a big launch party at Blogcritics Magazine during the entire month of June. I'll be interviewing 15+ reviewers/bloggers about various aspects of reviewing. I was wondering if you'd be interested in participating. I have some great names lined up--Armchair Interviews, Reader Views, In the Library Reviews, Compulsive Reader, New Mystery Reader, and many more. Blogcritics has agreed to help publicize the event.
I know you're very busy, so I'll completely understand if you decline. But if you decide to consider it, please let me know and I'll send you the interview questions. Thanks again for your time.
My copy of "The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing" came in the mails yesterday -- and of course the first thing I did was to read my own Foreword!
I'd be happy to participate in your event. Send me your list of questions and I'd be happy to respond. If you like to provide me with a little write-up of the event I'll see if I can't include it in my next "Jim Cox Report". I'll be writing a review for "Slippery Art" for it -- with the truth-in-advertising acknowledgment of my participation in the project -- and that would be a good time for adding in your descriptive announcement if you'd like to send me one.
Midwest Book Review
For you folks who are wondering, (here's that 'truth-in-advertising' bit) I wrote a foreword for "The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing", the first 'how to' book about becoming a book reviewer and/or setting up a book review company to be published in a long time. You'll see my review of the book in this month's review book column "The Writing/Publishing Shelf" (see below). For now, let's just say I think so highly of it that I've had my whole staff read this simply excellent and definitive instruction manual for aspiring and practicing book reviewers. Incidently, You may be interested to know that my long-time publishing expert John Culleton will be preparing the index for "The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing" and it's scheduled for publication in June 2008.
So here is that particular review -- and a whole lot more!
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing
Mayra Calvani & Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781933353227, $16.95 www.twilighttimes.com
As long as books have been published there have been those who have felt the need to comment on them. We call such folks 'reviewers'. These literary critics can be self-appointed volunteers, freelance professionals, employed journalists and academicians whose commentaries about what is being written and published is a part of their job. Reviewers (much like the authors and publishers whose work they pass judgments upon) come in three basic categories: The Good; The Bad; and The Mediocre. There really hasn't been a 'how to' guide of any appreciable length or substance to explain the role of a book reviewer, how to become established as a credible reviewer of books, or how to create and operative a book review business. That is, there really hasn't been such an instructional manual until the publication of Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards collaborative work titled "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing". Following an informative foreword by James A. Cox (best known within the publishing industry as the Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review), "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" is divided into three major sections: 'The Art of Reviewing' which lays out in considerable detail the actual 'nuts and bolts' of what a book review actually is, how to go about reviewing books, and the basics of creating a professional reputation and maintaining a successful book review operation; 'The Influence of Book Reviews' which focuses upon the relationship of book reviews to libraries, bookstores, publishers, authors, publicists, book clubs, and readers; and 'Resources' which provides advice and extensive lists of resources for book reviews as they relate to print publications, academia, online review sites, and more. ""The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" concludes with providing a 'Sample of a Press Release'. Offering a wealth of practical, experience-tested advice, commentary, technical information, techniques, and resources, "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" should be considered mandatory reading for novice and aspiring book reviewers, as well as having a great deal of enduring value as a reference for even the more experienced reviewer. Additionally, "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" will provide to be informed and informative reading about the book review process for authors, publishers, publicists, booksellers, librarians, and the general reading public.
Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up
Central Avenue Press
2132-A Central SE #144, Albuquerque, NM 87106
9780971534483, $13.95, www.centralavepress.com
A good story without good characters is an impossibility. Characters are the people that the audience relates to, that the audience connects with to get themselves involved in the story. "Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up: A Thorough Primer for Writers of Fiction and Nonfiction" is a guide for writers to develop these characters to be the best they can be, by evaluating the character piece by piece. To make them truly great, author and freelance writer says, a character needs to be consistent, believable, and admirable. "Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up: A Thorough Primer for Writers of Fiction and Nonfiction" is highly recommended for any aspiring writer to be and for community library writing/publishing shelves.
A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End
525 B Street Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101-4495
9780152055554, $14.95, www.harcourtbooks.com
Write what you know - it's a common proverb told to all writers. "A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing" is a guide designed for all ages to help writers get off on the right foot in creating excellent writing, writing that people will want to read, and how to avoid the common pitfalls that so many writers tend to fall into. Composed in the form of a short fictional story that children writers will be able to relate too, and enhanced with beautiful illustrations by Tricia Tusa, "A beginning, a Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing" is highly recommended for writers of all ages and for community library children's fiction sections as a strange bridge between picture books, chapter books, and non fiction.
Webster's All-In-One Dictionary & Thesaurus
Federal Street Press
25-13 Old Kings Highway North, #277, Darien, CT 06820
9781596950467, $12.98, www.federalstreetpress.com 1-877-886-2830
Every reader, author, and publisher needs a good reference collection of dictionaries and thesaurus. But often space is limited to house a large collection of language reference works. "Webster's All-In-One Dictionary & Thesaurus" is ideal and recommended for a limited reference shelf space as it combines under one cover 67,000 clearly written dictionary definitions with 140,000 synonyms and antonyms. Thesaurus entry follows dictionary entry and is printed in a contrasting color making for a thoroughly 'user friendly' rapid look-up reference. Fully integrated, "Webster's All-In-One Dictionary & Thesaurus" is a 768-page hardcover compendium fully in compliance with Merriam-Webster standards. Also very highly recommended as inexpensive additions to personal, school, and community library language reference collections are Merriam-Webster's "Webster's Contemporary School & Office Thesaurus" (9781596950481, $7.98); "Webster's Contemporary School & Office Dictionary" (9781596950474, $7.98); and "Webster's New Explorer Vocabulary Skill Builder" (9781596950450, $9.98).
The National Writers Association Guide to Writing for Beginners
Rowman & Littlefield Education
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
9781578866854, $24.95, www.rowmaneducation.com
Anyone can be a writer. In fact, it's particularly hard to get through the public school system without at one time or another doing some form of creative writing. "The National Writers Association Guide to Writing for Beginners: A How-To Reference for Plot, Dialogue, Nonfiction, Internet Publishing, and More" is simply a guide to getting ones mind going for the process, broken into short, bite sized chunks of information easy to digest for people wanting to get themselves writing once more and how to do it well on a technical level, while serving as an introduction to the writing business as a whole complete with a wade in copyright laws. "The National Writers Association Guide to Writing for Beginners: A How-To Reference for Plot, Dialogue, Nonfiction, Internet Publishing, and More" is highly recommended for any aspiring writer just starting out and for community library collections catering to them.
The Write Type
Karen E. Peterson, Ph. D
57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322
9781598694703, $12.95, www.adamsmedia.com
Committed or Conflicted? Organized or Chaotic? Lunch Hour or Log Cabin? What kind of writer is one, really? "The Write Type: Discover Your True Writer's Identity and Create a Customized Writing Plan" is a guide to help writers identify with who they are as a writer by going over preferred writing conditions such as mood, organization, deadlines, solitude, order, and other aspects of ones writing that may not be obvious to everyone. "The Write Type: Discover Your True Writer's Identity and Create a Customized Writing Plan" is highly recommended for any writer who can't seem to find the right groove or mood to really start cooking, and for community library shelves dedicated to writers. Also highly recommended from Adams Media in the subject, "Time to Write: No excuses. No distractions. No more blank pages" (9781598694383, $12.95) by Kelly L. Stone.
I Don't Want to be a Pirate - Writer, Maybe
Robert S. Swiatek
1023 4th Avenue #102, San Diego, CA 92101
1593305281, $12.50, www.bobcooks.com
A different kind of thief that isn't heard about too often - the ones in the book business. "I Don't Want to be a Pirate - Writer, Maybe" is Author Robert S. Swiatek's account of his adventures with a certainly treacherous industry of books. Covering all the joys, disappointments and hemorrhoids that he as a writer has had to deal with during his career, while still keeping a positive and upbeat demeanor about it all and encouraging aspiring writers not to give up and keep up their efforts. "I Don't Want to be a Pirate- Writer, Maybe" is highly recommended for would be writers and a must have for community library collections catering to them.
Michael Wiese Productions
3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA, 91604
9781932907391, $16.95, www.mwp.com
It took Thomas Edison over one hundred tries to perfect the light bulb. Perfection - It's very unlikely for one to have perfection on their first try, and screen writing is no different. "Rewrite: A Step-by-Step Guide to Strengthen Structure, Characters, and Drama in Your Screenplay" is a manual for screenwriters that already have their screenplay written - but want to do everything they can to make it flat out the very best it can be. Seeking to improve your writing by improving the little aspects, as the little details can be invaluable in selling a story. "Writing is Rewriting". "Rewrite: A Step-by-Step Guide to Strengthen Structure, Characters, and Drama in Your Screenplay" is highly recommended for any screenwriter who wants to hammer out all of the kinks in their screenplay for community library collections catering to writers.
Keep It Real
Lee Gutkind, editor
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110
9780393065619, $22.95, www.wwnorton.com
Who says that non-fiction has to be just the facts and nothing else? "Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction" is a guide for writers who are set to write nonfiction but want to do it with some flare, by taking the concepts of fiction - scene, dialogue, metaphor, suspense, and applies them to reality, as a way of telling the truth in the way it happened. Explaining the genre as a whole, sifting through facts to find the best story, points of view, libel fears, immersion, and so many more concepts are covered, making "Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction" highly recommended for anyone who wants to dive into this field.
Writers on the Job
Thomas E. Kennedy & Walter Cummins
P.O. Box 11, Titusville, NJ 08560-0011
9781933435213, $15.95, http://www.hopepubs.com
Writing is not a job that pays well at entry level. In fact, it's not a job that pays at all for most - "Writers on the Job: Tales of the Non-Writing Life" has twenty writers telling their stories of working the grind - something familiar to many in the entertainment industry of waiting tables to get their big break. Twenty writers tell their stories of how they get along while submitting their stories, novels, and essays abroad, sure to be an inspiration to many trying to hack their way through the craft. "Writers on the Job: Tales of the Non-Writing Life" is highly recommended to any writer just starting out, and for community library writing/publishing collections with a focus on memoirs.
From Brainstorm to Bestseller
Marsha Haigh Arend
Rollaway Bay Publications, Inc.
6334 South Racine Circle, Centennial, Colorado 80111-6404
9780974317625, $9.95 www.rollawaybay.com
Writing is a literary skill. Publishing is an entrepreneurial task. Aspiring authors wanting their books read by as wide an audience as possible, must acquire an expertise in both areas. Written by entrepreneur, consultant, and public speaker Marsha Haigh Arend, From Brainstorm to Bestseller: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book is a solidly practical guide to putting together a fiction or nonfiction book, polishing it, and getting one's feet wet in the complex world of publishing. Chapters discuss how to revise and edit like a professional, conventional publishing wisdom, the importance of learning good speaking skills (did you think you wouldn't have to speak in public if you were a writer? Think again!) and much more. Though From Brainstorm to Bestseller endorses the publish-on-demand option, it does not disparage other options and offers guidelines in selecting the right publisher for one's needs. An excellent primer for aspiring book writers.
The Voice of the Muse
Mark David Gerson
Light Lines Media
223 N. Guadalupe St. Unit 171, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
9780979547553, $17.00, www.lightlinesmedia.com
The Award winning author of The Moonquest, Mark David Gerson, now imparts his wisdom to help aspiring writers become more than that in "The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write". Promoting various and varied techniques to assist would-be authors to help get their ideas down effectively on paper, "The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write" suggests tips to create fascinating worlds and characters that people will love to read about and want to see more of. "The Voice of the Muse" is highly recommended to wanna-be writers everywhere and for community library writing/publishing shelves.
Terrence Clark Wilson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432717711, $8.95 www.outskirtspress.com 1-888-672-6657
It is said that everyone has at least one good novel in them, but "As-I-Learn Poetry: or I Can Write and So Can You - A Spiritual Approach" believes it can apply to poetry as well. Although filled with grand, elaborate poetry throughout, "As-I-Learn Poetry: or I Can Write and So Can You - A Spiritual Approach" acts as a guide to make the reader a better writer, whether it be for poetry or pose, explaining vital life lessons and knowledge that should be available to all. Highly recommended to both poetry and writing shelves alike, and for any aspiring poet or writer who needs some extra advice for their craft.
The Art of Plotting
Linda J. Cowgill
c/o Watson-Guptill Publications
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781580650700, $18.95 www.watsonguptill.com
Plot is the meat and main course of any and all fiction scripts script regardless of film genres - without a good plot, it takes a miracle to have a good movie. "The Art of Plotting: Add Emotion, Suspense, and Depth to your Screenplay" covers all you need to know to make your plot the best it can be, explaining the complex principles, advice on integrating characterization and exposition to make the story more compelling, how to spot and overcome common plot problems, and demonstrate how plot can enhance everything else about your screenplay. "The Art of Plotting: Add Emotion, Suspense, and Depth to your Screenplay" is enthusiastically recommended to aspiring screen writers everywhere and deserves a place on any community library's Writing and/or Film Studies instructional reference collection.
The Fine Print Of Self-Publishing
c/o Bascom Hill Publishing Group
213 Third Avenue North, Suite 471, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781933538563, $16.95, www.book-publishers-compared.com
There is a memorable scene in the western movie "The Magnificent Seven" where Eli Wallach (playing the role of a Mexican bandit chief) leans over his saddle and says to Yul Brenner (playing the role of a mercenary gunfighter hired to protect a small Mexican village) that with respect to the villagers, "If God did not want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep!". I've often thought that all to often this was the kind of business ethic that many self-publishing or POD (print-on-demand) companies had toward their author clients. Now whenever I'm asked for my advice on POD companies, I'm going to give them the urgent recommendation that they read Mark Levine's "The Fine Print Of Self-Publishing: The Contracts & Services Of 48 Self-Publishing Companies -- Analyzed, Ranked & Exposed" from cover to cover. The focus is upon that all important contract between an author and a publishing company that is willing to take the author's manuscript and turn the authors manuscript into a published book -- for a fee. This handy, 'reader friendly' and 'user friendly' manual is packed from beginning to end with exactly the kind of publishing contract information needed to avoid being cheated, to insure getting what's expected, and to make the capital investment as wisely as possible in terms of selecting the vendor who will provide the best publishing services possible for those authors who cannot get their work published by traditional publishers and/or who do not (or cannot) simply publish themselves. Of special note is Chapter 9 "Publishers To Avoid". The key is the contract -- with all its component parts and fine print. Before signing a publishing contract with any POD company, read Mark Levine's "The Fine Print Of Self-Publishing", it could save you money, anxiety, and disappointment, while increasing your chances for success, sales, and fulfilled expectations.
A History of the Frankfurt Book Fair
Peter Weidhaas, author
C.M. Gossage and W.A. Wright, translators
The Dundurn Group
3 Church Street, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1M2
9781550027440, $40.00 www.dundurn.com
Book fairs have been an important part of the publishing industry since the days of Gutenberg and the invention of movable type. Recognized as the Mecca for all who are connected to the book publishing industry, the Frankfurt Book Fair is over five hundred years old. "A History of the Frankfurt Book Fair" looks to cover all of it's history, as covered by the director of the event for a quarter of a century, and author of "A History of the Frankfurt Book Fair", Peter Weidhaas. Fascinating, expertly written, and full of anecdotes and insights, "A History of the Frankfurt Book Fair" is strongly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library collections, as well as the for non-specialist general reader seeking to learn more about the origin of the model that all modern book fairs follow.
Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:
In a message dated 11/21/2007 11:25:35 P.M. Central Standard Time, Cherokee4952 writes:
I was wondering if you could tell me how I can find employment at a Book Company reading children's books to see what age should be reading them or if they are ok for children. I love to read and have been a librarian in an elementary school for several years. I am looking for employment from home. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
The only advice I can give you is to create a resume, then contact all the children's books publishers one by one seeking just such employment.
You can find those publishers by visiting the children's book section of bookstores and libraries and copying down the publisher contact information printed in them.
You might also start reviewing children's books and seek an outlet or forum (such as the Midwest Book Review) for the purpose of establishing yourself within the publishing industry and helping you to create a persuasive portfolio demonstrating and documenting your expertise to prospective children's books publishers -- especially with reviews of books by those publishers that you expect to approach for employment.
With respect to this last suggestion, I'm going to append below my signature the Reviewer Guidelines for utilizing the Midwest Book Review as a forum for reviews.
Midwest Book Review
Thank you for your inquiry. All of our reviewers are volunteers who retain all rights to their reviews. Reviews are submitted by email (just type it, or "copy & paste" it, into the body of an email message. Hard cover printouts are mailed to the reviewers for their records. Reviewers submitting one review in a given month are clustered together in the column "Reviewer's Choice". Reviewers submitting two or more reviews in a given month are provided their own bylined column (e.g. "Klausner's Bookshelf", "Cindy's Bookshelf", "Taylor's Bookshelf", etc.)
The following should be a part of every review submitted:
Publisher Phone Number (especially an 800 or 888 if they have one)
Publisher Website Address (if they have one)
Here are some guidelines that may be of help in creating an engaging review:
1. Why did you select this particular book for review? Perhaps it relates to your work, hobby, avocation, a particular area of interest, your expertise, or just for fun.
2. How well does the author write, use language, illustrate his/her points, develops characters, clarity of instruction, aptness of examples? Use brief quotations from the book itself to illustrate your observations, opinions, and comments. When doing poetry reviews include a poem, with cookbooks include a recipe.
3. Who is the book intended for? Scholarly reference, non-specialist general reader, devotees of the genre, wide ranging readership, specialized audience, age range, economic or political orientation, etc.
4. Does the book succeed in what the author is trying to accomplish? Entertain, instruct, persuade, inform, train, teach, alarm, etc. Are there suggestions you'd offer the author for his/her next time around in print?
5. What is the author's background or credentials? What other titles does the author have?
6. Are their related or relevant titles that a reader might be interested in?
7. Type your reviews in single spaced paragraphs with double spacing between the paragraphs. The review can be a few paragraphs or a few pages -- take as much space as you feel is necessary to say whatever you want to say.
8. Above all else, have a good time putting your thoughts and opinions down. The best reviews are those that you yourself would like to listen to while driving along in your car or chatting with friends over lunch. If a book is badly written or not worth while -- don't bother with it. Select another one that you think deserves the publicity that your review as showcased by the Midwest Book Review would afford it.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
Occasionally I also offer advice to the publicist and marketing director section of the publishing industry. Here's a sample:
In a message dated 12/14/2007 2:14:27 P.M. Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
We talked a while ago when I started a new career in marketing at the Syracuse University Press, You offered me the opportunity to contact you when I might have a question that your years of experience in the industry might be an easy one for you. Okay, I have a big question now!
Our press publishes a Spring catalog which lists all of our trade and scholarly publications including pop culture, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Irish Studies, Native American Studies, Adirondack and New York State and History publications.
I need to purchase a mailing list to send these 6,000 or so catalogs. In the past we have used the Yale University list, and Publisher’s Weekly lists.
What would you suggest?? I’m researching this now and hope to send out the mailing in mid January. Hope to hear from you next week. I’ll be at a conference in Toronto until Tuesday.
Syracuse University Press
The two lists you mention are good ones. But as a publicity director of an academic press, you really need to create, develop, and maintain your own customized series of mailing lists. There should be one for your press in general, another one for reviewers, one for university bookstores, and still others that would specialized in the various subject areas such as those you've listed.
My advice is to go a Google search using the terms "mailing lists", "scholarly mailing lists".
"library mailing lists", and "academic mailing lists".
This will give you a huge roster of professional mailing list companies who specialize in developing just the kind of mailing list you are looking for with respect to the Syracuse University Press catalogs -- which would appeal primarily to bookstores and librarians offering academic oriented titles such as dominate your Spring 2008 list.
Another piece of advice as regards a mailing list for reviewers and review resources to send your catalog too, go to the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com and click on "Other Reviewers".
This is a huge list of freelance book reviewers, book review magazines and publications, book review websites etc. While some of them would not be thematically relevant to academic titles such as yours, a goodly number of them would be appropriate. The trick is go down the list and when you see one that looks promising, click on it, be zapped to their website, read through their website, and you'll be able to tell if they would be a enough good fit for your academic press catalog to merit being added to your reviewer mailing list.
Finally, if you have contacts in the marketing departments of other university presses (or even if you don't), you can simply call them up, ask to talk to their director of marketing or publicity, and see if you can't buy a copy of their catalog mailing list.
Midwest Book Review
What reviewers should and shouldn't do with review copies is a perennial topic that comes up on publisher discussion forums. Here's what I had to say with respect to the position stated by email@example.com
In a message dated 1/12/2008 7:21:30 P.M. Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
I've been a judge in various book award programs over the years. One of the benefits is that I "get" to keep the books sent to me as judging copies. Well, most of the books I've reviewed are not books that I'm really interested in keeping for the rest of my life.
So, I drag 'em down to my local library and donate them. I make a point to give them to the librarian rather than dump them in the barrel marked "friends of the library" -- as those books end up being offered at deep discount in monthly sales used to raise money for the library.
In response to the above I added to this discussion thread the following:
Donating books to libraries is also a great tax write off for those that could use one. As a publisher you cannot deduct the cover price -- only the unit cost of production price. But you most assuredly can deduct that!
Reviewers donating review copies to libraries can deduct what's called a "fair market value" price. That is a subjective judgement and I would recommend that you let the receiving library set that figure.
Remember also that to get a proper tax deduction for a book donation you must have the receiving library give you a written receipt. No receipt -- no tax deduction.
Also remember that there are school libraries in addition to community libraries. High School libraries will be interested in non-fiction as well as some fiction. Elementary schools and Junior Highs are very partial to getting kids books of any category or genre.
Tax deductions are also available for donating books to non-profit preschools, daycare centers, senior citizen centers, church/synagogue libraries, community center, community theater group, environmental association, public radio/television station fund raiser, and any other community non-profit operation or organization.
Midwest Book Review
Here's another inquiry that I get on a fairly regular basis:
In a message dated 1/20/2008 12:22:52 A.M. Central Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
My name is Cynthia Braboy and I want to be a author. I just written my first book about my life, and wanted to know how could I have it reviewed. Title: God's Masterpiece, Suffering in Silence. Also any tips or advice that you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
This will not be my last book and I do realize that I will learn the most from it. I may not have the greatest written novel, but I do have one of the greatest stories to be told. I know that you can have a book greatly written but is a bad seller. You can also have a poorly written book that is a best seller. I want to master a great written book that is a best seller. Also, how much does your service cost? Do I put book reviewer's in my acknowledgment or just the back cover?
Thank you for your time and patience.
You have a tremendous learning curve to master -- but it can be done. Here is my advice:
1. Go to the Midwest Book Review website at www.midwestbookreview.com
2. Click on "Advice for Writers & Publishers" -- then read all the 'how to' and explanatory articles you will find archived there. They will answer a great many of your questions about publishing, the book review process, book marketing, etc.
3. Then click on "Writer's Bookshelf" -- scan down the archive of book reviews on 'how to' books for writers. When you see one that is appropriate for a question or concern you have, jot down the title, author, publisher, and ISBN number. Take that list down to your local community library and have them get those titles for you through their free Interlibrary Loan Service. As you read through them, take notes and create a 'To Do' list for yourself.
4. Then click on the "Jim Cox Reports" and read some of my monthly columns of advice for writers and publishers. If you'd like to sign up for my column (for free) just send me an email and I'd be happy to add you to the mailing list to receive future column directly.
As to your specific questions:
1. All services provided by the Midwest Book Review to authors and publishers are free of charge.
2. Reviews can be cited on the covers (back or front) of books, as well as in publicity releases and media kits. When citing from a review always identify the source of the review.
Midwest Book Review
Here's still another common question along with my response:
In a message dated 4/28/2008 10:34:41 P.M. Central Daylight Time, InnisFineArt@aol.com writes:
Re: Your review of Innocence Abroad, The Girls of Coatepec, Mellon Limited, Jan. 1, 2008
Dear Mr. Cox,
Of the 110 review copies my publisher sent out late last year, you were the lone reviewer. Since you’ve been more than generous in your praise for this “superbly presented art study,” I thought it likely you'd discount the possibility the book got the national attention it deserved.
The publisher used a list of review sites I researched. As far as I could determine they were the most widely read and reasonably respected review sources that can be identified by a living editor. The variables in editorial submission were met on the whole. All mail was sent from the publisher's subsidiary in America, tracked and received by someone at the destination, your book among them.
Sending that number of large format books to book reviewers, I think you'll agree, may be unprecedented. Since you're the one person to admit seeing the book there, I'd like your thoughts on what you think happened.
I'm an old school journalist, if not a very good one. Based on a former life in a number of editorial positions in weekly and monthly publications, I tried to ferret out what an editor might do when the book lands on his desk. Would he zip open the cardboard box it came in? No doubt. The size and weight alone would make him curious. Upon fanning through it, would he dump it? Unlikely. It probably won't fit in his trash bin. I'm convinced that in fanning it he would find it skillfully designed and printed. But, would he find any of the contents arresting? Possibly not, if he were seeking the shock and gore of the postmodern set. Would he read anything? The flaps at best. But that ought to earn it a free lance review, at least one out of ten times. In my faulty arithmetic that would make an expected eleven or so reviews.
You're in the business. As a fact, I very much like what you're doing for small presses. So what's wrong with the logic I apply? Do review results say something about small press art publishing? The curiosity and independence of today's journalists? Or something I'm missing.
Thought you might take a minute to think aloud on this.
You are up against several obstacles in receiving qualified reviews from legitimate reviewers.
1. You are published by an academic house and almost all review publications and freelance reviewers give priority to the major publishing houses (in the field of art and art criticism, for example, they would be companies like Abrams, Abbeville, Hudson Hills, Phaidon, and the like) over the small, niche, speciality, and academic publishers.
2. Your are an unknown name in the field and going against more established authors that is always a handicap.
3. The print forums for reviews (newspapers and magazines) has been drastically diminishing over the past decade. A lot of the specialty magazines in the art field have gone under. Therefore the competition for review space in what's left is every more in contest and competition.
4. A legitimate reviewer is simply inundated with far more qualified submissions that he/she could ever possible handle. The Midwest Book Review is relatively small potatoes compared to the Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, or the New York Times Review of Books. But even so, we average receiving more than 2,000 titles a month for review. I've got 76 reviewers to try to deal with that kind of book flow.
5. When 110 copies go out to 110 prospective reviewers and only gets 1 "hit" I have to wonder about whether or not effort was put into insuring that those review copies were only sent to thematically appropriate reviewers and/or review publications -- accompanied by an effective cover letter, an effective publicity release or media kit, and an effective follow-up by the sender.
Your book made the cut here at the Midwest Book Review because of the following:
1. As much as possible, we give priority to small presses, academic publishers, and self-published authors -- knowing that they have the most difficult time competing for reviews from the other book review publications.
2. Your book passed my initial screening and I thought it was well worth bringing to the attention of its intended readership.
So basically you played what amounts to a publishing industry lottery -- and in the case of the Midwest Book Review -- and in this particular case you won.
One parting word of advice. Authors who usually leave marketing and publicity up to the publisher are going, more often than not, going to be disappointed with the results. Authors must assume most (if not all) of the burden for publicity and promotion if they hope to have their book reach the largest possible audience for their work.
I recommend that you visit the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com and read the articles you will find archived in the "Advice for Writers & Publishers" section. Especially the ones on book reviewing, the book review process, marketing and publicity. I think you will find them exceptionally helpful to you as a now published author.
I'm now going to conclude this rather extensive issue of the "Jim Cox Report" with "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 -- especially since the price of postage just got increased!
Kelly Damron -- "Tiny Toes"
D. R. Boisse -- "Free Mind, Free Body"
Sunny Franson -- "Dark Wake: Stress After Trauma"
Ben Z. Rose -- "John Stark: Maverick General"
Loren D. Boutin -- "Cut Nose: Who Stands on a Cloud"
Pearl O. Halprin -- "Letters Home: Paris Island 1944-1946"
Deborah Slappey Pitts -- "Shadow Living...Paintings of Grief"
TM Books & Video
Old Soldier Pubishing
Sidney T. Black Publishing
Liana C. Lovell -- Mystic Publishers
Philip M. Cole -- Colecraft Industries
Joseph McCarthy -- Pareto Building Improvement
Barbara DesChamps -- Chateau Publishing
Dave Demers -- Marquette Books
Diana Purvis -- Natures Beauty Publishing
Donna L. Schillinger -- The Quilldriver
Ruchir Shah -- EZ Comics
Jerry & Janine Sprout -- Diamond Valley Company Publishers
Penny Westmoreland -- Lee and Vance Publishing Company
Margaret -- PMS Press
Judy Herzanek -- Changing Lives Foundation
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs), 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!
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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