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Cox Report: September 2004
Jim Cox Report: September 2004
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
It's time to set down a few thoughts on publishing along with some specific information on issues
and matters of interest to the small press community in my little "extended monologue" that I call
the Jim Cox Report.
To begin with a little office gossip left over from last month -- the changes that took place at
Amazon that really bolluxed up our ability to add corrections and updates to the reviews that we
routinely post there as part of our responsibilities as a content provider for them. When we last
left our little drama in progress, Bethany (my webmaster daughter) was trying to contact someone
deep within the Amazon labyrinth to complain about the not-so-progressive changes that had
recently taken place.
In short and summary -- Bethany was finally successful. Through persevering she was eventually
informed of a new and additional process that makes it possible to do what we had always been
previously able to do (and had occasional recourse to doing for more than a decade) -- make
changes when there were inadvertent typos in a review posted on the Amazon website.
I asked Bethany to share the secret -- and here it is:
How To Edit A Book Review You Submitted To Amazon:
1) Look up the book that you have reviewed by title or ISBN number. Call up the main page for
2) Click on "customer reviews" in the left hand column
3) Your book review on the page should now have an Edit button next to it. Click on Edit and
B. Cox Managing Editor & Webmaster
The Midwest Book Review
Now on to other stuff:
WHY I REJECT LINKING REQUESTS ON OUR MBR WEBSITE:
I couldn't make a better list than Al Canton did in one of his "Saturday Rant" columns as to why I
would reject an author and/or publisher's request to post a link to their website on the Midwest
Book Review website. Al wrote with respect to publisher websites:
> And so many of you do an amazingly poor job of it.
> From sites with huge non-optimized graphics, to sites that require a specific
> that freakin' Flash!), to sites that take forever to load due to an
> overcrowded server, to sites that were organized like a 3 year old's toy box,
> to sites that are just plain butt-ugly, I think that if there is one industry
> group of really terrible sites, it belongs to publishers.
I tell you now that if your website's homepage takes longer than 10 seconds to download I don't
ever wait around to see what ever it is you have there. And if I don't have the patience for it --
think about what the casual websurfer who lacks my ingrained and committed support for the
small press community!
If your website is just a cyberspace edition of your publicity release (especially for you publishers
with just one or two titles) with no additional informational content that would attract a return
visit by a visitor -- it's not going to induce me to recommend you to folks visiting the Midwest
Book Review as having a book-related website that they ought to click through to.
As to all that computer science stuff that Al refer's to. All I can say is that if my Netscape 6 web
surfer software can't access you -- then fugetaboudit.
And may the Lord have mercy on your cybernetic soul if you've booby trapped your website with
PERMISSIONS & KARMA IN PUBLISHING:
I usually get email requests like this a couple of times a month:
Dear Mr. Cox:
I am preparing a workshop on self-publishing and ran across a quote attributed to you and
Midwest Book Review, but without further source. It is a definition of a self-publisher as
someone who fulfills many roles: writer, editor, designer/artist, compositor/typesetter, etc.
Could you give me a reference citation for this quote and permission to use it in a power-point
presentation titled "Self-Publishing"? The quote would be attributed to you, with reference to
Midwest Book Review, and the full reference would be cited in the reference list. Thank you for
Text and Academic Authors
To which I replied:
The source was me. Permission granted. The appropriate credit citation should be:
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
It would also be nice if you could also include our website address:
Midwest Book Review
Giving permission for folks to put your stuff on their website should be encouraged because:
1. It's good advertising for you. It gets your name out, raising your professional profile.
2. It's a helpful thing to do -- especially if you are in this publishing game for more than just the
3. You never know what publishing serendipities will accrue to your own benefit and betterment
down the line.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
Subj: Jim Cox Report
Please sign me up for the monthly Jim Cox reports. When convenient, please send me a copy of
the January report as recommended by Shel Horowitz on the smallpub-civil list.
Lida E. Quillen, Publisher
Twilight Times Books
Shel Horowitz is a cyberspace pen-pal of mine. We are members of the same online publisher
discussion groups and he's an all-around nice guy. He uses two of my book review columns to
enhance his website. I've benefited greatly from his advice and observations about publishing
issues for lo these many years now. He liked one of my recent "Jim Cox Reports" and told other
folk about it on one of the discussion groups that I'm not on (and in fact, hadn't even known
existed). His very kind recommendation resulted in about 19 or 20 folks like Lida Quillen to sign
up for the "Jim Cox Report". This is the kind of publishing karma that comes back to bless you
when you are generous with your own stuff.
Incidently, subscribing to the "Jim Cox Report" is free. Just email me at email@example.com and
ask to be signed up.
From time to time I get requests like the following:
Subj: Request interview for article I'm writing
Date: 8/6/04 2:46:26 PM Central Daylight Time
Dear Mr. Cox,
I'm writing an article about how to become a book reviewer--and naturally thought of you!
Would you be interested in answering a few questions about the art of the book review, and
would you allow me to quote you in the article? Naturally, you would have the opportunity to
review the piece before publication.
Hope all is well with you and Midwest Book Review. Looking forward to hearing from you
I'm always willing to help out journalists, authors, publishers, and anyone else wanting to know
about any aspect of publishing -- especially in my particular area of expertise of book reviewing,
including book review based promotions and publicity campaigns.
Often what I have to say ends up in journal articles, newsletters, even "how to" books for aspiring
writers and publishers. I never charge for my information -- it all comes under the fulfillment
obligation imposed by the three-part Midwest Book Review mission statement: Promote literacy,
library usage, and small press publishing.
The one thing I do ask though, is to be provided with a copy of the magazine, newsletter, or book
that has included my contribution to the author or journalist. It's not just a bit of personal vanity
(although, to be honest, I love seeing my name in print!), it helps to document our efforts in
support of our mission statement when it comes time for grant renewal applications to our
Basically, if you ever have a question about publishing in general, and book reviewing in
particular, I would suggest you do the following:
1. Read all the articles in our "Advice For Publishing" section on the Midwest Book Review
2. Then phone or email me with your requests and/or questions.
The first because I may well have written extensively on your area of inquiry already. The second
because I may not have!
MUSIC CDS & THE LIBRARY MARKET:
Diane C. Donovan is the West Coast Editor for the Midwest Book Review and charged with the
being the principle liaison for sending our library newsletters to the California public and academic
library systems up and down that rather substantial state. She emailed me the following inquiry
that she had received from a producer of music CDs (we do a regular monthly review column
called "The Library CD Music Shelf" advising library systems as to what they should consider
adding to their collections). Here's what Diane passed along to me:
One of the cd folks I reviewed expressed concern that our audience was primarily libraries. They
wondered about this being an appropriate venue, being CDs were being circulated among patrons,
and about the possibility of rampant pirating as a result... do you know how libraries treat the CDs
they have in circulation - do they do anything to prevent copying, or have in-house listening
Interesting point; never thought about that before; presume it can apply to video copying, too?
To which I replied based upon my many (and on-going) years of experience as an acquisitions
consultant for library systems here in Wisconsin:
Libraries don't have any in-house safeguards against copying CDs any more than they do to
safeguard against photocopying pages out of books. -- Same for video copying. I've never known
it to be any kind of issue, major or minor, in any discussions I've ever had with multi-media
My advice is that any truly paranoid CD producer should simply look elsewhere for reviews -- and
can easily be replaced by hundreds of other producers in terms of your securing review copies of
CD music and audiobook to review.
I think this observation also holds true for video and DVD producers (another of our monthly
columns is "The Library Video/DVD Shelf".
Libraries, both academic and community, are continuing to expand their collections in direct
response to the steady and increasing requests of their patrons. The risk of unauthorized copying
is actually less that it is for "store bought" albums and videos -- if only because library copies
often get "rode hard and put away wet" -- to use a western horseman's expression.
Now for my favorite part of the Report -- Unsolicited Testimonials!
Thank you notes range from the very simple:
Subj: Book Review DLHWI
Dear James A Cox
Thank you so much for the wonderful review. We really appreciate your time and support in
presenting this information to your readers as well as the general public.
To the positively enthusiastic:
Subj: Re: Christmas in Dairyland
Dear Mr. Cox,
Would you please pass along my sincere THANK YOU!!!! to the person who reviewed
"Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm)? Words alone cannot express how
much the review means to me.
LeAnn R. Ralph
Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm)
To the elaborate:
Subj: Bestsellers list
I just read your article "Getting on the Bestsellers List". It answered so many questions and
confirmed what I thought was the process. One question I have is how do the editors at the New
York Times know what books to put on their list? Thousands of books come out each month.
How do they know which ones to choose? I have noticed that it is often times the same authors,
and some books are listed the day they are released. I has been my assumption that this is a
marketing ploy by the big boys in New York to move these books. Am I right? Do you know how
they select the titles to poll?
Author of Historical Fiction Website: http://users.starpower.net/rpkg/index.htm
Incidently, I was very happy to share with Rita what I know about Best Seller Lists and their
The "thank you" notes that arrive via snail mail range from postcards to three page missives
giving me detailed personal stories of how hard a struggle it was for the author to finally get
published, and once published, to get any kind of attention -- so very often the Midwest Book
Review is their first professional recognition.
To one and all, I'm pleased to be of help and it makes my day clear into the middle of next week
when I learn that our efforts here are so wonderfully appreciated.
In last month's "Postage Stamp Honor Role" I noted that I had received a U.S. Post Office
envelope with stamps in it -- but no identifying information from who had sent it. So it went down
on the Honor Role as an anonymous donation. Well, it's anonymous no more thanks to the
following and greatly appreciated email:
Subj: from Marilyn Van Derbur
Date: 8/7/04 3:35:22 PM Central Daylight Time
Greetings from California. I just wanted to be sure you received the stamps...they were addressed
to you but they came from the post office. they would have arrived about a week ago...hope
you're having a wonderful summer.
For anyone new to the Jim Cox Report, you should know that our Midwest Book Review bylaws
prohibit us from accepting money from authors or publishers (in order to avoid any conflict of
interest issues). We did amend it last year in order to allow authors and publishers who wanted to
make a gesture of appreciation and support for what we try to do here at the Midwest Book
Review in behalf of the small press community to be able to donate postage stamps "for the
cause". So if you'd like to send some stamps, feel free (but not obligated!).
This month's Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Honor Roll includes:
Jeannette M. Konior Mahmood Siddique - "How to Turn Anger into Love"
Carolyn Harris - "RV in NZ"
Susan K. Wehrley - "The Secret to I Am"
Kerry McLeod - "The Last Diet Book Standing"
Sheila Wolf - "Pregnancy and Oral Health"
Victoria Johnson - Horse Creek Publications
Melissa Browne - Moo Press
Robyn Rogers - Heartsome Publishing
David J. Pearson - Sigil Publishing
Lisa Ruzicka - Winepress Publishing
Pine Tree Publishing
Upper Access, Inc.
Hazel Cox - H. Cox Public Relations
Well, that's it for this time around. I've got stacks and piles of tear sheets that need to accompany
the publisher notification letters that I was supposed to start sending out yesterday! So until next
month as I say on our radio broadcasts:
Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!
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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