Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: September 2004
Home | Jim Cox Reports Index

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 that book.

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 proceed.

B. Cox Managing Editor & Webmaster
The Midwest Book Review

Now on to other stuff:


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
> browser, to sites with javascript errors, to sites that require Flash (I hate
> 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 pop-up ads!!!!!


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 your consideration.

John Wakefield
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:

Jim Cox
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 money.

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 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 soon,

All best,

Marcia Schutte
Nonetheless Press

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 funding sources.

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 website.

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!


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 only?

Interesting point; never thought about that before; presume it can apply to video copying, too? Just wondering...

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 librarians.

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.

Yours Truly,
Denise Cray

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

Dear Jim,

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?

Rita Gerlach
Author of Historical Fiction Website:

Incidently, I was very happy to share with Rita what I know about Best Seller Lists and their selection processes.

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
From: Mvda1

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
Worx 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!

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design