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Beth Cox Report: February 2013
Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,
A big change is brewing at the Midwest Book Review. One of our office staff is making enough money from publishing short stories in ebook format that he's moving to a new apartment. His goal is to become a full-time writer, although he's currently still working for us out of economic necessity.
E-publishing has a special advantage that works in his favor. Digital media doesn't require the same "economy of scale" that print novels and anthologies do, and readers are often content to pay a few dollars for stories that are too short to individually see physical publication, outside of print newspapers or magazines (the market for both of which has severely declined). This makes it much easier for him (or any other aspiring author!) to quickly get multiple, saleable stories out there and start earning royalties, without spending the months or years it would take to complete a standard-length novel.
He has some more advice for aspiring e-authors and publishers. In addition to stressing the importance of a good cover illustration, he warns against the common pitfall of using "typing fonts" on an ebook's cover. Instead of "boring" fonts commonly used for text such as Courier, Arial, Times New Roman, etc., one should choose an eye-catching cover font designed expressly to attract attention. One of his favorite websites to visit for access to an immense variety of inexpensive, easy-to-use fonts is called DaFont, at
DaFont is February's Link of the Month for its usefulness, and I've added it to the MBR's list of Writer Resources as well.
Another important tip aspiring e-authors should keep in mind is that many e-publishing venues are nonexclusive. At the very least, one should try to publish on the Big Three eReader formats: Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and Kobo. SmashWords (www.smashwords.com) is an easy way to get one's ebook on Apple and Sony platforms.
A website called Draft2Digital (www.draft2digital.com) is a nice option for e-authors with big dreams and little tech savvy. Draft2Digital simplifies the process for a piece of the profits, and they do not charge up-front fees. Authors who are more comfortable navigating the diversity of e-publishing platforms may prefer to save money and do it themselves.
On to February's Review of the Month. This one was a clear winner, because literally every person on the Internet - especially teenagers, college students, and net newbies of any age! - should read it cover to cover:
Top 10 Email Scams
1450 Chestnut Street #102
San Francisco, CA 94123
9781938831003 $14.95 KTMObooks.com
Volume one of the "Internet Scams Revealed Series", Top 10 Email Scams: Detect & Protect Yourself from Online Scams is an absolute "must-read" for anyone and everyone who makes use of the Internet, whether for professional commerce or simply emailing their friends. Chapters explain in plain terms some of the most common online con games. For example, in the "Fake Buyer" scam, the criminal pretends to buy goods and "overpay" with a certified check or credit card, and requests the seller to wire the difference (typically via Western Union or MoneyGram) to them or their "shipping company". By the time the seller's bank determines that the certified check is a fake, or that the credit card number was stolen, the seller is on the hook for the entire amount and the scammer has disappeared with all the wired money. "Do NOT do wire transfers. Period. No Western Union, no MoneyGram. Don't accept wire transfers as any part of a transaction (especially you forwarding extra money via wire transfer) and you'll avoid a lot of purchase-related and check-cashing email scams." Other scams covered include identity theft, "phishing" (tricking people into entering their passwords into fake websites, etc.), dating scams, lottery scams, and more. Plain terms and sample fraudulent emails help make Top 10 Email Scams crystal clear to readers of all backgrounds. A wealth of valuable tips and tricks for avoiding scams, a "don't panic" list of steps to take when one has been scammed, and glossary of common terms concerning Internet fraud round out this invaluable guide, worthy of the highest recommendation for modern library collections. In today's digital age, Volume 2: Social Media Scams and Volume 3: More Email Scams should also be required reading for the general public!
I've been on the internet for over twenty years now, but I was still stagged by the array of increasingly sophisticated schemes commonly practiced by thieves and con men. Knowledge and preparation are the best defenses in our rapidly changing and technology-dependent world; forewarned is forearmed.
I'll conclude with my answer to an email query about the MBR's acceptance of stamp donations (or alternatively, contributions to our PayPal postage stamp fund):
Subj: Re: Joyce Fogwill -- Re: Book Review
>I would love to donate-are there any particular stamps that might be appropriate? and how are stamp donations made?
Stamp donations are made simply by mailing stamps to us at the address on our website:
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
It's not required (especially if you wish to be an anonymous donor), but if you choose to include a brief note telling us who you are, then we can thank & credit you properly in "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of the Jim Cox Report!
As for the types of stamps to donate... the only practical requirement is that they have to be U.S. stamps. First-class letter mail "Forever" stamps work best, since we use those every month to mail out review tear sheets & notifications to publishers.
However, we have received and found productive uses for every type of U.S. postage stamp, from 1 cent and 2 cent stamps (used to add additional postage to weighty envelopes) to 1 dollar and 4+ dollar stamps (used on the very rare occasions when we need to mail something heavy). We're not picky about stamp sizes or decorations - in fact, some enterprising authors have sent us customized stamps touting their latest book!
In lieu of stamps, we now also accept postage stamp fund contributions via PayPal, as an alternative for those who wish to contribute to the cause without the inconvenience of buying and mailing postage. If you wish to use this venue, simply log on to your PayPal account and send your kindness (any dollar amount) to us at
SupportMBR [at] aol.com
(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to fool email-harvesting spambots.)
I hope this answers your questions. Thank you for your generous patronage of the Midwest Book Review!
That's all for this month's Beth Cox Report. Don't forget to get started on your taxes early and beat the rush!
The Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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