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Jim Cox Report: April 2008
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
Here at the Midwest Book Review the month of March has been busy, busy, busy.
On Monday, March 24th I was interviewed for an hour by Tony Kay, the host of the 'Perceptive Marketing' Interview Podcast'. Sandy Lawrence, the Executive Producer of the show and CEO of Perceptive Marketing which sponsors it, set the whole thing up. Basically I recounted the story of how I got into reviewing books, how the Midwest Book Review was founded back in the 1970s, grew and expanded over the last three decades, my philosophy underpinning the Midwest Book Review in general, and book reviewing in particular, as well as surveying and illustrating the wealth of resources the Midwest Book Review website has accumulated in behalf of writers, publishers, publicists, booksellers, librarians, and the general reading public. You can listen to the podcast interview (for free) at http://www.artistfirst.com/perceptivemarketing.htm You'll also note previous interviews with other luminaries of the publishing community are archived there and available to you with the click of a button.
The 16th Annual 'Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards contest is upon us. Once again one of prizes awarded the first-place winners of the contest is a guaranteed review by the Midwest Book Review. The nine contest categories are: Mainstream/Literary Fiction; Genre Fiction; Children's Picture Books; Inspirational; Nonfiction; Middle-Grade/Young Adult Books; Reference Books; Life Stories; Poetry. For submission guidelines go to the Writer's Digest website at http://www.writersdigest.com/annual/ The submission deadline is May 1, 2008.
Incidentally, the Midwest Book Review has no financial association with this contest of any kind. A few years back I was asked by the contest administrators if I would be willing to review the winners and I agreed. Our prohibition against authors and publishers contributing financially to the Midwest Book Review in order for use to avoid any conflict of interest issues also applies to contests like this one as well.
We have also hired another Assistant Editor. Cory is a young man who will help me out with the paperwork associated with running this shop -- and providing content for some of our monthly book review publications such as the Small Press Bookwatch. The numbers of titles submitted each month in the hopes that we can review them has continued to rise. We are now averaging more than 2300 submissions a month -- so the extra office help will be most welcome.
Our website (www.midwestbookreview.com) continues to expand with more resource links in pretty much every category we have, more 'how to' articles germane to writing and publishing, as well as more archived reviews. The number of visitors is also increasing -- and so are the compliments we get via email and snail-mail from those visitors. It's nice to see our not-so-little-anymore operation chugging along as it was intended to.
And that includes having an audience for our reviews and our review services that is, quite literally, world wide. Here's an illustration of what I mean:
Date: 3/24/2008 11:47:29 A.M. Central Daylight Time
Dear Mr. Cox,
Thank you cordially for the very favorable review on my book “Heresy and the English Reformation (Bogomil-Cathar Influence on Wycliffe, Langland, Tyndale and Milton”.
If you come in Sofia, Bulgaria, please call me 359 2 868 9830 to have a lunch or drink.
I wish you every success in noble activity.
Georgi Vasilev Ph.D., D.Litt.
Professor of European and Medieval Studies
State University of Library studies and Information Technologies
Sofia 1784, 119 Tsarigradsko shose bd
Mob. 00359 885 969087
Just this past month I've gotten phone calls from Scotland and Britain, snail mail from France and Canada, as well as emails from Japan, Argentina, India, and Spain (in addition to the above communique from Bulgaria!).
One final and personal note before getting on to more practical and utilitarian items for aspiring writers and novice publishers. As judged by my doctor's appointment a couple of weeks ago, my personal health has taken a quantum leap of improvement. I was diagnosed with diabetes back in November 2006. The result was a radical change of lifestyle, diet, exercise, and a strict routine of medications.
I began weighing in at 325 pounds. This morning I tipped the scales at 237.8 -- and all my diabetic symptoms, blood pressure problems, organ function sub-par scores have simply disappeared. If all goes well on my next doctor's visit (in about ten weeks from now) I will no longer have to take all those pills, but will control my health through diet and exercise alone. The really good news was that my doctor informed me that I'd so improved my physical health that I'd basically added another ten years to my anticipated life span. So it looks like you guys will be stuck with me at the helm of the Midwest Book Review for another three decades. :-)
Now on to something you can use:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
How To Start A Home-Based Writing Business
Lucy V. Parker
The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
9780762744015, $18.95 www.globepequot.com 1-800-243-0495
A previous edition of Lucy V. Parker's "How To Start A Home-Based Writing Business" was recommended by the staff of Midwest Book Review to anyone aspiring to earn a living through their writing as being "A superbly presented, complete-in-one-volume manual. An invaluable user-friendly, highly recommended 'how to' guide specifically for freelance writers." Now in a newly updated and expanded seventh edition, that original assessment has been further strengthened and justified. Featuring a jargon-free, eminently practical, informed and informative text of instruction, advice, and commentary, "How To Start A Home-Based Writing Business" is enhanced with the inclusion of Business-Success Worksheets, Prospect Information Forms, Estimate Forms, Job-Log and Job-Control Forms, a Checklist of Key Client Types, Profiles of Success Stories, Guidelines for Software Selection, Business Resources, and a Source Directory making it a completely up-to-date instructional reference that will prove enduring valuable to anyone seeking to establish a career writing be it with fiction, non-fiction, or any combination of the two.
185 Shevelin Road, Novato, CA 94948
9780979629525, $19.95 www.nichepublishing.org
We now live in the age of desk top publishing and Print-on-Demand presses where anyone with a manuscript and some cash can get published. But getting published profitably is quite another matter. That takes planning, preparation, and perseverance. It also takes a 'how to' manual like successful author-turned-publisher Gordon Burgett's "Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!" Drawing upon his own years of experience and hard-won expertise, Burgett shares his practical advice and cogent experience to show aspiring author/publishers how they can reduce and contain the financial risks of publishing, test the marketplace for their particular title, successfully compete for the attention (and dollars) of their targeted readership, and parlay their book into secondary and additionally profitable revenue generation. Of special note is the inclusion of an illustrative 'Case Study', the lists of resources and guides for aspiring publishers, and the listings of Burgett's companion resources such as his audio CD series on setting up and marketing a seminar, as well as his Writing Reports and Niche Publishing Reports. Practical, realistic, informed and informative, "Niche Publishing" should be considered essential reading and a core addition to the Writing/Publishing reference shelf of any author or novice publisher aspiring to be published profitably and with a minimum of risk.
Spinning Words Into Gold
Maureen Ryan Griffin
Main Street Rag Publishing Company
6731 Morganford Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
1599480220, $21.95 www.maureenryangriffin.com
Anyone aspiring to a career as a professional writer needs to assemble a reference collection of sound, practical, illustrative, and comprehensive reference works that will aide them in the enhancement and application of the skills required to write correctly, persuasively, and lucratively. Author, poet, and creative writing instructor Maureen Ryan Griffin draws upon her many years of experience and expertise in "Spinning Words Into Gold: A Hands-On Guide to The Craft Of Writing" to provide aspiring and practicing writers with a compendium of useful and useable information, examples, training exercises, and resources that cover every aspect of the writing process from original drafts to pre-publication polishing. An ideal instruction manual that applies to writing in any category, genre, or purpose be it fiction or non-fiction, memoir or poetry, literary or popular, magazine article or published book. Following a useful essay and an introduction, the contents are divided into chapters dealing with the classical Who, Why, When, Where, What, and How as applied to the processes of writing. Of special note for the novice is the chapter specific to getting publishing, and the concluding chapter on continuing to write. In addition to personal reference collections, "Spinning Words Into Gold" is a 289-page instructional that is also ideal for use as a textbook for creative writing curriculums, and as a supplemental reading list entry for informal community writing groups and writer retreats.
The Writer's Workshop
Gregory L. Roper
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
F.M. Kirby Campus
3901 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE 19807-0431
9781933859330, $18.00 www.isi.org 1-800-526-7022
It is a truism that people who have not read the great writers of English literature are less equipped to write as well as those who have. There are lessons available in the writings of such literary giants as Shakespeare, Milton, Conrad, Cicero, Aquinas, Dickens, Joyce, Hemingway, that can improve the narrative skills for written expression for high school students writing term papers, college students striving with creative writing assignments, aspiring authors yearning to see their manuscripts turned into books with the widest and most appreciative possible readership. "The Writer's Workshop: Imitating Your Way To Better Writing" by Gregory L. Roper (Professor of English and Directory of the Writing Program at the University of Dallas) is a complete-in-one-volume workshop instruction guide that can assist anyone from a home-schooled student, to a novice novelist, to an beginning playwright, to aspiring poet to write more effectively, fluently, engagingly, and successfully. Simply stated, "The Writer's Workshop" should be on the supplemental reading list of anyone wanting to successful express themselves through the written word and should be considered a core acquisition for personal, professional, academic, and community library Writing Reference Studies collections.
Writing and Developing Your College Textbook
Mary Ellen Lepionka
Atlantic Path Publishing
PO Box 1556, Gloucester, MA 01931-1556
9780972816472, $37.95, www.atlanticpathpublishing.com
Textbook publishing for technical schools, colleges, and universities, is a very specialized and potentially lucrative section of the publishing industry and one that has both state and institutional compliance requirements and standards that must be adhered to by authors who aspire to have their books adopted for curriculums, library collections, and student reading list. Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded second edition, "Writing And Developing Your college Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide To Textbook Authorship And Higher Education Publishing" by Mary Ellen Lepionka continues to be the premier introduction and instruction reference guide manual for college instructors, academic authors, textbook editors, and publishers of education materials. Beginning with informed and informative chapters on the college textbook publishing industry, "Writing and Developing Your College Textbook" continues with superbly organized and presented chapters on what authors must do to interest a publisher in their manuscript, publishing contracts, textbook development, identifying the intended readership and their needs with regarding the textbook's subject matter, writing with authority, the role of 'Learning Objectives', 'Heading Structure', pedagogy, chapter organization, 'Feature Strands', drafts and revisions, issues of length and management schedules, permissions, and visual elements for text enhancement. Of special note is the up-to-date advice with respect to pricing issues, academic self-publishing, open access, digitization, 'wiki-textbooks'. Simply stated, any author aspiring to write and have published a textbook, regardless of its subject matter, should begin by giving a careful reading to what Mary Ellen Lepionka has laid out in the pages of "Writing and Developing Your College Textbook".
The Birds And Bees Of Words
10 East 23rd Street, Suite 510, New York, NY 10010
97811581154955, $14.95 www.allworth.com 1-800-491-2808
The crafting of legible, literate sentences is a learned skill. A skill that separates the amateur from the profession, the incoherent from the competent. "The Birds And Bees Of Words: A Guide To The Most Common Errors In Usage, Spelling, And Grammar" by Mary Embree (a freelance editor, successful author of six books, and founder of the Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network) was specifically written to provide aspiring authors and practicing writers to communicate clearly and correctly through the use of the written word. A thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide to 21st Century American English, "The Birds And Bees Of Words" covers frequently misused words, the parts of speech, word roots, common grammar mix-ups (and how to correct them), often misspelled words, as well as brand new words and phrases. The perfect antidote to a flawed or substandard public school English Department or classroom curriculum, "The Birds And Bees Of Words" is especially recommended for school and community reference collections, as well as anyone wanting to write professionally or personally with an authority and accuracy unmarred by blunders of spelling or grammar or usage.
The Superior Person's Field Guide to Deceitful, Deceptive & Downright Dangerous Language
Peter Bowler, author; Leslie Cabarga, illustrator
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567923377, $16.95 www.godine.com 1-800-344-4771
Unlike the previous three books in this David R. Godine series, The Superior Person's Field Guide to Deceitful, Deceptive & Downright Dangerous Language is not meant solely to amuse the reader. In today's modern era when words are carefully chosen to soften the severity of what they represent, such as "extraordinary rendition" for flying prisoners to faraway countries where they can be tortured, or "transit pouch" to induce more complacency with regard to human casualties than "body bag" would, there is a greater need than ever to remain alert to insidious verbal trickery. In an era when "peace" means "war" (i.e. "pacify" means "invade and subjugate by force of arms") and "life" means "death" (as in "life insurance"), George Orwell's warnings against the misuse of language in his dystopian classic 1984 are perilously close to coming true. Of course, plenty of less deadly serious entries such as "squirrel" for psychiatrist (because they "feed off nuts") are also present for comedic relief. Perhaps the most eye-catching entry is the long list of deceptive terms used in real estate, with accompanying translations: "leafy neighborhood" means "forest fire area", "price slashed" means "was way overpriced to begin with", and "starter" or "investment" means "a normal person would not want to live here". Highly recommended.
Now for some Q&A from the Midwest Book Review email box:
In a message dated 3/30/2008 12:49:58 P.M. Central Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
I enjoyed your comments (What to expect from major publishing houses) and wonder if you could explain the difference between small press, regional, specialty houses, and other publishers. I have a contract offer from TATE publishing, and so far my research doesn't tell me enough about them. Can you give me some advice about this company? Thank you for your time. email: firstname.lastname@example.org Eunice Wrighter
My working definitions for the various categories are as follows:
Small Press: 12 or fewer books published per year
Regional Press: A publisher who focuses on publishing books germane to their geographical location. An example would be the Minnesota State Historical Society that publishes books on and about Minnesota.
Specialty Press: A publisher who specializes in publishing books within a specific topic, genre, or subject matter. For example, Clearfield Company of Baltimore, Maryland publishes in the field of genealogy.
Other Publishers: This is a broad grouping of everyone else who publishes books and would include academic publishers such as university presses; the major conglomerate publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Random House, Penguin-Putnam, HarperCollins, etc. which publish hundreds of books every year that include both fiction and non-fiction, adult and children's books; non-university affiliated scholarly publishers like Rowman & Littlefield; and self-published authors who publish under their own imprint (publisher name); Vanity Presses (pay for play -- you give them a manuscript and your money, they publish your book in as large a print run as you can afford) such as Vantage Press.
Here is the link to the Tate website: http://www.tatepublishing.com/index.php
You'll find out what they have to say about their various services. Basically they are a Christian oriented POD (Publish On Demand) company.
As to how they compare with other PODs, go the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com, click on Publishers, then click on Print On Demand Publishers. This is a roster of POD links that you can use to visit their websites and compare their information with Tate.
The I recommend that you go to the online publishing discussion groups like PubForm, SPAN, and Publish-L (you'll find links to them in the Publisher Association section of our website) and ask about the experiences, criticisms, and recommendations of other POD published authors.
In a message dated 3/25/2008 8:34:37 A.M. Central Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Have you ever had a situation where an author doesn't like a good review? If so, how do you handle it?
This will happen from time to time -- and not just from authors. Over the years I've had occasional complaints about reviews from publishers and from the public.
When I get them from authors and publishers I invite them to submit another copy of the book which will then be assigned to a different reviewer -- and that review will be posted and/or published in all the places the first review was.
If they are reluctant to provide a second copy, I then invite them to submit a review from some other reviewer that they might have, underscoring the necessity of having that reviewer's permission to do so first. If they've got one (and it complies with our reviewer guidelines) then I run that one -- but I hold the author and/or publisher to one outside review only. I don't want to get swamped with other people's positive reviews garnered by the author and/or publisher.
If it's a member of the public, I invite them to write a review of their own on the book in question.
I don't ordinarily remove the "objected to" review unless there are errors of fact -- and never if the disagreement on the part of authors, publishers, or readers with the review simply boils down to a matter of opinion or ego.
This little formula for handling complaints has worked rather well these past 32 years.
Midwest Book Review
In a message dated 3/23/2008 9:55:20 A.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
In doing some market research I was wondering how interested/accepting the library market in soft cover books.
Remember that there are different kinds of libraries: academic, community, corporate, governmental, organizational, and private.
If a book is available in both hardcover and soft cover editions, most libraries will opt for hard cover because that format tends to have a much longer shelf life.
Community libraries are also the beneficiaries of a great many donations of books from the public -- and that's a big source of their mass market paperbacks and trade paperbacks, especially in the fiction genres.
Now and then there will be a book that is in demand by the library's patrons that is only available as a soft cover and so it will be acquired -- but with great reluctance.
If you are planning to market to libraries, my advice would be to have a hard-cover edition available when doing so.
Midwest Book Review
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is one of those voices of experience and insight that all who are new to the competitive world of publishing should pay close heed to -- and not just because she agrees with me!
In a message dated 3/17/2008 5:34:23 P.M. Central Daylight Time, HOJONEWS writes:
Though you are always up for some good promotion, I wanted to run this by you before I ran it in next week's newsletter...
Dear Subscribers and Authors' Coalition Members:
Another rant here. Some days I'm grumpy. The first time I heard someone decry the so-called efforts at controlling SPAM. It was in the monthly newsletter "Jim Cox Report" which you will find archived and free at http://www.midwestbookreview.com. This is the Jim Cox who is the founder of the fabled Midwest Book Review.
Since then this service of having people 'sign in' or register with you before you'll accept their email that is meant to protect you all from the evils of using your little index finger to hit the delete button has got to be limiting your opportunities, too. Jim said that, in such a case, he often just can't be bothered with (or has the time and/or patience) getting an e-mail through. Since then I've been so inundated with these well-meant delays, inconveniences, deterrents and downright annoying messages that I'm agreeing with him
Besides, the first rule of getting publicity is "Make life easy on the editor you are trying to reach." Sorry, but this is putting a great big fat barrier up between him and you.
So, I'm joining with Jim and telling you. Those spam avoidance 'sign in first' dealies may be just fine for the average guy but for an author they can be deadly. The worst kind of deadly. You'll never know what you missed because, frankly, you just aren't going to get the message!
Happy writing, promoting and, yes, editing, too!
Websites: http://carolynhoward-Johnson.com (literary)
http://HowToDoItFrugally.com (all things about writing)
Authors' Coalition: http://www.AuthorsCoalitionandRedEnginepress.com
For the Frugal Editor, Amazon-direct: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870/
Blogs: http://AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog focused on book fairs
http://www.SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com, a blog on all things publishing
http://www.TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog focused on YOUR reviews
http://www.TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com, a blog focused on editing, formatting and craft
And now blogging on War. Peace. Tolerance. And Our Soldiers at http://www.warpeacetolerance.blogspot.com.
And now! Squidooing at http://www.squidoo.com/HowToDoItFrugallyforAuthors
I kept all these website addresses intact in this little Q&A entry because I want writers and publishers and readers of the "Jim Cox Report" to know that these Carolyn Howard-Johnson resources all exist!
I'm now going to conclude this 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:
Ulises Silva -- "Solstice"
Terry Rivers -- The Jihad Germ"
N. L. Ebbers -- "Dangerous Past"
Donna Jean Pomeroy -- Faded Genes"
Michael G. Elasmar -- "Through Their Eyes"
Noel Fwie -- Bloodroot
Deana -- Community Press
Jean Sheldon -- Bast Press
Kathy Brodsky -- HelpingWords
Bud Bilanich -- Front Row Press
Joanne Victoria -- New Directions
John Hager -- Greenstone Publishing
Mike Peterson -- Reality Media Inc.
Doris Baker -- Filter Press LLC
Kelly K. Damron -- Tiny Toes
Emily Ranshaw -- Regnery Publishing
Staci Leavitt -- All Us All The Time Publishing
Ronda Wojcicki -- The Speech Place Publishing
Jim Hansen -- Dark Sky Publishing
James A. Rock & Company Publishers
Ram Ganeshan -- Ram Publications
Thomas Valone -- Integrity Research Institute
Charles Boyle -- Trident Publishing
Maryglenn McCombs -- Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity
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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