Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Jim Cox Reports / Jim Cox Report: May 2024
Home | Jim Cox Reports Index

Jim Cox Report: May 2024

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the questions I'm occasionally asked by the men and women who are volunteer reviewers for the Midwest Book Review is what to do when they cannot recommended their assigned book to its intended readership. Here is my perennial response which I would like to share with you as an author, a publisher, or a publicist.

When you run into a book that you cannot understand or are not able in good conscious to recommended to its intended readership then all you are required to do is to provide the author, publisher, or publicist with a letter (email) of explanation clearly citing your reasons why.

Then conclude such letters with an invitation to take the matter up with me (as your editor) if they wish to do so.

We do not guarantee a positive review -- only an honest one.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

In my opinion this standard should be followed by all reviewers in whatever medium they work. Furthermore I'm pleased to report that, later on, authors have been known to send thank you follow-ups when the feedback from a reviewer has helped them to rectify a problem thereby improving the quality of their books with respect to their intended audience.

Now on to other matters!

Quote of the Month:

"Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization."
Jo Walton -- winner of the 2012 Hugo Award for best SF novel

Website of the Month:

The Author Experience

Now here are reviews of some newly published books that will be of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and dedicated bibliophiles:

The Amazon Author Formula
Penny C. Sansevieri
Independently Published
9798874429799, $9.79, PB, 238pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Amazon Author Formula: Insider Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Selling More Books!", legendary book marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri unlocks the secrets to growing your book's visibility and sales on, the world's largest and dominating online marketplace.

As an author, the key to success lies in getting your title into the hands of the right readers. In this comprehensive combination of instructional guide and DIY 'how to' manual, marketing expert, book publicist and successful author Penny Sansevieri unveils a game-changing strategy to optimize your Amazon presence and support long-term book sales.

With a close reading of "The Amazon Author Formula" authors, publishers, and publicists will:

Discover the Hidden Language of Amazon -- Learn how to speak Amazon's language by mastering the art of keywords and categories. The Amazon Formula takes you on a step-by-step journey to demystify the complex algorithms that drive book discoverability. Dive into proven techniques to choose the most effective keywords and categories for your genre, ensuring that your book stands out in the crowded digital marketplace.

Ignite Your Book's Visibility with Amazon Ads -- Crack the code to Amazon advertising and turn casual browsers into dedicated readers. The Amazon Formula provides expert insight into creating compelling ad campaigns tailored to your book's unique appeal. From budgeting strategies to ad design, you'll learn how to elevate your book's visibility and reach a wider audience.

Optimize Your Author Page for Maximum Impact -- Your author page is your digital storefront - make it irresistible! The Amazon Formula empowers you to create an enticing author profile that captivates readers and boosts your credibility. Leverage the power of compelling author bios, engaging visuals, and strategic cross-promotion to transform your page into a magnet for genre and topic fans.

Data-Driven Success -- Uncover the secrets of interpreting Amazon data to refine your marketing strategy. From tracking keyword performance to analyzing ad conversion rates, you'll gain the confidence needed to make informed decisions that drive ongoing success.

Master the Amazon Ecosystem -- "The Amazon Author Formula" goes beyond the basics, providing a comprehensive understanding of Amazon's ever-evolving ecosystem. Stay ahead of the curve with updates on algorithm changes, platform enhancements, and emerging trends, ensuring your book remains a top contender in the competitive Amazon marketplace.

Achieve Authorial Greatness -- Whether you're a publishing veteran or a debut author, "The Amazon Author Formula" is your roadmap to achieving unparalleled success on Amazon. Transform your passion for telling stories or sharing your expertise into a lucrative career with the proven strategies outlined in The Amazon Formula.

Critique: Knowledgeable, comprehensive, detailed, practical, effective, and impressively well organized and presented, "The Amazon Author Formula: Insider Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Selling More Books!" is a premier DIY course of instruction that while specific to book marketing on Amazon, is also quite relevant for successful book marketing on the internet with other on-ling bookseller sites -- as well as the author and publisher's own website.

Penny Sansevieri is a publishing industry veteran and one of the best at bringing a book to the author's intended readership. "The Amazon Author Formula" will especially be appreciated by authors and publishers having to work on a 'shoestring' or even 'no-string' marketing budget.

Whether you are a novice author marketing your first book, or a seasoned self-published writers, because Amazon remains the 800 pound gorilla of online book marketing you need to give "The Amazon Author Formula" careful (and profitable) attention.

While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "The Amazon Author Formula" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Writing/Publishing collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Penny C. Sansevieri ( is the Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., a successful author, and an internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is also an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.

The Crossroads of Crime Writing
Meghan P. Nolan & Rebecca Martin, co-authors
Anthem Press
9781839991172, $110.00, HC, 250pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Unseen Structures and Uncertain Spaces", the contributors collectively argue that we must examine the boundaries in fiction and non-fiction crime writing with an awareness of and turn toward the unseen structures and spatial uncertainties that so often lead to and reflect collective fears and anxieties.

Drawing upon the insights and expertise of an international array of scholars, the ten chapter articles comprising "The Crossroads of Crime Writing" deftly explore the interplay of the literary, historical, social, and cultural in various modes of crime writing from the 1890s to as recent as 2017. They examine unseen structures and uncertain spaces, and simultaneously provide new insights into the works of iconic authors, such as Christie, and iconic fictional figures, like Holmes, as well as underexplored subjects, including Ukrainian detective fiction of the Soviet period and crime writing by a Bengali police detective at the turn of the twentieth century.

The breadth of coverage (of both time and place) is an indicator of a text in which seasoned readers, advanced students, and academics will find new perspectives on crime writing employing theories of cultural memory and deep mapping.

Critique: A erudite, insightful, and thought-provoking compendium of ten original, seminal, and ground breaking studies, "The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Unseen Structures and Uncertain Spaces" is essential reading for novice and experienced crime fiction and true crime non-fiction novels and stories. With each of the ten extended articles including Notes and Bibliographies, as well as expertly co-edited by the team of professor Meghan P. Nolan and Rebecca Martin, this hardcover edition of The Crossroads of Crime Writing" from Anthem Press is unreservedly recommended as a highly prized addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for aspiring authors with an interest in writing crime novels and true crime stories that "The Crossroads of Crime Writing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note #1: Meghan P. Nolan, MFA, MA, PhD, is an Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Honors program at SUNY Rockland Community College. She is a multigenre writer, who focuses on (Neo-)Victorian and Modern literature/crime writing and fragmented perceptions of self-hood through many published academic works, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Editorial Note #2: Rebecca Martin, PhD, is Professor Emerita of English at Pace University in New York. In addition to her PhD, which focused on the eighteenth-century Gothic novel in England, she holds a graduate certificate in film studies from CUNY Graduate Center, and her interest in crime writing focuses on the hardboiled tradition.

Word of the Day
Marilyn Horowitz
O Books
c/o Collective Ink Books
9781803415161, $12.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: Offering a unique creativity-and-time-management technique, "Word of the Day: Transform Your Writing in 15 Minutes a Day" by Marilyn Horowitz presents a practice that assists writers to create at will and write as much as they want, all while acquiring accurate self-acknowledgment in the process.

The practice immediately connects writers with their innate storytelling ability as reflected in their dreams.

The techniques synthesize the right and left sides of the brain so that writers can draw upon the entirety of their creative tools, fusing the verbal and visual mind, unleashing structural instincts and creativity, allowing them to dance together.

Writers are asked to put a notebook by their bed so they can write first thing in the morning when they wake up and just before bedtime.

Studies have shown that our most creative moments happen immediately upon waking and just before falling asleep. Writing adjacent to these moments, even briefly, gives writers access to their unlimited imagination, powerful tools of imagery, and the full scope of their memory.

Critique: A novel and effective approach to writing, "Word of the Day: Transform Your Writing in 15 Minutes a Day" by the award-winning author Marilyn Horowitz (with the assistance of Elizabeth Wiserman) is an inherently fascinating and thoroughly 'user friendly' DIY instructional guide to improving the scope, practice, and performance in the art and craft of writing. It's also a welcome tool for dealing with writer's block, experimentation and inspiration. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99), "Word of the Day" is an ideal, highly recommended, and prized pick for novice and experienced writers alike.

Editorial Note: Marilyn Horowitz ( is an award-winning author, New York University professor, TV show creator, and writing coach, working with successful novelists, produced screenwriters, and award-winning filmmakers. Horowitz received the coveted New York University Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004 and has an active online audience comprising 5,000 Facebook friends, over 10,000 connections on LinkedIn, and 2,500 readers of her weekly blog.

Rethinking Writing Instruction in the Age of AI
Randy Laist
9781943085101, $35.00, PB, 238pp

Synopsis: Writing is an invaluable academic skill, but, as writing expert and academician Randy Laist points out, "it is also much more than that. It is a tool for thinking, a means of personal expression, and a vehicle of self-discovery."

Composition instructors have long been challenged to fi nd effective ways of engaging and empowering student writers. Now as we enter the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), this challenge has become even more complicated, with too many students-and too many people in general-feeling shut out of writing.

With the publication of "Rethinking Writing Instruction in the Age of AI: A Universal Design for Learning Approach", Professor Laist offers composition instructors practical ways to address the emergence of AI panic as well as insight into how to embrace it as an opportunity to strengthen writing and critical thinking skills.

Professor Laist also shows how Universal Design for Learning provides a framework that can help unpack the writing process and support instruction. "Rethinking Writing Instruction in the Age of AI: A Universal Design for Learning Approach" offers numerous hands-on writing activities that are not only engaging but also "AI proof".

Critique: This trade paperback edition of "Rethinking Writing Instruction in the Age of AI: A Universal Design for Learning Approach" by Professor Randy Laist is impressively informative, exceptionally well written, deftly organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, making it a timely, unreservedly recommended, and high value addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Language Arts, Teacher Education, Writer Reference, and AI collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Rethinking Writing Instruction in the Age of AI: A Universal Design for Learning Approach" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note: Randy Laist, Ph.D., is a professor of English in the School of Applied Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Goodwin University, and he is the Chair of the English Department at the University of Bridgeport. Laist received his doctorate in American literature from the University of Connecticut. He has taught in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is also the co-editor of UDL University: Designing for Variability across the Postsecondary Curriculum.

The Language of the Night
Ursula K. Le Guin
c/o Simon & Schuster
978-1668034903, $18.00, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Language of the Night: Essays on Writing, Science Fiction, and Fantasy", famed science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin's sharp and witty voice is on full display in this collection of twenty-four essays (newly revised by the author a decade after its initial publication in 1979).

This outstanding collection covers a wide range of topics and includes Le Guin's origins as a writer, her advocacy for science fiction and fantasy as mediums for true literary exploration, the writing of her own major works such as A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness, and her role as a public intellectual and educator.

"The Language of the Night" offers contemporary readers and aspiring authors a truly fascinating and intimate look into the exceptional mind of Le Guin -- whose insights remain as relevant and resonant today as when they were first published some 45 years ago.

Each thematic section comprising "The Language of the Night" is brilliantly introduced and contextualized by Professor Susan Wood (University of British Columbia) -- a literary editor and feminist activist during the 1960s and '70s.

Critique: Brought back into print for a new generation of grateful science fiction and fanatsy authors and fans, "The Language of the Night: Essays on Writing, Science Fiction, and Fantasy" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Writing/Publishing collections. It should be noted for Ursula K. Le Guin fans that "The Language of the Night" is also now available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: The late Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) was the celebrated author of twenty-three novels, twelve volumes of short stories, eleven volumes of poetry, thirteen children's books, five essay collections, and four works of translation. Her acclaimed books received the Hugo, Nebula, Endeavor, Locus, Otherwise, Theodore Sturgeon, PEN/Malamud, and National Book Awards; a Newbery Honor; and the Pushcart and Janet Heidinger Kafka Prizes, among others. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2016 joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America. Le Guin was also the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children's May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret A. Edwards Award. She received lifetime achievement awards from the World Fantasy Convention, Los Angeles Times, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and Willamette Writers, as well as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award and the Library of Congress Living Legend Award.. (

"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly 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 to our postage stamp fund.

Matthew Dugan
Anne Ross -- "Pomes!"
Carrie Rubin -- "Broken Hope"
Mary Behan -- "Finding Isobel"
Gary Morse -- "Source of a River"
Jacqueline Gay Walley -- "The Waw"
Meira Rosenberg -- "28 Days of Neon"
Andrew Oghena -- "Born to Never Die"
Mike Spiritfair Marty -- "Sex with Jesus"
Donald Lystra -- "Searching for Van Gogh"
Shari Lane -- "Two Over Easy All Day Long"
Samar Reine -- "The Three Layers of a Moment"
Gregory R. Mostyn -- "The Payroll Process 2024"
Kellie Watkins -- Jahphut Press
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community.

Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at: SupportMBR [at] (The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), 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 at 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 -- 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