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Cox Report: September 2005
Jim Cox Report: September 2005
Dear Publisher Folks, Friends & Family:
The Labor Day holiday is over for another year and it's time for me to get back to work. But not
before indulging myself with the production of another "Jim Cox Report" with a bit recommended
wit and wisdom when it comes to publishing in the world today.
First up, this:
Dear Mr. Cox,
Thank you for compiling all that info on how to submit books for review. I recently joined SPAN,
am attending their conference in Denver in October, and through various links was led to your
organization. I enjoyed your guidelines on how to submit books for review. It's obvious they'll
save me from making some amateurish mistakes. Perhaps providing the info is part of your job.
No matter. I appreciate the work.
Jerry emailed me this little note back in July. I want to use it now as a kind of springboard for my
take on the value of author and publisher organizations (and reviewer organizations like the
Midwest Book Review) in today's highly competitive, rapidly evolving marketplace for book
making and book selling.
My first observation is that never in the history of the printed book, from Gutenberg down to this
very day, has the making of a book for a mass market readership been so easy to do and so hard
to succeed at.
Desktop software combined with publish-on-demand businesses, a plethora of "how to" books on
writing and publishing, online bookstores, and an American general culture that encourages
individualism and personal expression, have all resulted in more books being published every year
than at any previous time in recorded American history.
It's ironic that at this very era when transmitting what's in our heads onto paper, and what's on
paper into a book that can be made (theoretically) available to every literate person in the world,
we should also be seeing steadily declining rates of readers in the general populace. Every year
fewer and fewer people read for pleasure, read for information, read for self-improvement, or read
simply to pass the time.
Directly stated, more books are being written and published for fewer people willing to read them.
And that's a trend that seems only strengthen and continue into the foreseeable future.
Therefore I conclude that truly savvy writers and even savvier publishers will need to use every
edge they can get in the competition for those dwindling number of readers, that every shrinking
percentage of the book consuming public.
That's where the organizations come in. There are organizations for everything and everyone.
There are local, regional, national, and international organizations for writers and publishers. They
offer several invaluable services, not only for the novice beginner faced with a steep learning
curve about how to get published, or having been published, how to successfully market their
publications, but also for even the more experienced, the seasoned professionals, the folks who
give the seminars and who write the "how to" books, not just for the seminar takers and the "how
to" book readers.
Every aspiring author and/or publisher should be a member of at least one of the three primary
online discussion groups dedicated to writing and selling books: Publish-L; SPAN;
Publish-L is a moderated online discussion group that is ideal for the novice in need of basic "nuts
& bolts" information, as well as benefitting from a largely courteous group of helpful folk that are
quite willing to draw upon their own years of expertise and experience to help newcomers with
that aforementioned "learning curve" about all facets of the publishing enterprise from manuscript
selection to marketing the finished tome.
SPAN is very highly moderated and particularly appropriate for self-published authors, POD
published authors, and small press niche oriented publisher having to seek out specialty markets
for what they produce. SPAN also puts out a really informative, professional class
PubForum is unmoderated. There are four "List Moms" who are responsible for the mechanics of
running an online discussion group, but the only thing truly outlawed is spamming. This is the
"political" online discussion group for publishers that has a policy of allowing its members to go
"Off Topic" on the weekends. There are no prohibitions on cussing, feuding and fighting. Harsh
words often set off the cyberspace equivalent of verbal food fights. But the virtue of this
freewheeling forum is that the members will take up more sophisticated aspects of publishing and
commentary on the politics of publishing, market forces in publishing, the excesses of wholesalers
and distributors, the impact of national policies (like censorship), these and other controversial
topics on publishing are all fair game. Some of the most knowledgeable (and irritable) folks in
publishing are a part of PubForum.
Then there are the local and regional organizations, several of whom have their own websites,
who meet monthly or quarterly or annually, and/or who have newsletters.
Plus the three national groups: Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN);
Publishers Marketing Association (PMA); and American Publishers Association (APA)
SPAN I've already talked about. This is essential a private enterprise run by a husband and wife
team whose "The Self Publishing Manual" is rightly considered to be a basic instructional
reference in the business, but SPAN truly does deliver sound, profitable, useful advice and
services on commercially successful publishing to its members.
PMA is run by its long-time manager and has a strong hierarchal structure of command with the
board of directors being self-selecting. It too has a newsletter, an invaluable website, produces an
annual "university" of seminars and courses that are among the best in the country (and which are
usually timed to supplement the annual BookExpo).
APA is a classic lobbying oriented organization of the major publishing houses in the country.
These are the Random House and Penguin Putnam's of the publishing world. Their interests and
the interests of the self-published author or small press publisher are rarely in sync.
You will find links to all of these groups and organizations in "Publishers Associations" section of
the Midwest Book Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com
Check them out. Especially the local or regional ones where you live, as well as the nationals.
Check out all three of the online discussion groups -- incredibly valuable resources where any
publishing problem you have, they can provide expert comment on, any publishing question you'd
pose, they've got people who can material help with the answers.
The fact that the "Jim Cox Report" is posted every month on Publish-L; most months on
PubForum (unless I've been just too long winded and the thing is simply too large); and
announced every month on SPAN (which considers it a newsletter and therefor cannot be eligible
for posting) is an indication of how valuable I think they are for members of the publishing
Remember that the primary value in joining publisher groups and associations is what Jerry
Countess discovered. They can save you from making amateurish (and expensive!) mistakes. They
can make things easier for you by telling you what works and what doesn't. They can bring to
your attention resources (like the Midwest Book Review) that you might never otherwise be
aware of. They can also help give you a sense of community with like minded folk who are in the
same or similar circumstances to yourself as an author and/or as a publisher.
Now on to other stuff:
My webmaster proposed and our staff unanimously agreed to donate money for the hurricane
relief efforts. There were a lot of writers and publishers and bookstores in that so severely
damaged part of the world. We made our donation through the Amazon.com homepage "how you
can help" link to the American Red Cross. That Amazon hompage link is www.amazon.com
There are so many scam artists trying to take advantage of people's generosity and sincere desire
to be of help. Don't respond to their unsolicited emails, but go directly to known and reliable relief
agency websites to make your online donations. We picked the American Red Cross. But there
are a great many other bonafide organizations trying to help. We simply went through the
Amazon.com homepage link to the American Red Cross website because it was so handy and
convenient for us.
More other stuff:
Recently there has been a lot of publisher discussion group topic traffic on the subject of "paid
for" reviews and whether they were a wise investment of an author or publisher's limited capital.
I've written on the book reviewing process quite extensively and in greatly applicable detail. You
will find several of my articles archived in the "Publisher Advice" section of the Midwest Book
Review website at http://www.midwestbookreview.com If you've haven't read them, you should.
They can save you a great deal of money, time, and anxiety.
Having read them, then go to the "Book Lover Resources" section of our website and click on
"Other Reviewers". This is an extensive list of freelance reviewers, book review publications,
book review websites, etc. All of them have been vetted by me and are legitimate. Some won't be
thematically appropriate for you. Others will be. And there's certain to be some (perhaps a great
many) such resources that you've never heard of.
Now it's time for the Midwest Book Review's "Postage Stamp Hall of Fame &
The following folk wanted to express their appreciation for what we try to do in behalf of the
small press community and have done so with welcome donations of postage stamps. We use
these stamps to send out tear sheets and publisher notification letters every month. It's been (and
continues to be) a real help! A heartfelt thank you to:
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Mark Stuart Ellison
VivianBolland Schroeder - "Butterflies and Willow Switches"
JamesHilgendorf - "The Great New Emerging Civilization"
Beth Rotondo - "Threads of Hope: An Offering for Those Who Grieve"
Higganum Hill Books
Vovonne Low - Kyoodoz
Neil Willenson - Camp Heartland
Olga, Valerie, Igor & Valentin - Ekadoo Inc.
George Gordon - Te Deum Publishing
John Luksetich - Imagine Nation Press
Rita Y. Toews - Birds Hill Publishing
Winston Conn - Shenanigan Books
Jeanne House - Elite Books
Dennis V. Damp - Bookhaven Press LLC
Mary Ellen Sinclair - Zenga Publishing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier - Waldmania
Rusty Morrison - Omnidawn
Lisa Ruzicka - Winepress Publishing
Rick Allen - The Kenspeckle Letter Press
James D. Gallagher - Ottn Publishing
Peggy Eager - Hi-Caliber Books
Jack Masters - Rounding Third Publishing
Charlie Fleetham - Right Brain Books
Mark Renz - PaleoPress
Diane Astimbay - Culturelink Press
Lily G. Stephen - Blooming Rose Press
John Shaw - Washington Publishers
If you would like to subscribe directly to the "Jim Cox Report" (its free), just send me an email
asking to be signed up.
If you have a book you'd like considered for review then send it (accompanied by a cover letter
and some form of publicity release) to:
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575
If you would like to express your appreciation and "support the cause", then you can send your
postage stamp donations to me at that same address.
So until next time! Goodbye, Good Luck, and Good Reading!!
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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