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Jim Cox Report: April 2017
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
When you serve the general populace you must accept that every once in a while someone is going to take serious issue with how you do business. I have found the best way to deal with such inevitable circumstances is to be forthright and try to turn such incidences into learning experiences for all those involved -- including myself.
Here is just such an incident. An author taking serious umbrage at how the Midwest Book Review treated his book. Because he is a member of the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) he got them involved as well. His major complaint was that the summary description on the Amazon page for his novel was used as part of the review for his book (which he viewed as a form of plagiarism) -- and he regretted his $50 donation that had accompanied his book review submission.
It was IBPA's Terry Nathan that brought the matter to my attention because somehow I never got the author's original email complaint -- my guess is that it was unwittingly deleted as SPAM from the more than a hundred emails I download every day.
This was my response to Terry's inquiry on the author's behalf:
"Dear Mr. Nathan:
I'm afraid that this one (A rat in the woodland) falls under the category of you can't please every one every time.
A donation does not guarantee a review. We review print editions (hardcover or paperback) of books submitted for review free of charge as long as they pass our initial screening.
In Mr. Hunsinger's case his book passed our initial screening and this is our review of his book as published in the March 2017 issue of one of our monthly book review publications -- Small Press Bookwatch.
For some reason Hunsinger apparently objects to this review feeling that my use of his descriptive summary of his book in the "Synopsis" was inappropriate.
In Mr. Hunsinger's case this is our review of his book as published in the March 2017 issue of one of our monthly book review publications -- Small Press Bookwatch.
[The review of "Assimilation" won't be reiterated in this Jim Cox Report because it was removed from the MBR website at Mr. Hunsinger's request.]
The SYNOPSIS is a succinct thematic description of a book and I often utilize the author's own descriptive summary in an accompanying PR or on their Amazon web page as a time saver.
The CRITIQUE is the literary criticism or assessment combined with specific recommendations as to whether or not the book can be positively commended to the attention of its intended readership, would make a worthwhile addition to community and/or academic library collections, is offered in a Kindle format as well as a print edition, etc.
That's our formula for reviews published in the Small Press Bookwatch and specifically designed for our primary audience of librarians and booksellers, as well as to be of value to our secondary audience which is the general reading public.
I'd also like to note that when a book passes our screening but ultimately fails to achieve a review assignment I try to automatically notify the author with the following "safety net" offer:
"Thank you for your inquiry. Although your book arrived safely, it ultimately failed to achieve a review assignment. This is no reflection on the quality of the work because it handily passed our initial screening process.
The difficulty is that we receive an average of two thousand titles a month seeking review and I have 81 reviewers to try to cope with it all. With respect to your particular title it was simply a matter of too many books, not enough reviewers.
I suggest you avail yourself of our free book review resource database “Other Reviewers” which you will find at:
Here you will find links to freelance book reviewers, book review magazines and publications, book review web sites and blogs, etc. While some are specialized, others are more general. Go down the list (it’s a long list because it is a huge database) and when you see one that looks promising, click on it and you will be zapped to that particular reviewer or review resource web site.
Read through their web site and you will be able to determine if they are thematically appropriate to your book, and if so – what their submission guidelines are.
If you already have a review of your book from someone else, and can obtain their permission to do so, I would be willing to run that review in your behalf and under their byline in our regular monthly book review publication "Reviewer's Bookwatch". If you have more than one review, just pick the one you like best.
There is no charge for this service.
Because review formats vary widely, be sure to add an "info block" to the head of the review. An "info block" would be:
Publisher Web Site (if any)
Publisher Email (if any)
ISBN, Price, Page Count
This is information data that librarians and booksellers need in order to fill out purchase orders if inspired to acquire the book based upon the review."
The Midwest Book Review has been helping out self-published authors every since the IBPA was the PMA -- and will continue to do so.
As to a failure to respond to an email follow-up inquiry (which was apparently quite hostile), when you have to download a hundred or more emails every day sometimes things get mistakenly deleted as SPAM. I don't know for sure what happened to this gentleman's email follow-up inquiry but I rather suspect something of this order.
In any event, I'm sending him a copy of this email response to your inquiry and, despite his rather accusatory language (A rat in the woodshed -- really?), because I am willing to provide him with the same 'safety net' offer that any other IBPA member (or anyone else for that matter) is always afforded if the Midwest Book Review was unable to provide a review simply because of "too many books, not enough reviewers" -- or as in this case, is unhappy with the review we did, -- I'll make him the same offer -- if he has a better review or one that he likes better, then if he has the reviewer's permission to do so he can send that to me and I'll run it, for free, in our monthly book review publication "Reviewer's Bookwatch" in his behalf and under the reviewer's byline.
Besides, I can sympathize fully with the frustrations that beset self-published authors when they try to promote and market their book in today's volatile and increasingly competitive marketplace.
Incidentally, our reviews of most IBPA member submissions are published in our monthly book review publication "Small Press Bookwatch". These are archived on our web site at:
Plus the IBPA web site has a link to it in the "Publisher Associations" section of the Midwest Book Review web site at:
I've been referring folk to you for decades now.
Let me know if I can be of any further assistance and any time anyone has a problem with how we do things here, please don't hesitate to let me know.
By the way, I write a monthly column of advice and resources for the publishing industry on book marketing and promotion called the "Jim Cox Report". I'm going to reprint this email exchange (including J. A. Hunsinger's complaint) because I think it would be very instructive for other self-published authors that might find themselves in similar circumstances.
All my "Jim Cox Reports" columns are also archived on the Midwest Book Review web site at:
Midwest Book Review
CC: J. A. Hunsinger
At the author's request our review of his book has been deleted from our web site archives and his $50 donation has been refunded to him via PayPal.
Donations are not bribes to insure a review. They are not some kind of disguised 'pay for play' arrangement. They are gestures of support and appreciation for what the Midwest Book Review seeks to accomplish in behalf of the author and/or publisher. Nothing more -- nothing less. Since this particular author neither supports or appreciates what was done on his behalf he should have his donation returned to him.
One final note: Don't consider the descriptive summary of your book as found in the publicity release accompanying a book review submission or on your Amazon page, our on your web site to be a proprietary document. It is a marketing tool. If your descriptive summary is picked up and passed along to a whole new audience of hundreds or even thousands of librarians, booksellers, wholesalers, distributors, or members of the general reading public -- that's exactly what it is for and you've received the equivalent of free publicity, free advertising, free promotion, free marketing with respect to that reviewer's audience as he or she bring your book to the attention of people that would otherwise never know your book existed.
And when your own descriptive summary is accompanied by a positive recommendation -- that's the best possible use of your PR descriptive summary possible.
By the way -- there is a touch of irony in being so adamantly accused of being unethical. I'm the one who wrote one of the most popular "how to" articles for self-published authors on the subject of getting reviews and avoiding being ripped off by con artists called "How To Spot A Phony Book Reviewer"
The one upside of this little episode is being able to use it to the benefit of other authors new to the publishing industry and its norms who might find themselves in similar circumstances
Now on to some more current reviews of new titles that I recommend for authors and/or publishers:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Video Game Writing from Macro to Micro, second edition
Maurice Suckerling and Marek Walton
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
9781683920298, $44.95, www.merclearning.com
The second updated edition of Video Game Writing from Macro to Micro reviews the history of game writing from the 1960s to modern times and consider not only the evolution of specific games and styles, but the changes involved in programming them. Students involved in writing such games will find a solid foundation that covers everything from collaborative processes and the basics of design, plot, and editing to contracts, screenplay terminology, text types and game-oriented approaches, and more. From terminology to macro and micro concerns, this wide-ranging blend of history and how-to applications is especially recommended for beginners new to the gaming environment who want a quick understanding of options and challenges specific to the video game writer's environment.
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
400 - 1st Avenue North, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1721
9781631592737, $30.00, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Alex Fowkes is a freelance designer based in London, UK. While working full time Alex completed lots of typography-based briefs in his spare time, from personal pieces to commissions and album covers. His work varies from hand-drawn type to digital typography, but he always tries to retain a human element to his work. In "Expressive Type" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to showcase the work of major international designers working with typography in branding and advertising, environment, packaging and products, and self-initiated projects. "Expressive Type" concludes with a workbook section featuring four real-world "briefs" related to each category. A unique and thoroughly 'reader friendly' instructional, "Expressive Type" will prove to be of immense interest and practical value for anyone engaged in typographic design in sketchbooks, in print publications, and on location in any urban, suburban, or rural setting.
Finally -- Here is "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:
Bob Prevost -- "Mallast"
Susan Van Kirk -- "Marry in Haste"
Janet Sever Hull -- "The Button Box"
Dana Cohenour -- "Jump & Jam Tunes"
Laura McHale Holland -- "Resilient Ruin"
Oscar R. Nordstrom -- "Fountain of Change"
Donald W. Kruse -- "Beebs Cooks a Turkey!"
Garrett Whitworth -- "The Man Nobody Knew"
Victor Pearn -- "American Western Love Song"
Ann Campanella -- "Motherhood: Lost and Found"
Laura Knight -- "Spot: A Sea Pup's Survival Guide"
Joseph Ganci -- "Gideon: The Sound and the Glory"
Alvin R. Brown -- "Native American Action Stories"
Brian Rutenberg -- "Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits"
Nanette V. Hucknall -- "How To Live From Your Heart"
Alysson Foti Bourque -- "Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day!"
Eve Heidi Bine-Stock -- "How to Self-Publish a Children's Picture Book"
Red Feather Publishing
Spectacled Bear Publishing
Oppenlander Enterprises LLC
Asia-America Connection Society
Jen & Elizabeth -- Material Media
Harvey Wilkes -- Erie Harbor Productions
Kitty Foth-Regner -- EverlastingPlace.com
James Madden -- Paramount Market Publishing
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara Wall -- The Barrett Company Communications
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] aol.com
(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 www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. 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!
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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