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Jim Cox Report: November 2014
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
A couple of times a year I get requests for interviews. I thought I'd share the most recent one with you good folk:
In a message dated 10/17/2014 1:20:49 P.M. Central Daylight Time:
Here are my questions for you. If you can get these back to me within the next 7 days, that'd be great.
1. Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
2. What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
3. Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
4. Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
5. Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
6. What are some of the best m/m books you've read this year?
7. What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don't see now?
8. What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
Please include in your reply a picture of you or something you prefer. The interview will be posted at http://jamielakenovels.com and will be shared to my followers
Jamie Lake Novels
1. I don't write a monthly blog, I publish 9 monthly book review publications that includes from time to time a column called 'The LGBT Shelf" and is devoted to reviews of books of interest to the gay community.
I also write a monthly column for the publishing industry called the "Jim Cox Report". It's free and it's also archived on the Midwest Book Review web site at:
2. I've written about how I became a reviewer extensively. Its a long and interesting story that you'll find at:
3. As the neglected child of a broken home I found refuge in books and my local public library. I've been a reader since about the age of 5 or 6 when I learned to read with the help of grandparents and the comics pages of the newspaper. Before becoming a book reviewer some 39 years ago, I would spend about 1/3 of my disposable income on books and magazines.
When I was 14 I started smoking "Lucky Strike" cigarettes. Back then a pack of smokes costs 25 cents. A new paperback novel also cost 25 cents. One day I had a quarter in my pocket and went to buy a pack of smokes. But when I got to the store that sold them to me (and other underage folk), I spotted a new science fiction novel by a favorite author of mine (Poul Anderson). So instead of buying cigarettes with my quarter I bought the paperback novel -- and never smoked again.
4. I think some of things that makes the Midwest Book Review and myself as it's editor-in-chief distinctive among book reviews is that we try to give priority to titles from the small press community and self-published authors. We also try to be faithful about notifying authors and publishers when their books make the cut and get reviewed in our publications.
The other distinction is that we are not specialized. We accept books for review in all genres, categories and subject areas, adult and juvenile. We also pay no attention to publication dates, our only criteria is that when a book is submitted for review it must be in print and available to the reading public.
As a 'post-publication' review we only accept the print editions (paperback or hardcover) of published books for review consideration. There is no charge for reviews. The most we will allow authors and publishers to express appreciation and support for what we try to do in behalf of the small press community is that folks wanting to say 'thanks and keep up the good work' is they can include postage stamps along with their books. We use the stamps when sending out publisher notification letters and reviews. But while postage stamp contributions are always appreciated, they are never required.
It should be noted that we receive an average of 2000 books a month seeking review. I currently have a roster of 81 reviewers. We generate between 600 to 700 reviews a month. So a book has a roughly 1 out of 3 chance of achieving a review.
For anyone wanting a review of a galley, an uncorrected proofs, an ARC, an ebooks, or PDF file, there is the Reader Fee option. A $50 reader fee goes to the assigned and authorized reviewer (not the Midwest Book Review) and guarantees a review in a timely manner (usually 3 to 4 weeks) and is provided directly to the author or publisher.
What I get for my 'middleman' services of connecting author or publisher to a qualified and reliable reviewer is that I get to run that review in one of my monthly book review publications.
Then there is our web site at www.midwestbookreview.com One of its features is a section called "Other Reviewers" which is a database that I've created of freelance book reviewers, book review magazines and publications, book review web sites and blogs.
Our web site is a source dedicated to assist authors to write better, publishers to publish more successfully, and the general reading public to become aware of books that can be recommended to them as worthwhile.
This kind of general setup seems to be unique to the Midwest Book Review.
5. My definition of a successful reviewer is that he or she is able to clearly analyze and critique a written work and then provide a rational basis for their recommendations (pro or con) to the book's intended readership.
I note that reviewers, like authors and publishers, tend to be sorted out into three categories: Good, Bad, and Mediocre.
A good reviewer is one that provides a rational and reasoned basis for their opinions -- be they positive or negative -- and provides that information back to the author or publisher in a timely fashion.
A bad reviewer is one that reviews the book he or she thought should be written instead of the one that was. Who substitute ego and diatribe for analysis and critique. Who are needlessly crass and abrasive when pointing out flaws or failings.
A mediocre reviewer is someone who means well but whose skills at analysis and critique are deficient to the task.
6. I really don't know what m/m refers to in your questions. But if you want my opinion on books intended for the gay community, I don't have any particular favorites -- but I will say that Cleis Press (Berkeley, California) does consistently good work in this area.
7. I have a gay son who is now in his mid-fifties. Growing up in Utah was particularly troublesome for him. I would like to see more titles for aimed at helping adolescents and young adults to adjust to their sexual orientations -- gay or straight -- because the general prudishness of mainstream American culture remains so pervasive and generally unhelpful in that regard.
8. As for advice for aspiring reviewers and bloggers, I would advocate that they read as much and as varied a literary diet as they can. For those of limited means there is the local public library who, through the Interlibrary Loan System can obtain (for free) just about any book ever published. Restrict your leisure time activities with respect to games, television, and the like -- spend it instead with a good book, fiction or non-fiction, that appeals to your own interests and inclinations.
There's also an excellent "how to" book for aspiring reviewers:
Here's my review of it:
The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing
Mayra Calvani & Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781933353227, $16.95 www.twilighttimes.com
As long as books have been published there have been those who have felt the need to comment on them. We call such folks 'reviewers'. These literary critics can be self-appointed volunteers, freelance professionals, employed journalists and academicians whose commentaries about what is being written and published is a part of their job. Reviewers (much like the authors and publishers whose work they pass judgments upon) come in three basic categories: The Good; The Bad; and The Mediocre. There really hasn't been a 'how to' guide of any appreciable length or substance to explain the role of a book reviewer, how to become established as a credible reviewer of books, or how to create and operative a book review business. That is, there really hasn't been such an instructional manual until the publication of Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards collaborative work titled "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing". Following an informative foreword by James A. Cox (best known within the publishing industry as the Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review), "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" is divided into three major sections: 'The Art of Reviewing' which lays out in considerable detail the actual 'nuts and bolts' of what a book review actually is, how to go about reviewing books, and the basics of creating a professional reputation and maintaining a successful book review operation; 'The Influence of Book Reviews' which focuses upon the relationship of book reviews to libraries, bookstores, publishers, authors, publicists, book clubs, and readers; and 'Resources' which provides advice and extensive lists of resources for book reviews as they relate to print publications, academia, online review sites, and more. ""The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" concludes with providing a 'Sample of a Press Release'. Offering a wealth of practical, experience-tested advice, commentary, technical information, techniques, and resources, "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" should be considered mandatory reading for novice and aspiring book reviewers, as well as having a great deal of enduring value as a reference for even the more experienced reviewer. Additionally, "The Slippery Art Of Book Reviewing" will provide to be informed and informative reading about the book review process for authors, publishers, publicists, booksellers, librarians, and the general reading public.
I hope my responses to your questions prove helpful.
Midwest Book Review
Now some more reviews of 'how-to' books of special relevance to writers and publishers:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Creating Graphic Novels
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615931941 $26.95 www.mwp.com
Creating Graphic Novels: Adapting and Marketing Stories for a Multimillion-Dollar Industry offers would-be graphic novel writers a step-by-step guide to creating such a novel from a story idea, and surveys all the artistic and technical requirements for producing a successful graphic production. It comes from a L.A. writer who has edited and been published in independent comic book anthologies, hosts her own website, and here explores the basic methods for scripting for the comics industry. From mastering the major elements of creating an appropriate comic format and theme to getting it into print and understanding companies and submission policies, chapters specific to graphic novels cover such basics as how to get around the 'no unsolicited manuscripts' caveat of some graphic novel publishers, how to handle a bad review once the work is published, and handling art teams, marketing, and legal matters. It's a 'must' for any who aspire to write graphic novels!
Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel
P.O. Box 617913, Chicago, IL 60661-7913
9781500714482 $14.00 www.barbaragregorich.com
Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel: Lots of Examples Plus Dead Bodies is an accessible primer for writers of all skill and experience levels. Although especially geared to the subtleties of mystery and crime writing, Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel is packed with tips, tricks, and techniques that any aspiring author will find invaluable. Chapters discuss setting the scene of the crime, casting suspicion and planting clues, handling subplots and plot complications, how to disguise motive/means/opportunity, when to introduce the villain, managing the flow of dialogue, and much more, with numerous, illuminating examples. "If you don't belong to a critique group, then you might consider asking friends and acquaintances to read your manuscript. But beware: if your story is being read by people who are uncritical in their judgement (and usually non-writers are uncritical about story, structure, and language), you won't get much help from these people. Chances are they want to please and will say they love your story. They aren't able to help you improve it." Especially recommended for first-time mystery writers!
2015 Writer's Market
Robert Lee Brewer, Editor
Writer's Digest Books
c/o F+W Media
700 East State Street, Iola WI 54945
9781599638409 $29.99 www.writersdigest.com
The 2015 Writer's Market appears in its 94th annual updated edition - and in case you wondered why can update would be needed, be advised that each edition represents the many changes of policy, editorial needs, and contacts that represent a changing, dynamic writer's market. The focus here is not just on getting published, but getting paid for one's writing. New editorial material covers the changing business of writing and promotions, from pitching an idea to agents and editors and building readers to obtaining freelance writing work through social media. The pay rate chart has been updated, there are lists of professional writing groups and sample query letters, and everything has been updated to reflect the latest information, making this a winning guide for any who want to make a living by writing.
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:
Colleen & Michael Bryant
Susan Kapanke -- "Budaniel"
Paul Binford -- "The Shademakers"
Mabel S. Singletary -- "Leon's Share"
Laurie Gardner -- The Road To Shine"
Michael Woodworth Fuller -- "Legacy"
Brenda M. Asterino -- "Sitting In Creation"
Lawrence J. O'Brien -- "Why NOT Women Priests?"
Candice Carson -- "The Adventures of Sigi: A Day in the Mangrove Forest"
Nan Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
Laura Jeane Merrill -- Myth & Magic
Adrian Raignes -- Darvey-Raignes, Publishers
Sara Sgarlat -- Sgarlat Publicity
Ellie Pelto -- Concierge Marketing Inc.
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
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James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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