Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you an informative and interesting interview with Jim Cox of Midwest Book Review.
This Q & A is provided as a guest post contribution from writer Shelby Londyn-Heath. I hope you enjoy.
Q. Jim, you started Midwest Book Review in 1976. That is over forty years ago. Why do you think Midwest Book Review has been so successful?
A. The three key elements to the success of the Midwest Book Review are:
1. We always provide authors or their publishers with a copy of our review of their book and an accompanying cover letter telling them all the places we have posted or published that review.
2. We give special consideration whenever possible to self-published authors and small press publishers.
3. We do not charge authors or publishers for reviewing their books as long as those books or published print editions (hardcover or paperback) and the book is in print and available to librarians and the general reading public.
Q. Jim, do you have a word of advice for business owners such as bloggers, publishers, and writers, as they step into the business world?
A.Yes! Please spend some time reading basic ‘how to’ books on successfully operating a small business venture. You can find them in any public library. There are reviews of a great many good ones on the Midwest Book Review web site at:
Keep careful records of all your income and expenses. Become knowledgeable of all possible state and federal tax deductions.
Q. Many authors, even those who are traditionally published, have to promote and market their books. This does not come naturally to people who spend a long time dreaming in front of their keyboards. What advice do you have for authors who need to build platforms for their books? What steps should they take to market their books?
A. There are a great many ‘how to’ books devoted specifically to this issue. My advice is to read at least one of them every month. You’ll find scores of them reviewed and recommended on the Midwest Book Review web site at that same link:
My advice is to jot down the titles of 3 or 4 of them, then go to your local community library and ask that they be procured for you through your public library’s free Interlibrary Loan System.
When you get them, read them with pen and paper at hand to make notes and jot down ideas.
If you find one that is so useful you want to have it for your own personal reference shelf you can then buy it from the publisher or order it through your favorite bookstore, or even go up onto Amazon to buy it.
Q. What are the biggest reasons books get rejected after their first readings through MBR?
A. Here are the reasons for rejection:
1. It’s a pre-publication manuscript, a galley, an uncorrected proof, or an advanced reading copy (ARC), and we require a published, finished copy the way it would be encountered in a bookstore or a library.
2. It is disfigured by being stickered or written on- most often with the message ‘Review Copy - Not for Sale’.
3. The cover art is atrocious and renders the book noncommercial when competing with other titles in the same genre.
4. There is a serious production flaw with the books such as the binding, or the print is too small for the intended readership.
Q. What are the qualities of a book that drive it deeper into the review process?
A. Here are the reasons for passing the initial screening and being eligible for a review assignment:
1. It arrives with the proper paperwork.
2. Attractive in appearance making it visually competitive in its genre or subject
3. It’s in a genre or on a subject that is of interest to one or more of my reviewers
4. It’s by a self-published author or small press publisher
5. It’s from a freelance publicist that I have good experience with and respect their judgement
6. It’s a unique or new subject matter to me or something that is currently a hot topic
Q. Do you have affiliate book review sites or alternative channels, where authors may fish for book reviews if they don’t make it through Midwest Book Review?
A. No. But I did create “Other Reviewers” as a section of the Midwest Book Review web site. “Other Reviewers” is a database of freelance book reviewers, book review magazines and publications, book review web sites and blogs. The database link is:
Click on “Other Reviewers” and it opens the database. The trick is to go down the list (and it’s a long list because it is a huge database). When you seek one that looks promising, click on it and you’ll be zapped to that particular web site. Read through that other web site and you’ll be able to determine if that reviewer or review resource is thematically appropriate for your particular book- and if it is, what their book review submission guidelines are.
Q. Jim, I notice you send out reviews electronically to bookstores and libraries across the U.S. and Canada? What does this process involve? What do the agencies and companies do with the information you send them?
A. The Managing Editor takes care of electronically posting the reviews to authors, publishers, subscribers to our publications, and Gale Cengage Learning (for their Book Review Index data base program for library systems throughout the U.S. and Canada). We have a database of email addresses so it’s just a matter of plugging an email address into an email confirmation notification letter and hitting ‘Send’.
What the recipients do, if so motivated by the review we send them, is use the reviews to make out purchase orders. Authors and publishers utilize the reviews in the context of their own publicity, promotion, and marketing campaigns.
Q. What do you think is the most popular book genre or book category in today’s market?
A. Adult coloring books are hot right now. Other enduring popular categories include: cookbooks, art books, military books, needle craft books.
Q. What is your favorite kind of book to read when you are not working?
A. My personal recreational reading is currently dominated by Large Print Editions of western novels distributed by Ulverscroft. I also am partial to graphic novels and science fiction/fantasy.
A special thanks to Jim for his time, advice and expertise today.
Image credit: https://Pixabay.com/