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Beth Cox Report: August 2014

Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,

Today, I'd like to share with you my response to relatively recent email. We had just reviewed a book for this person, and the question was "...what about this title caught your eye? Would help me ensure we direct the right kind of books towards you in future."

To which I responded:

Here at the Midwest Book Review, there is no "right" or "wrong" kind of finished book to be submitted for review. Any and every finished book receives due consideration, as long as it follows our guidelines at

(We don't directly review "unfinished books", such as galleys/ARCs/uncorrected proofs. However, such titles are eligible for our "Reader Fee Review" program, if arrangements are made in advance via email.)

With a peak of 2000 or 3000 submissions a month, there is simply a competitive case of "too many books, not enough reviewers". The challenge of getting a book to stand out from the crowd is only a little different whether trying to capture the attention of a prospective reviewer, or the general public.

I can offer some very general recommendations - cover art is extremely important. Only the best-known authors can get away with minimal or no cover art.

The back-cover blurb also matters. If someone is interested enough to pick up your book, the first thing they're likely to do is turn it over and scan the back cover. It's important to keep any excerpts or plot hooks on the back cover brief, but tantalizing - you want to intrigue the reader with the book's contents, but not repel them with a "wall of text". A little artwork or photography on the back cover can also go a long way.

In the MBR's case, the cover letter also matters a great deal, especially if you've spoken with or contacted us before - please be sure to mention such things.

We at the MBR have also instituted a fairly recent, yet retroactive policy - if a title is submitted to us for review and does not make the cut simply because none of our reviewers selected it, then the author or publisher is welcome to send us a review from a different source, as long as they have the express permission to do so. We'll then run the review, with an appropriate credit line, in the Reviewer's Choice column of the Reviewer's Bookwatch. Like all reviews in the Reviewer's Bookwatch and the MBR Bookwatch, copyright and ownership rights of the review remain with its original authors/publishers.

I hope this answers your question. We look forward to your next title!

Now for August's Link of the Month, an extremely informative webpage by Aeonix Publishing Group titled "Vanity and Subsidy Publishers". This open letter advisory makes the differences between types of vanity and subsidy publishers crystal clear, and warns against unethical (yet technically legal!) behavior in the industry:

I won't try to summarize what it says - anyone and everyone considering subsidy publishing should read it for themselves - but I will quote one critical highlight:

"Look carefully at small publishers and co-publishers. (Watch out! When 'vanity' presses became identified with publishing scams, they changed their identity to 'subsidy' publishers. Now that 'subsidy' publishing is sometimes identified with the scam artists, some of them are beginning to use the term 'co-publishing.') Be sure to carefully read any contracts and have them reviewed by a lawyer--one who is familiar with the publishing industry. Be alert for all the usual signs of a scam--if it seems 'too good to be true,' it probably is."

Lastly, here's August's Review of the Month, about a book that promotes the educational and social benefits of mother-daughter book clubs:

Her Next Chapter
Lori Day, M.Ed. with Charlotte Kugler
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
9781613748565 $16.95

Educational psychologist Lori Day, M.Ed. and her daughter Charlotte Kugler present Her Next Chapter, a guide to how mother-daughter book clubs can promote literacy and positive socialization, as well as provide a safe place where girls can freely discuss issues of girlhood and womanhood. Problems such as negative body image, bullying, gender stereotypes, and more can be addressed and brought out into the open. Her Next Chapter has suggestions for getting discussion going by choosing the right book, movie, or media recommendations, and using group activities to build girls' confidence. Even more important is the role that book clubs can play in teaching young girls how to protect themselves from sexual harassment - from street catcalls to groping to rape. "Not talking about dangerous situations like these leaves girls more vulnerable and more afraid to discuss incidents or ongoing abuses with their mothers. It's true we can never fully protect them, but we can absolutely put ourselves through our paces trying, and hoo boy, we've got to try!" Highly recommended, especially for public library collections, and for parents interested in putting a mother-daughter book club into practice.

That's all for the August 2014 Beth Cox Report. Please stay hydrated in the summer heat!

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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