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. 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. As you know Jim, 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. Let’s talk about your review process. Books arrive by mail to Midwest Book Review. How many arrive in a month?
A. We receive an average of 2,000 titles a month from the publishing industry.
Q. Out of all those books, how many actually get reviewed?
A. 600 to 700 a month on average.
Q. What are the biggest reasons books get rejected after their first readings?
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 about interested book reviewers? Do you have open spots for them, and how do you determine the quality of their reviews?
A. We always welcome new reviewers. I have a form letter I send out in response to such inquiries called “Reviewer Guidelines,” which lays everything out that they will need to know to be a volunteer book reviewer for the Midwest Book Review.
Their first few reviews pretty much will tell me how good they are at it. Sometimes, if it would be helpful, I give a word of advice or counsel as to what might improve their work. I see that as part of my job as a book review editor.
There are no word limits to a review. My advice is for reviewers to say everything they think needed to be said in their critique of a book.
Readers, I hope that you were inspired, impressed and informed as much as I was from this interview.
A special thanks to Jim for his time, advice, and value to the literary community.
Interview provided by: Shelby Londyn Heath
Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net