As a self-published author (Shadow of the Rock, a historical novel), I eagerly seek reviews of my book to establish credibility and open the way to library sales. So I was pleased to receive a positive review from Foreword Reviews, which called my book “A bold adventure” that moves “quickly in a mixture of danger, excitement, and pure enjoyment.”

Great! Then I received a very positive review from the Midwest Book Review, which called my book “a riveting story of time and humanity, highly recommended.”  Hooray!

You may think this is a shameless bit of self-promotion, but actually I want to applaud James Cox, editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review.

We independent and self-published authors owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his support . First, his publications review our books when almost all the snooty major reviewing media  turn their backs, aggravatng an already hostile situation. This situation is becoming less hostile to small and self-published presses as print-on-demand,, and e-books open the market to all of us.  But the major reviewing media like Library Journal and Publishers Weekly are still mired in tradition, insisting, for instance, on perfect-bound galleys three or four months ahead of publication date.  Ludicrous.

The big publishers, the agents, and the reviewing media try to keep the gates closed, preferring to hawk their established authors and cater to any celebrity whose book might bring in a buck.

Second, James Cox has come forward with his knowledge and experience to help us discern the difference between legitimate and predatory reviewers.  I’ve been an independent publisher and member of the Independent Book Publishers Association for a long time. It was through the IBPA and James Cox that we started questioning those terse, poorly written requests for review copies. We even succumbed once before someone  in IBPA (then Publishers Marketing Association) asked that memorable question: “Has anyone, anywhere, ever seen a review by …?”

Third, I have learned from and enjoyed the numerous panels on which he has participated at PMA and IBPA Publishers University.

Many thanks to James Cox for his years of impartial support to independent publishers and to self-publishers.

If you are considering self-publishing your book or forming a publishing company, join IBPA and the IBPA affiliate in your region or state. The information, education, and cooperative marketing opportunities you gain will far outweigh the costs of membership. This is a tough business. You need their help.