Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Books and libraries...a few things to keep in mind

A few days ago Michael's Theft of Swords got a starred review from Library Journal and even better was picked as the scifi/fantasy "Debut of the month". Congrats Michael!

When I posted this on kindle boards some responses reminded me of some things that some indie authors might not be aware of so I thought I would bring them up here. Call it some "tips" about libraries.

  • worldcat.org: can be used to see which libraries are carrying your books. Libraries that participate in the program have their book orders show up on this site. So put in your ISBN and you can see if your book is being carried anywhere.

  • Recommendations: Whenever you see a post, or get a piece of fan mail that says "too bad your book isn't in the library" or some thing to that effect...write back and tell them to make a request. Libraries will often order books when a patron makes the recommendation - they have a library card in that municipality so their request has more weight.

  • Recommend it yourself: I know an indie author who sold about 400 books and 350 of them were to libraries. This was a main goal of his so he would spend a bit of each day sending off an email to libraries. He compiled a huge list of libraries and kept track of those who carried the books by watching worldcat.org

  • Reviews...Most libraries do make their selections based off of the big reviews. These include Library Journal, BookList, Romantic Times, Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal). As an indie author you are not "forbidden" from these lists but it can be pretty daunting as there is only so many slots and your chances of making them are not all that great. If you make a go of it - make sure of a few things: a) You have your own publishing company as the imprint (not CreateSpace, iUniverse, Lulu, or any other organization which will immediately brand you "self-pubbed". b) set a "publication date" far enough out in advance to meet their deadlines - usually most of these places want to get a ARC 3-4 months prior to release so that means keeping your book off the market for a while so that your live date does not coincide with the date they received the book. c) Follow their submission requirements carefully.

  • Usually you can make some inroads into "local libraries" through recommendations of card carrying fans or your own emails - if you do get selected...go down to the library and introduce yourself in person. Talk to a few of the librarians telling them about your book and that they carry it. Ask if you could leave some free bookmarks for people to pickup at the checkout counter. Ask to give them a free copy to read in the hopes they'll like it and recommend to people who come in. You can even find out if you can do a "in library event" where you talk about your book, or being a writer, or getting published. Libraries love to have events to get people to come in and sometimes they don't have enough resources to pull from.

  • If you have bookmarks...or business cards...place one of them in a library book of a similar genre books. Choose the "hot title" and someone might stumble upon your book when reading another.

  • Don't rely on the publisher alone...My hope is that Michael's traditionally published books (Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron) will be in many libraries once they are released. But...I'm not going to count on it. I'm going to use worldcat to see where they "get in" then do my own promotion to other libraries to increase the exposure.
Just a few things to keep in mind with regards to libraries and using them effectively. I'd love to hear other ideas as well.


Chong Go Sunim said...

Thanks Robin,
I found the part about Worldcat to be especially helpful. I hadn't been aware of that.
I'll bet that the librarians actually appreciate getting some feedback and hearing of the authors and books people are enthusiastic about.

Suzanne said...

If you have bookmarks...or business cards...place one of them in a library book of a similar genre books. Choose the "hot title" and someone might stumble upon your book when reading another.

That's so SNEAKY. I love it!

Tim Dodge said...

I'm a trustee of our local library, and I can tell you that library staff are always looking for opportunities like appearances by a local author or a new book from someone local. Also, librarians absolutely decide which books to keep on the shelves based on circulation statistics. Popular titles get their attention.

Thanks for posting about Worldcat. I didn't know that existed.

janehdavis said...

Thanks Robyn. I really do appreciate your advice. It is very helpful!

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