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Working with Your Local Library to Create Exposure for You and Your Book

From the June 2013 Smith Publicity Power Book Publicity Tips. Sign up here for newsletter.

Many authors already have a relationship with the staff at their local libraries. Here are some tips to help you work with your local libraries to create a network of connections and potential readers for your book or ebook.

Libraries and librarians are excellent resources to help promote your book. Once on board, librarians also hand-sell books, just like bookstores do. Libraries host book groups, do author events, may feature a review of your book on their book blog or book feature on their website. Some libraries post a list of what the librarians were reading each month, which is often a key resource for patrons looking for new book recommendations.

  1. Getting Your Book into Your Local Library. Here are some steps to get you started:
    • Call or email your library to let them know you want to donate your book (offer two copies).
    • The contact person varies from library to library as there are not standard titles. Ask for the person in charge of acquisitions, circulation or the head of the department where your book would be shelved (Children’s for example).
    • Books they may not accept: textbooks, fill-in-the-blank books, or books not traditionally bound such as comb and spiral style binding.
    • A book will typically remain on a shelf as long as the library has available space and if the book remains in good condition. Smaller libraries tend to weed through books not checked out for 18 months, while larger libraries have more leeway.
  2. Book Clubs/Events. Libraries often hold events and readings, especially when books have local connections (author, setting, historical characters or events, etc.). Offer yourself for a reading, in-person book group discussion, or presentation/Q&A depending on the topic of your book. Be creative—for a cookbook, do a demonstration or host a small class. For a travel book, offer a seminar on common questions when traveling abroad with small children or the over 65 crowd. For a romance novel, introduce locals to the most romantic spots in your area, how to make an oasis of a romantic evening, etc. Have fun—work with your library to see what has worked in the past.
  3. Book Sales. Some libraries even work with local independent bookstores to sell books at library events.
  4. Library Contacts. If you know the librarians, perhaps offer them a gift of a signed copy with the hopes they will read it. Studies show most checked out books are ones read and recommended by the librarians.

Tips:

  • Do NOT place your book in the donation bin or it will likely end up on their sale table.
  • Offer two copies for each library.
  • If your local library is connected to other libraries (some by city or county), ask if the book will be available throughout the library’s entire distribution network.
  • If your library event goes well in your immediate local library, branch out to others near by. Word of mouth often starts locally.
  • Once your book is ready for people to check out, tell your friends to go and put the book on hold. People searching the library for books to read often view the hold list. Seeing a popular book attracts others to add your book to their list.
  • For library book clubs, perhaps offer free or discounted books to two or three members to start people talking about your book.
  • If relevant, label your book children’s vs. young adult—this is a HUGE distinction.
  • Check on your book to see its condition and offer to replace it if it’s looking happily read.
  • See which libraries have your book on this website: WorldCat.org. WorldCat connects you to the collections and services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide
  • In general, libraries select books for their collection based on reviews from a few specific places. Here are links to their submission guidelines: Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews. Some libraries also receive RT Book Review (romance) and Locus Magazine (science fiction and fantasy).
  • For eBooks, most libraries license their books through OverDrive, the leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music and video worldwide. They deliver secure management, DRM protection, and download fulfillment services for publishers, libraries, schools, and retailers–serving millions of end users globally. EBooks, especially in the romance field, are booming at libraries!

by Sandy Poirier-Diaz, president of Smith Publicity

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