National Library Week is coming up in April so in honor of these fabulously institutions I want to discuss how to promote your self-published book to libraries in your area.
For those of you who are still skeptical about spending your book marketing time on libraries or who have been burned before, pay attention, because the reality is libraries offer reach you can’t get anywhere else.
There are over 4,500 books published every day. And if you want a long career as a successful author, it’s not wise to assume you don’t need to take advantage of ALL the relatively free book marketing opportunities available to you.
Do you want to gamble with your success?
Let’s get started!
1. Understanding what and how libraries buy.
Each library gets a budget and they can spend it any way they want. Unlike traditional retail stores, where their book purchases are often dictated by publishers or a sales order from their corporate office, libraries operate independently of each other.
Libraries will generally buy hardback and trade books and tend to shy away from mass market paperbacks. But if you’re in the latter category, don’t let this deter you.
And keep in mind, sturdy, better quality books are an important selling point to librarians who are interested in books lasting for more than a few borrowers.
2. Get to know your local library staff.
If you want to get into your local library it’s important to get to know them!
National Library Week is a great excuse to dust off your library card, stop by and introduce yourself. Get to know who you’re selling to.
3. Utilize library websites and social media.
If your local library has a website they likely have social media accounts as well, especially Facebook.
So getting your books into libraries should also be about give and take.
See if there’s a place to make book recommendations. Perhaps you can contribute social content for them as a local author.
And definitely share their events and special announcements.
Be a patron of your community! Show up at these events and announce ahead of time that you’ll be there, not in an official capacity, but there’s no reason you can’t help them while also doing some of your own networking.
4. Get officially involved in events.
If you’ve been trying to get into your local bookstore or other retail venue to do an event but haven’t gotten much traction, definitely consider doing a library event.
It’s a great way to get “into” your local library, become acquainted with the staff, meet your local readers, and well, you know – get more exposure for your book.
Many libraries also have reading groups that you might be able to participate in. See what they have coming up and get involved in any way you can.
And if you have something special to offer, like book club questions, or a workshop, or your topic can produce a potentially valuable Q&A opportunity, getting your books into libraries gets easier. Because you’re bringing extended value to their patrons.
5. Keep pushing for reviews.
Most libraries consider review sources for their selections as well.
Submitting your book to the following publications for review could potentially make you a better prospect: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews.
These publications are largely read by libraries and often librarians will buy based on a good review in one of these publications.
You don’t need to get reviews in all of them (though wouldn’t that be great?) – getting a review in one of them can dramatically increase your street cred.
If you missed the review window, don’t fret. Reader reviews matter a lot as well, and there’s no time limit on those – so let getting into libraries be an added motivation for all your reader review pitching you do.
6. This is when being popular matters.
Librarians like to stock what’s popular, even locally.
So if you’re doing a lot of local events, talks, or speaking gigs, or if you’re involved with your community and organizations on a personal or professional level, make sure and let your local libraries know – the more ways you’re connected to the people, the better.
Also, if you’re going to do TV or radio, be sure to alert your library, giving them sufficient time to order the book.
Likewise, if your social media presence is really spectacular, be sure to mention this. It shows you have clout with readers and it shows people are engaged with you as an author.
7. Distribution is important for getting your books into libraries.
It’s important to know how libraries get the titles they stock.
For e-books, the largest vendor for libraries in purchasing and then circulating ebooks to patrons is OverDrive.
For print, the ALA has a fantastic resource page that will ensure you’re doing everything the correct way – which is also important. Don’t make their job harder and don’t come across looking like an amateur.
Getting your books into libraries might not seem as “glamorous” as a store window. But libraries have considerably more staying power.
Once your book is in their system it’s in there for as long as your book is in print and the library sees there are readers for it.
In honor of National Library Week coming up in April, I want to remind you that libraries are a not-to-be-missed part of your overall book marketing efforts so get moving!
Have you had great success getting your book into libraries? I’d love to hear what’s working well for you! Please share in the comments!