A week or so ago, I was in my neighborhood library on another project but I decided to jump on one of their computers and look up my book. I knew The Blizzard was part of the library’s collection and, sure enough, there it was in their computerized catalog.
Yes, I admit feeling a certain sense of pride. There is something about a library shelving your book that seems to make the writing and publishing process real. Authentic. Official! Akin to, but not that same as, when I saw my book on the shelf of a real brick-and-mortar bookstore.
As far as I know, the only libraries currently lending The Blizzard are San Diego and Cincinnati. (If you are aware of others, drop me a line and let me know!)
As self-publishers know, and those contemplating the move should understand, you are always spending time on marketing. I try to make sure a portion of each week (if not every day) is spent on pushing, publicizing, promoting, and selling my book. You don’t have a major publisher with a publicity agent and a huge promo budget to hawk your book. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t happen.
By the way (and pardon the digression), I’ve know authors who were published by big name publishing houses — can you say New York — who told me that although they did get an “advance,” they received no publicity budget. If they had a publicity agent, they paid for it themselves. Most handled all their own publicity and promotion. Fact: only the NY Times Best Selling authors are going to get those big promotion budgets.
S0, how do you get your book in a library? Here’s a few ideas.
- First and foremost, make sure it is available through Baker & Taylor. They are the major U.S. wholesaler through which most libraries buy their books.
- Ask your local libraryif they will carry your book. Have a postcard or other piece of promotional material ready to leave with them so they can make an informed decision. Follow up with regular phone calls to check if the decision has been made.
- Suggest to people you know that they donate their copy of your book to their library when they’ve finished reading it.
- As much as your budget allows, send promotional material — for me it was simply my postcard with the color cover on one side and a story synopsis on the other side — to libraries. Include a note on the back, but not so big as to upset the Post Office by “trespassing” too badly onto their half of the backside, that the book is available through Baker & Taylor.
I’m sure at least one person is asking him or herself, “Why do I want my book in a library where people borrow it for free, thus reducing my new book sales?”
Did you write your book and go to the trouble of self-publishing only to make money, or did you do it because you had a story to tell? People with library cards are readers! They might read your book and, assuming they liked it, will tell others about it. Some of them will buy a print or electronic copy of their own, who, in turn, will tell others. And, there is a certain cachet, which money can’t buy, that comes from being able to respond in the affirmative when some publisher, agent, or fellow author asks if your book is in any libraries.