One of my clients suggested a blog post about getting your self-published book onto the shelves of a library. After a brief flashback to tiny drawers packed with musty index cards and the confusing Dewey Decimal System, I decided to look into it. There is something magical about libraries for me. Thinking of someone walking out the door of their local library clutching a book with my name on it is pretty exciting.
Outside of being fun idea, it’s a smart move. According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 60 percent of American’s have a library card. (I’m not sure of the stats for my non-American friends). Contrary to popular opinion, people still frequent libraries for their book needs. While there seems to be reduction in people using libraries for reference materials (thanks to the interwebs), many people still turn to those dusty shelves for their fiction needs.
I think of libraries as a passive method to generate potential book reviews, as well as readership. Now that most libraries have transitioned their paper records to digital, a person wouldn’t have to search a genre long to stumble across your book (at least I feel this method is simpler than using a gazillion index cards). Sure, you won’t be making money for every read, but in my opinion, having people simply read your story is rewarding.
Additionally, depending on your genre, you might even be able to host book readings at the library at little to no cost. I mention genre because the libraries are going to be more accommodating to certain ones.
The first place I went to look for information was the ALA. I found a resource called, Marketing to Libraries. This is a long article embedded with a metric clickload of links to check out. They also offer some resources for donating books to needy libraries—what a great way to outsource some of those extra books you aren’t selling!
I was interested to see the criteria for submitting to libraries. I was also surprised to learn not all libraries are the same. Much like bookstores, each library’s needs will vary. Some will have more of one genre than another, and thus, only accept certain types. There are also submission guidelines to consider, and these are not always standard. The ALA link I offered above spells out some of this information.
Another resource I found comes from The Book Designer website. If you’ve never cast your peepers on this page, I recommend it. It’s listed as a Writer’s Digest Top 101 websites for writers. The specific article I read is called, 9 Steps to Getting Your Self-Published Books into Libraries. It’s written by Amy Collins, and it’s very intuitive.
Again, I found many gems of information I was completely clueless about here. I didn’t know many libraries work with specific wholesalers and by getting your book listed by these wholesalers (both digital and physical versions) you can increase the odds of your book being accepted by a library. This apparently is a way to streamline the process.
I also didn’t know the library would look at multiple reviews to determine whether your book can grace its shelves or not. According to Collins, priority is placed on certain review authorities (I won’t list them because the original link I provided has it all hyperlinked). It might be wise to send your books to some of these reviwers if you plan to approach libraries.
That’s it for today. This is a brand new concept for me, and one I’m very interested to learn more about. I wanted to drop a line into the water and fish. If you’ve had success conspiring with librarians and navigating this topic—please share your story or even whatever links you know of that are useful. I’ll copy your comment straight into this blog post and link people to your page if the information is solid. Until we cross quills again, keep reading, keep writing, and as always—stay sharp!