Thursday, September 16, 2010

Seven Secrets to Getting into Libraries

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free e-zine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.
In an economically challenged climate guess what starts to soar? Libraries. The library market is strong and getting stronger. If you haven't made libraries part of your target market you should. And despite all the book buzz online, it's still nice to get your book onto a library shelf. For most of us, this seems like an exclusive right devoted to an exclusive group of best-selling authors. While some piece of this is true, the reality is that if you have a good book, you can get into the library system. Here's how.
First, why would you care about hitting the library market? Because in a slow book sales season, as we've seen in the past few months, libraries are a great way to get to your reader.

1. What they buy: Each library gets a budget and they can spend it any way they want. Unlike Barnes and Noble, 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. There's still a lot of wiggle room when it comes to library orders and a few creative ways to get into their system.

2. Getting to know your local library: If you want to get into your local library it's important to get to know them, so dust off your library card, stop by and introduce yourself. Get to know who you're selling to.

3. Library websites: If your local library has a website, see if there's a place to make book recommendations. If you have local fans, encourage them to do the same on their library websites.

4. Library events: If you've been trying to get into your local bookstore to do an event but haven't gotten much traction, why not consider doing a library event (or two)? It's a great way to get "into" your local library, become acquainted with them, 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.

5. Reviews: Most libraries look to review sources for their selections as well. Consider submitting your book to the following publications for review: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Forecast. These publications are largely ready 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 should be more than sufficient to catch the eye of a ready-to-buy librarian.

6. Popularity: Librarians like to stock what's popular, even locally. So if you're doing a lot of local events, talks, or speaking gigs, make sure and let your local libraries know. Also, if you're going to do TV or radio be sure and alert your library, thus giving them sufficient time to order the book.

7. Distribution: It's important to know how libraries get the titles they stock. First off you'll need to get the right distributor for your book. Both Quality Books and Unique Books have programs that can help you access the library market.

Quality Books Inc.

Unique Books Inc.

Baker & Taylor: (technically they are a wholesaler but can also help you access the library market)

There's also a nifty little site that will help you locate libraries in your neighborhood and around the world: (libraries worldwide)

Libraries might not seem as "glamorous" as the store window of Barnes and Noble, 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. Also, consider the reorders as your local library will (hopefully) bring in more than one copy. Libraries are a not-to-be-overlooked part of your marketing campaign, and if you missed the review window, don't fret. You might still be able to gain some interest via events and local popularity!


  1. Thanks for the info! Libaries are definitely worth using for book promos and publicity.

    Take care

  2. Great topic Claudia! I have done many book talks at local libraries. They have been more welcoming than the stores. So yes, as you say...don't discount the libraries!

  3. Well, you've been tapping into unknown territory for me lately. I might not talk much, but I bow, read and learn!

  4. This is really good. I'm tweeting it.

  5. Excellent list. I have many friends who mainly rely on the library for their book addiction. And I swoon over that picture of the Library of Congress. At least I think that is what it is (I visited last year, so I should know, but I could be wrong)

  6. Hello there, Old Kitty,
    Thank you for stopping by. Yes, libraries are great venues for marketing your book. A fellow writer uses local libraries to promote her YA novel ;)

    Dear Cathy,
    You're right. I can see how libraries are more welcoming than stores. Even architecturally speaking, they are cozier. ;)

    Hi Ben,
    Glad to hear you're learning from topics you were not too familiar with. Hey, I haven't seen you at any literary events so far. I wish you could have gone to the one about "How to Publish" presented by the CAA.

    Hi Clarissa,
    Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you liked my latest post. Better yet, glad you're tweeting it. ;)

    Hi C.C.,
    To answer your question, yes, this photo is the Library of Congress. You're good! When I lived in DC, I used to go there often for research (work-related). It was amazing! Okay, I'm biased because I lived there. No, seriously, I love that library. Did you like it? Thanks for sharing that with me.

  7. Interesting post! Quite timely for me...The editor I worked with at a conference said that my pb woudl work for a scholarly market that sold to schools and libraries...

    Claudia...I put you on my sidebar. I'm not sure what you were asking about. My email is sharonkmayhew at gmail dot com if you want to try and help you with something.... :)

  8. Hi Sharon,
    Thanks for leaving a comment and for adding me to your blogroll. ;)
    I'll send you an email.

  9. Claudia,
    Thank you for the info. I just read your article in the Montreal Gazette. Congratulations!

    I also have a hispanic background. Colombia is my native country. I am new to the journey of writing. I am truly enjoying the learning. I just joined the local writers guild. Exciting! It's a double challenge since English is actually my second language... Nonetheless, I have always loved challenges!


  10. Hi Doris,
    Thank you for dropping by and welcome to the journey of writing ;)
    Good for you for joining your local writers guild. I always advise aspiring writers to join writers organizations. You meet wonderful people plus they offer great workshops.
    I visited your blog as well.
    Let's keep in touch!