Reflections on the New York Public Library or An Ode to Public Institutions

How to Sell to Libraries – Top Ten Strategies For Independent Authors and Publishers

America’s 123,000 libraries purchase nearly $2 billion worth of books annually, according to statistics from the American Library Association and the Book Industry Study Group. Nonfiction books are especially well suited to library sales. To sell fiction to libraries, it’s helpful to have reviews in journals, awards, or a strong local tie-in, such as a novel being set in the region.

Here are ten tips on how to sell to libraries:

1. Publish a library-friendly book. Library books take a lot of abuse, so libraries prefer books that are sturdy. However, given the choice between a hardcover and paperback edition, they may choose the paperback because it’s less expensive. Libraries generally will not purchase books with spiral or other nontraditional binding, and they don’t like books with “fill-in-the-blank” pages. Nonfiction books should have a good index and preferably a bibliography. Librarians also prefer to purchase books that are cataloged using CIP (cataloging-in-publication) data.

2. Get your book reviewed in a library journal. Library purchasing decisions are based largely on reviews in the major journals. It’s impossible for librarians to keep up with the huge volume of books being published, and they value the screening process that the journals provide. Eligibility and submission instructions vary by publication, so read the requirements carefully. Unfortunately, the journals can review only a small percentage of submissions.

3. Make sure your book is available through major library wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor and Ingram. The majority of library purchases are made through wholesalers, and some libraries won’t order directly from small publishers.

4. Apply to work with a library distributor such as Quality Books or Unique Books, if you publish nonfiction.

5. Solicit testimonials from librarians to add to your marketing materials, and play up any awards the book has won.

6. Contact libraries in your area to inquire about programs for local authors, and contact libraries in towns you visit. Let the library know about your events or media coverage in the area, such as book signings, radio interviews, or newspaper feature stories.

7. Look into speaking opportunities at libraries, like lectures and readings. In some cases you can sell copies of your book at your event or even get paid a speaking fee. Sometimes these events are organized by the “friends of the library” or other similar volunteer groups.

8. Send direct mail to libraries, either on your own or through co-operative mailings. Address mail to the Collection Development Librarian for your subject area, and include a flyer with book details and a list of wholesalers and distributors that carry your book.

9. Consider donating a sample copy of your book to a few top library systems, to encourage purchases for branch libraries.

10. Exhibit at library tradeshows through co-operative exhibit programs such as those offered through the Independent Book Publishers Association, Combined Book Exhibit, and other organizations.

Excerpted from The Savvy Book Marketer’s Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries.

The 5 Important Steps to Take When Starting a Book Club

Reading groups and book clubs are excellent platforms to get together with other like-minded individuals and discuss books that you’ve all agreed to read. They can be rewarding and also comforting.

If you have thought about starting up your own book club, whether it be an online book club that caters to a wide range of people or a local book club that is primarily just for your community, here are the five most important steps you should take.

1. Get a Website

Regardless of how far away people are going to be, you want your book club members to have access to information at any given time. It doesn’t need to be anything over the top but you should at least have a page where they can e-mail you to sign up, check out the current book selections and review past selections. Other “extras” that you may want to consider for your website include: a chat room, a message board and a guest book for comments.

2. Write a Press Release

Press releases are the best way to spread the word around about your book club locally. The press release should contain information on the book club, how often you plan to meet with your members, whether it will be held out of people’s homes or in external locations and what type of books you plan on your group reading. As for where to send it, you can easily find media contacts by running a search on Google.

3. Contact Your Local Library

The library is a great resource for people in your community so make sure you reach out to that medium! Post a flyer for your book club if they have a community bulletin and ask about possibly holding your meetings there. Sometimes, if the library does not currently have a book club, they may even suggest recommending it to many of the library patrons as an added service that the library now has!

4. Contact Your Local Book Stores

As with the library, be sure to post flyers up in your local book stores. This is where your target audience goes to purchase books and they will be keen on contacting you if a book club is something that they wish to participate in! Another tip when contacting book stores: ask if they could provide your book group with a discount for the first three selections. You’d be surprised how many people would say yes!

5. Get Organized!

Now that you’ve put yourself out there to accept new members, get organized! Get a binder, fill it with dividers and set yourself up so there is no room for failure! Set up meeting schedules with times and locations and create a book list for your book club members to select from for the first voting period. Decide how often you’ll meet, how many books you’ll select in advance and all of those other items that your members will have questions about.

6 (as a bonus!). Have Fun!

Managing a book club can be stressful at times but it’s rewarding so have fun with it! Plan interactive excursions for your book club members that will hold their interest and make sure to keep in contact with them often, the last thing your members want is a lack of enthusiasm!