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Giving Books to Build Personal Libraries of Knowledge

We have long espoused the value of reading books to infants and toddlers. Even in the womb, the rhythm and flow of words from the mother or other reader seems to calm and possibly inspire contentment for the baby. While there are numerous other factors in producing healthy, vibrant, book-loving children, reading to them holds enormous value. As we move away from hard print and into a digital age, bound books are sometimes lost. They are still present on electronic devices, but they are not physically present in the age-old turning-of-the-pages way. Reading is eyes to mind as we zip across the page, but it is also the touch of a quality interior, the slide of the fingertip as the next image is revealed, the smell of print, and for babies, the taste of paper, book jacket, and cover.

Research indicates that reading books is powerful, but actually possessing them is even more important. Successful reading often indicates a home library of books. I suppose this encompasses the visual presence, the lined march across shelves, the colorful spines, the engaging font and style of words, and above all the draw of illustrations. Whether on the cover as in books for adults or within as in children’s books, pictures ignite the imagination, entice the reader to read, and also guide reading. When a child knows words, s/he reads them; when the child is unsure, the pictures serve as reminders to pique memory and interpretation. My oldest son read in such a manner. He had favorite books that we read frequently and by five he self-read, not really “reading” in the true sense but by utilizing memorization from previous rounds and the illustrations in the book, he could “read” the story orally. “Pretend read”, I called it, and it was lovely.

The holidays are here and we are buying gifts like mad. The Internet has taken on a wild life of its own as a click or two bundles packets and packages to speed to our doors. Some claim it is the cyber sales that attract them, but I think it also involves the ease and simplicity of the venture. The biggest problem, of course, is that items sometimes arrive in odd colors, strange sizes, and weird designs. They may be in three pieces instead of one, or come with 99 correct parts and the hundredth one missing from the box. Assembly keeps parents up long past midnight on Christmas Eve to make morning delight ring through the home. And in that delight paper and ribbons and a miscellany of gifts surround the tree and clutter every cranny. Do I have a suggestion to help alleviate this chaos? Books!

Books fit the Santa list perfectly. No worry of size or color, no anxiety with style or design. Local stores have a nice selection and of course, for those who love the Internet, there are thousands of additional choices. Recommendations abound if uncertainty of a title reigns and many offerings allow you to flip through a few pages to scan the rhyme and reasoning of the contents. The clicks easily flow and soon the parcel will land on the doorstep. While there is still sorting and wrapping in store, putting bikes and train sets together is non-existent. No worry about batteries or charging in advance as books require none of this action. They just need the buyer to run a hand over the cover, add a smile of appreciation and a spin through a couple of pages, and the tender enfolding of paper and bows.

Better yet as dinner simmers and roasts, quiet murmurs overtake the scene as Grandpa reads a new mystery, Grandma is engrossed in the latest romance, and Mom and Dad take turns reading aloud about bears and castles, magic and realism, enriching the air with words. Books stack the floor, surround the gathering today and will last a lifetime. Although pages may take on syrup and a tear or a tear, they are possessions of immeasurable benefit to be shared and cherished forever. And if they become old and tired, there are book exchanges available – no trip to the landfill for a good read.

The idea of reading incites brainwaves and begs the reader to learn and understand more. Soon readers discover that books for holidays and birthdays are inadequate for fulfilling the thirst for knowledge. Fortunately, the public library is open and welcoming. I never met a librarian who did not adore books of every shape, size, and genre. A librarian eagerly guides guests through the mounds and arrays to locate the just the right fix. Further, s/he will order more from inter-library loan or add the tome to the library collection. Reading groups, story time, and author visits are just a few of the other wonderful treasures of a library.

There is still time to accomplish your book-giving goal. While the jumble of gifts will take on a new flavor, the fervor of chattering words and oral exchanges will add to the excitement of reading for years to come. Reading is a true, on-going, ever-giving gift. You cannot go wrong with a book!

Library Distribution: The Sweet “Shhhh” Of Success

When you write a book, getting book distribution is a major component of publishing success. Getting the widest distribution possible for your book should be your main goal. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of writing your best ideas and publishing them, you’ll want as many people as possible to engage with you.

As a publisher, a number of the authors I coach come to me with many misconceptions about book distribution. They think that all they need to do is publish their book on Amazon Kindle, and they’ll have a best seller on their hands.

In reality, Amazon represents a fraction of the book market. Of the scores of methods for distributing your work, online retail is just one of them. Likewise, there are many money-making derivatives for your work. eBook sales comprise only a fraction of the revenue you can make when you publish intelligently.

Having a publisher on your side will help you navigate the maze of details involved in getting your book to market. A good assisted self-publishing company will have access to hard numbers you may not even have considered before as an author. They will also have inside connections you just can’t leverage any other way.

Shhhh! Libraries Are Publishing’s Best Kept Secret

When you publish your book, one of the best ways to ensure that you have a captive audience is to distribute your book through the public library system and a network of corporate libraries. For you as an author, this could mean having a printed volume of your manuscript available in every town and city in the country. There’s nothing sweeter than that sweet “Shhh” of success when you show up for your book signings.

Libraries procure huge quantities of books all the time. Why not yours? To get started, first you’ll need to understand how they buy and what influences them to make those buying decisions. Once you know this, you can sell untold volumes of your book (pun intended – sorry).

The reality of this distribution tactic depends on how popular your book is to start. Unless you have a team of sales people promoting your book to libraries through their own catalog, your book would need to be immensely popular in order to shout above the noise of the overcrowded book marketplace.

On the other hand, having a sales team promoting for you is not some pipe dream, as many might expect. For the authors I work with, it’s a reality.

Just about everyone agrees that library distribution sounds like a great idea. But how do you actually make it happen? For the answer, let’s take a quick look at how today’s libraries came by their current circulation system.

How To Get Your Book Into Libraries

At one time, Andrew Carnegie was the richest man in history. He made enormous gobs of money in the steel industry, and he became famous as a philanthropist. In fact, he spent the first half of his life making money and the second half giving it all away.

Carnegie was influential in promoting lending libraries throughout the U.S. The story goes that he would approach cities and towns, Chambers of Commerce and local fraternal organizations with an offer to help them build a library. He would put up half the money for the library if the townspeople would come up with the other half through taxes or other fundraising. This meant a boom to the existing library system, and the result is what we see today throughout the U.S.

To put books into the branches, committees discuss the topics and authors that people want to read most. The library commission meets regularly, usually annually, to decide generally what should go into the library. Libraries can order books for their patrons, and they often keep track of the most requested books.

There is also an inter-library lending system. If you order a book from your local library in Seattle, your cherished volume may come to you from as far away as Boise, Idaho. The Internet has changed much about the way libraries work, including speed, but the lending concept remains the same.

Each library has a procurement officer who decides which books to buy to put on the shelves locally. If there’s enough demand for a book and they have the budget, they will buy it.

On the other side of this equation, publishing companies have teams of sales people who meet with the book buyers at libraries and library conventions, convincing them to order the books in their catalogs.

Many libraries will only work with a restricted number of catalogs. This means if you’re a lone wolf trying to get your foot in the door at your local branch, you may have a bit of a hurdle to get over. The place to start is the procurement office at district headquarters.

One author created a musical stage play for children to promote his children’s book, complete with 5 actors and dancers. The author took his troupe on the road to local bookstores, libraries and schools to perform a live musical depicting characters from his book “The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache.” Parents of children attending the show lined-up to buy his book, as did the librarians hosting his events.

Having a publishing house do the ground work for you is ultimately the easiest option for increasing your book’s distribution. This is true not just for getting your book into libraries, but getting it into the scores of other outlets clamoring for new books to loan or sell.

With the right kind of push, you could be hearing the sweet “Shhhh” of success!

Selling Your Book Effectively

There are many stages that the earth has gone through but ultimately, except for plastic nothing much new has happened since moveable type and the first lithiograph.

Before books had been copied by hand. And while someone these days may say that books are in the background next to Survivor or the newest kind of gadget and ultimately minimized, most who love books would disagree. A book doesn’t need a computer to read, although you can. A book doesn’t need a certain situation. It just packs and goes.

So for the first time author who knows how much people love books, the first months can be incredibly frustrating. You have a book. You are published. Look, there it is. Watch me flip the pages. It is a whole part of the person who wrote it and yet open to enjoyment and interpretation by all who read it. So what now?

Most sit back and wait to see what the publishing company does with it and many fall into despair. The publishing company doesn’t go out on tour, the author does, if they had money which they usually don’t. So that begs the question, what now?

Start small until you get your feet suitably wet that you are a professional author, used to the way things are.

Buy up fifty to one hundred of your books and throw yourself a party. If you are not too much in love with throwing it yourself, consider talking a friend into doing it. Have these books available to buy and make it a big deal. Buy a cake. Put your face on it or hang a big glossy of your book. Watch the support. As an author, you will find that you get at least a 25 percent discount. One of our authors at Stargazer Press figures that any book she sells is better than one that wasn’t sold because it encourages reading.

If you tell fifty of your closest friends to buy your book online, you’ll be waiting awhile. Whereas if you personally sell them the books, they will all know what you wrote.

Next go to a local organization. Oh, something that needs a little money. You know the kind. Even if it is a thrift shop organization, then it’s totally worth it. Suggest they host an event. Promise to give them ten percent of the proceeds. Order more books. 50 to a hundred more. Arm yourself with change and again, have a glorious poster of your book. Chances are the organization will publicize it to their membership.

At this point, you should have already sold one hundred books. Most publishing companies take the risk of 2,000 books on you. This is pretty good. They’ve already sold one hundred copies!

OK, now you’re getting a bit used to being the center of attention and that’s great because you need that. Then, you learn how to work the phone. Call an independent bookstore in the area, the kind that hardly anybody goes to but the ones that do love the bookstore. Have them order in their own copies. That part is easy. Great, now learn how to write a press release and blast it off to the newspaper and radio about your upcoming book signing. Fantastic. Oh yeah, please follow it up with a brief call to the editor, and ask them to include it in Briefs at least. Sell more books.

If your book is targeted at a certain age group, book yourself into a school next. Order copies in advance so they are readily available and sell them too. If your book is not suitable for an elementary school, go be present at a high school. Do a little spiel about being a writer. If the students have been told in advance that they can buy a book if they want, great. The average of authors who sell their books at a school is around 20 to 30. In a lot of cases, teachers buy copies if their students appear interested.

OK, now what? Contact the local library and offer to do a book signing there. The trick with talking to anybody who is a public entity like a library or school is the sincere offer to donate a percentage of sales. This can even be one dollar a book! If the library doesn’t want to hold one, contact the friends of the library who typically have a gift shop to make money for the library.

Initially, you don’t have to stray that far away. Truly. You could stay within your own area but as you get better at being places, great.

I’d like you to also consider doing a charity event at a cafe. This gives you exposure to people who actually have money for a cup of coffee. But I would also not spend my time putting on writer events in the hopes of selling books unless you make a copy of your book part of the seminar package.

What ends up happening if you stick to a modest plan like this where you pop up in bazaars or festivals or bookstores or cafes or libraries is that people in your area get to know your name. And looking at the law of averages, consider the reality that 2,000 books really isn’t that much. You want to have your publishing company run out of books. As a first time writer, you are in your entry level job. If they never run out of books, why on earth would they publish you again?

Performance in this case does actually matter and though this does mean buying the books in chunks to have available at various events, it is no different than the publishing company doing it themselves.

Book sellers don’t sell books as much as authors sell books or people sell books. That part will never change and it is a lot of work but totally worth it.