Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Libraries and Authors

 by Doris Baker
 If you have visited a public library lately, you have noticed that libraries are changing and expanding offerings. This year my local library system in El Paso County, Colorado, loaned free state park passes to patrons, and when a new branch opened in 2014, public access 3-D printers were part of the services. In spite of startling innovations and new approaches, printed books and e-books remain the core of library collections. In 2012, public libraries spent $1.22 billion bolstering collections. Sixty-three percent of that was spent on print materials and 16.7 percent on e-books and e-serials.

You can help librarians learn about your book (and choose to purchase it). Starting at the beginning of this broad discussion, the first step is remembering how public libraries work. As public, tax-supported entities, libraries are obligated to meet the diverse needs of their communities. Libraries operate under ‘collection development policies’ that guide their purchases and sometimes specify which vendors are used for purchases. 
Quality is important in all elements of your books from a professional cover design to the binding. E-books must also meet standards and be available through a vendor such as Over Drive.
Reviews drive purchasing decisions and librarians rely mainly, but not exclusively, on a small number of review sources: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and The Horn Book. Paid review sources should be discussed with your publisher. You can read pros and cons of buying reviews and find resources by googling ‘paid book reviews.’
A review or press attention in local papers or magazines helps. Librarians are very attuned to matters of local interest. 

Direct mail is very effective if used to point out your success as an author, especially if your book is on a local best-seller list or has been chosen for inclusion in a ‘Best of …’ list by a notable organization or publication.
Trade show participation at library conferences also helps librarians discover your work. State library organizations hold annual conferences, as do regional associations such as the Pacific Northwest Library Association. The American Library Association holds several annual conferences. The two largest are the ALA and the PLA (Public Library Association). As a benefit to members, WWW has reserved a booth at the April 2016 PLA convention in Denver. ALA in 2015 had 22,600 participants, and PLA attendance in 2014 was only slightly less. PLA is a biennial event primarily attended by acquisitions librarians—the people you need to reach. 

This opportunity, unique in the history of WWW, will open for registration in January. Your contact for information is Cynthia Becker, a past-president of WWW and the chair of the 2016 WWW@PLA committee. 
Full information will come in the January membership mailing, but essential information is now available on the WWW members-only page. Participating in WWW@PLA is a great way to increase your library exposure on a national level. 
There is so much more to be said about authors and libraries. I hope this blog posting is the beginning of a rich discussion.

Doris Baker is publisher at Filter Press, LLC, a regional book publishing company in Colorado. She currently serves WWW as president. 


Renaissance Women said...

As a member of the mentioned library, I'm always talking with the staff about books I like, have found, etc. Thank you for all the wonderful reminders. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell said...

Doris, your post is very timely for me. I recently received notice that my latest novel, Forgiving Effie Beck, landed on the Kirkus Best of 2015 list in two categories: Best Historical Novel AND Best Vacation Read. (I'm "Indie" published.) Since then I've wondered and worried that I have distribution settings at Ingram correct for easy library purchase nationwide. Wondered if I need to register at Baker&Taylor as well? Do libraries require greater than a 50% discount? Will libraries order from my website? Will any of them even LOOK at my website? I would really like to know which libraries order the book so I can follow up with an offer to give book talks. I've found book talks are a wonderful benefit to me as author. Who really knows how our stories are received unless we listen to readers? Still so much to learn. - - Karen

Julie said...

Thanks for the informative article, Doris. I'd like the answers to Karen's questions too, if you have time.

Julie Weston

judy said...

Thank you for pointing out another avenue to success in sales. This is new information for me and I will look at the members only section of WWW to learn more.

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