April is National Library Month! And let’s face it, if there’s one place we go to find out information about books, it’s our local public library. At a library, the act of browsing is elevated to an art form, and you have access to unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. One of the best resources is, of course, the librarians themselves! Libraries and librarians are among some of the most powerful advocates an aspiring self-publishing author could hope for. Once you publish your book, your local librarian can provide help with, yes, possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, as well as finding answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in that library and much more.
But what about before you publish? What do libraries offer for you before your book is out in the world? Here are six specific ways a library can prove itself a vital component of your writing process!
- Enrich your style. Run a hand across those library shelves with material in the same vein as your writing, and almost any book you pluck out will have something to say to your benefit, stylistically speaking. Even if your response is a powerful negative (e.g. “This is nothing like what I want to do!”) but especially if your response is positive (e.g. “This author does something I admire.”) you may find that placing your style in conversation with the styles of others will give you some ideas for what you want to do, moving forward. Do you love gorgeous, lyrical sentences? Do you like a style that’s brisk and tidy? As studies point out, the more you read, the better you write, and the more you know is possible, the more wisely you can choose your own way forward.
- Inform your structure. Just as your style can benefit from a trip to the library, so too can your book’s structure. Are you at a loss for how to order events, or divide chapters? Visiting library bookshelves may be the best way to expose yourself to any number of possible book architectures to inspire your own work. Are you putting together a collection of interviews, fictional or otherwise? Consider stealing a glance at World War Z. Are you hoping to push the boundaries of science fiction? Consider the unique structures of Cloud Atlas and The Martian. As with your style, both a positive or a negative response to the structures other authors have used will provide you direction.
- Gather information. Libraries have long been favorite places to look up information, and find out facts, and in that sense they have not changed. Even in the age of the internet, the best information is not always easily apparent, and a librarian’s insight may just be the magic factor in sifting through all of the possibilities and finding just the right bit of information, or just the right information resource, for you.
- Spark your creativity. Are you facing the dreaded Writer’s Block? Libraries are more than just information repositories! In order to adapt to a changing information landscape, libraries have expanded their offerings. It’s not at all uncommon, these days, for libraries to offer creativity-sparking programming, from author readings and resume workshops to writing clubs to book clubs to adult coloring programs! Drop on by your local public library and inquire after what programming is on offer, and try something new. You never know … maybe trying your hand at an origami class or attending a lecture series will be just the thing to get you past the Writer’s Block!
- Expand your literary community. One of the most amazing things a library can do is introduce you to your people. And by “your people,” we mean those people who will be your companions on the journey to publication: your early or beta readers, your friends and emotional support network, and those people who will provide you with the inspiration and encouragement to bring your book all the way from a clever idea in your head to a beautifully published, finished book!
- Find your audience. Whether we’re talking about the books on the shelves or the people who visit the library for books and programming, the library is where you can connect with your ideal audience. The books on the shelves may give you clues as to how to shape your writing to suit the age group or interests of your readers, and the people … well, the people you meet there will have their own ideas to share. Either way, the library is a laboratory in which you get to shape and reshape and fine-tune your craft to meet your readers where they need to be met.
Libraries are a powerful tool in your toolkit as a writer. Not sure where to find your local library? Hop on www.publiclibraries.com and search by city, state, or zip code. You can also visit the American Library Association (ALA) website at www.ala.org, where you’ll find information on the current state of libraries and how you can get involved, both as a self-publishing author and a lover of books!
The best news is this: libraries are taking note of your interest. It’s not just a one-sided relationship! Libraries routinely demonstrate that they’re ready, eager, and waiting in the wings with a lot of innovative strategies to be your partners in writing, publishing, and promoting your book, and you can return the favor by celebrating your local public library during National Library Month! For more information on the event, click here.
Interested in pursuing self-publication? Talk with one of our expert Publishing Consultants to get exactly what you need … and get the most out of it! There are three convenient ways to connect:
- Call us at 1-888-672-6657 (OP-BOOKS)
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- Go online to schedule an appointment