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 can feel free to study the shelving arrangement, the genres, the popular nooks and crannies, the competition, and the various ways and means librarians “sell” their collections to the public … all without feeling guilty for not buying something! In fact, if you’re “caught” browsing in a library and the librarians find out you’re a local author, you’re likely to get hooked into giving a book reading as a way to promote both your book and the library’s services.
Libraries mean unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. And one of the best resources is the librarians themselves. Libraries and librarians are among some of the most powerful advocates a self-publishing author could hope for! 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.
What are some other ways you can promote your book by using the library?
- Donate a copy (or several copies) of your book to the library. Be sure to go through the proper donation channels.
- If your book is geared towards children, give a school library presentation on your book’s subject. School libraries are always looking for new books! Just make sure to reach out through the proper channels (i.e. through the principal and administration, as well as the librarian).
- Connect with librarians via social networks. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are powerful ways to network!
- Stock promotional materials such as flyers and letters at local libraries. Be sure to include of the essential information about your book such as subject, genre, audience and purchasing information. It’s best to ask if they’d be willing to stock these supplies on their “freebies” counter or in their brochure pocket wall first, just in case they need to check their policies.
- Ask a librarian to review your book in a local publication. This will bring positive attention to your book and encourage other locals to buy it! You might even be able to get a librarian to review it in your library’s state or regional newsletter, which would encourage other librarians to buy it.
- Reach out to your state and regional library association newsletters. If you’re willing to write a brief and submit a brief description of your book, some editors will include your book in their newsletters for free, and others will ask for a reasonable fee. Since librarians are active and invested allies, this makes for an efficient way of raising awareness among all of the libraries in your area. You can find contact information for most library association newspaper editors on each association’s website.
Libraries are a powerful part of your book promotion strategy. Creative marketing tactics can increase your chances of a library stocking your book, and can also lead to great relationships with librarians and readers. 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! The Springfield-Greene County Libraries of Missouri, for example, had over 300 self-published titles in their collection by 2014, and were working to continue building their catalogue of these specific kinds of item because they recognize that there’s a serious demand for them. The bookstore is where you sell your books, and libraries are where you raise awareness about your books. Exposure at the library can help drive sales. Libraries have demonstrated they’re ready, eager, and waiting in the wings with a lot of innovative strategies to be your partners in promotion, and you can return the favor by celebrating your local public library during National Library Month!