Checking Your Book Into the Library

LandscapeOne of my clients suggested a blog post about getting your self-published book onto the shelves of a library.  After a brief flashback to tiny drawers packed with musty index cards and the confusing Dewey Decimal System, I decided to look into it.  There is something magical about libraries for me. Thinking of someone walking out the door of their local library clutching a book with my name on it is pretty exciting.

Outside of being fun idea, it’s a smart move.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 60 percent of American’s have a library card. (I’m not sure of the stats for my non-American friends). Contrary to popular opinion, people still frequent libraries for their book needs.  While there seems to be reduction in people using libraries for reference materials (thanks to the interwebs), many people still turn to those dusty shelves for their fiction needs.

library.jpgI think of libraries as a passive method to generate potential book reviews, as well as readership.  Now that most libraries have transitioned their paper records to digital, a person wouldn’t have to search a genre long to stumble across your book (at least I feel this method is simpler than using a gazillion index cards).  Sure, you won’t be making money for every read, but in my opinion, having people simply read your story is rewarding.

Additionally, depending on your genre, you might even be able to host book readings at the library at little to no cost.  I mention genre because the libraries are going to be more accommodating to certain ones.

library win.jpgThe first place I went to look for information was the ALA. I found a resource called, Marketing to Libraries. This is a long article embedded with a metric clickload of links to check out. They also offer some resources for donating books to needy libraries—what a great way to outsource some of those extra books you aren’t selling!

I was interested to see the criteria for submitting to libraries.  I was also surprised to learn not all libraries are the same.  Much like bookstores, each library’s needs will vary. Some will have more of one genre than another, and thus, only accept certain types.  There are also submission guidelines to consider, and these are not always standard.  The ALA link I offered above spells out some of this information.

Another resource I found comes from The Book Designer website.  If you’ve never cast your peepers on this page, I recommend it.  It’s listed as a Writer’s Digest Top 101 websites for writers.  The specific article I read is called, 9 Steps to Getting Your Self-Published Books into Libraries. It’s written by Amy Collins, and it’s very intuitive.

library poster.JPGAgain, I found many gems of information I was completely clueless about here. I didn’t know many libraries work with specific wholesalers and by getting your book listed by these wholesalers (both digital and physical versions) you can increase the odds of your book being accepted by a library.  This apparently is a way to streamline the process.

I also didn’t know the library would look at multiple reviews to determine whether your book can grace its shelves or not. According to Collins, priority is placed on certain review authorities (I won’t list them because the original link I provided has it all hyperlinked). It might be wise to send your books to some of these reviwers if you plan to approach libraries.

question-markThat’s it for today. This is a brand new concept for me, and one I’m very interested to learn more about.  I wanted to drop a line into the water and fish.  If you’ve had success conspiring with librarians and navigating this topic—please share your story or even whatever links you know of that are useful. I’ll copy your comment straight into this blog post and link people to your page if the information is solid.  Until we cross quills again, keep reading, keep writing, and as always—stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

27 responses

  1. Interesting post. I quite like the idea of guerilla publishing. As in, printing out physical copies of your book (this gets quite expensive) and putting them in bookshops or in libraries. Your method is a bit more thought out. Got to get to finishing some of my drafts!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Everything sounds better when you add guerrilla to it! If you are going purely digital, there are some library options there as well. Both of those reference sites have some information for this route.

      Thanks for reading and good luck with your drafts…er…guerrilla drafts!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I believe most libraries have a contact person who you can speak to about book suggestions (mine does). This person should be able to let you know what options there may be for you. Libraries are often involved with community literacy festivals so they are a good resource.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is indeed the case. Libraries have a general manager (public) or a collections manager (university; titles vary) who determines what they will & won’t accept.

      (There are advantages to marrying a librarian, one of which is hearing about this stuff on a daily basis)

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s good to even know those basic terms, this way we don’t look like goofballs when we wander into a library to ask. Sometimes just knowing the lingo is a step in the right direction and helps make us seem more professional. I’ll add this info into the body of the blog when I get a chance. Thanks for reading and sharing 🙂


      • When in doubt just call or email the library & they’ll direct you to the right person (did that when I donated a copy of my book to my alma mater).

        Liked by 1 person

      • When my book dissolves into the world ether next year, I’ll do just that! Thanks for the advice 🙂


    • I wrote a post-it note to add this into the article. You’re absolutely right, we can’t discount the value of physically going and talking to a representative—it’s a great suggestion and one I overlooked completely.

      Best of luck with your Library and Information tech diploma! You’re going to be my go-to when I start muddling through this process next year 🙂

      Thanks for leaving a great suggestion and for reading. I listened to the ISS video you offered on your page with my gaming headphones on…it was awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some libraries will accept donated paperbacks from local authors, though the process can be a bit cumbersome. Would be interested to see if going through your home city would speed up the process. I am curios about how this affects sales. Will share this with my friends in The Listeners of the Dead Robots Society and see what other thinks. Great idea and another great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The idea was yours, so I’m glad you found something useful! I think I would target those “needy” libraries first. The requirement seems to be the book fits their genre demands and is of decent physical quality (i.e. hardcover, or the new rubbery feeling paperback covers).

      I’d be interested to hear what you find out. If you get any solid tips, please share them!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting post. I never would’ve even considered getting a book into a library that you yourself wrote. Interesting.

    If ever I write something for publishing, I will use this. Thanks for helping me see what would’ve been missed because it was sitting right in front of me.

    Cheers! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • We can all thank JR Handley for this suggestion. I also had never really considered it.

      So much of our focus is on selling books, when a portion of our focus should be on readership and presence. Making the book available at the local library is a step in the right direction. The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I wonder if we would be able to track the number of times it’s been checked out as well—I’m sure there is. This would be good to know when courting agents and publishers perhaps…”My first book is in X number of libraries and has been checked out X number of times” kind of thing.

      Just more stuff to tack into the grand marketing plan (AKA plan for world domination). Thanks for swinging in. I still haven’t read the conclusion of your October series! I’ve set aside time on Saturday to catch up…I’m excited to see how it all panned out! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, that would be an interesting thing to know as well. Xp

        I wonder if you could see how many times a book has been checked out if it is one you wrote?

        Oh and no worries, I’m actually about to go write the final Entry of the series so Saturday should be perfect.

        By then I’ll have started writing something completely unrelated and back to the old ways with Black Winter. ^_^

        You know, when you never had a clue what I’d be writing next. Just that it was horror. Xp

        Have an amazing night and keep up the amazing content! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • While I have been enjoying the themed posts, I do miss the days of random inspiration/madness on your page. I still think fondly of a mustache waxing meat vendor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HAHA! I knew you’d reference him. No worries, I’m taking today off. I will be doing Monday through Saturdays again next week, (also properly doing the 2nd blog again) but the Clocktower is complete so I promise, back to days of random madness and inspiration again. Xp

        I prefer that too. The Clocktower was super exhausting but I’m happy with it.

        Thanks for hanging in there the past month or so while I got through the Clocktower.

        I hope your day is well.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, I was in the dark (and still am sort of) with the concept. Hopefully we can collectively unravel this opportunity a bit more. Seems like another great place to market and collect readers.


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