"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Increase Your Book Sales Through Libraries

Guest Post by Susan Sundwall

According to the American Library Association there are over a hundred and twenty thousand libraries in the United States.  That’s a wonderful thing for a writer to know because libraries buy books.  And with the advent of e-books most of them also purchase books in that format to loan to their patrons. In our zeal to get our name out there by way of bookstore signings, conventions, blog tours etc., we often overlook our loyal allies in the library.

When my publisher advised their writers submit book suggestions to libraries in their home and surrounding states, I was skeptical. I mean, how many book sales could that be? And how exactly did I go about contacting all those libraries? Silly me. Of course there was a way. And I’m going to tell you just how to do it and the added bonus of connecting with libraries near and far.

First you must craft a short letter about your books. Introduce yourself as the author of whatever genre you work in. Then offer a blurb about the book or books. List the ISBN numbers for your hard cover, paperback, and e-book next to your titles and mention any attributes like good reviews or niche markets. With this information the librarian will have your name and titles on hand when the time comes to order new books in all formats. Direct your inquiry to the Library Director whose name should be available on the library website. Put “book suggestion” in the subject line of your email. Some libraries have a message box on their websites. Some only have an e-mail address. Use whatever is available for that library. To search for libraries nationwide go here:


Another way to get your name into the libraries is to offer to give a book talk. This might consist of a reading from your current work followed by a question and answer period. Work with the librarian to come up with the best program for her patrons. So far this year I have lined up three visits. In each one, after my talk, I’ll be able to sell my books. This is also a good venue for participating in a larger event, with other authors, by way of a panel. My mystery writer’s group frequently participates in events with two or more authors. Working with the library staff and promoting the event with available media brings writers together with readers in a comfortable setting that not only gives name recognition, but puts the author’s face to the books being sold.

Bear in mind that you may not hit a responsive cord with every library you contact. There are many that will only take a book suggestion from members served by their branch. But it’s also possible that libraries looking to build their e-book shelves will be delighted to hear from you. One librarian I contacted, not too far from home, replied with a very enthusiastic, “Oh, we have your book already!” What a boon for a writer to hear that!

If you’d like to find out more about how libraries acquire books and what authors can do, visit the American Library Association website at http://www.ala.org/tools/  libfactsheets/authorfaq

Writing a book, getting it published, and basking in the temporary glory selling to friends, relatives and neighbors, eventually gives way to the down and dirty business of marketing your gem. But think of those hundred and twenty thousand libraries. If you only sold to half of them you’d be doing well. When you broaden your horizons and add libraries to your list of potential readers and sales, you’ll be doing yourself, and them, a great service.

If you found today's post helpful, or have questions, please share in the comments.

Susan is a freelance writer, blogger, speaker and mystery author. Find her latest Minnie Markwood mystery, The  Super Bar Incident, at Mainly Murder Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Google Books. Visit her blog at www.sundwallsays.blogspot.com


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  2. Hello Susan! Do you ever watch the Antiques Roadshow on PBS? When someone finds out they have an item worth a lot of money, 9 times out of 10 they say "Wow!" That's how I felt as I read your guest post! Although I do know about libraries and how important they are for book sales, I've forgotten to continue to contact them. Thank you SO much for sharing this information. Wow! :-)

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      Good for you. Good luck here! Thanks, Becky.

  3. Susan, thanks so much for this information! I have been meaning to contact my local library about my books, but wasn't sure quite how to go about it. So the task keeps falling to the bottom of the to-do list. Now I have a better plan, thanks to you. :)

    I might also add not to overlook knowing someone who is connected with the library. My brother in law works at the library in my old NJ hometown. He made sure that all the branches are carrying my books. :)

    Jen, thanks for hosting this lovely mutual friend of ours! Happy weekend!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 29, 2015 at 3:16 PM

      It was my pleasure. Thanks, Karen. :-)

  4. I'm so happy to know my experience and bits of advice have been helpful to other writers. The libraries and I thank you! Have a great weekend everyone.