Want to See Your Book on Library Shelves?
Published: August 21, 2019
While libraries have expanded to become more than just a place to check out a book, they still spend north of a billion dollars every year on print material, according to recent statistics. This means getting a self-published book into a public library can be a great way for an indie author to gain exposure, and score some bulk sales while they’re at it.
But how do self-published authors rise above the rest to get the attention of a local library’s purchasing decision-maker? It’s not as hard as it seems. Follow these simple tips, and your book could soon be on the shelves of a library near you.
Getting in the door
First and foremost, librarians select books they feel will bring people into their library, so show a librarian how much demand already exists for your book. Here’s how:
- Set up an Author Central page as soon as your book is up on Amazon
Many librarians search Amazon reviews before making bulk purchasing decisions
- Seek out editorial reviews
Indie authors are at a little bit of a disadvantage here, because authors working with a publisher will have this part taken care of for them. But self-published authors can, and should, still prioritize getting as many editorial reviews as possible. Start by reaching out to popular industry outlets like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal.
- Offer to do a reading or book signing at the library. This can really sweeten the deal for a librarian that’s undecided about bringing your book into their catalogue.
Given all the books vying for a librarian’s attention, it’s important your book is a professional looking product. This includes the following:
- Professional editing
- A copyright page
- Professional design, including cover, spine, and binding.
In addition, a hardcover book is going to appeal to a librarian because hardcover books are more durable. Softcover books, however, are a lot cheaper. This could also be a key selling point to a library’s purchasing decision maker.
Price your book competitively
Speaking of cost, libraries spend a lot of money on books, so they need to spend wisely. Pricing your book competitively will help it stand out. Offer the library an industry-standard 55 percent discount, as well as an option to return.
Distribute your book with a wholesaler
You’re going to want to distribute your book with a wholesaler like Baker & Taylor or Ingram, because working with a wholesaler will make it easier for a library to buy your book in bulk, as opposed to buying one-off copies through an online retailer.
Depending on how you self-published, your book may already be available through a wholesaler. For example, working with Kindle Direct Publishing or Ingram Spark and checking the “Expanded Distribution” option means your book is available via Baker & Taylor.
These pointers should be kept in mind throughout the publishing process, but if you follow this simple guideline, and put in some legwork, your book could soon be available at your local library. Start with a library near you, and expand from there.