Sunday, May 13, 2007

LIBRARIES ARE A MAJOR MARKET FOR YOUR BOOK SALES

BEACON FLASH #20 - MAY 2007


Many authors forget a major market when promoting their books: libraries buy books all the time. Whether you have commercially or self-published, whether your work has been reviewed or not, librarians are always interested.

Last month, Barbara Buxton (Head, Adult Services) at Port Moody Public Library told me, "Librarians use many tools for choosing books...even personal e-mails from authors. For myself, I use Quill and Quire and Books in Canada for Canadian titles, as well as look at selected Canadian publishers' catalogues. I also like to go through BC Bookworld for BC materials. Beyond that we use mostly Library Journal, Booklist, School Library Journal, Resource Links (kids), New York Times Book Review, and Baker and Taylor Forecast. I have also used Forthcoming Books on occasion. At Port Moody we do a lot of our selections from patron requests as well--with these we…look up reviews [of the books] on Amazon, Chapters, Global Books in Print, or other [online resources]. We also buy everything on the Globe and Mail Bestseller list, and we sometimes pick up ideas from reviews in the papers, or on radio and TV. Some of our choices are books we just happen to see in our own personal reading."

There are over 3000 libraries in Canada and many more in the USA. My home province of British Columbia, has 241 libraries, including their branches, that choose books to purchase in much the same way as Buxton does, so it's a market well worth tapping.

How does an author promote their books to libraries? The most obvious method is to get them reviewed in the periodicals mentioned above and hope your book reaches a national bestseller list. However, as only a handful reach these dizzying heights, I recommend that you design a one page flyer for the book and send it to every library in your country, because your publisher won't. Last June, I only had to snail-mail a handful of the 3000 libraries I targetted for my latest book, the rest I was able to email. My effort resulted in sales of several hundred copies. (I sent my flyer to all university libraries too and had similar success.)

The contact list for all libraries in BC is at www.bcpl.gov.bc.ca/public/contacts.php and the Canadian Library Association website is www.cla.ca/. If you can't find similar lists for your region or country, go and chat to your local librarian--they are always willing to assist authors like you and me.