Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Listening to librarians

For those authors and publishers waiting for national distribution and media, or big box orders, it is wise to cultivate the interest of libraries. Each library system can be worth an order of an average of 20 copies.

There are a few essentials in catching the interest of libraries:
• Make sure you garner a prepublication review in the Library Journal. Your review might not appear in the print edition, but an online review is still worthwhile.
• When you get media -- a review, a feature on you, or whatever -- make sure to send a copy of the clip, along with your book, and a request for a speaking engagement. Granted, the speaking engagement is a dim possibility (libraries have become even reticent than chain bookstores in setting up events), but you probably will get a book order.
• Read blogs by librarians to vibe their language and their zeitgeist. One of Ms. Obie Joe's current favs is the peeping from this former librarian. Gotta love the industry language: Copies of The "Condition have been received in most libraries; holds to copy ratios are ten to one in some libraries." Apparently how many holds are ordered display interest, but Mr. Obie Joe wagers how long the book circulates is the long-term view.
• Participate in a co-op mailer. This involves sending about 1,200 fliers to the major library systems, using the mailing list and distribution system of a small publisher. Sam's got one we've used, but make sure to take care with the design. Librarians received an onslaught of book marketing materials, and it can be tough to catch their attention.

But not impossible.

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