What Has Your Library Done for You Lately? By Vickey Kalambakal

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You borrow books, you scan magazines. What else can the library do for you as an author? Two things: Buy your books, and help you promote your books.

Public libraries spend over $1.3 billion a year on books, according to government and publishing industry statistics; universities and other institutions bump the figure up to well over $5 billion. But no one library can purchase every book that comes onto the market and Indie authors might be left out-unless they make some noise. Nice noise, of course.

Most libraries enjoy supporting local authors, which gives you an immediate advantage. So, how do you get your book onto library shelves?

Start by finding out who the Acquisitions Manager is at your library, advises Indie author Daniel Wheeler. His book, Grief and Grieving: Understanding the Grief and Grieving Process, has been catalogued by the Los Angeles City and Orange County libraries, as well as smaller city systems.

Write to the person in charge of acquisitions. Keep it brief, friendly, and to the point: you are a local author and would like to see your book catalogued in your library. Include a description or summary of your book (no more than one paragraph), the ISBN, and a link to your website. The idea is to look as professional as possible.

In your email, suggest a talk or workshop on your book’s subject at the library

With your letter-which will likely be an email-enclose a press release that restates the book’s title and ISBN, along with the genre or subject, and list all the extra selling points of your book: photos, indices, bibliography, hardcover, color, etc. Include the ordering information so the library can purchase the book. And, of course, your press release must have your contact information. Google “press release format” if you need help with this step.

“And once your book is accepted by one library, mention that point to other libraries as you send emails and press releases to them,” said Wheeler.

Now let’s move on to giving talks at libraries. With fewer bookstores around, libraries have become the go-to venue for readers in more ways than one. Not only are more patrons using libraries to find reading material-but many libraries are drawing in readers by hosting author talks. You should ask the library to allow you to have “back of the room sales” of all your books. That’s the least they can do after you’ve volunteered your time for their visitors. Don’t forget to also hand out bookmarks, business cards, or other items with your books’ covers and your website.

“Selling to libraries brings exposure as well as revenue,” Wheeler pointed out. The talks he’s given at libraries proved “a good platform for client-building as well as online book sales.” Wheeler, who also speaks to support groups and health and care organizations, wrote a book that has broad appeal to anyone who’s been confronted with loss – but your book probably has a different focus. Libraries are interested in many topics. Talks about crafts or local history are popular, and a lecture about your experience with self-publishing will attract all sorts of folks. No doubt you can think of other subjects that would interest your neighbors.

Many libraries host between five and twenty meetings a week or more. Your talk would be posted on the library’s calendar, and could lead to invitations to speak before other groups-maybe even paid engagements. Plus, you get to promote your books. What could be better?

Daniel Wheeler lists another reason for speaking at libraries: “Giving back to the local community in the form of sharing expertise, wisdom, and experience can be rewarding.”

Vickey Kalambakal combines her love of writing and history by producing articles for magazines, textbooks, and encyclopedias. Her books include the novel Death Speaker and the Boomer’s Book of Christmas Memories, due this fall. Follow her on twitter @vkhistory, or visit her website at: http://www.Kalambakal.com