For the first installment of Miranda B’s series, visit Why You Should Work at a Library, Part Uno.
Libraries attract a diverse lot of folk. As my librarian friend Annabelle Wiley put it recently, libraries are the stomping ground for the upper class looking to seal their goodwill with shiny bronze plaques thanking them for donations of money and service. Just around the bookshelf from these retirees you’ll find transients who are carrying their back alley dinner dishes still wet from being washed in the library bathroom. Meanwhile many a web content writer-cum-future novelist are busy bleeding their hearts for the next Great American Novel that they wish to stack back to back with the likes of Jodi Picoult and Ernest Hemingway. It’s time to build that bridge between the diverse community of library patrons and the authors that give them somewhere to go.
One of the most effective ways to get your book in front of patrons at the library is to host a book signing. For the most part, libraries are accommodating and encouraging of authors wishing to hold such an event. Typically such an event won’t cost you more than your time. However, you might incur a nominal for-profit usage fee if you plan to sell your books at a non-profit library, which you should definitely try to do unless you love the look of boxes of books in your garage.
By reading your book aloud to a group of book lovers, of course you put yourself in a delicate situation as a writer. There’s no hiding the snickering, huffing, angry mumbles or tears your story might bring. You aren’t protected from confused looks, scowls, rolled eyes, shouts, thrown pencils or speculative questioning. However, this is a great position to be in because in no other way can you possibly connect with your potential fans in such an intimate way as an author. Take a risk to reap the rewards. After all, that’s what every writer does when they publish their prose.
Whether or not you host a book signing at your library, talk to your friendly local librarian about selling your books. Here are some questions you could ask:
- Can I set up a small table in the library with my books for sale?
- Would I be allowed to join an upcoming book sale typically reserved for used or discarded books?
- Do you have a fundraiser coming up where you might can include my book for an auction, either silent or otherwise, in which I can donate half or more of the proceeds to the library?
The worst thing they could say is “never in a million years would we ever consider selling your crap of a book with that title/cover/story in our beloved building.” Of course, if your librarian is like any of the many librarians I know are out there, you’ll most likely hear “ok” if you would be willing to donate a portion of the sales to the library, hint, hint.
Visual Book Talks
It’s time to go there. Yes, libraries are brick-and-mortar locations, but they, too, have learned to embrace the world of social media. Most libraries have a Facebook page, and some even have their own blog. Find out if your library does, and then ask if you can share your book talk video online. What, might you wonder, is a book talk video? A book talk is a short commercial, similar to a book trailer, for your book. You don’t have to spend any money to make one, thanks to Animoto. Once you’ve designed a holly jolly video that highlights the main theme of your book along with the book cover image, upload that bad boy onto YouTube and start sharing it. Share it with your library on their Facebook page, as well as website and blog. You are advertising your book, in addition to attracting viewers to your library’s social media sites, which is a winner, winner turkey dinner.
Guest Speakers Galore
At my rural, small town library last year we held a fundraiser that featured a local author as the guest speaker. I’ll admit, not everyone loved his monotone voice, the fact that he read his script, or the lofty verbiage he used as he discussed the writing and research process. However, at the end of the night, the table where that author sold his books was slammed. He sold 30 autographed copies of his $20 book, and after donating a portion of this to the library, came out a golden goose. Ask your library if you can offer to be a guest speaker for an upcoming fundraiser or event, such as a book club. Speaking of book clubs, if you can convince your library book club group to read your book, there’s another solid chance you have for selling your book and reaching readers. Plus, you can incorporate a guest speaking and book signing into the mix for a full blown early Christmas present to yourself.
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.