Seeing their book on the shelves of their local library is every author’s dream—a dream nurtured since childhood, when reading was more of a lifestyle than a passion.
But getting your book into libraries is not as easy as it sounds. Librarians are very particular about the books they purchase, since they’re leaving it to be read by a large number of the local populace. If you manage to get your book into one library, you can easily find a place for your book in another. According to an article published by Reedsy, “Once one library has your book and the check-out rates start showing up on reports, other librarians will start ordering your book. The growth and spread of your book’s sales and popularity will start happening while you are not even looking!”
Why should you get your book into libraries?
Public libraries are a place where all the bookworms from around the area converge to discover new books. Most of us grew up reading the entirety of our library’s catalogue, oftentimes waiting to be the first one to grab the newest book in our favorite series when it hits the library shelves. The public library is also the place where we met most of our reader-friends, people we still discuss books with, years and years later.
Getting your book into a public library is one of the most effective ways of getting discovered. It also helps to establish your author brand name and obtain credibility with readers, since the book has undergone a screening process before being included in the library’s catalogue.
How can you get your book into libraries?
Public libraries follow a strict procedure when it comes to making a purchase. Most of these libraries have specific policies for indie authors, and it’s important to do your own research before pitching your book to them.
1. Purchase Your Own ISBN
An International Standard Book Number—or an ISBN, for short—identifies the title to which it is assigned, along with who should be contacted for ordering purposes. Hence, every title will have a unique ISBN which will make it easier for someone to locate it in their database. A new ISBN is necessary for each format of your book if you have your book as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. By purchasing your own ISBN, you will be listed as the publisher of the book, and you will be able to better manage your book’s metadata.
2. Prepare a Sell Sheet
A sell sheet contains all the documentation regarding your book that is necessary for the library. This sell sheet should include: your book’s cover, title, publisher, available formats and ISBNs, a brief book description, pricing, significant awards the book has won, why the book will appeal to library patrons, how it can be ordered, etc.
Make sure to be completely honest in your sell sheet, but also portray your book in a positive light. This sell sheet can be emailed to your local library or be handed over to them as a one-page, printed copy.
3. Get Reviews. Contact Wholesalers.
In order to project a positive impression of your book towards librarians, you need to secure positive reviews from enthusiastic readers. Reviews give credibility to your work. These reviews must be from independent reviewers who have no connection to you, and must preferably be published in recognized sites like BookList, Goodreads, etc.
Most libraries prefer working with wholesalers for purchasing books because it’s a smooth process that doesn’t involve a lot of work. A wholesaler is someone who supplies books to libraries, book stores, etc. and gets your book library-ready. Librarians sign up to work with specific wholesalers, so it’s important for you to find out which wholesalers your local library is working with. List your book with a number of these wholesalers. Wholesalers make sure your book has a professional and appealing finish to it, which is crucial for librarians.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.