Monday, November 29, 2021

Should you try to get your book into libraries?

Should you try to get your book into libraries? This is a good question. After my book Starfish got into the Seattle Public Library system, I kind of forgot to try to take it to any other library system until my friend and bookcover artist (The John to my Paul) Dane Egenes asked me if I'd ever thought about getting it into the King County Library System. That's what motivated me to contact them and suggest it.

Before I wrote any books I just assumed all the U.S. libraries were somehow connected--that if a book went into one, it went into all of them. It turns out that within each state there are several different library systems, each with their own criteria for accepting books into their catalog. King County, for instance, has an eight point criteria, including that the book be "edgy." 

Whether or not TO do it is a good question. It does make the book available to anyone, without cost, so that's a plus. Some people think it means if a person can check out an author's book at the library it will lead them to seek out other books they've written, but I don't know if that's really true.

Moneywise, it doesn't really make anything for the author. At the time the book is accepted, the library system will purchase a certain number of copies (usually with a discounted rate), so the author receives the royalties for those copies at the time of sale, although a discounted rate means a discounted royalty. For me this is about $2 instead of $3. After that the author receives no royalties from this library book no matter how many times it's checked out.

Anyway, after KCLS accepted Starfish, I thought I should do an experiment and try out 14 public libraries across the U.S. One of the frustrating parts is that even if a library accepts your book into their catalog, they don't necessarily notify you. Of course, if they don't want the book, they really have no reason to notify you. So either way, you just sit there, going: I wonder what's going on. With KCLS they didn't notify me and then I went onto their site and searched the catalog, and there Starfish was, in three branches, so that's how I found out.

Some will only accept book suggestions if they come from one of their library's cardholders, and you have to be a resident of the city to get a library card. 

Some want you to send a copy of the book. Some specify not to send a book. All of them want to see something in the news about the book. This is where Starfish had the edge over my other books, because it had been optioned and there was a press release. It helps if you've had the book reviewed by Publisher's Weekly or Kirkus Reviews, but I have reservations about doing this.

For one thing, it's really expensive, at least, it seems expensive to me. A Kirkus review is $425 and a Publisher's Weekly review is $399. And that doesn't mean it will be a positive review. You can plunk down $425 and then read a negative review which will be of no help to you whatsoever. The idea of paying this amount really violates my Vegas Rule (only spend what you can afford to lose), but it also bothers me to think of spending this on one of my books and not all of them. It feels like having five kids and deciding only one of them can go to college.

You may be thinking: what about Amazon reviews? Some libraries will consider those but one I submitted to said right on their website: "We don't consider Amazon reviews to be reviews."

I don't have a PW or Kirkus review, but I do have the TaleFlick book assessment, which I've sent instead. That, the press release, a book description, an author bio, the genre, the recommended age reader, the nuts and bolts info: page count, book size, ISBN#, publishing date, the verification it's available with expanded distribution via Ingramspark. Some libraries have you send this and also fill out THEIR form which asks you to list the same information, much like applying for a job with a resume but you still have to fill out the employer's application, to show you aren't a moron and can follow directions without a bunch of attitude. Almost all the library systems say it can take up to six months before they make their decision, so for an impatient person like me, this sounds like a long time.

Anyway, so far (three days in) there are three libraries who require I send them a review copy, so I'm setting those libraries aside for a minute because I'm not sure I want to work that hard. I still might end up doing so, but I'm holding tight to see if I can get a bite without having to send copies. I'm limiting the experiment to 14 for now because if I add any more, I'll be checking my email 100 times a day.

All of you readers can help in this Starfish effort, if you feel like doing a good deed. If you own a library card, you can request your library carry Starfish On Thursday by Amie Ryan. You can either do this right at the checkout desk or you can go to the library's website and click on the tab REQUEST A BOOK and do it there. Can't find that ? Click on the CONTACT US tab and request it there. I would be grateful to any of you who feel inclined to do this, in whichever state you are in. If you live outside the United States, you can still request your local library carry this book, wherever you are. I thank you in advancešŸ˜Š

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