Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Using Libraries As A Marketing Tool

Marketing to Libraries
In today's Internet age, many authors are overlooking their local library as a great place for promotion. I'll be honest, you won't sell hundreds of books at a library booksigning, you may not sell any. You need to remember that promoting your books at the library isn't about immediate sales, it's about building a readership, and possibly your own personal marketing team.

Even librarians can’t know all the authors in a genre and when they meet an author who has presented a program at their library they are more likely to recommend their books to patrons. 

When you participate in a library book discussion, reading group or booksigning, you are building great word-of-mouth future sales. If patrons at the library enjoy your presentation, you can be assured your book will be checked-out. You did donate a copy or two didn't you?

Once it has been checked out, you'd be surprised how many patrons will purchase your book not only for themselves but as gifts, and very often, if you have a backlist that the library doesn't have, those patrons will purchase it and donate it to the library. This means even more readers will have access to your books. Library patrons are readers, and those readers love to talk about books, work to make sure it's your book they are talking about.

You need to think of library visits as a long term career investment. While you won't often sell too many books at your visit, you will gain readers and most importantly a librarian or two that will "sale" your book.

Patrons daily ask me for a good book. If you've visited and you write in the genre they are looking for, you can be assured I will recommend your book. After all, you took the time to visit my library, talk with my patrons and donate a book.

After that initial visit, don't be a stranger. Send the library a press release of your latest book, send promo's like bookmarks - yes we still use them. Send cookies - honestly you'd be surprised how far a box of cookies will go in marketing your book across that circulation desk.

If you haven't visited you library in a while, stop by, get a library card,  pick up or subscribe to their newsletter, friend them on Facebook and Twitter (most libraries today have a presence on social media, take advantage of it), these will tell you the type of programs they have.

Who to contact:
In most large libraries they have a public relations coordinator, in the smaller libraries you will want to contact the director.

Write an intro/contact letter or e-mail to the library.
If you visit their website, they usually list the staff. A few points to include in this letter:
·         Introduce yourself.
·         Tell about your book.
·         Give an overview of the intended audience.
·         List your availability for a visit, panel or booksiging.
·         Give your book information – publisher, ISBN, where it can be purchased, and ask if they would like a donated a copy prior to the event. This will allow patrons to check out the book before you appear.
·         Also, if you have foreign editions of your books, look at the library demographics.  Many serve non-English speaking residents and would love to receive those editions.

Author Panels
Do you know of other authors that live in your area? Contact them and the library about a possible panel of romance authors, mystery or sci-fi authors. Having several authors appear together can draw a bigger crowd, giving you and them more exposure to potential readers.

Use the Internet
Once you have a library event books, use the Internet to shout about it. Ask the library to link to your website or blog from their event announcement page and you should link back to them. Use your email list, group forums, and writer organizations to publicize the event.

No, you will not get rich speaking at the library. What you will gain are new readers, word of mouth advertising, a sales crew at the circulation desk, public speaking experience and the opportunity to support an extraordinary institution. Come on, your an author, the library was your first love.

Linda has been the Public Relations Coordinator at a public library for fifteen years. She is the Senior News Editor for Reader's Entertainment News, scriptwriter for COS Productions (booktrailers) and writes for many other print and online publications.

She is also the author of a humorous romantic comedy trilogy set in Wyoming. Her first book Baer Truth - Book One of the Three Baer's Trilogy (where a vegetarian punk rocker finds herself stranded in the middle of Wyoming beef country) was released last year to 5-star reviews. The second book in the series, Baer Necessities will be released on September 11, 2012 from Desert Breeze Publishing, and will be available on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. She is also the author of The Granite Rose, an historical set in ancient Rome.

You can find Linda online at:

Her books can be found at:


  1. Libraries need all the support they can get - great post Tonya.



  2. Thanks for the great post - very good advice to both published and aspiring authors!

    In the age of technology, it's good to never forget such pillars of our society as the local library.

  3. Out of interest, what size library do you work at? Two things have held me back from going to the libraries nearby (which I would probably label as small in size, with one medium in a 200k population area). If I had stuck to "mainstream" thrillers or mystery, I could see some potential interest at a large or medium library. I question how much interest would be generated at a small facility with a genre out of the norm.

  4. Thanks everyone for visiting and commenting. Kevin, my library is very small, although we take pride in being "cutting" edge. We serve a population of about 1200, although we actually have 3500 card holders. We get many patrons from other area libraries that refuse to come into the 21 century -- Wi-Fi, videos etc.

    I bring my authors in around an event. Chocolate, romance and books - romance writers. I do a chili cook-off for Sci-Fi and Fantasy night, and Murder in the library for mystery writers. There is a large part of our town that quilts, so I invite non-fiction quilting writers and mystery quilters. If you write in a niche, suggest a program like that. While there are libraries that will not be responsive to you, most small libraries are very happy to have authors. Most of the well-known authors get well paid, and only appear at large public libraries like NYC. So, give a try. Good Luck!!

  5. Tonya! Thanks sweetie for inviting me to your blog. It's always a pleasure!! Hugs, Linda

  6. Great post, Tonya. Libraries are always a big help.