While many indie authors have mastered online sales, even strong-selling writers tend to see distribution to libraries and bricks-and-mortar stores as difficult to impossible. However, they should consider giving it another go. Industry experts and indie authors who have tried to get wider distribution have recently found surprising success—both in expanded availability and greater awareness of their work, in the library marketplace.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), there are over 9,000 public libraries in the United States alone. Each of these libraries is a potential buyer of your book, and even if they buy only one copy, that’s enough to get the ball rolling and have the word about your book spread.
Where to start?
Start local. Libraries will be thrilled to have a local author speak and do a reading. Most of them will accept donated copies of your book, and some will even buy it — especially if it is set in a local town, or deals with a regional topic or interest.
How to present?
This is all about marketing. Mention your Amazon rankings, if they’re high. Quote some great editorial reviews you’ve received. Talk about any awards. Include an award sticker on the cover if you’ve won an award or received five stars or another recognition.
What to present?
Every library carries a different mix of titles. It’s a good idea to take a look at what the library carries and approach them by saying that your book will fit their catalog perfectly. Talk to the librarian about the most popular books in your genre, to see if there is any demand. Get this information first, sell thereafter.
Where to be available?
Obviously it’s a great idea to have your book be available via Ingram or Baker & Taylor for print books, and Overdrive for eBooks, but many librarians also buy from Amazon.
Is pursuing libraries worth it?
According to Publisher’s Weekly, over 50% of all library users go on to purchase eBooks by an author they were introduced to in the library.