7 ways your local library can help you sell more books, even if you’re an indie author

7 Ways Your Local Library Can Help You Sell More Books

Authors who need help selling their books should start looking close to home, at the one place where books are free: their local libraries.

When I speak at writers’ conferences, I hear authors complaining that they don’t want to be bothered with selling to a library “where hundreds of people might read my book for free.” Or they whine that libraries “don’t want self-published books.”

Are they kidding?

First, libraries are marketing machines. They do all the heavy lifting and help you gain exposure, generate publicity and pull crowds. Some readers in those crowds buy books.

Patrons Want Indie Books

As for indie titles, a survey of patron profiles by Library Journal found that at least 6 out of 10 patrons want self-published books to be available in their libraries. Librarians listen!

Knowing who’s who at your local library and asking how you can help them, so they can in turn help you, is just one of the many ideas I’ll share on Thursday, Feb. 12, during the webinar on Book Publicity Ideas You Can Use Today to Sell More Books Tomorrow.

Here are 7 ways libraries can help you sell more books.

1. They’ll host a book signing or event.

Libraries aren’t beneath New York Times best-selling author Lesley Kagen. She did a book signing at the small Grafton Public Library near my town last week to promote her book, The Resurrection of Tess Blessing. She and I live in the same county so it was close to home for her.     

Big-name authors can usually negotiate an honorarium, transportation, hotel and meal costs if they’re traveling. Libraries are meticulous about these details.

If you aren’t a big-name author, and you’re appearing for free, you might sell only three books. But that’s three books more than you sold yesterday.

 Here’s a long list of publicity, programming and promotion tips for author visits, created by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.  It’s proof libraries love hosting authors.

2. They’ll let local newspapers know about your event.

I saw a photo of Lesley Kagen’s book signing in my local newspaper, The Ozaukee Press, last week. On the same page, I saw a  calendar item about another local author who’s doing a book signing at the same library. 

3. Libraries will often use the local Chamber of Commerce’s website and contacts to publicize your event.

Here’s what the Grafton chamber put on its homepage to promote Lesley’s library appearance:

Grafton Chamber of Commerce promo for Lesley Kagen book signing


4. They look elsewhere in the community for help marketing your event.

Your library might contact other community groups, businesses and neighboring libraries that might be interested in collaborating. Have you written a book about how to make household repairs? A local hardware store might love to partner with the library and host you.

5. Friends of the Library can work with you.

These are the fundraising arms of libraries and they often sponsor luncheons and other events.

They need speakers and interesting programs. (Hint: More publicity!)   

6. Local libraries will feature you prominently everywhere.

You’ll show up in their newsletter, at their website, on their Facebook page, and on flyers around town. Many libraries also submit calendar notices to the local TV station’s public access channel.  

7. Librarians share tips with other librarians about which authors are great presenters and make their jobs easy.  

In addition to the American Library Association, librarians are members of statewide and regional industry groups. Librarians know how to network!

Have I convinced you that you need to run, walk or drive to your local library today?

During Thursday’s webinar on Book Publicity Ideas You Can Use Today to Sell More Books Tomorrow, I’ll share a tip on how indie authors who write ebooks can take advantage of a free program that will market your ebooks to public libraries all over the U.S.  When I stumbled on this, I thought I’d struck gold.

What other ways can libraries help authors sell books? Librarians, what have you done? And what do you recommend authors do to form strong relationships with you?

Free Publicity Tip 46--Local libariesIf you’re looking for more tips about how to generate free publicity, check out my popular Pinterest board 50 Tips for Free Publicity. I pin often.

What do I pin?

The same types of tips you see in the blue and white image on the left. Be sure to join the more than 3,000 Publicity Hounds who follow the board so you don’t miss a thing.

Before Titling Your Book, Clear Your Head of 4 Misconceptions about Book Titles

Woman reading a book surrounded by stacks of books

By Marcia Yudkin

Whether someone is browsing for something to read online or in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, they usually notice three things about a book: the cover design, the title and the description of the book.

Clearly all three are vital marketing tools.

When it comes to the book title, I have run across a whole lot of wrong-headed and harmful advice. Some of it is nonsense imported from other areas of marketing, and much of it makes universal recommendations with only one type of book in mind. If you’re trying to come up with an effective title for a book, start by clearing your head of these four common misconceptions.

1. A book title should help sell as many books as possible.

No, not exactly.

Given the importance of social media and online reviews today, you want to sell as many books as possible to the right readers for your book. A title that oversells or misleads people about what’s in the book leads to complaints and negativity that can hurt your success.

Start your brainstorming for a title with a clear idea of your intended readers, and finish your title selection by checking to make sure you’re giving the right impression to those who will most appreciate what you’ve written.

2. A book title consists of only a title.

First-time authors often forget—or didn’t know to begin with—that a title can have three components:

  • First is the main title, what gets biggest billing in design and selling.
  • Second is the subtitle, which usually shows up in smaller letters on the cover and after a colon when the book is written out in text.
  • Third is a series title, where the book is part of a branded grouping, like “411 Traveler’s Guides” for your travel reference books. Not every book is part of a series, so the third component is optional.

However, most books should have a subtitle as well as a title, taking advantage of an opportunity to zero in on the focus, purpose or intended readers for the work. Even for fiction, the subtitle “A Novel” after the main title usefully clarifies what kind of a book it is.

3. A title should offer a unique selling proposition.

Many marketing gurus advise racking your brains to define something that is true about your product and not true about competing products. This often helps, but it’s not necessary.

If I look for a beginner’s book on backyard grilling and find three candidates, I don’t care in the slightest whether these three are unique or meaningfully distinct from one another. I’ll simply choose one (or buy all three).


backyard BBQ 1-2-3 version 2


With fiction, the notion of a unique selling proposition is even less applicable. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, for instance, doesn’t promise anything unique in its title. It’s always better if a title is unique, but that too isn’t necessary. There are at least four novels titled Suspicion, including one out just this year by Joseph Finder, and no one considers this a form of marketing malpractice.

4. A nonfiction book should include the book’s benefits in the subtitle.

Sometimes we see this in nonfiction books, as in Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. However, it’s equally effective and much more common to use the subtitle to explain the book’s topic more fully, as in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, a classic business book, or Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a bestselling adventure memoir.

An effective book title helps draw attention to your book, motivate people to open it, investigate further and buy it. It also helps keep inappropriate readers from thinking yours is the book they’re looking for. Make sure your title contains enough signals for the right people to become interested and have an idea of what your book offers.


Where to Learn More

Brainstorming a better book titleThrough Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, receive $10 off Marcia’s online course (normally $37) on better book titles by using this link.

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