5 Tips for Marketing Your Book to Libraries

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Independent authors have (mostly) focused their efforts on Amazon. And that makes sense. It’s the largest bookseller in the world. But is it wise for authorpreneurs to put all their eggs in one basket? We’ve seen the adverse impact that a change in Amazon’s algorithm or policies can have on our book sales. If you want to diversify – and I think all authors should consider that concept –marketing to libraries may serve as a powerful way to spread the word about your work.

If you’ve attempted to market your book to local libraries or bookstores, you may have met resistance or failed entirely. Do not assume that the difficulty is due to elitism, disdain for Amazon or a conspiracy against independent authors. There are legitimate reasons that libraries tend to pass on purchasing independently published books.

There are several technical issues and nuance involved in marketing to libraries. I do not have the space here to address all aspects. …

But I do have five tips that will get you headed in the right direction and may serve to get you past the automatic ‘no’ and into (at least) the ‘maybe’ pile:

1. Publish your trade paperback via IngramSpark. Price matters. Libraries have budget constraints and need to buy books at a discount. If you publish with CreateSpace, you cannot offer the standard industry discount (also your books are not returnable). That puts you at a disadvantage. Additionally, libraries order from the catalogs of major distributors such as Baker & Taylor and Ingram. CreateSpace is not a major distributor. If the choice is between your CreateSpace book – no discount, no returns and more difficult to order – and a book from an imprint that’s available in the catalog and offers the discount, guess which book will be chosen.

Tip: I create two paperback versions of my books and a hardcover. I use CreateSpace for a 6”x 9” version that I price to appeal to Amazon customers (and my price-per-unit is lower which improves my profit margin when I sell them directly to customers at book events). The IngramSpark paperback is 5.5”x 8.5” (a standard and preferred size for libraries and retailers), returnable and subject to standard industry discount so it appeals to bookstores and libraries.

2. Have a professional design your cover(s). Put simply, a ‘homemade’ cover will end up in the ‘no’ pile. Hire a professional, experienced book cover designer. The money and time you put into your cover will serve you well for all markets, including marketing to libraries.”

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