If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Monday, July 1, 2013

Four Ways Libraries Help Authors Sell Books


Last week Linda Rodriguez wrote about book piracy and noted that some writers are distressed about sales to libraries. These authors think that because library books are shared by many readers, sales to libraries represent money taken out of their pockets. These authors see little difference between libraries and shady file-sharing BitTorrent sites with names like badongo and rapidshare.
I confess! Librarians delight in the number of people who share that one copy of your book.
Nobody noticed or worried much about library sales before the digital revolution made it easy to pirate ebooks on a massive scale, but now the author/reader/book ecosystem is beset with storms and sharks, and it is hard to tell friend from foe.
Take heart, authors. Unlike pirates, libraries give back. Let me count the ways libraries help you get exposure, gain readers, and sell more books.
1.     Being a librarian means I am one part researcher, one part parent whisperer, and one part cocktail party hostess. Librarians like nothing better than introducing a reader to good books. The good news for authors is that often patrons tell me they’ve purchased more books by authors I had recommended to them. Last fall I chatted with a patron about a book I enjoyed, The Merlot Murders, the first in Ellen Crosby’s Wine Country Mysteries series. This lady stopped by after the holidays and told me she had given copies of the book along with bottles of wine in themed gift baskets for Christmas. Ka-ching! You’re welcome, Ellen.
2.     Libraries are one of the few places beyond our ever-disappearing bookstores where authors can meet readers. How can you get exposure and connect with potential fans? Start by stopping by your neighborhood library branch and introducing yourself to the staff. Make contact with the library manager or head of programming – the people who can answer your questions most accurately. Check the library website. Many have links for authors to enter a database of potential speakers. When authors appear at a library function, libraries often do a display of the author’s work and advertise in local news outlets. Offer to do a writer’s workshop, book club visit, or get some writer friends together to do a panel. Most (check with your own) libraries will allow author/speakers to sell books after an appearance.
3.     Libraries contribute to the reader/book/author ecosystem in big ways by supporting writing talent by spreading the news about new authors and funding prizes to recognize distinguished work - and in ways small - by purchasing a writer's work. This ecosystem is in danger. Libraries buy books, but also have to upgrade computers, pay salaries, provide literacy programs for children, and construct a new framework for the digital future, starting by acquiring a whole new collection of ebooks, on an ever diminishing budget. When the tiny bit of tax money is gone, what doesn’t get bought? Midlist authors. Lower demand items. Poetry. Works by new authors. As the money dries up, so does the ability to take a chance on newer writers, denying them audiences that could grow their careers. Authors who complain about libraries might think about this and write a letter to their government decision makers about funding libraries.
4.     The last, and probably most important thing libraries do for authors is the most invisible. Libraries grow readers. Libraries are one of the few places where poor children can get books. Every time some Marie Antoinette of a mayor declares that libraries are not essential, I think, there’s someone who never had to choose between food and a book for his child.
Part of my job is visiting schools to tell students about our library summer reading program. Nothing is more fun than just sitting down with a bunch of kids and asking them what they are reading. Rest assured, despite all the digital distractions, children still love a good book. But during the summer, when they can’t get to the school library, the only place the less affluent kids can get books is the public library.
Ask any teacher you know about the Summer Slide. Kids who don’t read over the summer lose the skills they gained during the school year. In September, these children have fallen behind their more affluent peers. They need expensive remediation. Which costs tax money. And this loss is cumulative. Some kids never catch up. (According to one study by the Nevada Corrections Department, 85% of the children who “interface” with the criminal justice system are functionally illiterate.) So much for that “nonessential” argument.
More people who are able to read means more people who enjoy reading. More people who enjoy reading means more book sales, yes?

14 comments:

Claire said...

Shari, thanks for reminding us of the need for and power of libraries. As a kid, I spent all my spare time in the library - it opened many worlds to me that I would never have discovered otherwise.

Libraries are, indeed, the author's ally.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Libraries are essential to the social fabric of American society. Whereas the attacks on public schools can be couched in terms like “assuring a quality education for all,” even while they undermine that possibility by cutting back their funding, attacks on libraries are nothing less than class warfare.

Those well off who clamber for lower taxes and smaller government are able to supply their children with computers for online research, e-encyclopedia and plenty of books (paper or e-books).

Meanwhile, those less well off rely upon public schools and libraries for these same modern necessities. With lower taxes comes lower spending on these two institutions.

The children suffer.

I could rant for paragraphs, but I’ll conclude by saying that present governmental policy at all levels is terribly shortsighted. In the U.S. we can pay for any war we choose to participate in, but cannot find the funds for maintaining and improving our physical infrastructure, let alone providing our children with education and health benefits that will allow them to be productive citizens.

Shame on us.

~ Jim

KM said...

Authors who complain about "lost sales" aren't a particularly new phenomena. Way back at a time when circulation systems were manual and you could tell how many times a book had circulated by counting the number of due dates stamped on the card in the book, I can remember the husband of a well-known author coming in and taking his wife's books off the shelves to count the number of circulations. He would then complain bitterly to anyone who would listen (primarily captive staff) exactly how much income they had lost due to the availability of the book in the library. We could never get him to realize that most of those people would not have actually purchased the book to read.

In addition ot the advantages to the reading public laid out here, I think public libraries provide one of the best exposure tools to an author.

Unfortunately, many libraries don't put donated books on the shelves, esp. if they don't have CIP (mine don't) and require original cataloging. That shouldn't be a big deal for fiction, but it does take staff time & effort. The public libraries where I live & where I work (two different states) have accepted donations of my books (trade paperbacks) and promised they would add them to the collection, but it's been over a year & that hasn't happened.

Shari,(and anybody else) if your library will add my crime novel series (now 3 books in print) to the collection, I would be happy to send you a set.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Claire - I am glad that you consider libraries to be authors' allies. I know that there are some who do not, and I can see their point. Even publishers have been hesitant to loan ebooks to libraries, but just a few weeks ago the last of the Big Six publishers (Hachette) decided to go ahead.
Jim - Amen!

Gloria Alden said...

Excellent blog, Shari. I have yet to go to either of the two libraries I frequent most often without seeing people there using them. Libraries offer so much more than books, they develop readers, and that is what's important. I think all libraries today have at least one book club. That's more readers for authors, isn't it.

Shari, I might add I just finished KM's third book in her series, and I can attest her books are excellent and well worth having in your library.

Shari Randall said...

Hi KM - Still laughing about that author's husband - and the "captive" library staff - I've been there! As you know from your own experience in libraries, the whole acquisition thing is pretty complex, and each library system does things differently. In the system where I work (VA) the Collection Management librarians review donations, and it takes forever (half of them were "rightsized"). I donated copies of a sisters in crime anthology with my story and it took nine months for the books to reach the shelves. Authors who would like to donate can get in touch with their local libraries - and please try to be patient. Here, for those who would like a heapin' helping of library talk, is Library of Congress FAQs on CIP/ISBN etc. http://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/faqs/
Thank you for stopping by - I am still smiling thinking of those due date cards.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks you, Shari. And thanks to all librarians for helping authors and readers. Libraries fulfill a function in our society that no other facility does. I've come to think of them as a reflection of the local area, where you meet people and can feel the pulse of the community. Buying books, making recommendations and inviting authors to speak and create audiences is invaluable.

Warren Bull said...

In the closest library to me the computers are always in use and most of the users are minority children and teens. I used a blurb from the head librarian of the children's department in Kansas City, MO for HEARTLAND.

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you, Shari, for sharing your perspective as a librarian and reminding us that libraries grow readers. It’s good to hear that despite today’s digital distractions, children still enjoy reading books.

Carla Damron said...

Librarians are my HEROES. Thanks, Shari!

KM said...

Guess I've been spoiled by the libraries that have added the books quickly, like the public library in the area where I grew up, the library on Cape Cod where I visit my ill sister frequently, and the library in the prison where I used to work.

When I've donated, I have spoken to the collection managers, and asked that they not accept the books if they plan to just sell them on the 2 for a dollar sales racks, or to contact me if for some reason they decide they are not suitable for the collection & I will come pick them up.

So far, they've just disappeared, unless I missed them on the sale rack.

What's "Rightsized?" Is that a reference to actual physical size of a book, or to the size of the collection?

Lesley Diehl said...

Here in upstate New York, each small village has a library. The librarians and friends of the library work hard to bring authors and other events to the town, especially summer events for kids. I wish there was some way to tell the community members how fortuante they are to have this rish resource and I wish they would utilize it more.

Shari Randall said...

Hi KM -
The "rightsizing" was with the staff - another way to say half the staff was let go.
I do hope they accept your books for the collection so many people can enjoy them.

Shari Randall said...

Many thanks to all who posted about their appreciation of libraries - let's hope they can continue to flourish in these troubled times.