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INstruction
Marketing Books To Libraries
By Helen Dunn Frame
September, 2007, 15:10

Does having your book in libraries help or hinder its promotion? Recently articles in an online newsletter reviewed the pros and cons of marketing to libraries and caused me to contemplate the question.
 
Generally those contributors that opposed working with libraries had had a bad experience in dealing with one branch. These people apparently failed to understand that each branch is as good as its employees and that each system has its own rules about obtaining books. It behoves an author to inquire first about procedures regarding donations and purchase of books by a particular library before proceeding.
 
After Greek Ghosts was published, I decided to donate two copies to neighbourhood branch of the Dallas Public Library. It was then that I learned such donations had to go through the main library downtown. Subsequently, the book was put into circulation. In addition, I was able to host a reading and sell books at my local branch.
 
My mystery is still in the catalogue as I verified by doing a search at http://worldcat.org. The results also showed it is in two other library systems including one in California that I couldn't confirm because no link was provided. At this website you can find out about libraries throughout the United States. When promoting, think out of your hometown box!
 
Before I spoke to a book club in one of the suburbs of Dallas, the local librarian bought four copies so that members could read it prior to the meeting. I don't know if she paid for them out of her acquisition budget or from a grant from the federal government. Yes, money is available to libraries that may help you sell to them. Some of the attendees at the presentation were so excited about owning a copy signed by a real live author that several people bought books after my talk.
 
Thanks to a narrow store front branch library in New York City, I was able to read eight to ten books a week when I was growing up. My parents didn't read or have a budget to purchase books as many people don't today. My mother probably bought about a dozen books in her entire lifetime!
 
You don't realize how great libraries are until you don't have one in your neighbourhood. Libraries in Costa Rica with books in English are few. One is The Lexicon Library, not easily accessible from my home, (lexiconlib@yahoo.com) that charges about $6 a year for membership and has limited hours two days a week. With a limited budget, the library appreciates donations to increase their inventory.
 
Of course, as an author, I would prefer everyone bought a new copy of my book. On the other hand, while I sometimes buy new ones, I also haunt used book stores and exchange what I've read with friends because books are costly in Costa Rica. For example, a novel that costs about $8 in the States would be nearly $13 plus tax; used, it might be two to four dollars.
 
Two Costa Rican women's clubs provide readers opportunities to buy used books. People arrive early at the Women's Club of Costa Rica's annual bazaar to have the most choices at bargain prices. Proceeds help to fund a growing scholarship program for high school students that would otherwise have to drop out. It only takes $200 to keep a child in school for a year. The Newcomers Club accepts donations at its meetings and sells the books to help a needy family.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson (http://carolynhoward-johnson.com) wrote in Sharing with Writers dated May 2007:
 
"I guess I don't have much patience with authors who would prefer to get their 15% royalty (…Often less than a dollar) rather than gain a new reader. A new reader who likes your book might tell another reader and he or she still another. Some will buy. Some will borrow. Either way, it's exposure for your book. So when a library asks for a donated copy, for heaven's sake, give them one. Give them two. And a poster! And ask them to put one of them on display with that poster for a little while. Everyone wins including the borrowers!"
 
For me, partnering with libraries also is a good thing. It's another avenue for exposing my creation and a place to promote it. In the long scheme of things, don't you agree that we need to use every opportunity available to market our books?

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Helen Dunn Frame. A Syracuse University journalism school graduate, published in major newspapers, magazines and trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. Her writing skills and love of travel led her to write her mystery novel Greek Ghosts. Email: helen@helendunnframe.com Web site: http://www.helendunnframe.com


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