The local library is a vital part of our society that offers free knowledge, resources, and sanctuary without judgment or critique.
Many writers dream of seeing their books on the library shelves, ready and waiting for some lucky person to check them out. Several unknown authors found fame through the library system, and it’s not too far-fetched to believe that you can do the same.
But how does one get their book into the library system?
Do Your Research
Libraries may have an unparalleled collection of books, but not all libraries are the same. Start by contacting your local library and asking them:
- What books do they need
- If they accept self-published books
- Which wholesaler do they prefer
- Which books are in demand
- What they look for when selecting books
- And their budget for new books
Remember, you are NOT trying to pitch your book to them at this time. Instead, focus on gathering the information and listening to the librarians. Then, you can craft your plan.
Work with a Wholesaler
A wholesaler supplies books to libraries, bookstores, and other book-related places, so you want to be on their radar. Not only can they help you distribute your book, but they can help you get it library-ready!
Popular wholesalers include Baker & Taylor (B&T), Ingram, and ProQuest. You can apply directly from their websites, but make sure you check their criteria before doing so.
Another thing about wholesalers is that you’ll have to offer them a discount (50-55%) and an opportunity to return it after a set time (usually 60-90 days).
The discount and return policy will make them more interested in stocking your books. And if the wholesalers stock your books, libraries will be more likely to grab them as well!
Prepare a Sell Sheet
Now that you’ve done your research and have your books ready with a wholesaler, it’s time to create a sell sheet with ALL the information about your book.
- Contact info
- Book Cover and Artist (if applicable)
- An International Standard Book Number (ISBN), A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), or a Cataloging-in-publication (CIP) data block
- A list of formats and editions
- Relevant awards
- A brief description
- Why patrons will enjoy it
- And where to purchase your book.
You can also include any review the book has, your website, and even a photo of yourself! Your sell sheet is how you market your book to the library, so make it engaging!
Speaking of reviews, you’re going to need a few of those to boost the interest in your books. Ask your audience to leave a review, or check out review sites like Midwest Book Review, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, or Library Thing.
You can also ask your local newspapers for a review or make a profile on Goodreads or Bookbub. Then, mine those reviews and add the best to your sell sheet!
However, before you toss your book at the library, take the time to call the front desk and ask who’s in charge of picking books for your genre.
Then, add their name to the email for a personal touch that will make your sales email stand out from the rest.
Once you hit send, there’s no going back!
If you get a positive response, offer them a PDF sample of the book for review. If you don’t hear back from them after a few weeks, reach out and ask if they need more information about your book.
And if you get the dreaded “no thanks,” thank them for their time and move on.
Remember, your book won’t be to everyone’s liking, and that’s ok! There are over 20,000 libraries in the United States alone, and one of them is bound to need the kind of book you’ve written.
Libraries are a vital part of our society, but getting your book on their shelves may not be as easy as it seems. However, by using the tips above, you’ll be on your way to having your books cataloged, stocked, and ready to be checked out!
All you need is time, research, and a LOT of patience.