Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Terriers of the Information World

Two weeks ago I attended “Love Is Murder” in Chicago. I had never been to this conference before but I’m very glad I did. The panels were terrific. One panel in particular I found really helpful—“Straight Talk: From Librarians to Writers. Getting and Keeping Your Book in Our Libraries.”

Calling themselves “Terriers of the Information World,” the panel consisted of four amazing librarians—Monique Flasch, Susan Gibberman, Marlene Leonardi and Patricia Ruocco.

The Scoop:
With over 17,000 libraries in the USA, libraries wield tremendous power. When a library buys a book it is stamped and cannot be returned. Although print is still the predominant market in a library, Kindles and other e-reader devices are becoming more and more available and in demand. Each device holds a specific genre e.g. “the romance device” or the “mystery device.”

Librarians have to consider cost when purchasing a book. They don't get a discount! Each library has a different budget and patron requests to consider. Residency is always an advantage since some librarians automatically buy books written by their local authors.  And of course, author visits are always popular. Let libraries know you are happy to come in and talk. Be an expert on something you can tie in with your book since libraries will often buy the book of the visiting author.

Librarians select their books as follows:
  • Reviews in professional journals like Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. Surprisingly enough, librarians focus more on the synopsis rather than the number of stars. They know their patrons and they know what their patrons read.
  • Local and/or national newspaper reviews.
  • Genre-specific publications (e.g. Mystery Scene, RT Book Club)
  • Genre websites.
The panelists were quick to point out that they take no notice of Amazon reader reviews—in fact a lively discussion ensued regarding the Harriet Klausner debacle. Read here if you missed it. It’s fascinating and a bit depressing actually.

How can authors become more “attractive” to librarians?
  • Join organizations like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
  • Keep websites current—they DO visit author websites. They like the idea of a ready-made mailing list. They love a highly visible link to your book lists in series order. Make this list (if possible) a printable list.
  • Note prominently if your books are available in Large Print, Audio books and Kindle or download-compatible.
  • If you get a stellar review—put it up on your website. Again, make it visible.

Librarians go to conferences, bookstore signings and book fairs—Printers’ Row is a favorite—so look out for them and introduce yourselves. Librarians love authors! They want to meet you!

Visit your local library but make sure you ask for the right person who handles your genre. When donating your books, again, ask for the right person—don’t just leave them at the desk where they are most likely to end up in the dumpster. If you are local–tell them.

Remember, librarians receive a ton of solicitations to purchase titles so be respectful. If emailing them … remember to have a link to your website in your signature line and always put in your library card number!

Check back on February 27 for part two of this post which will deal with keeping your book on the shelf and not in the dumpster!

8 comments:

Aline Templeton said...

The Harriet Kausner story is absolutely fascinating. I've often wondered where all thes 'new books' on Amazon marketplace came from - and what detective work!

Aline Templeton said...

The Harriet Kausner story is absolutely fascinating. I've often wondered where all thes 'new books' on Amazon marketplace came from - and what detective work!

Hannah Dennison said...

I think so too. Maybe she- or her son - justified selling them because essentially, she was reading all those books for free?

j welling said...

Thanks for the ideas on libraries.

Hannah Dennison said...

You're welcome ... they were so helpful. I hadn't really thought too much about libraries (I'm embarrassed to say). thanks for stopping by!

Charlotte Hinger said...

And I was so proud of my Harriet review! Boy, howdy.

Hannah Dennison said...

I was too, Charlotte. In fact, it was my very first review as a newbie and I still remember the thrill of it all. Perhaps ... just perhaps .... our reviews were before she crossed to the dark side?

Charlotte Hinger said...

Hannah--this is one of my favorite posts. I'm cutting and pasting it to my promotional ideas section.