An Insider’s Guide to the Library: What Writers May Not Know!

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This summer, I got the best job ever, a part-time position at my local library! Now, I get to not only write books every day, but I also get to play with books for a living! What could be better, right?? So, I thought I’d give a little insight as to how working in the library for almost six months now has helped me in writing and planning for my books.

First off, let me correct The Library Rumor. I have had several people ask me, “Why do you want the library to buy your book? Won’t that hurt your sales if people can just check it out?” Unlike bookstores, who can order tons of your books and return them if they don’t do well, the library does NOT return the books they buy. When you sell to a library, it stays at the library 🙂

Ways that your local library can support you:

Submit your ARC (advance reader copy) to the review board. If the board likes what they read, they will order a copy or two for their library. I’ve learned from speaking with the librarians that the trick to getting it into libraries across the county (yeah, I live in a county now and not a parish, still so strange to me to say county) is to make sure your book has a high circulation rate. Get your friends to check it out and even check it out yourself! Get that baby circulating! The higher the circulation rate, the more books they will order for more libraries.

Name Recognition. When your book is circulating, the librarians and the shelving teams recognize your name and judge its popularity by the circulation. If a patron comes in looking for a book in your genre, the chances are even if the librarians/shelving teams don’t know the genre well, they will point the patron to the item that has been circulating at a high rate. I’ve done it myself.

Author events. Oftentimes, libraries have rooms that are free for the public’s use, you just have to “book” them in advance for your book launch/author event. Click here for an excellent post by Chip McGregor on how to create a launch party that is truly a party!

Book Displays/face-outs. At the library, we like to put books on display to grab the eye of the patron, so if I know you and see your book, I’m going to give you a shelf display for your book whenever possible, even when there is no author event going on! So, haha make friends with your local library! The books on display almost always have a much higher turn around. (I keep an eye out to see how fast my displays are checked out and sometimes, the book is gone within the hour!)

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(Some books I put on display by authors I know: Liz Tolsma, Susan Anne Mason and Robin Jones Gunn. I haven’t met Julie Klassen, but I love her work.)

Good to note: Shelf Placement. Back in the day, books used to be shelved by genre. I remember as a young teen just heading right to my favorite genre. Well, today, most libraries shelve by book type: Non-Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Juvenile Non-Fiction, etc. They no longer break off “Christian Fiction” from the rest of the fiction. They are shelved together!

Webpage Displays. Just about every library has a webpage where they promote the new/bestseller books. I’m sure the submission process is very different from library to library, but don’t be afraid to ask the front desk how to get your book on the webpage. If they have it reserved only for bestsellers, well, you can inquire again when your book is a hit!

Libraries are very supportive of their local authors, so be sure to take advantage of all that the library has to offer 🙂

Here is a little glance into my Colorado library. (I forgot to take pictures of the first floor, so these are only of the second floor):

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(2nd Floor: My favorite quiet spot is the Cook Book Corner with indoor/outdoor fireplace.)

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(2nd Floor: Fiction, Audio/Playaway and Non-Fiction Sections)

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(2nd Floor: Left is the YA section with study rooms all to the right.)

Happy Writing and Reading!

Photo Cred: (Top) Unsplash.com

About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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