Is it the familiar, musty smell of paper and binding glue? The stacks lined with books whose titles promise seemingly endless stories or wisdom? The quiet shared with others?
Readers have so many reasons to love libraries.
But that loving relationship may undergo a subtle shift when you start writing and publishing books yourself. On the one hand, you want to see your works on the shelves. On the other hand, library checkouts might represent lost revenues.
New authors worry about the free access offered by libraries, asking questions like:
Why do I want my print book in the library, where dozens of people can read one purchased copy?
Why should I put my ebook on Overdrive or Bibliotheca? Won’t this hurt my sales if people borrow rather than buy it?
As a marketer, I suggest that once you commit to being an author, you should love your library even more than before, and do everything you can to support the library system.
Here are my top five reasons that authors should love their libraries — counting down.
#5: The library can be an alternate (or primary) workspace
The other day my home office was uninhabitable because a crew was tearing off the roof. I tried the local coffee shop, but the guy next to me started a series of conference calls. And despite my love of coffee, I can only drink so much before I get too jumpy to focus. So I went to the local library.
Our library has desks and chairs scattered throughout — in the stacks, next to windows, and in dedicated quiet study rooms. I was surprised by the number of people using the space to research, work, read, or in one case snooze.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Working in the library, you get out among people yet can still be in your zone. And you won’t be tempted by those maple scones at the coffee house.
A stint in the library can help with writer’s block, as well. Changing your location may shift your perspective on the thing your writing. Try you library.
#4: Libraries support your research
Google isn’t always enough for diligent researchers.
I find myself perusing the stacks for ideas and bringing home piles of physical books for note-taking and reading. And if you’re stuck looking for something, try the reference librarian.
#3: Libraries support local authors
Many libraries host event that give you a chance to work on your public speaking chops. Go ahead, propose a session about your topic.
Donate a book, too. The library might highlight it on a “Local Author” shelf.
#2: Libraries help your readers
Not everyone can afford to buy to purchase all of the books they want and need. Does that mean that they shouldn’t have access to your stories or wisdom? I don’t think so.
Libraries are breeding grounds for avid readers, and we need more avid readers in the world.
But the most important reason to love your library is this:
#1: Libraries support your book marketing.
Your book marketing strategy should have three components:
1. Discovery — helping people find your book
2. The purchase — making it easy for people to buy the book
3. Loyalty — turning a purchaser into a reader and from there to a loyal reader or fan
The library itself contributes in a small way to the second phase, by purchasing the book. (You can also donate the book to the library.) But it helps you with the other two phases of marketing: discovery and loyalty.
Discovery: Most people have never heard of your book. The library gives them another place to find you. People who find and read your book in the library may become fans.
Loyalty: Even when someone finds your book, they may not be ready or willing to take the purchase plunge.
Let’s say that you’ve connected with someone who is interested in the topic (for a nonfiction) or your genre (for fiction). They may be intrigued, but are not yet willing to buy the book until they know that they like your writing or viewpoint.
A library gives them a chance to try out the book with little risk. If they read it and like it, good things may happen. One loyal reader, nurtured through the library, might:
· Sign up for your email list
· Buy other books you’ve already written
· Be among the first to purchase your next book
· Leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads helping others find your book
· Recommend the book to people they know
· Give the book to someone as a gift
I’d rather have 100 loyal, enthusiastic readers through the library than 100 people who buy the book online but don’t read it. Those loyal readers will help to do the work of marketing for me.
How to include the library in your book marketing plans
Pronoun now makes it easy to get your book into the ebook distribution systems that many libraries use, Overdrive and Bibliotheca. Go ahead and add those channels to get your ebook in front of more readers.
Consider donating your book to your local library.
Propose a speaking event related to your topic — and let people know they can find the book online or at the library.
If you give an in-person talk, let people know if the book is available in the library. If not, ask them to request it. Being able to check out the book just may remove a barrier for someone who eventually becomes a fan.