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6 Steps how to get your book in the library

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  • February 1, 2024
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  • 7 min read

Book

Getting your book into libraries is an important goal for most authors. Having your book on library shelves increases visibility, builds credibility, reaches more readers, and helps drive book sales. This guide will explain the key steps authors should take to get their books into libraries and maximize the benefits.

The process requires some effort on the author’s part, but it is very doable if you follow some basic best practices.

Step 1: Research Libraries

The first step to getting your book into libraries is researching and identifying which libraries you want to target.

Here are some tips for this initial research:

  • Focus first on your local libraries and bigger city or county library systems. Getting into these larger libraries will increase visibility and the likelihood of additional pick-ups. List the library systems in your city, county, and state.
  • Look at the collection development policy for each library system. This document outlines the criteria librarians use to select books for their shelves. It will give you insight into what kinds of books they accept and any unique needs or focus areas of that library.
  • Pay attention to special collection areas that may be relevant to your book. For example, some libraries collect local authors if you wrote a local history book.
  • Search the library catalogs to get a sense of books like yours that are already included. This can demonstrate if there is demand from patrons for this topic and genre. It also allows you to see competitive titles.

 Step 2: Format Your Book

The format you publish your book in is important when getting it into libraries. Libraries have certain book formatting blueprint preferences, so keep these in mind:

Print:

Many libraries still focus primarily on print books for their collections. While ebooks are growing, print books remain the most accessible option for many library patrons. If possible, make your book available in print format. Get help from professional printing services providers like Book Writing Founders who will ensure your book print is perfect and according to the requirements. This will maximize your chances of getting it into library collections.

 Ebook:

More and more libraries are expanding their digital collections with ebooks. These offer benefits like accessibility, storage, and ease of distribution. Consider making your book available as an ebook in popular formats like EPUB or PDF. This will help meet the growing demand from libraries for digital content.

Audiobook:

Audiobooks are also gaining traction, especially as more people listen on the go with smartphones and devices. If relevant, producing an audiobook version can help get your title into library audio collections. ACX, Findaway Voices, and Libro. FM is are popular audiobook distribution platform.

The best approach is making your book available in multiple formats. Focus on the formats that libraries prefer print, ebooks, and possibly audiobooks. This accessibility across formats will give you the most options for getting your book into library collections and in front of more readers.

 Step 3: Metadata

Metadata is crucial for getting your book into libraries. It’s the data that describes your book and helps librarians catalog and shelve it properly. Good metadata also makes your book discoverable in library catalogs.

The most important piece of metadata is the Library of Congress Subject Heading. This categorizes your book into a subject area so it can be found by readers interested in that topic. Search the Library of Congress website for your book’s most suitable Subject Heading.

You’ll also need to get an ISBN. This is the unique number that identifies your specific book edition. ISBNs are provided by Bowker in the US and other agencies internationally.

Finally, your metadata should include:

  • Author name
  • Book title and subtitle
  • Publisher Name
  • Publication date
  • Page count
  • Short description or summary
  • Author bio

Providing complete and accurate metadata gives librarians what they need to add your book to their collection. It also makes it easy for readers to discover your book when browsing the library catalog. Invest time into getting your metadata right before submitting it to libraries.

 Step 4: Build Relationships

Building relationships with librarians and staff is crucial for getting your book into libraries.

Here are some tips:

Introduce yourself:

Reach out to acquisitions librarians at libraries you want to target. Send them an email introducing yourself and your book. Offer to provide them with a copy to consider for their collection.

Offer to do Free events:

See if you can do an author talk, reading, or workshop at local libraries. This lets you connect in person and get librarians excited about your book. Offer to do free events as a way to give back to libraries supporting local authors.

Getting positive feedback

Ask librarians who have read your book for endorsements or reviews you can use to promote it. Librarians are great advocates and can encourage their peers to purchase your book. Getting positive feedback from librarians goes a long way.

Local library conferences

Attend local library conferences and network with librarians. Conferences allow you to meet a lot of potential supporters in a short time. Bring copies of your book to give away.

 Step 5: Submit Your Book

Once you’ve prepared your book and built relationships with librarians, it’s time to formally submit your book to libraries.

Here are some tips for submitting:

Follow submission guidelines:

Most libraries have specific instructions for submitting books. This usually involves sending a physical book copy, submission form, or letter. Carefully review and follow all guidelines.

Include marketing materials.

In addition to your book, send along materials like a press release, author bio, book summary, testimonials, and anything else that helps market your book. This gives librarians helpful information upfront about your book marketing strategy.

Leverage relationships:

When submitting, mention any librarians you’ve previously connected with. This personal touch can help give your book an advantage during the review process.

Be patient.:

Don’t expect an immediate response after submitting. Give librarians time to properly review your book and make an informed decision. The review process can take weeks or months.

Step 6: Follow Up

After submitting your book to libraries, don’t just sit back and wait. Follow up with the libraries to ensure your book is moving through its process smoothly.

Check the status of your submissions:

Email the acquisition or collection development librarians to politely ask about the status of your submissions. This shows you care about their decision and are eager to get your book into their collection.

Offer additional materials if needed:

The library may request additional information like book reviews, curricula, or other supplementary materials. Be prepared to promptly provide these.

Thank the librarians for their consideration:

Whether they accept or reject your book, send a thank you email. For acceptance, express your appreciation. For rejections, thank them for their time and consideration. This can strengthen your relationship for future submissions.

Following up demonstrates you value the library and want to work together to get your book into their collection. It also keeps your submission top of mind. Be polite and professional in your follow-up to represent yourself and your book well. Your book can end up on library shelves with some care and persistence.

Conclusion

Getting your book into libraries is an exciting milestone for any author in their book writing journey, but it does require some effort.

This guide covered the key steps to make it happen: researching libraries, formatting your book correctly, adding metadata, building relationships with librarians, submitting your book, and following up.

Getting into libraries is an ongoing process. As you publish new books or editions, you’ll want to repeat many steps to continue building your presence. Most libraries have limited budgets, so you may need patience as they evaluate new acquisitions. But in the long run, it’s worth the effort for the exposure and readership you can gain.

Libraries are still thriving hubs of information and entertainment in communities worldwide. Having your book on their shelves puts it into the hands of enthusiastic readers. Establishing yourself in library collections increases discoverability, lending, word of mouth, and sales.

It’s a smart move for any author looking to grow their readership. This guide gives you a roadmap to get your next book into libraries successfully.

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