Friday, May 29, 2009

Library Program Tips from RWA's 2009 Librarian of the Year

Welcome Deborah!

Deborah Scchnieder creates publicity for programs for 44 libraries in the King County (WA) Library System, the 2nd busiest in the U.S.) and promotes about 100 author events every year.
  • AND her second novel Promise Me, an historical romance, is due out from The Wild Rose Press.
  • AND she's been named RWA's 2009 Librarian of the Year!
  • AND she'll be accempting her award and present a two-hour workship at the annual RWA Conference in DC in July.
So, here'a a preview:
Besides taking your librarian to lunch, what’s the best way to approach your local library to pitch a program, get some publicity, and hopefully sell books?

Most librarians don't have time to lunch with authors, (we're not agents or editors and library staff is spread very thin these days). Many authors call me to pitch a program, but to be honest they do it all wrong. They usually call it a "reading" and that makes me think they'll come to the library, read out loud from their book and let the audience ask questions.
That's a pretty boring program. I encourage authors to think about presenting a program, that is -- something specific around the research for the book, the setting, the premise or even a writing workshop. I want a program that is different and unique. I have to convince patrons to come in to the library after they get home from work, so they want more than the bookstore version of an author event.

What do you want to see in a print and/or online media packet?

I honestly wish more authors would create an on-line media packet. That should have several descriptions of their book, (long and short), the blurb for publicity, several versions of a jpeg cover, (at least 300 dpi) and a great headshot. There should also be an excerpt on their webpage. And speaking of webpages, I'm not impressed by Flash graphics, music or all the interesting stuff folks try. If you're a video game developer, then your website should be flashy, but as an author -- get to the important information. My biggest pet peeve is an opening that makes me wait and click to get to the homepage. I'm a VERY busy person, and I want information not entertainment. Music also makes me crazy, as I work in an open design office. I have to keep my earphones plugged in all the time to avoid shocking my co-workers with a blast of music.

Can an author sell books at a library event? How does that work?

We always try to have books for sale at author events, because our patrons want to buy books and have them signed. We allow an author to bring their own for sale, or we try to arrange for a bookseller to bring a supply. This is usually for bigger, better known authors, as bookstores don't have a lot of extra staff to send out in the evening for events. Our only rule is that library staff cannot be involved in book sales. In a few cases our Friends of the Library members have arranged to have a supply of books and they sell them. Usually they keep 10% of the sales. We do not ask for any portion of the sales when a bookstore or author is handling the sales.

What the best way for the library and the author to work together to promote an event?

In my case, give me all the information I need right away. I'm trying to promote a debut author right now, but he sent his bookcover image inside a Word document, (not as a jpeg as I requested). I've waited a week now to put his information on our Meet the Author page on the library website, (we get over 2 million hits per month). He's hurting himself by not responding. Overall, that's the biggest problem when I work with authors, they don't respond to my requests. I can't submit a request to our graphics department to create flyers either, so again -- the clock is ticking and he's losing promotional opportunities.

I'm also shocked when I visit an author's website and they haven't updated it with the library program information. Use all the free access, (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter if you must) to tell other folks where you'll be and what you'll be talking about. Also, create a program that is interesting.

Give us an example of a great romance author program held at one of your libraries?

Recently we had an event called, "Romance Extravaganza" and we had an entire day devoted to romance. We partnered with the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America chapter, and they had their monthly meeting at our Covington Library. Then we had a major author as our keynote speaker, Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz. This was followed by a booksigning with 6 authors, and then panel discussions. We had over 145 people attend that day. You can see photos of the event on my blog at

Any other advice you’d like to offer?

Too many authors only consider the attendance at a program as a sign of success, instead of reviewing all the publicity efforts that happen around an author event. We always see "holds" go up when we feature an author event, and that can signal a "buy" for the collection. I'm truly surprised when authors don't ask for copies of flyers, bookmarks, posters, etc. after a program, because they can send these to their editor or publicist.

For more tips visit Deborah’s blog, attend her RWA program, or look for the CD after the conference.

Thanks Deborah for visiting and best of luck with Promise Me.

The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries

Here today is Dana Lynn Smith, The Book Marketing Maven, to talk about her ebook, The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries.

I liked Dana's The Savvy Book Marketer’s Guide to Selling Your Book to Libraries very much. I admire anyone who can explain how the inside of a library operates without having been locked up in one.

Seriously, there is so much the public does not see and often authors imagine how libraries work sometimes based on one or two examples. In another life as a librarian, I purchased books for a public library with multiple branches, a large research university library, and a medium-sized state university library and attended many, many trade shows as a buyer and as a seller.

Dana demystifies the process and offers a comprehensive guide to both new and long published authors. Welcome, Dana and thanks for writing such a needed book.

Dana, Tell me how did you the for research this book?

I spent 13 years with a business book publisher, where libraries were a primary market, so I learned on the job over a number of years. I did hire a research assistant to compile the lists of the top 100 public libraries and top 100 academic libraries that are featured in the book.

What’s the single most important thing an author can do?
Take the time to understand how libraries make purchasing decisions and place orders for books. For nonfiction, libraries are looking to fill a gap in their collection. They want good books on topics they think their patrons are interested in, that they don’t already cover in their collection. Fiction is more of a challenge for independently published authors. Try to find a local angle of some sort and promote any awards you've won and good reviews from well-known sources.

How important are distributors and wholesalers/jobbers?

Most library book orders are placed through distributors and wholesalers, because it’s much more efficient than dealing directly with hundreds of different publishers. If you don’t have a distributor, it’s very helpful for your book to be available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, or one of the other wholesalers.

How important are print reviews to libraries?

Getting reviewed in one of the major book review journals is the best way to get the attention of libraries. They rely heavily on the journals in their purchasing decisions because there’s simply no way they can keep up with the flood of books being published each year. Your first priority should be to study the submission requirements for the major journals and submit your book to those that are a good fit. Submissions need to be made before or just after publication, depending on the journal. There’s a list of review journals on my website

Unfortunately, with such limited space in the review journals, many excellent books never get reviewed there. You can also reach libraries through direct mail, co-op advertising, tradeshows,, and phone calls or visits to libraries.

So Ms. Savvy, what’s next for you?

I have just released my second book, The Savvy Book Marketer’s Guide to Successful Social Marketing. To learn more about promoting through social media, follow my virtual book tour where I’ll discuss social media marketing on a dozen leading blogs, ezines and podcasts.
That sounds like information that all writers need. Please come back and tell us about that one.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guide series at For a free copy of her ebook, Top Book Marketing Tips of 2008, use the sign up form on her blog at
She also offers free podcasts about selling to libraries & using social marketing at