Making an Effective Library Appeal for Your Book
In the 1970s, before the internet, the standard way for an independent author to publicize his book to libraries was to send a copy to the institutions’ Acquisition Librarian. It helped if the author was a faculty or student member of the organization or lived in the library’s host state. After the receipt of the book the library might or might not decide to add it to their collections in their main library and perhaps even to satellite facilities. This was a time consuming and expensive process for authors as well as being wasteful of resources. If the books were not selected they were most often not returned, but were frequently sold to finance the institution’s activities.
Book publishing companies had several advantages over independent publishers. Their books were reviewed in journals, they took out ads in magazines that circulated to librarians, they exhibited their books at national and international trade shows, and they also offered hardcover copies of their books. With the advent and growing capabilities of the internet, the independent author is now on a more level playing field, but still at a significant disadvantage.
Early in the history of the internet, a color photograph or a book took so long to download that it was impractical to send photos as attachments. These clogged up the receiver’s computer so badly that all e-mails with attachments over a certain size were refused. Anything with photo images was still best mailed and this resulted in the evolution of the one-sheet which usually contained an image of the cover along with lines of descriptive materials and how to contact the author for sales or personal appearances. These one-sheets were often generated by authors and blindly mailed to institutions, although the more sophisticated located the names of the institution’s Acquisition Librarian and directed their letters to them. This was slightly more effective, but still often meant that their one-sheets were thrown away by more senior members of the library’s staff. In the best cases, the library might still request a review copy of the book with the possibility that they would reject it.
Steps an Author Needs to Take
1. Identify the institutions that he wants to know about his book. These include major public libraries, university libraries, and public school systems. Then expand his appeal nationally and internationally.
2. Pay for a professional independent review of the book in Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly or some similar organization.
3. Discover who is the Acquisition Librarian who might also be called something like the Director of Collections. Often the larger institutions will have a Staff Directory, but some do not, and it may be necessary to use the “Ask A Librarian” function in the library to obtain e-mail addresses. In some libraries, librarians are assigned to certain fields of study, say business, and they recommend books for purchase.
4. Offer your book in a variety of formats. Traditionally libraries demanded hard-cover books because of their durability in the stacks. In some cases this is still true, but the lesser cost of softcovers and e-books has made these more attractive to libraries that want to offer the product, but are short of funds. Audiobooks are increasingly popular and downloadable audiobooks which do not require physical library space or checking in and out are attractive to institutions. With the advent of the Coronavirus, the ability to offer resources that do not require physical check-outs or check-ins appeal to both the library and its users.
5. Present the metadata about your book. This information is the summary of the book’s physical characteristics. For a guide, look at Amazon’s description of their books. This information will include the title, page length, type of book or product, ISBN, cost, publisher, source, and publication date. A book published in several formats will have ISBNs for each type of product.
6. Write a one-sentence summary of the book.
7. Write a brief paragraph about the book. This should indicate the intended audience, and how the book would benefit them. The last is more significant in non-fiction books, but a good novel will be illustrating some point about the human condition that is explored by the author’s fictional characters.
8. Write a “About the Author” section. This is another paragraph that tells about the author’s previous experiences and why he, or she, is uniquely qualified to write this particular book. This would also be the place to mention significant awards, university degrees, and other meaningful honors, although the “honor” might even be prison time, if this is a transformational autobiography.
9. Identify why your book is different from all others in the field, written from a unique point of view, or arranged in a particularly useful fashion.
10. Suggest on your Social Media sites such as blogs, YouTube videos, Tweets, Facebook Posts, etc. that your friends request your new book from their local libraries. In my campaign I have contacted 150 libraries in the U.S. and Canada. This is a minor fraction of the total number of libraries in the country. Having your friends request the book does not cost them anything and can vastly expand your appeal.
This is an e-mail sent to a university library.
Dear Mr. ———,
I am sure that you have often read many How-To business books.. I have written one that is not derived from others’ works, but is based on my experiences from holding not less than 17 different professional and work positions in my life. I would like for you to consider it for (name of institution)’s collections. Not only will you find it an enjoyable read and/or listen, but it is also full of practical information that any novice business person needs to know. It is not a big book. It is not an expensive book, but I think you will find it a potentially valuable book for (name of institution)’s students and faculty.
This new business book will enhance your collection in that it is designed to contain in one volume materials that are often treated in entire shelfs of specialized business titles to give a useful one-book overlook of the innovative steps that I describe to conceive of, and start, a variety of businesses throughout one’s life as needs, circumstances, education, experiences, and health might dictate.
“Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age”
Wm. Hovey Smith
Softcover ISBN 978-1-64895-264-7 $7.99
E-Book ISBN 978-1-64895-265-4 $2.99
Read by James Edward Thomas
ISBN 978-0-916565-20-6 $14.99
“Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age,” provides a unique way for people of all ages to identify and select the best opportunities at the moment to raise immediate cash while simultaneously planning for longer-term-businesses that require university degrees or professional certifications. The book provokes the reader to list and select among opportunities that they develop based on their life experiences and interests and work towards launching business activities that can meet their immediate and future needs.. These potential opportunities are not limited to product-development, but also include ventures in the arts as well as in the more general area of selling knowledge. The book also contains practical chapters on naming a business, finding partners, getting financing, patents, trademarks, etc. For those in college, the book advocates seeking those with like-minded interests and taking some business classes along with their professional studies. “Make Your Own Job” is available in softcover, as an e-book, as well as an audio book.
I introduce a number of unusual business concepts in this book. Among these are, “There is nothing in human experience that cannot be turned into profit by an inventive mind.” Another is that one become accustomed to participating in a variety of business ventures throughout their lives and change them as might be dictated by sudden disability or other life happenings. Yet a third is that business can be thought of as large-scale multi-million dollar ventures, but equally important to seniors is developing a less demanding business that can keep them interested and active in their older years.
I have attached a one-sheet about the book with links to my social media, order, and contact information as well as a manuscript copy of the text.
Wm. Hovey Smith
About This Author
Wm. Hovey Smith is the author of more than 20 books and producer of more than 850 YouTube videos. He is a Professional Geologist in Georgia, a former U.S. Army Combat Engineer Officer, outdoorsman, small business owner, knife maker, and international speaker on environmental and business topics, having spoken at international forums in Austria and China. He has also served as an Information Scientists for a multi-national company specializing in industrial patents. His current project is a novel, screenplay and movie, “Father of the Grooms.” For more information on the author’s activities go to www.hoveysmith.com.