Thursday, September 22, 2011

Promoting to Libraries

by Jacqueline Seewald

Writers can’t just write a book these days; they have to promote it as well. Today owing to the internet and the ease of self-publishing, there are more writers publishing their books then ever before. We are in the midst of a literary revolution that is changing the face of publishing throughout the world. So what are the best ways to promote books? The obvious answer is by using the internet: social networking such as websites, blogging, via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, as we are aware with the demise of Borders among others, bookstore opportunities unless you are a famous author are diminishing. So where does an author go to find publicity and name recognition? How about libraries.

As a former librarian and teacher, I can testify to the fact that authors are welcome to provide an event at many libraries. Books are an important component of what the library has to offer. Authors are respected by librarians. Think in terms of what kind of event you can provide that library patrons will enjoy and appreciate.

On October 6th I will present an event at the Fort Lee, NJ Library entitled “We Can All Be Writers.” It will not just be a talk but a happening—an interactive experience for both attendees and myself. I will offer writing exercises that we can do together and discuss.
I’ll also talk about sources of inspiration for writers as well as library resources for writers. In short, I will be offering something to patrons. I believe that not only can everyone be a writer but should be a writer. By this I do not necessarily mean that they should strive for publication. There is such a thing as writing simply for our own self-expression. There is also writing to leave a written and historical record for our families.

What’s in it for you? Well, the library may or may not be able to pay you to speak but at least you won’t be paying a fee. Doing an event will provide you with publicity. You can ask the local newspaper to cover it. Hopefully, library patrons may want to either borrow some of your novels from the library or purchase them. At the very least, the library will buy your book.

As for me, I intend to give something useful back to the community. Hopefully, my expertise in teaching, library science and writing will benefit those who also want to write.

Multi-award winning author Jacqueline Seewald has taught creative, expository and technical writing at the university level as well as high school English. She also worked as an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Eleven of her books of fiction have been published. Her short stories as well as poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies. Her hardcover mystery novels, THE INFERNO COLLECTION and THE DROWNING POOL, are the first two novels in the Kim Reynolds series.
THE TRUTH SLEUTH is a new release in that series. All three novels have received excellent reviews from BOOKLIST among others. Her historical romance set in the Regency period TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS is available in both hardcover and large print editions. These novels can be found on Amazon, B&N online, and local libraries. A young adult novel, STACY’S SONG, is also available in print and as an e-book.


  1. My books are popular in our local libraries but the system has never purchased any because their book budget is almost non-existent. They have wish lists asking patrons to purchase and donate books and they ask me for donations.

    I have done book readings and discussions but am not allowed to sell at these events. Publicity consisted of fliers posted at the library where the event was to take place and were poorly attended. The exception is a library that was closed because of budget cuts and is now run by volunteers. They publicized like crazy, I spoke to a standing room only crowd, and sold many books after my talk.

    It's especially frustrating because I was a librarian years ago and love libraries.

  2. Hi, Nancy,

    I believe every library is different. As you observe, some are friendlier than other to writers. Publicity is very important to any event. Like you I was a librarian for many years, actually a school librarian and an academic librarian, and so my sympathies are always with libraries and what we as authors can do to help them stay in business.

  3. I've done two workshops with another writer at our local library. We had a good, involved crowd both times and really enjoyed it. I hope to do another this coming spring. Libraries are wonderful places. I've spent many hours there and read much more than I could have otherwise. Ours is now under severe budget retraints, but I'd be happy to work with them any way I could. Your workshop sounds timely and interesting. Good luck with it. I predict a big turnout! Very nice post.

  4. Thank you, Ellis, for commenting and also for your encouraging words. Libraries are the best bargain around for readers. In hard economic times like these, they are unfortunately first to suffer budget cuts. This is bad for both reader and writers. I often think we can judge a society by the value it places on cultural institutions such as libraries.

  5. My debut book will soon be out and libraries are at the top of my promotion list. Our county system requires authors to have three "good" reviews before they will consider buying a book, so that's my first goal. While books are one of our household's biggest entertainment expenses, we'd be lost without the library. We couldn't possibly buy all the books we read!

  6. Our county library will let authors sell their books if it is a library event - not one the author approached the library to do. I have donated my children's books to my local library so I know they are in the system. I've not seen any sales since self-publishing to any place other than in-person events that I do myself such as homeschool conferences, book festivals, et cetera. The biggest thing with my books is that they have educational value and I'm just not hitting the right places yet. I do hope for a break this November when I present/exhibit at the SC independent schools association teachers' conference and the Savannah book festival shortly after that since I will be adding my YA paranormal mystery to my list of published books. Good luck with your library event and I hope you have mega sales and a large attendance - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery (coming soon)

    Ma America, The Travelin' Maven
    Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series
    Where will the adventure take you next?

  7. What a wonderful topic for a talk (happening), Jacqueline! I am going to plan to be there on the 6th--at least stop by to say hi :) Libraries are places of respite for me, and the thought of seeing my own book one day in them is...well, a dream. I was the person, thumbing through the rows, finding just the perfect book and feeling my heart lift. If someone ever has that experience with mine--wow. Kudos, Jacquie, for showcasing these grand places for authors.

  8. What a wonderful idea, Jacqueline, to offer a virtual writing workshop as part of your book promotion. I've done many writing workshops, but not in league with a new book--although, yes, if someone asks, my book is close at hand. At Sisters-in Crime/New England we have an excellent Speakers Bureau--mainly for libraries. I've done about sixty of them through the years, and whether two or twenty-two people show up, I consider it a success! Had I not been a teacher myself for many years, I've have been a librarian. Thanks for this.

  9. Hi, T.W.,

    Libraries are most impressed by reviews from PW, LJ, Booklist and Kirkus. However, good reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Library Thing are looked at as well. Every good review helps! Sometimes even bad ones are better than none at all. I'm with you about libraries! As someone who enjoys reading several novels each week, I very much value libraries.

  10. Hi, Elysabeth,

    County libraries are probably fussier than your local library about letting you do an event for them. I've been invited twice by local libraries where I lived so my experience isn't exactly vast in this area either. I don't think you can sell much at library events as Nancy observed. However, you do get exposure and publicity. I also believe self-published books are much harder to sell to librarians. Good luck with your new book!

  11. Hi, Jenny,

    I will look forward to meeting you and introducing to readers and hopeful writers.

  12. Hello, Nancy,

    I'm glad you like the idea. You're obviously well-qualified to do a similar presentation.
    Sisters-in-Crime is a wonderful organization.
    Sara Paretsky was kind enough to read and blurb my first Five Star/Gale Kim Reynolds mystery THE INFERNO COLLECTION. I believe that helped draw the attention and praise from BOOKLIST for the novel.

  13. Good luck on October 6th! I think your advice is so timely and is bound to help your library as well as your career. A true win-win situation (or a triple win if you count the lucky participants in your workshop.
    --Michelle Black

  14. Jacquie, I really like how you encourage others to write. I have found libraries to be a wonderful place for promotion. Librarians can do a lot to help an author build her reader base. I'm blessed to have such a wonderful head librarian at our satellite branch. She has recommended each of my books be added to the McClung Historical Collection of the East Tennessee Historical Center as part of the local and genealogical history of East Tennessee, and I'm so happy they've been accepted.

  15. Thanks so much for your ideas. My local library is a county one, and they've never held an author event that I know of. Maybe I can help change that by using some of your ideas.

  16. Even if they don't schedule an appearance for you, libraries love bookmarks and what better place to advertise your book than with the patrons? Even if the library doesn't carry your book, they'll take a stack of bookmarks to pass out!

  17. Hi, Christy,

    You're so right! Librarians can really be helpful to writers. I'm glad you've had such a positive experience.

  18. Hi, Brenda,

    When your new novel comes out, we can brainstorm about ways to change the minds of your local librarians about hosting writer events.

  19. Dani,

    That's a wonderful suggestion! Making bookmarks with details about our novels available through the library is great promotional publicity.

  20. I've been contacted by a number of fellow writers and readers who tried to post and for seem reason were unable. So I just want to say thanks you for dropping by and reading this post.

  21. Workshops are a great way to draw in readers (and hopefully buyers). I think they're better than just a talk or presentation.

  22. I'm glad I saved the link and came to read the post, even though I'm a couple of days late. Helpful info, and since you first suggested this kind of hands-on workshop to me some time ago, I have done it twice and had great success with it. People like coming to a workshop and practicing. I just saw a lady who was at a workshop I did early this summer, and she told me she took her basic story idea that developed that day and is writing a book.

  23. Helen,

    I agree. It's important to offer something to readers. Library patrons will come to hear famous people speak, but those of us who are essentially unknown won't draw a crowd.

  24. Hi, Maryann,

    Have to say that really makes me feel good too. Thanks for the positive feedback.