Publishing Tips for Indie Authors: How to Get Your Book Into Libraries

Libraries spent more than you might expect on expanding their collection each year. But how can indie authors rise to the top and grab the attention of librarians? Find out here.
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Libraries spent more than you might expect on expanding their collection each year. But how can indie authors rise to the top and grab the attention of librarians? Find out here.

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Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

by Alinka Rutkowska

A survey of public libraries in the United States revealed that $1.22 billion was spent on collection expenditures, with more than 60 percent of that being spent on print materials, including books.

With that much money being spent on books, it’s an opportunity for indie authors to get their books in libraries. But how do indie authors rise to the top and grab the attention of librarians? Start with the 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Promotion and Place.

Consider Your Product:

It’s your book and, of course, you want people to read it. Librarians have a similar goal, stocking their shelves with books that people want to read, which drives traffic into their library.

As you’re writing your book, consider other aspects of your book that make it the complete product—professional editing, the copyright page, spine/binding, and professional design, including the cover. Another item to consider is whether the book will be hardcover, which tends to last longer, or paperback, which is typically more affordable for librarians, or both.

Price Your Book Competitively:

The total purchasing power of librarians is staggering and they all have a responsibility to make wise purchasing decisions. And you can help! When determining the price point for your book, make it competitive and offer an option to return.

Also consider offering a standard industry discount, which is typically around 55 percent. If you’re using a self-publishing platform such as IngramSpark, you can set up the industry discount on your dashboard.

Spotlight Your Book with Promotion:

When searching for books to stock their shelves, librarians want to select books that will be popular with guests. Help librarians see that your book is popular and already in demand by securing reviews.

As soon as your book is available on Amazon, set up your Author Central page. Among other things, this page will help increase your Amazon search rankings and page views. It will also be a hub for reader reviews of your book. Many librarians browse Amazon reviews before ordering books in bulk.

Another type of review that librarians will search for is an editorial review. If you have a publisher, they may submit your book for review, but you can still do that yourself, and should do that yourself if you are self-publishing. Reach out to popular industry outlets such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal.

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Distribute Your Book in the Right Places:

Like consumers, librarians shop for books; the difference is where librarians shop. While some will order from Amazon, most order from wholesalers. It’s recommended that authors list their book with a wholesaler first to enable librarians to order in bulk from multiple publishers. One of the easiest ways to do that is to get your book listed with distributors like Ingram Content Group or Baker & Taylor.

If your book is self-published, depending on the platform you used, your book may already be available from a distributor. For example, if you published on CreateSpace and chose the “Expanded Distribution” option, the book is already available through Baker & Taylor. Similarly, if you published on IngramSpark or Lightning Source, it is available through Ingram Content Group.

Once your marketing strategy is implemented, there are two ways to get your book into libraries: one-by-one or en masse.

Getting in the Door:

If you can help libraries get more people in the door, you’ll have a better chance of having your book available there. Start by connecting with the libraries in your area and let the librarians know you’re willing to do a book reading or signing that will bring in your existing fans.

Reference the promotional aspects you’ve already accomplished with your book, including your online and editorial reviews. This approach could also turn you into a local celebrity, increasing your popularity and furthering the likelihood that librarians will want to put your book on their shelves.

Once you’ve established yourself as a local celebrity, start expanding your outreach to libraries in your county, region and state. If your success continues there, keep expanding your geographical reach.

If the one-by-one approach isn’t appealing to you due to the time commitment, or if you’d prefer to reach the masses quickly, consider direct mail advertising. This includes things like postcards, flyers and brochures designed to provide detailed information to a specific audience.

Another option is marketing through e-newsletters, such as LibraryBub. This service offers a feature in its weekly newsletter that is sent to thousands of librarians, helping them discover indie and small press books that they can then stock in their library.

Once you’ve successfully marketed your book, determined the best ways to reach librarians and secured library space for your book, you’ll be well on your way to increasing exposure and gaining sales.

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Alinka Rutkowska has sold more than 80,000 books and she teaches others how they can do the same. She’s helped USA-Today best-selling authors, CEOs and movie stars with their book marketing. She created multiple 6-figure funnels that start with a book and she can help you do the same. She’s the founder of LibraryBub, which connects indie authors with more than 10,000 librarians. She’s the CEO of Leaders Press, which publishes books by CEOs who’ve been in business for 25 years. Her marketing expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, IBPA, ALLI and many more. To emulate Alinka’s success sign up for her free book marketing class at and discover the #1 mistake you might be making that’s jeopardizing your author career.

indieLAB, a new Writer’s Digest event, is an interactive gathering for entrepreneurial authors, freelance writers and independent publishers seeking to develop a publishing strategy, build a platform, grow an audience and get paid for their work. Join us September 29-30.

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