Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How Authors Can Market To Libraries Successfully

Many authors are told what to do, but not always shown exactly how to do something when it comes to marketing a book.  So, let’s explore, a little deeper than usual, one aspect of book promotions.  Sit back and listen – then be prepared to execute, step-by-step, as prescribed here:

Today we’re going to look at how you take a guerrilla approach to marketing and promotions.  The key is to think strategically, optimistically, and opportunistically.  Don’t just survey the landscape and comfort yourself with the resolution that there’s not much that you can do.  Don’t approach things as if you await a reason or excuse for a “no.”  Instead, shun out the defeatist mindset and simply approach things with a confident attitude.  

A no is a delayed yes.  Keep asking until you hear a yes.

Okay, let’s put this into practical terms.  Let’s say that today you plan to take ownership of the library circuit.  You can speak at libraries, sell books at events, sell books to libraries, and use them to promote your book. At any library that you approach, you should have a list of objectives.

First, goal one, is to see if they have public events that you can speak at or participate in.  They may allow you to teach a class there.  

Second, see if they have a physical bulletin board where you can post a flier for your book.

Third, ask if you can contribute an article to their blog or newsletter – if they have either.

Fourth, ask the librarian if he or she knows of other community groups or fellow libraries that you can be introduced to.

Fifth, inquire on whether you can set up a book-signing table and split the proceeds of book sales with the library.

Sixth, ask the librarian for a testimonial about your book or event.

Seventh, see if the librarian can introduce you to other area writers that may have also visited the library.  Perhaps you can collaborate on something, share notes, or offer support to one another.

Eighth, see if the library will allow you to leave a stack of fliers or postcards about your book by the checkout area.

Ninth, offer to donate a copy or a few to the library, to buy their good favor and give back to the community.

Tenth, look at a calendar of upcoming events at the library for clubs/organizations that are appearing at the library.  Maybe you should attend and network with them if you feel there’s a crossover between their message and yours.

So, as you can see, you first must wake up in the morning and get rid of a shitty, insecure, pessimistic attitude and to assert yourself with conviction and a can’t – be – denied attitude.  

Next step, formulate a plan and know what to ask for and then follow-up on these opportunities.  

Don’t worry about how many no’s you rack up.  No one cares.  Just concern yourself with getting to yes enough times.

Another key step is to identify how many places to reach out to.  First, in the case of libraries, do a Google search based on the location and type of library.

Will you go to libraries within five miles of you?  How about 20? Will you seek out public libraries – or expand to colleges, public and private schools, business libraries, and libraries at houses of worship?

Who will you look to reach at each library?

What method will you employ for your outreach?  Call?  Email?  Regular mail?  Visit in person?

Have a good:
Ask for many things.
Expand and target your search.

Got it?

Ok, maybe what I just said still lost half of you.  Some of you sense this takes time and work and you shy away from it.  That’s your prerogative.  You can choose to be a loser if you want to be one.

Ouch, I know that stings, and truthfully one is not a loser if they skip libraries and focus on something else.  There are so many ways to market a book.  But you lose if you do nothing at all.

Okay, the rest of you who understand what’s needed here and believe it’s a worthwhile pursuit, may still get side-tracked in the details. So let’s break this down further so there are no misconceptions or lost opportunities.

I did a search for libraries in Atlanta.  So what did I type into the search?  “Libraries in Atlanta.”

One of the search results was for Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System and its website listed dozens of branches – phone number, address, hours.  From this list alone you can write a letter to, or call, each one.  If you click on each library listed you get sent to its website where you can learn about upcoming events and classes.

This search produced information on public libraries in the country serving Atlanta.  If you want to expand outside of that location, you can.  If you want to find nearby university libraries, do a search for them as well.

When I searched for “Directory of Atlanta libraries,” one of the results came up as Georgia Public Library, which consisted of all public libraries for the entire state.  On the site, there’s a link to “public library directors” and it gives you all of the people in charge of each library system and their full contact info including emails. So, as you can see, you can do quick, thorough searches that yield useful and pertinent results.

Okay, so what’s next?

Draft your email.
Create your flier.
Write a letter for snail mail.

So you have your contact list and info to share with them.  Now start reaching out and follow-up to respondents.  Those who ignore you need to be contacted again by a different method than your initial outreach.   If email got ignored, call them.  If neither work, drive over and get in front of someone that you can persuade.

That’s right, it takes time, effort, and a little gumption.  But you can do it. You can hire a high school or college kid for cash off the books to do some of this for you, but to close the deal, no one can be as passionate, pushy, or knowledgeable about you than you.

Still need more nitty, gritty instruction?  Geeze, do I have to wipe your butt too?  Okay, so let’s dive deeper.

Let’s say you finally locate a decision-maker at the library.  What do you do?  You speak to them and shoot for the biggest thing first and then work your way down that 11-point checklist we spoke of earlier.  For each item, take notes and be ready to ask logical follow-up questions.  But get your foot in the door and get some kind of commitment from the library to get something out of them.  Don’t be shy -- ask for things and hope to come away with a victory or several.

Even when you get rejected, learn from it.  Ask them why.  That’s right, confront them.  Not in a threatening way, but inquire why they declined to do any of the things you asked for.  Adjust your pitch for the next library based on what you are told.

Now, let’s say things go well with a library.  What’s next?  Two things – move on to others and see if you can milk more from the success story…Ask if they can have you back in three months.  Get them to serve as your reference to help line up more library gigs.

Okay, now you know what to do when it comes to libraries, should you conclude they are worth pursuing.  Good luck!


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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