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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Indies & Libraries, Together In Midwinter


Hi everyone! I am YA, and now MG author Barbara Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My newest book, Courage, is middle grade fiction that will be coming out next summer from Harper Collins.

I spent the weekend at the American Library Association Midwinter conference in Denver, Colorado. I attended the conference as a retired (and current volunteer) library worker. And because, as a writer, I consider librarians a major part of my audience. (I feel the same about RTG readers, so please read all the way to the end for a surprise. Pretty please with sugar on it, as I used to say when I was young.)

Beautiful Downtown Denver
First, let me say, being “Mile High” is a real thing, not to be trifled with. The convention leaders greeted us with instructions on staying hydrated and other survival tips. Literally thousands of librarians crowded the city from all across the country, occupying almost a dozen hotels.

Librarians and vendors.

The exhibit hall was filled with companies that make every type of library tool. And all kinds of publishers. Not just the big five. There were dozens of small presses. And, a surprising number of Indie publishing houses.

It has been two years since I last attended an ALA meeting. I was surprised to see how many booths were manned by either individual Indie authors/publishers, or by groups of indie authors joined together to manage the costs of participating at the conference. I am going to tell you some of the things I saw. This is not an endorsement of any group or service, just my observations about the possibilities for libraries and indie authors.

Images from four different Indie  booths 
A number of companies that provide self-publishing and on-demand services, companies like Ingram, iUniverse, Xlibris had their had booths. Many were collaboration efforts, with books from authors who published using their software. These firms are making a presence to get their users books in front of librarians. 

There was also booth from Indie consortiums, authors who could not afford an independent presence at the conference, but joined together to purchase a booth and get their work in front of the thousands of attendees.

The Indie Press Collective provides a number of services for Indie authors. In addition to showing books at associations like ALA, they have a review service for pre-pub bed Indie Books only, Foreword Reviews  Anyone can ask for a review, you can see more information on the process at - https://www.forewordreviews.com/about/ 

There is no cost for a review. But, since they get thousands of requests, only a small percentage of the authors who want a review actually get included in Foreword Reviews. There are costs associated with post publication reviews, as well as for being included in the books displayed at booths or for advertising in their magazines. 

Even more, the Indie books obtained a time slot on the Book Buzz stage - two to two-thirty on Saturday. The Book Buzz stage is located on the Exhibit floor of every ALA convention. This is the fourth ALA conference I have attended over the years. For the first time I know of, Indie groups had their own time slot on stage, where some of their up-and-coming books were individually highlighted for librarians in attendance.

I want to say again that I am not endorsing any of these groups or efforts. I was simply impressed by the shear number of Indie authors and small presses. Impressed by the fact that they were not only in small, less expensive booths in the back, but also in the larger, decorated booths manned with specialists ready to engage with librarians. I am happy to see the way some authors join consortiums to give themselves a chance to be noticed by librarians.

Only the future will tell how much success individual authors will have breaking into the library market. That includes public libraries, college and reference libraries, and school libraries. That represents thousands of potential sales. I spoke with one woman who was looking at possibilities for her areas "One community, One book" program, and she intends to purchase 3,000 copies of the selected book. Libraries can be a great market for Indies to break into.


And now, your surprise. I would love to hear any of your comments, about libraries, Indies...or about my new book - http://www.babinns.com/books/courage/ . I have some Advance Reader Copies of Courage, my Middle Grade debut coming out at the end of July.  I have reserved two for readers of this post. On Feb 28 I will select two commenters to receive copies. Check back at the end of the month to see if you are a winner of a hard copy ARC that will be mailed to you.

While I want to hear comments from everyone, please note that only commenters from the continental US will be included in the raffle. 

4 comments:

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Nice post, B.A. I am also a library volunteer, and I'm onto planning committee for our state library conference. Come join us at AkLA one spring! :-)

One thing I admire about librarians is how passionate they are about finding good books for their patrons, and I'm not surprised they are now looking more closely at indie authors.

Judith Ashley said...

Interesting post B.A. I've recently been contacted by a library in a small community. We're talking about my doing a presentation later this year. My first toe in the library door because of two readers who live in that community and talked to the library about me. I'm not sure how/where, but I've been told that this library carries the first 3 books of my series. I'll be talking to the librarian about adding the rest of the series.

B. A. Binns said...

Judith, and everyone, one of the easiest ways to get your books into libraries is to have you readers request them. Most libraries take patron requests for books very seriously. They want books that will circulate, and if someone asks for one they know that it will circulate at least once. And they assume others want it but never asked.

Congratulations on your readers, and on getting that toe in the library door.

Maggie Lynch said...

Good information, B.A. The only way my books have ever been included in libraries is because a patron asked for them. I'm now in 28 (I think) libraries in print. Twenty-four of them were because ONE fan asked. The other four are in small community libraries where my book was donated to them by a patron.

The same process goes for ebooks. Though I am distributed through Overdrive, a huge library distributor for ebooks, it doesn't mean my book is available in the library. Again, if patrons ask for the book to be carried the library is much more likely to include it.

I've tried several times to donate my books to my local library specifically to go into circulation. They always say they will include them in the library book sale. That's a bit steep for me to constantly give my books away knowing they will be put in the book sale for $1 each.

There are some libraries that DO specifically look for local authors books, so it can help for an author to put together a one-sheet on her book(s) and take them to the local library for evaluation as to whether they could be added to the collection. A one-sheet is like a sales sheet you would use in a PR campaign, It usually has a picture of the book (or series) with good sales copy featuring reviews and a brief description that includes the genre.

Finally, libraries are always looking for speakers and authors are often favorites. If authors check with their local library about speaking on a topic of interest to patrons you have a good shot at being scheduled. Of course, you bring your book along, but the topic is NOT your book. For example, if you write western romances and you can talk about the western ranch life, a library that serves a ranching community really appreciates that. In urban settings, if you can find a topic that relates to issues in your city, and ties into your book, it's a good topic to use for speaking to the library audience.

I'm sure there are a lot of other ideas I'm missing, but others may have great experience in this to share.