By Rachel M. Anderson, RMA Publicity

I came across an interesting statistic recently. According to a Harris Interactive Poll conducted a few years ago, 58-percent of Americans have a library card. Based on the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, that equates to more 187 million people.

Is your book in the library yet? If not, time to start working to get it in there. There are way more people checking books out of libraries than buying them in bookstores. Not to mention, if a library system decides to buy your book, it is likely to place orders for multiple copies.  

So how do you go about getting a library interested in your book?  

The process differs from system to system. Some libraries discover new titles through the various review magazines: Kirkus, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly and Booklist to name a few. Others work directly with reps from their distributor, which in many cases is Baker & Taylor.

Librarians will also consider titles brought to their attention by patrons, and directly from the author or publishing company. The library system in Hennepin County, Minnesota, for example, offers a place on its website where library patrons can recommend a title. Here is a link.

However, there is a catch. Before the library will order in copies of an independently published book, like with titles offered by the trade publishers, it must be available for purchase from wholesalers they work with. For print books, the major distributors libraries work with are Brodart, Baker & Taylor and Ingram. For eBooks, they include Axis360, Overdrive and Proquest.

In addition, books must be offered at a full trade discount and be returnable. This means offering your book at a 50 percent or even 55 percent discount to wholesalers. And the librarians prefer books that have been reviewed by trusted third-party reviews. These include Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist and Midwest Book Review to name a few.

If your book doesn’t fit these criteria, it may still be possible to get the book into the library. Here are some other ideas:

* Visit your local library and ask to speak with a librarian who works with books in your genre. Hopefully that person will agree to accept a free to copy to review, and if they like it will recommend the book to his or her supervisor as a title to purchase.

* Donate a few copies of your book to the library, and ask that they be considered for stocking on shelves. If you don't say anything, they will likely be given to the Friends of the Library organization and sold at a club book sale. If your book does make it into the library's collection, be sure to do a good job of getting the word out about the book’s availability so people in the community will come in asking for the title.

* You may also want to contact your local “Friends of the Library” groups and see if they would be interested in sponsoring an event where you would come in and present to library patrons and sell books in the back of the room. Be sure to leave a few copies behind and ask your new contact at the library to recommend the title for stocking on the library shelves.  

Need help reaching out to libraries, this is a service RMA Publicity offers. Contact us to get started on a campaign.