It’s possible for indie authors to go beyond thinking of selling our books just at online retailers. Libraries are another potential channel for book sales and another stream of income!Eric Simmons shares how he’s gotten his books into some of the largest libraries in the US.
In December 2017, as I was thinking about my 2018 business goals for my self-published Memoir, Not Far From The Tree, which was the first book I had ever written, I knew I wanted to establish near irrefutable credibility around the book with potential purchasers.
Ultimately, I decided to focus on libraries as a strategic market segment due in large part to the trustworthiness people tend to associate with these facilities, and because they have what’s called a “Collection Development Policy.”
Per the New Orleans Public Library, which is now one of my customers:
“The Collection Development Policy is designed to support the Library’s Mission statement and serves as a guide for the selection, acquisition, maintenance, and retention of materials.”
Having a book in a library helps establish credibility with readers, in my view, because the book has been vetted and passed a litmus test, so to speak, to be considered for purchase and placement within the library.
Also, libraries are highly referenceable customers, especially with other libraries. If you can get one library to buy your book, the odds are likely others will follow. I call this the domino effect, and it has been working for me.
To illustrate, after initiating my “Library Campaign” in January 2018, sixty-eight (68) libraries (21 Academic, 46 Public, and 1 Library Services company) have purchased my now two books (see, https://www.esetomes.com/library-customers). Of these, five are amongst the twenty-five largest Public Libraries in the U.S. and one is in the top twenty largest Academic Libraries.
Each time a new library purchases one of my books, I add them to my “Reference List,” and I share the list with prospective libraries during my marketing campaigns. One clear benefit I am beginning to see from my Reference List usage is a shorter time to sales closure, particularly with Public libraries, which for me is down from six months to three months on average. Lately, however, I’ve been seeing Public libraries purchase within a month!
The Library Market
Per data on the Online Computer Library Center’s (OCLC) website under, “Global Library Statistics,” there are 336,841 libraries worldwide (45,028 Academic and 291,813 Public). In the U.S., the site lists 3,793 Academic and 9,042 Public libraries.
Per the American Library Association (ALA), the total number of libraries in the U.S. is 116,867, the preponderance of which are Public and Private school libraries.
Note, the OCLC’s number for Public Libraries in the U.S. doesn’t include the total number of buildings which ALA lists as 16,568. I use this number for my Public library opportunity.
If you are targeting millennials for your books, they are more likely than older generations to say libraries help them find trustworthy information, learn new things, and make informed decisions, per a 2016 Pew Research Center survey.
On February 22, 2017, Reedsy published an article which stated, ” … 92% of librarians surveyed between May 2016 – July 2016 by New Shelves stated that they regularly buy books from self-published authors and small presses. The article goes on to say, “Once one library has your book and the check-out rates start showing up on reports, other librarians will start ordering your book. The growth and spread of your book’s sales and popularity will start happening while you are not even looking!”