Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing

How to Get Your Book Into The Library

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about galleys, where to share them and when.  During the journey the subject kept coming up: How can indie authors get their books into the library?  Surprisingly, it may be easier to get into the library than it is to get into a local Walmart.  By the way, Walmart doesn’t accept indie books due to return policies, and distribution problems.

Before I go on, I need to emphasis that this won’t work unless you have legitimate buzz and impressive sales.  While, indie authors have successfully gotten their books into their local libraries, many can’t seem to breakout further than that.  That’s because many acquisitions librarians only purchase books based on their budget as well as a book’s popularity.

Another point I need to make is that your book needs it’s own ISBN (For both the ebook and print edition) as well as distribution via Baker & Taylor or Ingram in order for a library to consider your book.  These endeavors will cost you some money, but since you asked, I’m telling…

Catalogs

Edelweiss

Edelweiss is a catalog used by many librarians across the country, it is also a site used by publishers to get their books in front of the acquisitions librarians. The cost is $500 per year and $30 per title as well as transaction fees that ranges anywhere from .22 to .08 per download.

NetGalley

Though technically NetGalley is about posting galleys it’s also got a newsletter you can get into via their marketing program.  It’s very popular with librarians looking for a try before you buy scenario.

Wholesalers/Retailers

OverDrive.com

OverDrive is like the Amazon of digital retail store for libraries in fact, they actually send their customers to Amazon in order to download certain titles.  Gotta love the irony, huh?

Many publishers have issues with their relationship with Amazon and librarians have issues with OverDrive’s costs.  The site is not for the casual indie meaning, you need to have your own publishing company as well as a website that sells your books.  Keep in mind, they will check during their vetting process.

Your book must be priced over $1 and must be commercially priced according to their (SRP) Suggested Retail Prices.  Also, you’re not allowed to provide links or metadata within the file that sends customers to a competing site according to their guidelines here.  FYI: That one was a deal breaker for me.

There are also other sites like OverDrive such as; 3M, but you must be in the Smashword’s distribution system to get in.

Reviews

It’s no secret that many libraries are under budget and understaffed.  In response, many acquisitions librarians use book reviews as an important part of their vetting process.  Some of these reviewing services require a fee like Publisher’s Weekly Select and Kirkus but there are free sites like ForeWord Reviews and Midwest Book Reviews that are free to indies.

ForeWord Reviews

ForeWord Reviews offers indie authors a place where they can submit their books for an honest and professional review.  It’s consider a place where media professionals go to find the latest and greatest in indie publishing.  Did I mention it’s free?

Midwest Book Reviews

The Midwest Book Review services is free for print books but has a $50 fee for ebooks, ARCs and uncorrected proofs.

Publisher’s Weekly Select

How to get your indie book into the library
Push button shushing action? I’m sold!
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In 2010, PW introduced an indie program where they announce books on their website and even offer the possibility of a book review.  It’s only a small possibility because according to PW’s own site there’s a 75% rejection rate so the odds aren’t good.  This means you’re basically paying for a blurb on a website, which seems more like advertising to me, but I digress…

I haven’t heard of any librarians searching PW’s Select program to look for indie books, because their place of choice is the Publisher’s Weekly Magazine.  However, no indies are allowed there unless, you’re advertising, which is something to consider since the librarians are actually there.

But if you’re determined to try PW Select, the price is $149 for both the listing and the 25% chance for a book review.  I only recommend PW if you got money to burn and have your book in the other places.

Kirkus:

Kirkus is a site used by publishing professionals as well as librarians.  Unlike PW, they don’t relegate indie books to the back of the bus.  Getting a review here will cost about $425-$575.

Library Journal

Library Journal is a media source for librarians all over the country, sadly, they’re not open to unsolicited books.  However, Library Journal does accept photos, guest posts and letters on a variety of topics.  Just make sure you get a byline and mention your book in said byline.

The Free Way to Get in the Library

I know what you’re already thinking, “Rachel, why don’t I just donate my book?” and that’s a good way to get your book in a library but if you want a library to buy your book, then you’ll have to get on their radar in other ways.

Telemarket/Spam Your Way into the Library

There are directories that authors can use that list the websites of libraries around the U.S.  You can email or call the acquisitions librarian and ask them if they would be interested in your book.  Many indies have done it though there are no stats on how successful it is.  However in telemarketing, I hear a 2% response is actually considered a good thing.

In Conclusion

There is no easy way to get your book into the library.  I think many indies are putting the cart before the horse when they approach libraries in the beginning of their book launch.  You don’t want to start here, many librarians are on a tight budget and have no room to spend carelessly on unproven books.  Also, if you haven’t noticed, it’s expensive to get into the catalogs and online stores that librarians seem to favor.  Save it for when you actually start to make a profit.  You don’t want to do too much too soon and wind up broke.

Okay, I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn: do you have another way to get a librarian to buy your book?  If so, please share your experience with us.

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Book Reviews, Marketing

What to Expect From a Paid Review

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I’ve been fascinated with this subject, and even wrote a little about it but I’ve never met an author who paid for a book review.  Well, not one that would actually admit to it!  So I went to the internet to find out what you really get when you pay a reviewer.  Investigating the most legitimate (popular) paid services Publisher’s Weekly Select and Kirkus, I tried to find out the truth.

What surprised me about this investigation was the belief that some authors had about paid reviewers.  Some believed that these reviewers were somehow more “qualified” to judge their work.  But nowhere have I seen any resumes or qualifications listed on the reviewers.  In fact, most of these reviewers are forced, by the company, to remain anonymous.  So honestly, you have no idea who’s reviewing your book.

Another shocking belief:  all publishing companies pay for reviews.  Honestly, that’s unknown, though it’s been alleged for years.  The rumor being that big media outlets like the New York Times won’t review books by publishing companies that haven’t purchased advertising.  By the way, it’s very expensive to advertise in NYT just check out their ad rates in PDF here.

Kirkus Confessions

It was the confession of a Kirkus reviewer who talked about how difficult it was to fulfill his assignments which got me thinking.  If they’re having issues with meeting assignments/quotas how on earth are these books getting reviewed?

According to a few dissatisfied authors, they’re not!  One author I found in a chat room, claimed that Kirkus simply skimmed her submission and gave an incorrect review of her book.  In her complaint, the author alleges that the reviewer didn’t get the arc of the story right and didn’t seem to even know what the book was about.  That’s bad, considering they charge around $425 to review a book, not to skim one.

Publisher’s Weekly (Select)

It gets no better with Publisher’s Weekly Select program.  Again, a few authors discussed the merits or lack thereof on the Kindle Boards.  Some cited that the reviews are necessary if you want your books in libraries and book stores.  The logic being since Kirkus and PW are marketed to book stores, libraries and the publishing industry, your book will get in front of the eyeballs of the right people.  However I don’t agree, you need an ISBN as well as expanded distribution through places like Amazon, Ingram, or Baker and Taylor not reviews from PW or Kirkus.  Oh yeah, and let’s not forget, you need big sales numbers!

As I read on, things got worse, one person claiming to be an agent said, that several of his clients paid for reviews only to have them put in a newsletter squished between 50 other reviews.  Another author said it was a waste of money and that their book was never reviewed.  While another person alleged that PW only chooses poorly edited books to slam.

The Inherent Problem

The problem with the review business is there’s no real way to manage it.  How would a supervisor or managing editor know for certain a job is being done unless they read every book themselves to make sure details are not skipped or forgotten.

Another problem is lack of understanding, how can someone review book on World War 2 when they don’t have a firm grasp on that time period?  And how can a suburban middle-aged soccer mom review a book about a YA urban romance?  See how this is all subjective?  Indie authors are paying real money for an opinion that may or may not be relevant, let alone, intelligent.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that it’s considered unethical to pay anyone for a review.

This is the Part Where I Tell You How Get Free Book Reviews

There are sites that indie authors can submit their books for free, or only for the cost of shipping, to get an honest review.   Hopefully, you’ve built a network on social media of fellow authors who review books in your genre.  You can even solicit reviews on your blog or newsletter remember last week?

Library Thing “Member Giveaways”: http://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

Libboo: https://www.libboo.com/

BookSneeze: http://www.booksneeze.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show_tag/reviews

World Lit Cafe: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/forum/167

A Twitter List I Put Together of 75 Reviewers:   https://twitter.com/WritingPants/reviewers-on-twitter/members

Articles That You Need to Check Out:

How to Get Reviews via The Creative Penn

The Top 25 Reviewers on Goodreads via Forbes

How to Find Readers on Facebook via Yours Truly!

If you know of more reviewers list them in the comments section.