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.

Book Reviews, Marketing, Networking, Social Media

Where to Share Your ARCs For Free

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Last week, I shared a post about NetGalley where I talked about ARCs (advance reader copies) also known as galleys or proofs. Today, I want to give you an alternative to spending hundreds by giving your galleys away in the right places, and they’re all free.

The point of any ARC or galley, is to create buzz before the official launch of a book.  Galleys are in essence a soft push for a book before going to mass publication.

Reviews are the core of a legacy publisher’s marketing strategy.  The idea being the more positive reviews a book has, the more popular it looks, and the more likely someone is to buy it.  For years the mantra has always been: readers love what other readers love.

It’s no secret indie authors need to work harder in this area because of the simple fact, that we’re virtual unknowns.  Many indies don’t understand that readers feel like they’re taking a risk when they buy a book from an unknown author.  It’s a book’s reviews that make these risks feel smaller.  This was one of the areas I failed to promote my book.

One Very Important Issue You Must Address

Before you proceed, you have to convert your MS Word document or Mac Pages file to PDF, EPUB or Mobi files so readers can download it on their ereaders and phones.

The Obvious Places To Share Your ARC/Galley 

Book Bloggers & Book Clubs

I know you’re saying well, duh!  But seriously, there are some newbies that don’t know this.  There are bloggers and book clubs that will take a digital galley instead of physical book.  Find them and email them. ASAP!

Your Own Website

It would be wise to create a page on your blog or website letting visitors know that you are giving away ARCs.  However, instead of just posting the entire file on your page so they can download it, make them opt into your email list.  You do have one right? If not, read this step by step article by The Alliance of Independent Authors.

For those of you who do, put a link to your sign up page and then give that person a free ARC.  This way when your next book comes along, you won’t have to start all over again.

Here’s a tip: Make sure to include a field where you ask for a reader’s Amazon or Goodreads profile, this way you cut down on freebie fiends.   I did that in my signup  form here.

Goodreads

Goodreads is the perfect place to giveaway ARCs, it has a giveaway program called First Reads which is essentially a giveaway where most authors can list their galleys.  P.S. it has to be a print not digital ARC.

Another Goodreads feature to consider are events which you can create and invite all your followers and fans.

But that’s not all, another place to look are groups.  Yes, GR has groups of readers dedicated to reviewing ARCs.  I even caught a St Martin’s Press employee requesting reviews in exchange for an ARC.

Library Thing

Library Thing has a feature called Member Giveaways for self-published authors.  Don’t forget, you have to be clear that you’re offering a digital copy and not a print one.

Author Link

Is also a site where authors can upload their galleys and even review one another’s books for free.  It claims to have a readership of 80,000 so it’s worth the try.

Social Media Events

Don’t forget to hit up your social media contacts, Facebook and Google allow you to create events where you can invite all of your followers and friends to get a copy of your new book.  Also, don’t forget to reach out to book bloggers on Facebook and Google via direct message.

A Final Note

ARCs are best given out a few months before the launch of your book.  You need to give people time to read as well as review the book.  You have to assume these people are busy and have other books, jobs and responsibilities outside of reviewing your book.

Another thing I’d like to share is that when offering anything for free you shouldn’t expect too much.  From what I noticed, when writers give away free books whether they are digital or print, the average response rate is 50% if you’re lucky.  Also, you need to be warned that you may not get a review, but a simple rating, that was my experience with my KDP Select giveaway.  Out of hundreds of downloads, I ended up with only a handful of ratings on Goodreads and not a single review.  I know it’s better than nothing, but let’s just say that wasn’t what I was expecting.

Okay, now I’m handing you the mic, where do you go to give away your galleys?  Do you pay a service or go the free route?

Book Reviews

Is NetGalley Worth It?

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In a recent conversation in my authors group, the question of NetGalley came up. One author wanted to know was it effective in securing reviews?  Soon, other questions arose like; how much does it cost and how do you use it?  I was curious too, so I did a little digging and this is what I came up with.

NetGalley is a site for librarians, reviewers and journalists looking for book galleys.  Its purpose is to help publishers and authors secure buzz before launching their books.  The price for a membership ranges from $399 for a six month subscription, to $599 for a year subscription.  They also offer marketing services which includes being featured in a catalog that is sent out to libraries and reviewers all over the country.  However, I’ve found authors who’ve paid premium prices and have gotten very little in return.

Most Common complaints:

  • It’s expensive.
  • The reviews don’t always end up on Amazon (prime real estate).
  • Less than half of the people who download galleys actually end up reviewing them. You can literally give away hundreds of galleys like this author and wind up with only a handful of reviews.
  • Many librarians and teachers are looking for galleys as a try before they buy tactic.

NetGalley is not for Everyone

This site is not for those wanting specific media coverage or reviews.  This does not take the place of querying podcasters, bloggers and reviewers.

Also, one important thing to consider is that you’ll be competing with many legacy publishers who are also on the site pushing their galleys.  So if there is a new Hunger Games book, guess whose galley is getting passed up?

Alternatives to NetGalley

Instead of spending $399-$599 just do a BookBub ad if all you’re looking for is buzz.  Another way to create hype is to do a prelaunch event on Facebook or Google+ to find beta readers or bloggers looking to help you promote your book.

The Takeaway

I don’t recommend paying for GN because you can end up getting burned rather easily.  You can literally spend hundreds and wind up with a ton of negative reviews which will leave you feeling like a complete fool.

For those looking to sell your books to libraries or get big media coverage this probably isn’t the route to go.  You’ll still have to hire a PR professional or book shepherd to do that.  For $599, many of them will at least do a basic phone consultation.

Okay, now it’s your turn, have you used NetGalley and if so, what was your experience?