Sylvia Engdahl Discussion and Q&A discussion

Library purchasing procedures

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message 1: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia | 15 comments Mod
I know that a lot of you are librarians, so I would appreciate some advice on how to get Stewards of the Flame into libraries. All my other novels are in libraries and that's where most of my readers have found them. But I understand that libraries are ordinariliy able to order books only through their normal distributors. Print-on-demand books aren't carried by those distributors. The book is available at wholesale from BookSurge, Amazon's print-on-demand subsidiary, but libraries would have to order directly from there to get their normal discount. Can any of them do this?

The other problem is that the major review media won't review the book because they have to receive an advance copy of a book at least 3 months prior to publication in order to consider it.
It's getting good reviews on the Web but it won't be mentioned in the journals that librarians read, and so they won't even know it exists.

Furthermore, few librarians who choose adult fiction have ever heard of me -- I'm known only to YA and children's librarians. I'd be happy to send review copies to a limited number of libraries, but would they look at them and add them to their collection, or would they simply assume that a book by somebody whose name isn't familiar that wasn't issued by a major publisher is not worth considering?

What do you think?

message 2: by elissa (new)

elissa (librarianbodyworkerelissa) | 3 comments Most library systems have ways to order books that aren't carried by distributors. Some library systems give book purchasers credit cards with a small amount of money that can be used at bookstores and at online stores like Amazon. Some libraries also use "Friends" (Friends of the Library) money to order books that they can't get through distributors. Usually the reason that we're ordering books in this way is that we have a patron request that we want to fill quickly.

The main problem is that unless they've already read the book, most librarians will want to look at reviews before purchasing. Once you have good online reviews, you can definitely send them, with a copy of the book to library systems. I didn't realize that ALL of the major review journals had to have a copy of the book 3 months prior to publication in order to review it! Since your book is print-on-demand, it seems silly to have to apply that rule to it. And, unfortunately, many librarians who receive unsolicited copies of self-published books from an author they haven't heard of WON'T be willing to consider them.

That probably wasn't horribly helpful, but if I think of anything else, I'll post again!

message 3: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia | 15 comments Mod
Thank you, Elissa! That's what I was afraid of, that librarians wouldn't consider books from authors they never heard of. Yet you say I can send reviews. Should I send reviews first, and ask if they want me to send a copy of the book? Would it help to including quotes from the many reviews of my YA novels, considering those books are of interest to adults and some have won awards? At least they show I'm not an amateur writer.

message 4: by elissa (new)

elissa (librarianbodyworkerelissa) | 3 comments Other people may have other opinions about all this, BUT I think you can send reviews to the Adult Acquisitions Librarian at library systems that you're interested in giving a book to. I think that reviews of your YA novels would help (like you said, to show that you aren't an amateur writer), too, but that you don't want to overwhelm with too much info. It's a fine line between just enough and too much, but I think most librarians can handle looking at a page (possibly even double-sided) of quotes advertising a book.

message 5: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia | 15 comments Mod
I have just read somewhere that the secret to getting print-on-demand books into libraries is for people you know in other cities to request them from their own libraries, which may then buy them. Folks, I know some of you who don't have my book would like to read it -- so please request it from your library! That way I'll get multiple readers. Even if you already have a copy, maybe someone you know in your area would like to request it.

It's a common misconception that it's better for authors if people don't get their books from a library because that means "lost sales." This isn't true. A lot of people can't afford to buy books that aren't available in mass-market paperback form, and even those who can often prefer to look at a library copy before deciding. Readers who like the book well enough will buy it after having borrowed it -- and more importantly, many people will come across it in the library who would otherwise never know that it exists.

message 6: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1 comments I just submitted an online request to have the Seattle Public Library purchase Stewards of the Flame. Hopefully they get a copy, but if they don't, I'll hopefully get to read it through an inter-library loan. I really love your work and I look forward to reading it. Thanks again!

message 7: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia | 15 comments Mod
I sent them a review copy about 6 months ago, after it won the bronze IPPY medal (along with about 25 other libraries) saying in the cover letter that they should consider it a donation even if they didn't choose to buy more copies -- so unless they have discarded it, hopefully they will now process it! According to WorldCat, only a few of the libraries I sent it to have put it in their collections so far.

However, the King County Library has it at 5 branches, so you should be able to get it from there if not Seattle.

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