Making Indie Inroads at Libraries

Author Aron JoiceGuest Post
by Aron Joice

I just had my first book signing, and it was a bit different from the signings and launches previously shared by some of the IU family. The signing was held at one of my local libraries.

So many changes are taking place on a daily basis for writers that I decided to go back to a grass roots mentality. Chewing my cud (now there’s a disgusting mental picture), and thinking things over, I went back to the place that I called home: the library. I used to practically live there, doing research, using the computer lab, and receiving help from an unbelievable staff. This particular day, my objective was to see how many bookmarks they would allow me to leave. Free promotion, right? The assistant director expressed more excitement than I could imagine, and kept asking me for more. She put them everywhere. It was then that my old gray cells told me to hit every library around. Eureka! I hit gold, well, at least fool’s gold. Now I was ready to put my plan into action.

I called each library asking to speak to their children’s director (my genre), explaining that I was a local indie author and asked if I would be able to leave my bookmarks and posters at their center. Lucky for me, my community supports their own. After one of the requests, the director asked me if I would consider doing a book signing in conjunction with the teen readers program. Would I? Heck yeah! Now what to do? The date of the signing was left up to me. I allowed myself three weeks for promotion, and the library made sure an announcement was in their newsletter and calendar ahead of time. I knew I wouldn’t be in a bookstore where someone could conveniently buy my books. So, I ordered a small amount of books from Createspace and they politely reminded me they were not returnable (I use their ISBN). My concern was for naught.

At this point you may be thinking, so where is this going to get you? Offers I never expected came from this little signing. I did sell some books; the library ordered the first two of my trilogy for their shelves and asked me to join a published writers group. I stopped in at my original library to share how the day went, and they ordered the books in print and digital for their shelves. Then a biggie…the 100-year celebration of that particular library is coming up, and the assistant director asked if I would be a guest author. I about dropped on the floor. I said, “I really don’t sell a lot of books.” I would rather be honest than a fool. It didn’t matter, it was where I started, made friends and they were proud of what I had accomplished. I can’t wait to see what happens next; life is definitely full of surprises. So don’t count that little library out. As Melissa Bowersock found with her town shop, there are many exciting ways to put yourself out there. All in all it was a fun day. I brought cookies for the staff room and a big exotic bouquet of flowers for the readers’ room. I handed out postcards with one of my book covers and a few links printed on the front. I left the back blank for autographs. I imagine since we are a creative lot, all we have to do is look right in our backyards and maybe, just maybe we can take three steps forward instead of one.

Fueled by that success, I decided to search online and found 30 Indie bookstores within a 50-mile radius of where I live. I intend to contact each one to see if it would be possible to leave my books on consignment and provide posters as well as bookmarks with my sales channels. I believe this is just another avenue to promote your brand. Something of interest: 100 faithful readers/buyers will pyramid into about a $60,000.00 annual income from sales. Yes, you still must continue writing. This isn’t my formula, but one stated from an author who became an actual full-time writer after reaching that level of consistency.

Martin Crosbie has had a wonderful experience with his local library. How is yours?

Aron Joice is a published songwriter, and the author of The Lost Children of Managrail trilogy. Aron is passionate about the arts and rescuing animals. You can learn more about her on her website and her Amazon Author Central page.

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18 thoughts on “Making Indie Inroads at Libraries”

  1. Congratulations – what a great experience! I’d love to know how it goes with your local indie stores, as well. My local experience has been a little bit different, but interestingly, I’ve had some really good experiences in neighboring towns.

    1. Thanks, Melinda. I think that there are opportunities close to our homes that we can overlook. I’m building up the courage to have a personal encounter with the bookstores. To share an experience may help another author have a light bulb moment how the little things can count to one’s visibility.

  2. What an uplifting story, Aron. Congratulations. I think I will have to approach my local library again. It seems not all communities are as supportive as yours. Maybe I’ll show them this post.

    1. I would Yvonne, it is a feather in their hat as well. The community should support their own. I had press releases posted in larger cities that I later discovered. So my little signing was announced within a 100 mile radius. That was done my my local paper, and I had no idea. Let them know your name and you are available. Btw, you were no slouch on the TV show!

  3. I love libraries – always have. I’ve had great success with both small town libraries, near where I live, and the huge Toronto Public Library system where I work. By success I mean an enthusiastic reception and a willingness to accept programs/events. The TPL even bought seven copies and they’ve been circulating well.

    Most libraries are cash strapped and hungry for good community programming beyond just readings and signings. I developed an hour long PowerPoint program called “Fire & Ink” which contrasts the reality of firefighting with the image portrayed in pop culture. I weave in some fire safety information and illustrate the whole thing with readings from my book. It’s proved very popular.

    Something at goes beyond just “reading” is a lot more appealing to librarians. With a little creativity, I think most of us could come up with an appealing program. And you can use it in other situations: service clubs, community groups, retirement homes, etc.

    Indie bookstores are another great resource. I’ve only had one refuse to take books on consignment. Several have called back for more.

    1. What brilliant marketing on your part. Think of everything we have learned on IU alone as far as indie publishing. This could be shared on many avenues and promote yourself at the same time. Even offer an hour at a high school with the simplest steps of getting started to the future writers.

      Congratulations on your luck with the bookstores. Determination does pay off.

  4. Great stuff, Aron. I’m glad it was a positive experience. It all comes down to the people, doesn’t it. Sounds like you have some progressive libarians at work there.

    1. Thank you, Martin. You are right, it does comes down to people, how you treat them and vice versa. I always try to keep a smile going even if I’m disappointed. Maybe they won’t remember your work, but never let them forget your name. You sir, really have shared wonderful experiences and information. Thank you for that.

    1. Maybe smolder Dick, I’m waiting for the flames.. LOL Thank you for stopping by. You are also a marketing guru, original and focused. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you Dale. Believe me when I say more times than not, I’m shaking on the inside. The smile lightens the mood of the other person which relaxes me. If you engage with the friendliest person(if there are a couple or more), you’ll see others loosen up a bit too. My cousin reminded me most people have never met an author, famous or not. It can be a big deal for them, take advantage of it and charm them.

  5. Just got a FB message from a friend that works in our local library. He happened to read some stories out of a book I donated and got hooked. Our library is very small and it takes a Herculean effort to get anything approved. But, my friend stuck to his guns, and with my offer to provide some swag, they are going to pull my books from the shelf (I have my own shelf there!) and put them on display for a month- hoping to get folks interested. Then, in a month, I’ll host an author signing with more swag and goodies. Hoping that will get my name around in the county. In the county south of us, they are having an author event. I managed to sweet-talk my way into that one too. I’m fairly confident that I’ll sell a couple of books, but getting your name out there with what you write and where you can be found is probably the most important when you live in a rural area like I do.

    1. That is fabulous and the message I’m trying to send. You never know where the road is going to turn. Pleasant surprises may await you. Keep up the good work; it sounds like your name will get around and nicely so. Thank you for sharing.

  6. An excellent, uplifting story, Aron. Libraries are really great places to get involved with on any level; I’ve had nothing but positive relations with libraries, from book signings to readings to author talks to writing seminars.

    1. Thank you T.D. I know that you have done many library readings; I stutter a bit there, audience shy on that side. Libraries have so many connections and events. I’ve found the staff to be so helpful, they get excited thinking up exposure ideas for the author.They like being part of it as well.
      Btw, I’m still tracking down the weapons book with the fighting cuffs. When I get my hands back on it I’ll copy the image for you. Nasty little things. I wish continued success for you.

  7. This is an excellent and timely article. I recently started Westchester Indie Authors, a group for local authors in Westchester, NY who have print versions of their books, with the idea that it would be easier to get libraries interested in multiple-author panel events than one relatively unknown author – the first two libraries we approached have agreed to hold events and have been very positive about the opportunities for further events. We’ve also shared the cost of a table at a local flea market to sell our books – a single author might find it hard to cover the cost from sales, but even a small group can make this a feasible option price-wise – and it’s fun, you get to hang out with other authors and meet potential readers.

    1. I like the idea of a group of authors banding together. Visually, visitors have more to peruse and conversations start easier. I check the posting board at my libraries to see what other events might be open to having an author present. It really is a win, win situation, and I agree with you, it is fun. It is getting a bit late in the season, but one of my libraries holds a big outdoor event on their site; I think I will ask if I can set up a table. It would be a good opportunity to meet the business community during the cocktail hour. Thank you for sharing your ideas and good luck. Have a great time.

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