Don’t Overlook Libraries

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent


A client of mine emailed me yesterday to update me on her marketing efforts for a new book. She’d never done much marketing to libraries, but decided to try out Library Insider ( Library Insider is a purchasable online database of library contact information. My client purchased the information for libraries in her state and sent postcards out with information about her and her book. She’s already seeing results and the book hasn’t even released! She’s been contacted by two different libraries that are asking her to come speak. Isn’t that awesome?! Not only are those postcards publicizing her book, but she is going to get to go to the libraries to meet with and talk to readers.

We’re always looking for readers and libraries are FULL of them. 

Libraries may only purchase a few copies of your book at a time, but the more times your book is checked out the more copies they buy. If a library purchases 3 copies and then you go to the library to give a talk and everyone puts your book on their to-be-read list, the library will likely purchase more books to meet the demand. And most libraries are pretty good about replacing books when they’re getting damaged through the standard wear and tear of being read.

It may seem strange to encourage people to check out your book rather than buy it, but in general libraries make a huge contribution to sales numbers for titles. This must be the case because publishers take the time to participate in the American Library Association conventions that are hosted twice a year.

I encourage you to check out Library Insider if you haven’t yet. The website is beautiful and it’s a worthwhile marketing investment in my opinion.

How do you feel about libraries?

Have you ever considered a library to be a place to market your book?

When was the last time you were in a library?


Don’t overlook libraries as a place to market your book! Via lit. agent @rachellkent Click to tweet.

Libraries matter! A blog by lit. agent @rachellkent. Click to tweet.


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  • Lori says:

    I think libraries are a great idea!

    I never thought of marketing a book in a library until a couple years ago when I went to one book signing. Now I have been to a few and I think that will be something I would want to do.

    The last time I was in a library was on Wednesday when I went to Lauraine Snelling’s book signing. I met Lauraine and Wendy. I got a hug from Lauraine and had my picture taken with Wendy.

  • I love hearing that someone has checked my book out from a library because the library gives readers a chance to fall in love with a book. And when readers fall in love with books, they buy a copy.

    School libraries and classrooms are a great way to reach readers too. My mom donated her Dragonspell series to the library and fourth and fifth grade classes at my sons’ school. At Back to School night this year, my youngest (now in 4th) had to do a scavenger hunt around the classroom and find a book he wanted to read. He found a rather worn copy of Dragonspell, and so did at least three other kids that evening! Looks like her donation is paying off in readers.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      What a great idea! I hadn’t even thought about schools and school libraries.

      I bet your son was pretty proud of Grandma, too. :)

  • Rachel, three cheers for libraries! Love ‘em!

    (And I’ve already got my eye on Library Insider!) ;)

  • Last time I was at a library was a few weeks ago to see if I could check out my book club selection. They didn’t have it but of course I found lots of other books to check out.
    I’ve been to many book signings at libraries and love getting to personally meet the authors and listen to them read or speak.
    This year my little rural, Amador Writer Critique Group, held our annual children’s read at our newly renovated local library.
    Many thanks to our libraries and librarians!

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    I love libraries! I find new authors there all the time and often end up buying their backlists. I’m so glad you posted this! Hooray for your client!

  • I love my local libraries. I couldn’t write without them. Our research librarian has been such a great resource for me, as has our children’s librarian.

    There hasn’t been much success for me in getting them to carry my books. The children’s librarian gave a copy of my first book to the person making the buying decision, but it didn’t turn into anything. They are looking for reviews on School Library Journal and other big sites, which I don’t have. Still, I haven’t discounted marketing to libraries entirely and hope it will turn into something in the future.

  • The library is my happy place! As a kid, it was one of the few places my parents allowed me to walk by myself, so I spent a LOT of time there. Books are so expensive and not everyone can afford them. I am proud we live in a county that supports libraries for everyone.

    My dream for writing has always been to see my books on library shelves. I just purchased Library Insider, too, and can’t wait to get my flyers out. :)

  • I love libraries! They can lead to sales to readers as well. I’ve often read a book I wanted to eventually own, and have discovered new authors at a library I might not have otherwise purchased.

    • Judy Gann says:

      A recent Pew Internet Study discovered that approximately 60% of people who borrow a book from the library then purchase other titles by the author.

  • I worked in our local library for years and years, and still visit it weekly with my kids. LOVE libraries.

    That said, count me in as another one who tries out new authors at the library and ends up buying their books later. :) Libraries are such a great, low-risk way to try new books, but there’s no way I’m going to find a new favorite and not have it end up with a permanent place on my home’s shelves!

  • While I’d love to get rich from selling my books, I want them to be read, and books in libraries can reach lots of readers. I go to our local library at least once a week. It’s a great place to meet fellow bookaholics as well as to check out books. I usually read five or six a week and there’s no way I could afford to buy that many. I love that in our small town people are often lined up waiting for the library doors to open. A few years ago there was a possibility that the county libraries might be sold and privatized, but the whole community came together and kept that from happening.

  • Larry says:

    Libraries are amazing. Not only for finding new authors, but as others noted, for being sources of historical info for stories.

    Now, if they were not mistakenly viewed as daycares, they’d be all the greater….. ;)

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Our downtown library has a lot of homeless people hanging around inside and it makes me uncomfortable.

      Thankfully, there are other libraries in town.

  • Judy Gann says:

    Another library convention is the Public Library Association Conference (PLA). It’s held every two years. This is the ideal conference for most authors and publishers of books for the public library audience. The next PLA Conference will be in Indianapolis, March 11-15, 2014. More information is available at:

    Rachel, I’m thrilled to hear about your client’s success with Library Insider. Thank you for mentioning our program.

    If anyone has questions about Library Insider, please contact me at [email protected]

    You don’t have to be a Library Insider subscriber to follow Library Insider’s Facebook page at:

    I post library marketing news, tips for reaching the public library market, and “Friday Library Trivia,” fun facts about the public library, books, and reading.

  • I’m pleasantly surprised how many CBA titles my local library has. Thanks for the Library Insider thumbs up. I need to take advantage of it.

  • Exceptional post, Rachel! Thank you for this valuable information.


    Harbourlight Books, 2012

  • Robin Patchen says:

    Personally, I often will try an author by checking out his book from the library. But if I love him, I’ll go buy the rest of his books. Great post!

  • Laurie says:

    I recently moved to a new city so went to the library. In the inspirational section I found authors I’ve never read, and it’s been a treat getting to know their writing styles. I will surely buy some of their books in the future.

    It made me realize that although I read a lot of books by Christian authors, I’ve had a tendency to either read books I authors I already know or to read review copies of new titles from publishers I am familiar with.

    It is exciting to branch out and find new authors and I hadn’t thought of the library as a way to do that. I can see how authors can reach new readers and build new fan bases via library readership.

  • Laurie says:

    Oops, saw a typo in my last note. Sigh.

    As an author, one of my most exciting moments was seeing my books listed online in a bookmobile for a library in New Zealand. I found that quite thrilling.

  • Karen Sweet says:

    Thanks, Rachel, wonderful idea, pitching to libraries. Librarians are our friends! ;-) Palo Alto’s dedicated Children’s Library is a favorite because my girls loved going there and our cat Marble waited outside for us, meowing. I appreciate any building full of books! Libraries let me try out new authors, fall in love with their writing and recommend them to others. I buy a lot of books, too!

  • The libraries in my area have been tremendous supporters. I am so thankful for them. A library user might find a new writer they love via the library … someone whose books they wouldn’t buy at first. They might buy my next book … or tell their friends about me … or buy my book(s) as gifts. To me it’s a wonderful way to connect with readers. And I try to mention inter-library loan service to my readers as well. Whether their local library has my book on its shelves or not, patrons can request my books through inter-library loan. The fee is small and the possibilities are wonderful.

  • Laura Jackson says:

    I’m the librarian at an elementary school, and the authors who come for school visits sell a good number of books to my kids. Kids love buying books by someone they’ve met.

    My problem is that I write YA but work at an elementary school! :) I am targeting the middle/high schools in my area for sure.

    Libraries rock. We love promoting authors, so making a connection with just one or two librarians can make a huge difference.
    When I tell students how much I like a book, I can’t keep that book on the shelf for the rest of the year.

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