Get Your Book, eBook, or DVD Sold to Libraries
Libraries are one of the most overlooked yet lucrative markets to sell your books... and other information products!
There are over 120,000 U.S. libraries. Just think of the sales potential.
The problem is breaking into this market can seem difficult if not impossible.
I mean librarian buying psychology is much different than the rest of the marketplace.
This course Exposes Secrets of the Lucrative Library Market!
You now have the most comprehensive information and lists that will greatly help you get your books, eBooks, audio books and videos into libraries.
Why is the lucrative library market vital for you?
• You easily get more sales
• Your books are non-returnable
• Your readership and fan base increases by reaching this new market.
• It's so fun to have your book in libraries!
• But, it's even more fun when it's checked out! :-)
Now you can learn the secrets librarians use to choose books including self-published books!
This easy, comprehensive course contains everything you need to know whether you're a published OR self-published author.
You need to check this out now if you're serious about selling to libraries!
"Check Out" This Course Now Before This Incredible Offer is "Overdue.”
Over 2 hours of audio, plus 80 minutes of bonus audios.
Over 37,000 address and phone contacts for libraries.
It took over 120 HOURS to get email contacts for libraries.
100+ page ebook with all the valuable references you need to know. Lists reviewer and distributor contacts too.
Bonus interviews with Self Publishing Guru Dan Poynter and New York Times best selling author Laura Schroff.
List of over 140 mommy blogger contacts.
It can take from 1 to 6 hours or more depending on how much you want to know to complete the course. The audios are transcribed so you can read them, which may save time.
There are eight sections in the course:
1. Hear the Buyers- Why They Buy and Don't Buy
2. What to Do Before Contacting the Buyers
3. Get Distributors to Sell Your Book for You
4. How to Get Your eBook in Libraries
5. Other Ideas to Sell Your Books to Libraries
6. Contacting Libraries- It took us over 120 hours to get the emails addresses to numerous libraries. There 37,000 phone & address contacts too.
7. Bonuses - Inspiration and Marketing Ideas
Here's an excellent interview with Madlyn Bryant, a buyer for the children's collections for the Los Angeles Library System.
Her information packed discussion highlights what's needed to buy your book for the library system.
First is a summary with timecode, followed by the full transcript.
(1:07) They do take self published books.
(1:50) Criteria for what they need to buy the book:
cover for kid's books. Kid's put a lot of wear and tear on the book, so
it has to be a hard cover. (Note: our local library does take paperback
No spiral bound books.
A jacket is helpful, but not essential.
(3:50) Need author name and title on the spine.
Look at the standard and compare to what they have in their
collections. It’s imperative the book does not have spelling and grammar
(5:15) Have at least one professional review from traditional library resources like Booklist, The Horn Book, Kirkus Review, Publishers Weekly, and other journals.
(6:50) You may submit your book to her at: email@example.com
(Make sure you have what she recommends in this interview).
(7:25) What she's looking for in that email:
Links to reviews.
It really helps her when she has the actual material to be reviewed in her hand. (Remember this is for kid's books.)
You can follow up with an email. Send book to:
Los Angeles Central Library
Attn: Madelyne Bryant
Children's Literature Department
630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(8:42) It helps to have the actual material in hand.
Looking for a good story. Something original. A timely topic that isn't
covered in their collection. Bullying is a hot topic right now. That
may catch their interest. They would also take a look at a book with
local history, or a California setting. There are few kid's books with
Los Angeles as a setting.
When it comes to fiction, obviously a good story is important.
Reviews come in handy, especially for longer books.
How the process works. Books are sent to her. Some are sent to the
library in general, but that takes longer. Sending directly to the buyer
is the quickest way. She then looks at it and distributes it to her
staff looks at reviews with her, and discusses the content, and whether
it fits their collection. Also, can they afford it? They're on a
(13:45) Books can range from $13 to $40. They definitely take price into consideration.
She creates an order sheet for 72 branches. Every librarian in each
branch will then decide which books they wish to order. The order list
has a description of the book with pertinent details. May put "great for
report use," or "can use this for story reading in classroom."
An entire group of people wade through the books to come up with the
book list. There are cycles to publishing. Spring and fall have more
books coming out. Some months have more books released than others.
Also space is a consideration (except for eBooks).
If you can't get professional reviews. It needs to be high quality
material. PR, articles, magazines, and Amazon rankings can help them
decide to buy your book.
Go to their webpage and request it. If they get a lot of requests for a
book, they'll consider that book more. See library websites to request
your book and have others request it.
Ebooks. They will get into iPad books. You can present an iPad book to
her. You can give her a free copy. Now they don't have a way to offer
apps or iBooks YET. But soon. Now they have eBooks from Overdrive.com,
and Baker and Taylor. They mostly purchase through library vendors for
You need to send her the book and pitch it. EBooks are great because they don't take up space like physical books.
her your iPad book now and they are working on it. They usually work
with library venders like Baker and Taylor or Brodart. Almost mandatory
to be with those distributors so they don't have to create so much work
invoicing so many people.
(25.54) The author needs to create a case to prove why the book is so good and needs to be purchased for the library.
your case. Blurbs and endorsements help. Every little thing helps. They
need to choose the best of the best. You need to back up why they
should buy it. Your case will influence their buying decision.
costs them money to add a book to the library. For them to add a book
takes time and money. That's why you need to let them know why it's
important to buy it.
What they have already makes a difference. They really don't need
another train book. It has to be better than what they have. People need
to want it too.
Send the children's book, so they can evaluate it. Paper stock isn't a
critical feature in deciding to choose your book or not. They need to
see the book. Kid's books get a lot of use and have to hold up for many
circulations. They weed old, worn books that have had lots of use. They
can see how many times books have been checked out. Some books have been
checked out over 100 times.
It helps to have worked with an editor. A resource she recommends is
the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. SCBWI.org.
Established since 1971. Membership is $30 or $40 a year. They have many
tips, and a once a year convention. They give list of topics that are
(34:55) If it's self-published, it really has to be good. You need good feedback if self-published.
needs to be some demand for the material or a topic that shows people
are interested. Or, something teachers could use in the classroom, or at
just send this without anything. For instance, you could say, "I went
to the SCBWI conference and they critiqued it and loved it." Or, "The
books has ___ likes on Amazon," etc.
You can ask, what do you want?
Let them know why people would want or need your book.
Here's the full transcript.
Hello! I’m Elaine Wilkes, and these interviews about libraries are just invaluable. These are the key to how you get your book into the library. Whether it’s children books or adult fiction, it doesn’t matter; it’s all the same information that will help you get your book into the libraries.
So here we go. This interview is with Madeline Bryant, a buyer for the Los Angeles system, and she has great information.
Well, I’m the collection development manager for the Los Angeles Public Library System for juvenile materials – so materials for zero to around age 12. We have a separate collection development manager for young adult material, but the criteria is basically the same that we look at.
So I’m downtown at Central Library at Los Angeles, and I manage the children for their collection.
Oh fantastic. Now, what advice what you give? Do you take self-published books?
We do accept some on a limited basis. Again, we have a set of criteria that is the same whether it’s a self-published book or a book from a traditional publisher, but we have a set of criteria that we look at when we look at books.
Oh good, give us the criteria.
OK. Of course we get lots and lots of books sent to us from all methods. We’ve actually even gotten some e-books submitted to us, which is a whole new…
I can’t wait to hear about that. Go on.
But for traditional books, actually physical bound books, we look at a number of things. We look at whether or not the binding is able to withstand library use – is it hardcover? Generally paperbacks are difficult for the library. We do have some, but they’re kind of an ephemeral collection. So usually hardcover books are the books that get catalogued and added to the collection.
What do you mean binding?
Well, whether or not a book is soft cover or hard cover. There are many different types of binding, and I’m not even sure of the exact criteria for each binding, but there are some special bound books, which are usually soft cover, and those don’t hold up to library use. So I don’t recommend spiral bound.
Just to be clear here she’s talking about hard cover for kid’s books. They want kid’s books to be hard cover because kids have so much wear and tear on books. So this doesn’t really apply to adult books.
They also have a binding in the hard cover, but that doesn’t matter – they have different types of binding you can do with a hard cover.
Yeah, just as long as it’s hard cover?
Just as long as it’s hard cover, yeah. There are various criteria – there’s actually something called library binding, but that’s usually done by particular libraries. Companies like Baker & Taylor or Ingram – I think they’re the ones who usually do the library binding. I’m not 100% sure on that.
But if that’s hardcover that’s usually good enough?
Then do you need the jacket with the hardcover, or is the hardcover fine?
A jacket is helpful but not essential. We do usually require that there is some bibliographic information on the spine, for instance the title, the author, and the publisher if there is one. The publisher is not essential, but there has to be some sort of information on the spine that is helpful to us. You know, most of our books are shelved spine out on the shelves.
Oh, that’s helpful to know.
Even the picture books will usually have some information on the spine of the book.
Oh, that’s good to know, OK.
Of course we look at the art of the text of the book, and whether it meets the standard that is acceptable in the publishing world today. There’s a wide range of material out there, so we look at what we already have in our collection and would probably compare it to that.
Usually when we’re reading a book – it’s not often, but sometimes we even find grammatical or editing errors. Generally that doesn’t happen.
Especially when kids are learning spelling and you spell it wrong! Not a good idea!
Exactly, so that’s one thing to be careful of.
We do usually also require – again, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s one of our big criteria – that a book has at least one professional review from what we call the traditional library media resources, publications like Booklist, The Horn Book.
What was that last one?
The Horn Book?
Oh, I didn’t know The Horn Book.
The Horn Book has been around for a long time!
Horn Book, OK.
They’re one of the pinnacle resources. They have articles as well, author articles. So that’s a good resource to look at which we carry here at the library – Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal Review. So there are quite a few journals that we look at for reviews of material, and we look at whether or not it’s been positively reviewed.
There are so many books being published that that’s just one more method to look at. All the librarians on the staff here review for school library journals, so we look at them as a trusted resource. We know that if there’s a positive review coming from the school library journal we’ll probably add it to our collection.
Let me think what else we look at.
By the way, first do they email you, call you, or how do they get in touch with you?
You know, email is probably the best way.
I’ll give you my email address. I can give you my phone too, but I’m not always here.
Yeah, let’s start with email.
So what are you looking for in that email?
Well, links to reviews or information about the book, a web page. It really helps us to have the material in hand if a copy can be sent to us actually.
Oh. So they should email you and say ‘do you want a copy?' Or, should they just send you a copy?
Probably sending it. We actually respond to every single item that we get though. So you can follow up with an email.
Where do they send it?
The address here at Central Library would be to my attention:
Children’s Literature Department
630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, 90071
So what if they send you the book – what if they have media clippings? Would that help? Local paper reviews?
Yeah, we would take a look at that too - anything to help us evaluate it. It really helps us to have it in hand. We can look at the pages, we can look at reviews, but to have the actual material – and it does need to be finished – we don’t really accept unfinished manuscripts.
People write, ‘I was working on this book, what do you think?’
That is so funny!
We can’t do that. We can’t evaluate it in an unfinished condition.
Right, ‘what do you think should happen at the end?’
Exactly! Yeah, ‘what should I change to make it better?’ It’s like, ‘no!’
‘Can I get free editing advice?’
Yeah, we don’t do that!
Taking your valuable time. That’s a definite no!
OK, we have that. So let’s say you get the book – what are you looking at? What is it that you go ‘yeah, let’s get this?’
Oh gosh, it depends. A good story, if it’s a picture book good artwork, something original or a timely topic, something that isn’t covered in our collection already. There are topics that have been written on and written on and we have enough.
But then there are some things like bullying – that’s a really hot topic right now – and if there’s a really great book on bullying that might catch our interest, or if it’s a popular assignment topic that we don’t have really enough on. Anything about local history, California history or a California setting, we really would look take a look at that, because there’s not that much actually books about Los Angeles.
Yeah, it’s really kind of surprising how few children’s books take place in Los Angeles or have that kind of content in it. So we might really look at that closer than we would some other material that we already have tons of things on.
But if you’re looking at fiction, a good story, an original story.
Well, what’s so great about children’s books – I’m sure it’s so much harder for older books because you have this long book and you don’t have time to read it, but a kid’s book you can read in three minutes, you know?
Right, yeah. Kid’s books we always read them in their entirety because we can read them in five minutes. That’s why the reviews come in so handy for material that we don’t have time to – my whole staff looks at the material when it comes in. It takes us a little while to get through everything!
So you get the books in, and then how does it work? So someone looks at it first and then they give it to you, or you just get it, you look at it and then send it to a group? Can you just order it your own?
Well, that’s another thing. Let me explain the whole process. Books get sent to me – some come straight to my attention, some are just sent to the library in general, so that would take a little bit longer because they have to go through our acquisitions department and then get sent to me.
So sending it directly is probably the quickest way, then I would take a look at it and depending on what area of the collection it is I might distribute it to one of my staff. We have certain specialties in areas that we work on. We all do picture books and we all do fiction, but the non-fiction is divided up by topics.
So if it’s a science book it might go to a particular person because that’s their specialty. But we would look at it, evaluate it, look at any reviews, and look at the physical package of the book. We might discuss it amongst our staff if we have questions, or we’re kind of not sure.
In your discussions what has usually come up? What’s the common theme, where they go ‘well, you know, I think this is’ – what’s something in your discussions where you’d say ‘yeah?’
Well, I guess mostly the content. Are we talking about self-published material?
Either/or. I mean, like, you have a book and you’re deciding if you should buy it – what’s the common thing that comes up?
You know, that you discuss a lot, that seems like it’s a common…
Well, definitely the content of the book itself – whether it fits our collection. Is it something we can afford, that’s another thing. We do sort of take price somewhat into consideration.
Every branch in our system is on a pretty limited budget. It’s not what it used to be.
What do you usually buy books for?
What’s a good price?
Again, it depends. Books range anywhere from $14, $15, up to – some books like state books and books about countries, those can be up to $30 or $40 each.
So that’s something that we might take into consideration. If a book is really pricey then we might just get it for here at Central Library as opposed to offering it to our branches. Now let me talk about that for a minute – we could talk for a long time!
Yeah, seriously, it’s so fascinating.
What we do here at Central Library, my department, we create an order sheet every month, which is basically a list of books that are made available for purchase for all of our branches, and we have 72 branch libraries.
So every month the children’s librarian in that branch gets a list of books that we’ve compiled, and they get to choose what books to order for their branch. So every branch will have a unique collection, every librarian in each branch knows their community, has visited the schools in that area, knows their collection and what they need, and they get to order off that list.
If something is really obscure or expensive, we might just decide to keep it here at Central Library and not even offer it to the branches. That doesn’t happen a whole lot. Most things we make available for purchase on that sheet every month.
So let’s say you get a book, you look at it, and then you make an order sheet saying ‘do other people want to order this too’? So if you have so many libraries, maybe 20 or 30 could order that book?
OK, got it.
It’s really interesting to see their response. It’s like, ‘oh, nobody wanted that book’, or ‘oh wow, everybody wanted that book’.
Oh, interesting. Do you know why they order? Do you just give them an order list, or do you give a description of the book?
We do give a description, yeah. We try to put in as much detail as possible, so that a librarian who’s looking at this list of books and doesn’t have the book in front of them – we try to give them as much information as possible. We might put ‘great for report use’, or ‘can use this in story time or the classroom’.
If there’s a review we might put in a quote from the review saying ‘excellent’, ‘must buy’, or whatever.
We actually compile a list of what we call top picks every month – the stuff that we think every branch should really consider. It’s not a required list to purchase, but it’s the best of the best.
Wow. How do you get in the top picks?
It’s librarian’s choice! It’s usually something that’s been pretty well reviewed, or we just read and really like.
Or people sent you candy and gifts? That’s amazing really that you have that. That’s incredible.
It’s a lot of work. It takes a whole group of us to work on this every month and kind of wade through. We do get a lot of books sent to us. There’s literally probably a couple of hundred every month.
You know, it’s interesting, because it could also be that one month you get really, really good books, so maybe one book could be overlooked in all the good ones, or another month maybe you could get not as good – it could be also timing too?
Yeah, there are definitely cycles to publishing it seems like. You know, a lot of books come out in either spring or fall. There seems to be waves of books coming in spring and fall, which isn’t a bad thing – it just seems to be the cycle.
Some of our order sheets are huge. We just feel like ‘oh my gosh, this list is so long, how are people going to choose?’ And then other months ‘oh, there just wasn’t that much this month.'
You could get lost if you did it in fall? It’s interesting how timing could play a little bit of an effect too. There are so many factors.
Yeah, I didn’t even think of the timing. But yes, if it’s a really good book it will really stand out, and one of us will say ‘you know, everybody really should get this’. We all have input.
Now, for self-published authors who can’t get reviewed in journals and Publisher’s Weekly because they only review published books – what could they do that would make you go ‘oh, you know something, yeah.' What would influence you to say ‘yeah, this seems like a good book, look at this.'
It just really needs to be pretty high quality material.
But would articles help you, or PR that it got in magazines?
That would help, yeah.
Any Amazon rankings?
That would help a little. You know, we tend to stay away from Amazon reviews.
What about rankings, if it was ranked high on Amazon?
If it was selling pretty well, yes, that actually might make a difference, and there are lots of big self-published books, most of them in the adult market right now – you know, 50 Shades of Grey is an example – that have really made it big.
Obviously if there’s a big public demand for it and people are asking, we definitely take that into consideration. There’s a section on our webpage where you can actually suggest a purchase as a patron – saying ‘I think you should have this book on your library system’.
If we get a lot of requests for a particular title, even if it was self-published title, we would definitely take that into consideration. We’re trying to meet demand on the part of the public. We want to have what people are asking for, we want to give kids what they need for school assignments, all working within a budget and space constraints!
That’s another thing. We all have limited room on our shelves.
So we really do kind of take that into consideration too. Budget would be the number one thing – like, ‘well, I can’t afford three copies of this book, so I’m only going to get one.'
‘I just don’t have enough room on the shelf right now!’ – that might be a consideration too, although we try to make room.
What about e-books? What if someone has an e-book? You don’t do iPad books, right?
We’ve not done iPad books yet.
What if someone has an iPad book and they said ‘could you put this in your catalogue?’ iPad books are amazing.
I mean, they read to music, audio, video, and me. They’re incredible, and they’re cheaper than the paper books, and have so much more. So is there any way they could present an iPad book for you and say ‘why don’t you at least offer it?’
There probably would be a way. I think actually I have had one gentleman – I think it was considered an app, but it was really children’s book oriented. It was concepts and stuff, and sounds, and he sent me a link to it and gave me a free e-copy. It was lovely, but we don’t have a way to offer that through our webpage right now.
We do offer a lot of e-content which can be viewed on the iPad, but we don’t have a way to do apps yet.
What about iPad books? iBooks is what they’re called.
We don’t have iBooks yet either. We have the e-books available through Overdrive. I can get to our webpage, e-content. There are a lot of children’s books available through our webpage, but again we’ve mostly just been purchasing right now through specific library vendors for those, so we’re just now starting to get into that.
Whether it’s an e-book or regular book, the best is that someone sent you the book, or pitched to you and said ‘here’s what we have?’ But for an e-book it wouldn't it be a little bit harder?
That’s a little bit harder yeah, even though they are more affordable and they don’t take up space.
I know, exactly! That’s why it’s so great. It’s just amazing. All the kids love iPad books. Kids are using iPad books more than the adults.
I know. We’ve just got an iPad for our department here, so we’re just now experimenting with it and playing with it, and I think this year we’re planning on making big strides in that area.
So if someone has an iPad book do they have to wait, can they contact you now, or what can they do?
You know, I wouldn’t say wait. Contact me now, and that way I know that it’s out there, that there’s interest, and then I can talk to my supervisors, acquisitions department, tech department, and ask them what we need to do to make this available.
I’m working with so many other departments too. You know, I work with cataloguing departments – they’re the ones who actually input the records into the catalogue on the computer. I work with our acquisitions department – they choose the vendors from which we buy.
So that’s another consideration, because we do work with traditional library vendors. So if a book was available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, or one of those vendors, that’s helpful for us. We don’t just buy books straight on Amazon.
It’s almost mandatory that they have to be with Baker & Taylor?
I think so, yeah. Our acquisitions department has agreements set up with them, and an ordering process. If we were dealing with this entire tiny little individual – it wouldn’t really work.
Yeah, that makes sense. Well, we’ve got to get the iPad books going for sure. Also there’s no space and they’re cheap. You can get an iPad book probably for 99 cents.
Yeah, I know.
They’re actually better – they’re read-to-me with audio and video.
They’re interactive, they have sound.
Kids love that. That’s something you’ll have to look into because that’s the latest thing.
So that’s great. This has been so helpful.
Oh, I’m glad.
So basically you need an author to prove to you, rather than them just saying ‘my book is great?’ You need professional people – or the media for reviews. You know, it’s hard for them to get the reviews and Publisher’s Weekly won’t do it, but you need something for them to prove ‘here’s why my book is so good’?
Yeah. I know it’s so difficult, and people pour so much time, energy and money in.
Right, but it makes sense. Do blurbs make a difference? Let’s say Jack Canfield endorsed the book. Does that make a difference?
Every little thing helps, yeah.
You know what I’m getting a picture of – it’s almost like if you go to court and you have to present your case. You know what I mean? It’s like, ‘here is why this person is not guilty. First of all . . . It’s kind of the same with books. You have to present your case.
I think what people do is they just give the book and, ‘oh, it’s really good’, and they don’t have any facts to support it, like professional opinions, media, blurbs, Amazon rankings, or sales. I think all that you have to show, present a case. I think if they had a big case then that would probably influence you to buy it more?
Yeah, I guess that sounds so harsh, but it really is sort of a difficult process, and there are so many books being made right now, and we just don’t have the money or the staff to accommodate all of them, so we really do try to choose the best of the best.
So somebody could show us – and again, it helps us to see the book ourselves, but if they have everything else to back it up that would help.
Like if they sent a little portfolio of news clippings, rankings and stuff like that, that would probably influence you?
Yeah, it definitely would help.
Because it also shows out there they’re out there and working at making the book popular too maybe?
Yeah, well that demand is a big thing. It costs us money to actually add a book to the library believe it or not, because we have to process it, we have to send it down to our cataloguing department, and that takes staff time to input.
So for us to add a book it actually does take time, and money! I forget where I was going with that!
Yes, that’s so fascinating. I look at the all kid’s books – ‘wow, how do they pick?’ You know what I mean? There are so many.
Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve been to Central Library and walked into our picture book room. It’s kind of overwhelming for everyone! We’re actually kind of trying to look at ways to reorganize it and make it more accessible. We’ll see. There may be some changes this year, but we’ll see.
Yeah. Especially with kid’s books it seems like ‘OK, is this dog cute?’ It’s kind of subjective.
Again, that’s where what we already have makes a difference too. We get asked for train books all the time. I’ll use that as an example. ‘One more train book’, and it’s like, ‘ahh, we see a train book every month’. It has to be as good or better than the ones we already have, otherwise it doesn’t really make sense for us to add it, unless people are again just clamoring for it. Obviously we get bestsellers and we get assignment material, but meeting patron demand is important to us too.
How about Spanish?
Spanish material is a whole separate animal. We don’t actually evaluate it – we have a whole separate department. We have a multi-lingual services department that collects the materials in Spanish for children. I could give you the contact name.
Yeah. I mean, this has been so helpful. So basically people should send the book rather than just an email?
Especially with the children’s books – you can just see what you want and you can know right then and there. A website can make it look good, but once it’s in your hands. Does a paper [---] make a difference?
Gosh, probably a little bit, but that’s not a critical feature. It doesn’t have to be certain grain or a certain texture.
OK – because I know Lightning Source has a premium book and a standard book that you can pick between, and the premium book makes the colors look brighter, and the paper is a little thicker. So they thought for library use it might be better. But it’s four times the price, so then the price goes up. So it’s like, ‘do you really need the heavier paper?’
Again, that’s where having the book in hand would help us to see. I guess if it’s really flimsy the pages might be torn easily. We might consider that. Things get a lot of use here at the library, especially in the children’s department – really heavy use, especially with little hands!
Things have to hold up for many, many circulations. We’re going through our collection – on an ongoing basis we’re ‘weeding’. Weeding is when we get rid of old, worn books, things that have gotten lots of us. We can see how many times a book has checked out. That’s part of our librarian database. Some books are 70, 80, up to 100 times.
That’s actually the sign of a good book, if it withstood being checked out 100 times!
Then would you reorder it, or would you just let it go?
If it’s still in print and it’s still in demand we will try to reorder it. Some things go out of print, and then we try to hang onto them because they’re irreplaceable.
Wow, this is so fascinating and helpful. I think you’re going to help so many people with this.
I think people just send the book – but you really need to send backing with it.
Yeah, it just helps when you’re making a book to have worked either with an editor or a second person who can evaluate the material for you. I know a lot of people do that. One big resource we often recommend people joining is the SCBWI – the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
That’s a huge resource, and they have an annual conference every year here in Los Angeles, and they offer free critiques. The conference isn’t free, but when you pay for the conference you can sign up for a critique, and these are usually published authors who are looking at your work. They can make suggestions, recommendations. It’s an invaluable resource.
It’s an important one too, because some people don’t like the criticism, but you have to open to it.
You have to. It’s hard; I know it’s really hard.
But that’s how you make a good book. They’ve been around and they know. So that’s really helpful. Oh, that’s a great resource.
Yeah. I think they’re just scbwi.org. I’m pretty sure they’re a dot org. I should look that up really quick – but they’re great, and again their HQ is right here in Los Angeles.
Wow. It’s the Society of?
It’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and they’ve been here it says here on their webpage since 1971. Their established membership is not expensive. I think I’m a member. It’s $30 or $40 a year.
Wow, that’s so worth it.
Yeah. You get their publication, they actually have tips on when to submit your work to a publisher, and all sorts of tips and techniques, networking, critique groups. Again, I can’t recommend them enough.
When you say publisher, are you still a little snobby towards self-publishing? Let’s say they’re still with Baker & Taylor, but it’s like ‘well, it’s self-published’.
We’re trying not to be. It’s hard!
It has to be better if it’s self-published – you have to really make it look professional?
Yeah. It’s just that there are so many self-published. I hate to use the word ‘snobby’ – it’s kind of accurate, but there are just so many self-published books now. So I guess will be sort of snobby. But everybody thinks they can make a children’s book.
Yes—and the thing is with a publisher, they have more eyes involved, and editors and stuff like that. Some people just self-publish all by themselves and don’t ever circulate and say ‘what do you think?’
Exactly, and you need to have that feedback. You may think it’s the greatest book ever, but in order to be a library or probably a book store – book stores are probably going to be money driven I’m sure – but to be in a library there needs to be some demand for the material, and if other people think it’s great too!
Or even a topic that people are interested in maybe. That could help. Also, do teachers check out library books? If it’s something teachers could use for story time?
Yeah, we keep that in mind. We keep in mind ‘could you use in the classroom, could you use in story time, or is there nothing else on the topic?’ I think actually the SCBWI publication – they used to anyway have a list of topics, and you’d have somebody who’s say ‘there’s nothing on this. I could ask for this book at the library and there’s nothing on this topic, so somebody needs to write a book!’
Oh, interesting. Yeah, you’re right. There are only so many train books you can do.
Exactly, so it’s like ‘let’s try something else, let’s try a unique twist on it’. There are books that don’t exist. There are topics that haven’t been written on yet.
Oh, that’s really helpful too. Wow, this has been so great. I really appreciate your great information.
We can talk for days I’m sure.
It’s so fascinating too. People spend all this time, then they submit, it’s like they’re doing it in the incorrect way and then they get discouraged, you know?
Yeah, it does happen a lot.
They’re just sending a book, and it’s like ‘you need something else’.
Show me why.
We can see the book, but that doesn’t help us – unless it’s like ‘wow, this is amazing, I’ve never seen anything like this’, but usually it’s like ‘oh, not another one of these, no!’
I think it’s almost that they need to send a little presentation package with it as to why you want to it.
Right, that helps.
Yeah, that’s so great – because I know people are wasting all their money and time just sending their book in, probably just with a note saying, ‘here’s my book, are you interested?’
Right. If you could tell us as part of that package ‘I went to the SBWCI conference, they critiqued it, they were really excited about it’ – that could help us too.
‘Oh, there’s definitely interest out there, or positive feedback’. That would help us.
Wow. Or even, ‘I have 300 likes on Amazon’. That’s probably help, something like that?
Wow. Like I say, it’s so helpful to people I can’t even tell you. Really, you’re fantastic.
Yeah, it does seem to be that people think we have this secret process. It’s not really secret. It’s not on our webpage because there’s limited space on the webpage.
But no one thinks – they go and submit it but they never think to ask ‘well, what are you looking for?’ So they’re missing the main step there. The main piece to the puzzle is ‘what do you want?’ They’re just sending you a book. Well, do you want this book?
I guess it’s just like any other products out there. ‘Do you need’ whatever it is? Do you need this fabulous piece of clothing that I made, but if you want or need it, can you afford it?
Yeah, exactly. That’s so interesting. I’m so grateful for your time, thank you so much. This has been so great. I’m just beyond grateful.
I know, perfect.
If you have more questions you can call or email me.
I know everyone – this will actually give you better books to read. You know what I mean, by everybody listening to this they’ll send you better quality. It’ll help your job too hopefully that they won’t be sending you things that are…
Oh my gosh, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful, thank you. OK, take care.
Alright, you too.
Thanks a lot, bye-bye.
You know, I love that interview – the thing I got from it is don’t just send you book. You’re wasting your money. It would be like this. If a parent said ‘my daughter is beautiful’.
You don’t really think that much, but if you said ‘I [---] modelling agency accepted my daughter and she’s been on the cover of the Glamour, in Seventeen Magazine, and she won Miss Oregon or whatever’, then you have ‘oh, well let me look at this more’.
Those extra things make you look at the book further. These tips that she’s given are the difference between getting your book into the library, into many libraries, and not getting your book into libraries.
I hope you enjoyed this. I’m Elaine Wilkes, and thank you for listening.
Transcript of audio:
Sonia Araujo of the Jersey City Public Library shares what you need to get your books into libraries. Very informative interview!
ELAINE: Hi I’m Elaine Wilkes and I’m interviewing Sonia Aruejo of the Jersey City Public Library. I start out by asking her what tips she has for authors to get their books into libraries.
SONIA: Besides our trade journals that we use, we also have authors that when they write a book they can send us emails. They look at our website and they send us email to which we go on their website, and we feel we can use the books, then we purchase some, depending on the amount of books that we think the public would like to use.
ELAINE: Do you want the email to be short and just get it to the website, or do you want everything on the email?
SONIA: What we do is if they give us the email, let’s say geared for children. They write, “This book will be great for children. If you want us to come in and read for your patrons (kid’s story time) we will.
If you want us to bring some books, we will if we’re able to sell them. In some cases we say, “Yes, come in if the book is something that we can use, and use for children, and it would be a good read during the story hours.” That’s something that the children’s librarian would probably go in and purchase the book, or have the author bring the book to the library, read the book, and then probably purchase several copies. She would also recommend it to other librarians. We have ten branches throughout the city. We have what we call the hut meetings and the hut members. The hut members are usually to us, the ones that purchase books. So most of the hut members all belong to the group in the meeting, and we have a website. Whenever we have a book or something that we like we just come in and send it to the hut members, and say this is a book that you may like to purchase. My colleague and I do the budget and we give a certain amount of money to each member. Each member can purchase his or her own books.
ELAINE: Is there a better time to submit your book than another time, a better month?
SONIA: Usually the beginning of the year when we get a budget.
ELAINE: What’s the beginning of your year?
ELAINE: Oh, because some libraries buy from June to July or so.
SONIA: Yes, a fiscal year. We used to do that but now we changed. If it’s a fiscal year than naturally the best time to do that would be January and then again in July or August because that would be their fiscal year. Never in December and never in June because by that time we have no money left. We pretty much use our money, like now in January, we pretty much use our money by September. We’ll use most of monies. What we do is purchase a lot of titles that are going to come out in December, January, and February so there’s a lot of forecasting going on as far as the bestsellers what are going to come out way before they hit the market so we purchase our books then.
So because of that we may not have any money left by September because we already purchased books for February and January of next year.
ELAINE: What if people come into the library? Do you think it’s an imposition or do you like to meet them, how do you feel?
SONIA: No it’s not. We have individual branches throughout the city because we have ten branches throughout the city, so we have a lot of authors that have written books and will sit down and say call the librarian.
On our website we have all our branches and the branch heads so you know who you can call or reach by email or by phone.
Once they call them they can say, "I have a book and I was wondering if you can take a look at it or if you would be interested," and just bring it down. As long as they’re not too pushy, we’re good with that. But as soon as they start saying “you have to take it etc” than we try to refrain from that.
Usually people are really good, the authors are good. We really support the authors because without them naturally we wouldn’t have a library, so it’s sort of like a good relationship.
Jersey City Library has a book festival every September, so we have different authors some of them are just published, self published and so on. They bring the books, and we have a festival in the park, and they bring their own books. They have people that come in and they sell them right there, and they are able to read to the public.
In addition to that, we purchase ten books each from each author. We have 15 to 20 authors. From these fifteen to twenty authors that we do have, we purchase ten books for the library, which is one for each branch.
ELAINE: That’s great. How do you pick each author?
SONIA: They really pick me. They’ll send me a lot of information and say, “We’re interested! We saw your flyer, etc.” I’ll look at the book and see if that will be something that we can use. I like an eclectic collection so I don’t really pick anything in particular because there’s such a varied interest as far as reading is concerned; I select the authors that have different subject matter.
We just had one last year that had written a dictionary on the meaning of different musical terms and their origin and so forth. She was a rock star too, she was a rocker and it was interesting that she performed. She also had a book on dictionaries of different musical terms, which made an interesting connection.
It just varies; we really try to go the whole gamut because it’s such a varied interest in reading to just narrow it down into specific books.
ELAINE: If your book finally gets into the library, is it true that you have eighteen months, and if your book doesn’t get checked out a lot they might get rid of it because you don’t have shelf space?
SONIA: We have a public catalog so they’re included in the public catalog, and not only do they see it but anybody in Jersey City and anybody can really access our catalog.
Sometimes we get requests from inter-library loans from people in Texas that might want the book and we just send it out. We don’t readily weed a book right away but we do that to every author, we do that to even popular authors weed a book depending on the shelf space.
ELAINE: So you don’t weed it for years?
SONIA: We don’t tend to, no. We try to keep it, especially something on medicine. Medical books and computer books – they all last at least five years. We don’t really get rid of books. Those are the ones that we really weed almost every five years, which are the medical science books—things like that. Computer books, tests for sure. They’re all mostly non-fiction because they need to be updated. Medical books always have to be updated.
ELAINE: What about e-books? How would an author get their eBook into the library?
SONIA: Well we have a vendor from which we buy eBooks from they would probably have to come through the vendor. That’s sort of like a new forum that we’re getting ventured into. It’s done very well we have a good budget for that. We’ve designated quite a lot of money to that budget. We have quite a few good collections that we get a lot of people that use our eBooks.
ELAINE: Who’s your vendor you use? Overdrive?
ELAINE: There’re some other vendors that you mainly use Overdrive right?
SONIA: We’re already with Overdrive. I don’t purchase those.
ELAINE: Is there anything that turns you off that you wish authors would not do?
SONIA: Not really.
ELAINE: Any tips for emailing?
SONIA: List a website that we can look into the book, because if they tell us about it we should be able to click on the website and see any reviews, see how the book looks like, and see what kind of print it has and where we can fit that book into our collection.
ELAINE: Is it true that you don’t like too many different sizes, like too many oversize or undersize books?
SONIA: Yeah, because we end up separating that into a different category. Even if your book is really a timely something it would have to be filed someplace else. A lot people may not go to that particular section because we have oversized books in that particular section. People don’t really want to carry those around they want something compact.
ELAINE: Now is this true- someone said if you go in and donate your book and say, “Could you put this in your library?” And they do they’ll get you into world catalog and that’s the easiest way get into world catalog. Is that true or no?
SONIA: Not necessarily, I think the library, which you bring it to has to belong to that organization. Not everybody is into the world catalog.
ELAINE: Oh you’re right, some libraries are into the world catalog and some aren’t.
SONIA: Yeah we’re not. So it depends on if you belong to them, or not but we’re not.
ELAINE: Do Amazon rankings influence you?
SONIA: We don’t get a lot of books from Amazon. To tell you the truth we have so many sources that Amazon is not always the go-to one.
ELAINE: What are your sources?
SONIA: We have the Library of Congress. We have the OCOC.
ELAINE: What was the second one?
ELAINE: What is that?
SONIA: The Ohio Cataloging Library something or other college library. That’s another source for our catalog and another place we can look at for book in addition to library journals, to book lists.
ELAINE: What do you do with the first one? You just look them up to see if they’re in the catalog, or how they rank?
SONIA: Yeah we look them up. Well we look them just to see the authors and the subject matter, how they are catalog in the LOC, who takes them out, who has them in their collections. We can pick up all that information up.
We purchase the book because of our patrons, what our patrons want to read. That’s really the bottom line. Whatever let’s say it’s a popular author we’ll purchase his book automatically because Patterson always gets read. Popular authors have a following so if we don’t have the latest, we hear it.
ELAINE: What if someone has a lot of people requesting their book? Would that help?
SONIA: Yes it does. Also if you send us a request online that says we would like to see this book etc. you don’t have it, and it’s something that I would like to see, then we may purchase one. That doesn’t mean we’re going to purchase ten. We may purchase one. If it’s a lot of money we may not purchase it at all. [laughter]
ELAINE: Do you ever buy directly from the author?
SONIA: We do, we do buy directly from the author.
ELAINE: When you do buy directly from the author how do you pay? Do you just pay them with charge card, or do you invoice?
SONIA: No, they have to send us an invoice.
ELAINE: Then you cut them a check.
ELAINE: If you were an author what would you do to get your book into libraries?
SONIA: I would go into the library whatever library I think my book would the public, where the public would be that what sector of the community would read my book, and I would hit that branch in Jersey City. I’m telling you Jersey City, but in general just donate a copy, and say look this is the book I want you to read it. We don’t always read books like that; I think your best bet would be just getting excerpts and send us an email that we can see readily. That’s even better because we don’t have time always to read books.
ELAINE: Right, so that way if you had tons of blurbs, and you’re scrolling and there were a lot of blurbs that would maybe influence you more? About these people saying how great it was?
SONIA: Probably. Yeah, that would probably influence me more than if you brought me a book.
ELAINE: Would you rather send you a short email and it’s a link to the site that you could just go on the site and see everything, or would just like everything in the email?
SONIA: No, the link to the site would be good. A little information and what the book is about and what age it’s geared toward – “this might be good for seniors, this might be good for your housewives, this might be good for children, this might be good for story hour, or this is the new project, the new cooking book.“ Then, “Check out the website and let me know, this is my information.” Have all the information there-how much it costs and where we can get it from etc.
ELAINE: Okay got it. Thank you so much you were a wealth of information. I’m really grateful. Thank you.
buyer, Robert Anderson, of the Los Angeles Public Library reveals what's
needed to get your book purchased into the Los Angeles library system.
interview is with Robert Anderson. He’s one of the buyers for the LA
public library system. He at first says “no we don’t buy a lot of self
published books,” but then later he says if you do have reviews they’ll
consider, or if people are asking for it they’ll bring it in. All these
librarian interviews I think are really helpful. Here’s when I ask him
if he takes self-published books.
order very few self-published books. The only time we would actually
order something like that is if it was something that really fell within
our areas of specialization say for a fiction book. It would have to be
something that had a fairly vocal author, or vocal setting or something
like that or it might be a book that was a subject area that we
Los Angeles of course there are things like movie star biographies, or
if somebody did a self- published book on somebody we needed a biography
of we might bring it in.
As a rule we do have self published books in the collection and a lot of them are books that the author has just given us because we tell them that we will add it if you…not that we add every single one that people give us but if we think there’s a general interest to the community we’ll add it. We do not buy a whole lot of self-published books. Once we do I would say it might get a review or a mention somewhere and that might generate people being interested in them.
ELAINE: So reviews definitely help, you’re saying?
ROBERT: Yes reviews are definite because we do look at all the major review media.
ELAINE: Would newspaper articles help?
ROBERT: Yes, certainly local newspaper articles would be a big influence because then a lot of times from those that would generate people requesting that the library buy the book. We do have on our website a place where people can put in request for books that we don’t have in the collection so we do look at those.
We do get a
lot of requests that way for self-published items. In fact we get a lot
of authors that are requesting we buy their books that way. Frankly, we will look at them
and it will generate us taking a look at the book, but it doesn’t
necessarily mean that we’re automatically going to buy it. If we decide
that it really is outside of our area of interest we’re probably not going to buy it. It certainly is more influential if somebody who is not the author is requesting it. Although obviously there’s way you can find out if you want to.
Exactly the mother, the father, the uncle, everybody can write in saying
we want this book. If you have a huge family it could benefit you if
you’re an author because you could have everyone write in. If all of the
sudden you got in say one a day of people asking from different
computers, would you look at it seriously?
ROBERT: I guess if it was clear that these were definitely different people and they seem to be asking in different ways and so forth then we would definitely take a more serious look at it. Sure if we started getting multiple requests.
really it’s up to the author to promote the book and if they’re in the
media that might help a lot because they could say “We heard this person
on the radio, or in the local paper and we’re wondering if you could
bring in this book” and that might influence you to bring in the book?
ROBERT: Sure, as I say anything in the media will generate, you hope, some requests for the library to buy the book. Some people will want to buy it themselves and then there’s the people who don’t want to buy it themselves and will go to their library and say “you buy this book,” because they heard about it and I’m interested in it. So yeah definitely if there’s something on the radio or a newspaper article about this person we would be much more likely to be adding it to the collection because we would get probably multiple requests for it.
there a difference between eBooks and regular books? Why would you buy
an eBook over a regular book? Or would you buy both? How do you pick out
what eBooks you buy?
ROBERT: It’s such a relatively recent thing that we’re kind of gradually developing policies on those. We tend to buy a lot of times we have both. It’s not going to be one or the other because some people prefer one and some people prefer the other. Assuming that we have the money for it we’re going to buy both.
Sometimes in this department we end up with package deals on eBooks where you could get a whole bunch of inexpensive ones. We end up with a bunch of the equivalent of paperback romance novels eBooks and we might not have a lot of those as physical books because there are so many paperback romances but when they’re offering us a deal for a really low price then we might give those supplied as an eBook.
know what I just thought of, what if a whole bunch of authors got
together and said, “We’ll give you all these eBooks for this price.”
Would you do it? Let’s say a great price for a whole bunch of eBooks.
ROBERT: Well I guess I don’t really have the final say on that kind of thing. It would be something that if we got an offer like that we would have to discuss it among the various parts of the library system, the central library here, the branches, and the people who run those areas, and see what everybody thinks —whether it’s worth our investing, even if it’s a really wonderful deal and a very low price. We would take a look at it.
seems like a really good idea because that way you’re getting a good
deal with all the books, and they want to get in, so they give you a
great deal. What is the package books going for now? How much do they
offer for books?
ROBERT: I don’t deal with that part of i.e. couldn’t tell you for sure.
ELAINE: But they do it much cheaper, way discounted?
Usually there’s some kind of deal that the eBook publishers like. One of
the big ones is Overdrive and they have special deals depending on…
ELAINE: Do you deal with mostly Overdrive? Or, just Overdrive, or Baker and Taylor, or anyone else?
ROBERT: The main ones right now are Overdrive and we’re just starting to get into Baker and Taylor who now have access 360 eBooks.
Then there are also recorded books of e/audio books but that’s not really what you’re talking about.
Another one is—I don’t hear about this one of as often –but there’s also EBSCO.
ELAINE: EBSCO. They also do eBooks?
ROBERT: They do eBooks and audio books.
ELAINE: If someone calls and pitches you, do they ask for the library collections department?
ROBERT: People do it different ways. We do get a lot of calls from Authors—it’s true. They’ll call and say, “I’ve written this book, can you buy it.” Usually we need something more than the author asking us to buy it; we need some evidence it’s been reviewed, or we need people asking us to buy it.
Here at Central library we have different departments that specialize in different parts of the collection. This is the literature department, so they might end up calling one of the departments depending on the subject matter of their book.
they want to get it in here at Central library there’s also adult
services, children services, and teen services departments that are in
charge of setting up orders for the branch libraries. Sometimes
authors will go through them and try to convince them that they should
order it for all their branches or some of the branches. They do
sometimes call whether it’s an adult book, or children’s book, they
might call adult services, or children’s services.
ELAINE: it’s probably easier for them to order through Baker and Taylor and Ingram. So, at least get the book with Baker and Taylor and Ingram so it’s an easier order right?
ROBERT: Yes definitely. For instance I know when I get asked for something from Baker and Taylor, we tend to order through their product called “Title Source.” If say by getting one of these emails that says, “Please buy my book,” and I go into Title Source 3, and I can’t find the book there that’s big drawback.
ELAINE: So you don’t really use Ingram as much—mainly just Baker and Taylor?
ROBERT: Right, the library does order things from Ingram. The whole ordering system is very complex and a lot of different components to it.
As far as when we get a request from somebody to buy a book then we will tend to go into Title Source. If I go in there and it’s no showing up at all then…
ELAINE: Then it’s too much work!
ROBERT: What usually happens is that as far as the requests that come into the Central library, the director of the central library will forward them to the departments. She’ll say if you decide not to order then just so she has a record, just send them back to me with a justification. A lot of the times the justification will be “self published book” or “not available” “no reviews” or “not available in Title Source 3.”
ELAINE: That’s really helpful. What about blurbs? Let’s say Jack Canfield, or a famous person, gave the book a blurb. Does that help, or not really?
ROBERT: I guess it might have some influence.
Really, yes, a well-known author could have some influence. But so
often we see that come in with blurbs. We show them to each other and
say, “Do we believe these blurbs?” because it’ll be Joe blow from or
ELAINE: Right, Joe Pulaski from the deli!
some editor that they obviously submitted it to— it’ll be something
like— this is a really promising idea, or something where they turned
them down to publish it. Yeah, there are blurbs and then there are
ELAINE: A reputable blurb that you would know the name.
ROBERT: Somebody pretty well known then yeah we might look at it again. That’s interesting he actually got this person to write a blurb.
ELAINE: Really the best thing for a self-published author to do is to get some media, get blurbs, so it looks like a great book that people would want to have. Also maybe if it’s something distinguishable, so it would fit in your portfolio more.
ROBERT: Yeah definitely. If it’s on a subject that we have a lot of interest in among the library users then that’s a big plus, even if it is self-published.
ELAINE: You’re right. I think people they say it’s so hard to get into libraries because they’re not prepared. Don’t approach the libraries when you don’t have everything done—not like, “Here’s my book. I hope you like it, my mom loves it.”
ROBERT: Yeah that doesn’t work.
if I was l writing a book I’d make sure I’d put maybe local things in,
so you could say it’s all about the local area or something.
Sometimes we do get letters that people write to us, or emails, or
whatever. They’ll bring that up because obviously they’ve been told they
should bring that up.
they write a letter, or call, it goes to a committee, and they all
decide from there, or does one person say okay we’ll order it.
ROBERT: As I say with a big system like ours, it’s kind of complicated.
It depends on if they submit a request to the link that’s requesting
that you buy books. As I said, that’ll go to Central library direct.
Then she’ll send them to the departments. Then, somebody from the
department will look at it. Maybe talk to the other people in the
department, and then we say, “Oh we should have this,” and we buy it.
Other ones are more iffy, or definite no’s, so it all depends.
last question for you, if they call in the beginning of the year when
you have a new budget, would it be more chance that you would buy it,
versus the end of the year when you’ve used up your budget?
ROBERT: I guess that’s true. Our library system, and the city as a whole, other government entities may be different or the same. But, ours goes from July to June. So we start running out of money in the late spring. So that’s probably not a good time to call us. That’s our particular system.
ELAINE: Do you have a budget allocated for each month?
ROBERT: We try to keep it within certain parameters. It’s hard to do an exact figure, because it all depends. More things get published in certain months, spring and fall.
ELAINE: Wow fantastic. Obviously you like the like the Publishers Weekly Library Journal, and those reviews from those places?
ROBERT: Yeah the Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus review, is another that we use a lot. Booklist, of course. If it shows up in local papers, of course the LA Times, or if there’s something in another smaller local paper, that generates a lot of interest. Or, people here read the New York Times too, but those are probably the main things.
ELAINE: It would seem like you have a better chance if you’re local to get in a local library.
R: Yeah, I look up some of these people in world catalog, just sometimes I’m looking at a particular author and –oh let’s see if any other libraries have bought this book we’ll look at the world catalog. Sometimes you’ll find that nobody has it, and other times, oh a few libraries have already bought this. Sometimes they’ll mention in letters that’s another—if one library in the library in the area buys it that sort of influences other libraries I would say. That just came into my head. But, I’ve been influenced by that a few times. They’ll say, “I just got Santa Monica library to accept my book and I’m hoping that you’ll accept it too.” You’ll look at Santa Monica and see oh yeah they do have it in their catalog, they obviously thought It was worth adding so maybe I should take a closer look at this.
ELAINE: What about Amazon rankings, like if they said they were number one on Amazon this week, would that help?
ROBERT: There’s ways of manipulating those, but they don’t influence me. It might someone else.
ELAINE: Or rankings? If I was number ten thousand on Amazon this week, do you look at those?
ROBERT: I don’t usually pay any attention to that. Maybe there are other people who do but I don’t.
ELAINE: I really appreciate your help and your generosity. Thank you so much!
This is a summary pdf of ideas for you to get your book into libraries. Contains review and distributor info too.
lists with links to distributors and reviewers are invaluable!
It took several of us weeks to collect all this info.
There's more information in the audios in this course too.
One more addition:
A Book Spine is Usually Preferred For Libraries
You may need a book spine so people can see the book on the shelf. For our children's book we had to add five pages so we could have a spine on it. Since Lightning Source (printer we used for the hard cover version) only prints spines with 48 pages or more, we needed to add more pages.
Here's info about having a book spine from the printer:
"Spine text is allowed for perfect bound, case bound, and dust jacket books with 48 pages or more. Cloth bound books with spine stamping must have 80 pages or more. Publishers that require spine text for a completed book of less than 48 pages, MUST PAD the book with a sufficient number of blank pages to reach a minimum of 48 pages"
By the way...If you want to hear the audio on how to write emails that get results, leave a rating for this course and you'll get the audio for free. Simply email Elaine@ElaineWilkes.com and say you left a comment and I'll send you a login for the email course. This info below and in the audio made HUGE positive changes to my writing, emailing, and ghost writing. It's so simple, yet so powerful.
Your email can make or break a sale. This guide has excellent email tips from top multi-million dollar Internet marketers and authors that will help sell your book.
Also, here's what a librarian buyer said that she wants in emails (In bold is important):
Include your emails to buyers include your:
o Price of book
o Blurbs of reviews
o Contact Info
o How to order
o For what group - fiction adult, Young adult, children’s, non-fiction, etc.
o Your web site address that has a picture of the book, bio, praise, etc.
Remember, cut. Cut. Cut. Keep it short. Generally, If it looks to long to read, it's overwhelming and nothing gets read.
"If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter." -Mark Twain
This audio interview is about getting videos into libraries, but you may wish to listen to this since it has a lot of info on the process of getting into libraries and getting distributors.
Interview With Leah Kalish on library distributors, and how she gets her videos into libraries.
(This process is the same for books.)
ELAINE: Welcome everyone. This is Elaine Wilkes and I’m here with Leah Kalish. She has sold her DVDs to libraries and has great tips. This is such a great interview because she’s a wealth of information so she’ll help you a lot. So, welcome Leah!
Leah: Thank you Elaine!
ELAINE: So tell me, you just create videos right?
Leah: Well, I create video and then accompanying educational materials. Most of what I’ve sold into libraries, which is how I started, is the video series.
ELAINE: Great, so tell us the process. Go step by step – how do we get our video (books are the same process) into a library?
LEAH: What happened for me was that I was looking into distribution. What I learned was that there are certain big distributors that focus on mostly, or some even exclusively, to libraries.
So I was able to basically send them a sample and connect with them. I started a relationship with Midwest Tapes by finding their name – they’re one of the big distributors to libraries. They distribute videos to libraries. They were my first really big distributor, and they have been a super repeat customer.
Then what happened was that for marketing, because I didn’t have a lot of money, I went after parent teacher awards. We won the National Parenting Publications Awards, we won Creative Child Magazine Award, and we won the Mom’s Choice Award. It was those people that really support their winners in connecting with distributors and libraries. So it was one of those, in getting support in one of those companies because we won those companies, and that’s basically what you’re paying for to enter. I also connected with Quality Books.
ELAINE: Quality Books is a distributor?
LEAH: Yes, they are another distributor to libraries.
ELAINE: Okay, and how are they different from Midwest Tapes?
LEAH: They’re not.
ELAINE: Okay, they’re the same thing. Are they mainly for video, or are they also for books?
LEAH: They do books, too. Everything. Midwest Tapes is really just video.
ELAINE: How are Quality Books different from Baker and Taylor?
LEAH: Well, Baker and Taylor is just so huge and deals with everything. Baker and Taylor has a library division, but they do everything else. For me, I found that I didn’t want it to go that way. That’s just a machine.
I found initially that once some of my products got into that machine, if something was incorrect you could never get it changed. It would show up on Target, and it would show up on other places. It was not a good way I decided for me to go at all. I didn’t like that business. Selling to libraries is much more specific; you get paid; it’s much more controlled.
ELAINE: So Quality Books deals with video and books. Are they just more for children’s?
LEAH: No, they do everything. Their website is quality-books.com.
ELAINE: Okay, and how did you hear of them?
LEAH: I got connected through, I think it was, winning the Mom’s Choice Awards.
ELAINE: Okay, first let’s go back to the awards. How did you find these awards?
LEAH: Once you start looking, I just knew about them I guess. Making children’s products, you just see them. If you shop for children’s stuff you see their stickers on products and that helps you make a decision. It helps people think, “Wow. Okay, if thirty different moms, or educators, or parents reviewed this, and it’s gotten a gold seal—it’s been reviewed by somebody that cares about children.
Okay, so then you went with Quality Books and then what happened.
LEAH: if you Googled, “kids products awards” you’d see there’s a list.
LEAH: I got connected to Quality Books, and then what happened because of those awards; I had some people contact me.
LEAH: It was really fun. I loved that. [laughter] Visual education products somebody had seen, or read a review, and they contacted me.
ELAINE: What are visual education products? Are they a distributor?
ELAINE: So they are a distributor and they contacted you, and they help get into libraries?
ELAINE: So they’re another distributor, and they’re mainly for video though.
LEAH: I don’t really have any direct relationship with libraries. It’s all through distributors. It’s Visualed.com
ELAINE: They contacted you, and then they helped get your videos into libraries also? It’s also okay if you’re with all these different distributors?
LEAH: Absolutely. I was with a distributor called Organa who has a very niche market in children’s videos. She also got because they submitted (I was also doing it at the same time), I got some library journal reviews.
ELAINE: How did that happen? Because Organa submitted you, you got submitted? Because to get library journal reviews you usually have to be with a publisher.
LEAH: No, Organa submitted those reviews. I think because my video was in a category of active play for kids and it was also story driven, so libraries loved it. It got checked out a lot. It was in a specific category that people really needed.
ELAINE: I see, you have to help round out their collection.
LEAH: Everybody gets it-- kids need to move more. They’re not good outlets for that. When they find something that is a healthy way, that can be used in a library, in a classroom, or in a home they were jumping all over it.
ELAINE: What I get from this, what a lot of librarians have told me, is that they need someone to validate your product like a review, an award, or something like that. So for you saying you got these awards, I think that opens the floodgates for librarians to say, “We should bring this in. We know it’s not going to be garbage because we got those awards.”
LEAH: Yes, that was my first marketing strategy. Pay the money to submit to these awards programs because this is so good it’s going to win. Now in the first year I have four major awards. The ones that we submitted to we got. Now they’re marketing for us, because they always market the winners of the thing, and then you build on their marketing. They help you connect with distributors or publishers depending on what you’re looking for, because that’s what keeps them in business.
ELAINE: Got it.
LEAH: Because you have to pay it can be like $350 to submit your product for this process. So they make it worth your while by if you win you get all this marketing and support.
ELAINE: Now there are some awards that probably carry more weight than others.
LEAH: The Library Journal review meant a lot, and I think that the National Parenting Publications Award, the Mom’s Choice, the Parents Choice. Those three are three of the top ones.
ELAINE: So do you still enter awards, or are you done with them?
LEAH: No I don’t so much. What I do have now, I have building out on the movement story series (The Scooter and Me series) I know have a thirty-week movement and mindfulness curriculum and the self-regulation, which we call the adventure skill cards. Those are starting to sell really well because now they’re looking for support around the DVDs.
So I’ll be selling more, instead of to libraries, I’ll be selling to educational suppliers who will be selling directly to schools. I’ll be going after Kaplan, Lake Shore, Discount School Supply, etc.
ELAINE: We’ll have to do a whole other interview on that.
LEAH: That’s for education materials, completely.
ELAINE: But now for this one: how does the pricing work? How much does the distributor take?
LEAH: It varies a little, but it’s really fifty to fifty five percent discount. You’ll usually pay the shipping. They play hardball because they’re figuring they’re going to give you volume. It’s not even an argument. If you want to work with them, that’s just what it is.
ELAINE: Fifty to fifty-five. Did you ever negotiate down to fifty or was it just like fifty and that’s it?
LEAH: The only thing I was ever able to negotiate, and I’m such a small business in this big monstrosity, was the terms that they paid me back on.
ELAINE: Oh that’s good, and what were they?
LEAH: So I would get net thirty. Sometimes I couldn’t negotiate anything better than net sixty. But then I wasn’t paying shipping. So you know those are the only things that the basic discount in terms of the price they pretty much set. You can sometimes negotiate around the payment terms and the shipping terms.
ELAINE: Oh okay, so it’s good for people to know it never hurts to ask about shipping. Maybe you can even say, “can we split the shipping?” or say “can you do the shipping,” or, if they say no, then ask, “Can we split the shipping?” But the fifty five percent is pretty much not negotiable.
LEAH: Yeah, unless you’re bringing them something that they think is going to bring them so much money.
ELAINE: Okay, so you pay the shipping. Now how does it go if they ship one to every library?
LEAH: No, you just ship to them and that’s why they have you pay shipping sometimes, because they’re doing the shipping from there to all of the libraries.
ELAINE: Okay so you ship all your products to them, so in a way you have to factor in the shipping that you’re shipping to them and then they ship out. So you’re paying for two shipping’s?
LEAH: No you don’t pay their shipping. You only pay to ship to them in bulk.
ELAINE: Then they pay to ship to the library?
LEAH: Yeah, that’s how they can get away with it.
ELAINE: Okay got it, because I wasn’t sure if you were paying for two separate shipments.
L. No, no, no.
ELAINE: So you find the cheapest bulk to send to them. How do you send it- book rate, US mail or UPS?
LEAH: I have found—people warned me against it – and sometimes people require either UPS or Fed-ex, but I have found for media mail that USPS is fine. My orders are not so huge that I can usually get it in just one box.
ELAINE: Why did they warn you against it?
LEAH: Well, because USPS doesn’t have as good tracking as these other companies. They still do it but they’re still not as on top of things so you could have a tracking number into USPS and [laughter] not really get things worked out the way you do when you deal with Fed-Ex.
ELAINE: Do you insure the packages, or do you just ship them and cross your fingers?
LEAH: I don’t insure them, but I always have a tracking. I pay for certified tracked mail.
ELAINE: Okay so you get a tracking number. You get a distributor, you negotiate a contract, and you send them the books. What do they do to promote you that is different than what you would do? Do they have a person that goes into the library and shows all your books, and pitches your books for you?
LEAH: What happens is they all have website. So if you got carried in a Library Journal – like the AV Café I was also carried in.
ELAINE: What’s AV Café?
LEAH: The AV Café is another distributor to libraries.
LEAH: Librarybound is a Canadian distributor that also carried my products. They again found me because of a discount deal that I did with some other company in Canada.
ELAINE: What do you mean by a discount deal?
LEAH: Meaning an online – like a Parents Canada. They offer your product at a discount. You give them a discounted rate, but you sell a lot of them. All of those online moms, they have a million or five hundred thousand.
ELAINE: What about Brodart?
LEAH: I don’t know what that is.
ELAINE: It’s a distributor.
LEAH: I don’t know them.
ELAINE: The libraries keep mentioning Brodart. So the distributor basically promotes you, but how? Do you notice that all throughout the year you’re getting promoted, or once you sign up they kind of promote you and then it dribbles off. How does that work?
LEAH: It does dribble off. What they then ask you to do, often, is to buy advertising space in their either sales magazines that they are sending out to libraries or their online. So basically they have an online or hardcopy catalog.
ELAINE: It comes out how often?
LEAH: It depends on the distributor, but usually once or twice a year. They’ll suggest that you purchase. You want to put in a picture of your product, so you want to be more noticeable. Basically they get you to pay for that through their site.
ELAINE: Do you think it helps to get the ad in? Did you notice that your sales were worth it?
LEAH: I did it with AV café and I didn’t notice that big a difference. Again I realized that in my category I didn’t have that big a competition. There are exercise videos for kids, but no other story-driven, follow-along yoga and brain gym.
I just found that I did some, and maybe just because of who I am I didn’t need to keep doing it because now people knew what it was.
ELAINE: What advice would you give someone if they wanted to get their video into a library?
LEAH: Try to get a library journal review, try to get some awards and then just call people up. Midwest tapes, I just called them up! “Hi, what’s your process for submission for a video you might want to carry?” and they just told me the process.
One of my colleagues often does little workshops with kids and stuff in a library in Louisiana and she asked her librarian friends, “What are the distributors you use?” or “ where do you get the materials for library.” “These are the companies I like to use!” so I just called them up. There’s a review process.
ELAINE: Do you just send in your DVD?
LEAH: You send them a sample with all the stuff, and they review it and get back to you.
ELAINE: How long does that process usually take?
LEAH: It can take anywhere from a month to three months.
ELAINE: Why wouldn’t they take you?
LEAH: If they don’t think it’s good quality, or they feel that they have too many other things of the same thing. Or they think the price is off. They’re always looking for new stuff.
ELAINE: Right exactly. It seems like it doesn’t hurt them to take you on because it doesn’t cost them anything.
ELAINE: It’s like why wouldn’t you be with every distributor, because unless your book is terrible they’ll take it, because “what the heck!” they could maybe get an order.
ELAINE: Do you send them copies so they have them ready on hand, or do they only say “look, we just got an order now, send them”?
LEAH: That works a little bit differently too. Midwest tapes, they make a purchase order, you ship it to them, and they pay you for that on specific terms. But Quality Books, they made one initial order so they had some on the shelf and then as things came in they would make other orders. But then they would only pay you based on what sold that particular month.
ELAINE: But they can have still some on the shelf. So lets say you send them fifty, but they only sold thirty so they have twenty on the shelf?
LEAH: So it’s more like an accounts receivable kind of thing, so you’d have to set it up differently accounting wise.
LEAH: See one I just know that I’m going to get a check for the entire purchase order that they made.
ELAINE: Have they ever returned it?
LEAH: I have never had any returns unless there was something obviously, like if one arrives and the box had gotten cracked or something like that I’d have to replace it. But that’s my policy anyway. If something’s broken, I just replace it.
But no I’ve never had any returns. That’s the really good thing about libraries and library distributors. They’re not over-ordering; it’s not like that crazy book business.
ELAINE: What about if a distributor says, “Let’s order 20 copies,” and then none of them sell, nobody wants them. Can they return those copies?
LEAH: Yes. There’s usually in the contract that there is some kind of return policy, but they’re not usually buying unless they know they’re going to be selling them. So it’s been kind of a non-issue.
ELAINE: Do you ever call your distributors and say, “hey, what’s up?” I think they have people that go into the libraries and pitch the libraries. Do you ever talk to them?
LEAH: That’s something that I think is a good idea. I talk to the people that I know and I find out what’s going on, or what they need more of, or what I could do. Because I’ve really been learning as I go along here.
ELAINE: What do they say you can do?
LEAH: It’s all the same stuff. Marketing, sending an email with some basic information, or getting a journal review.
ELAINE: Sending an email to the library?
LEAH: No, sending an email to the rep, or sending the e-mail to the library. Whatever contacts you have around there. Have somebody in the community go into the library and ask for it. Then it’s really on their radar.
Film ideas is a company that has my…they sell exclusively to schools. The guy that I deal with is one of the owners. He has reps working for him. So I’m like, “Chris, what do they need from me? How can I help?” So I’m sending him, or he’s sending me directly to sending them what they need so that they can become more familiar with the product. So then they can sell it because it works for both of us.
ELAINE: Do they need one sheet? A sales sheet or do they just have everything done by catalog or the Internet. Like printed-paper, do they have printed paper sales sheets?
LEAH: Sometimes people want that. It just really depends on how people do their business. In the education market it’s more of that because you’re talking to people, and you need to leave them with something and then that reminds them to go to the Internet. Business is done there mostly, but the educational market is definitely more hardcopy oriented than others.
ELAINE: So, even if you’re not “self published” you can easily get into libraries because the trick is to get with a distributor and they’ll get you into the library.
ELAINE: Because a lot of people think they need to be with Random House, or something in order to get into the library.
LEAH: No, not at all.
ELAINE: Wow, this has been so helpful. I’m really grateful, thank you! Is there any other thing that you can think you can help people with their library sales? How they can get their video or books, or whatever’s sold bought?
LEAH: Think about how those are going to be on the shelf, and what you say on your spine. We went through and we looked. The yoga videos for kids were checked out twice as much as any other movement videos for kids.
ELAINE: How do you know that?
LEAH: Because of the libraries we went into and looked. So you pull out the video and act like you’re a mom. We did our own little hands on research. It was really interesting. What do you see if all you have is the spine? What is it that you’re seeing? That’s really important to think about.
ELAINE: That’s really important. With our children’s book we didn’t have the spine and the librarians we spoke to said, “No, you need a spine” because it was so thin. So we had to add in six pages so we have a spine with the title and author’s name.
How did you know what category to put your video into?
LEAH: It’s a movement story video for young children, so it goes into active play. Exercise, yoga, there is no other category for it really.
ELAINE: Okay, because categories make a big difference too. They need to round out their collection; if they have too many in yoga videos they’ll go “this is another yoga video, we have too many of them.” You have to find a category where they might want to order it more so is what they say. Is there any other advice you can think of to help people get their products into libraries?
LEAH: No, I think we’ve covered it. Just don’t make it hard.
ELAINE: You just saved people about eight months worth of work. [laughter] Think of just even finding out which distributors are out there, and that you can be with many, and also which are the good distributors. Seriously, I think you just saved people months of work.
I think it helps to talk to somebody who’s gone through it rather than paving the path on your own. Just having the names of the distributors helps so much. I’ll get their websites and list all the websites, but having the names helps so much because you’re already ahead of the game, because now you can just contact them.
Well thank you so much! I appreciate it. You’ve heard from Leah, and if anyone wants to check out her videos its Move-with-me.com.
She has a great series of videos for kids to get them moving, and obviously they’re good because they’ve won all these awards.
So there we have it, thank you so much!
This is what you need to know about speaking at libraries.
Remember that you can also speak virtually from your home! See the post about speaking virtually.
Transcript of this interview.
This next interview is great information. It’s with Charlene Hammond. She’s an author, speaker, and she created the course ‘Your Book as a Business’, so here we go.
I love getting books into libraries, because it’s actually been quite easy for us. A few things that we’ve done – this is probably the best – is that we hold speaking events right at the library.
So one example is I have a book that’s about our dog Toby, and we partnered with a local library to host an event with the SPCA. We invited tons of people to come to the community library, they all bought copies of our books, we gifted the libraries with sets of copies for the book, and then the SPCA and the library each got a portion of the book sales proceeds from the fundraiser.
So it was a win-win-win, the library got recognition, we got recognition, SPCA won, and the books got into the library.
We started to make this kind of a system, and that’s what I talk about in my program – about systematizing what you do. So as a speaker, or when I’m on my author tours, every time we go into a community, one of the places I call is the local library.
We have a checklist of who we call. We call the tourism department, because often they’re having events in the community that they partner with the library for example, so we’ll call tourism, we’ll call the library, and then we look at non-profit organizations we could partner with.
We’ve held a number of events at libraries, and what the libraries love about it as well is that it brings people through their doors that might not be members – so it’s an opportunity for them to have new families connect with the library services as well.
When we partner with another non-profit, like with the example of the SPCA, essentially you have three groups that are marketing the same event, so you have all kinds of people that I might not have on my list or might not have access to.
The other piece is that media starts to get really interested now because there’s an event at the library, it’s also supporting local community organization, and there’s an author in town, so it gives them a few media angles.
Do you ever do a press release? How do you promote the event?
What we do – part of our system, and this is on our checklist as well – we do a couple of press releases. So I get that out to the local media. The libraries always have great media contacts, so I send them a copy of the press release. They might not have time to do one so I make it easy for them.
They send it to their media connections, and then I also use a lot of the online press release sites that are absolutely free. There are about ten of them that I use, and the reason I do that is that even though the event is being promoted locally, as an author I like to make sure that the world is hearing about my books – so by using the online press release sites, it reaches journalists that are out of that area but who may have an interest in the book and the story behind it.
What we’ve found really helpful – and it kind of builds their confidence and gives them some relief that ‘ahh, we don’t have to do all the work, because the author’s going to help us’ – so I’ll say something like ‘we’ve got a press release that we’ll work on with you to really customize it, we’ll send it out to our contacts, and perhaps you could send it out to the library contacts’.
Then you can make it easy as well and say ‘I’ve got a short article that I could give you for your library newsletter, on in fact we could see if we can find a local printing sponsor to just photocopy a number of the brochures or pamphlets promoting your event’, and you can give one to each [---] who comes through the door of the library when they’re checking out their books – sort of like a bag stuffer.
Oh, that’s interesting. How do you get the local printer to do this?
What we’ve done – actually my best success has come either from the library saying ‘oh, we have a business next door, they’re not a printer, they’re a safety company, but they love us. They’ll probably just print 50 for free’. So often it’s a local business that loves the library, that will help the library by providing free services like photocopying.
What we’ve done – we’re in a community that’s familiar with us – I’ll often phone up some of the local businesses, printing businesses, but sometimes I just phone up a local business. Once it was a safety company who have a great photocopier, and they made all of the photocopies for us to be able to give to the library.
Oh, that’s awesome.
It makes it an experience, so people feel very welcome when they come through the doors, the library gets excited because they see the buzz and the energy, and as an author it feels really good to see all these people enjoying themselves and benefiting from what you’re sharing, whether it’s a story, a reading or a signing.
Now of course we’re partnering while the same library, and they’re offering a resume-writing course. One of my new books, [---] Your Best Life, is a professional and personal developmental book – so the librarian phoned, I was asking her if we can do an event of course, I’m in town, and she said ‘what about if you help us do a resume writing course, and we’ll feature your book as part of that as required material?’
So there are so many ways to find opportunities to build your book into existing programs, and I hadn’t even thought of that until she raised it.
That’s a great idea too. Check your library, see what programs they offer, and then say ‘how would you like to put my book into your program?’
Exactly – and the libraries are so connected with the schools as well. I’m learning that the public libraries are very connected to what’s going on in the community, because they have existing partnerships with so many different organizations, and they also rent out space a lot, not only to authors but to other groups to hold their meetings in.
So there’s also potential to meet new sponsors and new groups to get involved with for your book promotion.
By the way, when you do bring your book for a singing or for a course, do you bring your books separately and then just sell them on the side? How does that work for book sales when you’re at the event?
We’ve got a couple of models. One model that I really love – this is my favorite model – is we try and work with sponsors – so small businesses, bigger businesses, to buy boxes of my books, so that everybody who comes through the doors is gifted with the book that was [---] for them by that company.
I love the sponsorship model. That’s a big part of what we do in ‘Your Book Is a Business’, and we’ve really found ways to make that a win-win – because not everybody when they come to a library event is expecting to actually buy something.
So some people don’t come prepared with money and then there’s awkwardness. So we’ve found that we often look for sponsors to buy the books so everyone gets one as a gift. The other thing we’ve done is if we charge an admission – if there’s say a $25 admission for the presentation – we would gift them the book, and then make a small donation from the registration as well to the library foundation.
That’s fantastic. I thank you so much. Do you have any other tips you can think of for people getting their books or products into the library?
You know, I think it’s really around maintaining relationships, and staying in touch with libraries. So whenever I go into a library I always go into the [---] where they have all their posters and pamphlets, and I flick through there. That’s where I get a lot of ideas – I see what the library is promoting.
So building relationships your library and really getting a handle on what services and programs they offer, and who in the community they are in partnership and collaboration with, and just keeping that relationship going. Once you’ve presented at a library, stay in touch with them, see how you can support them.
I saw one author who’d done a presentation in a library, and she followed up at the library offering them free post presentation articles to put in their newsletter. I love to support libraries, so as a speaker, and for those authors who also do presentations, a library is a great venue to hold events.
So I always encourage people, support your local libraries by holding your events there as well.
Obviously you don’t have to pay for a room.
Mhm. They’re usually very generous that way, and they do bring a crowd in. They’ll help you bring a crowd in.
This author discusses how she received a an order for 100 books because the library received a grant that paid for her book orders. They called her and placed the order. She didn't have to apply for the grant.
Here's the transcript of the interview.
Here Charlene Hammond, creator of ‘Your Book as a Business’, talks about how a library bought 100 of her books. They got a grant and were able to buy that many books.
A couple of other comments I can make on the libraries that might be interesting for your audience of listeners – we had a really exciting partnership this last year with Oceanside California Library. They applied for a grant that apparently is available every year for the government, and it’s a grant that’s specific for libraries.
This particular grant, they had to partner – there had to be a charitable component with another organization. So Oceanside Library bought I think it was about 100 of our books, and they partnered with the Humane Society of San Diego, and they created a beautiful program together where they would have the goal for the library [---] able to expand their Paws [---] Help program, which is where therapy dogs come into the library and help encourage children to read.
Then the library, all of these people who participated in the weekly events around my book, and they would read the book and have Q&A discussions, and then that group of volunteers then went and supported the Humane Society on one of their special adoption events.
So it was a wonderful way to experience and be involved with a library in a big collaboration like that, and I really look forward to doing things like that in the future.
Now, how did you get that? Did they call you or did you call them? How did that all come about?
That actually came about through a book signing tour that we had done at Barnes and Noble. We were in a local school in Oceanside, and a librarian had heard that we were going to be at Barnes and Noble, so of course she came to check us out, really liked our books and how we were communicating messages of kindness, friendship and character development with the children and the families, then it was probably a couple of months later that she heard about this grant that came out.
Then she phoned me and said ‘do you think we could do something together?’
‘No, no, I don’t think so!’
Exactly! There was only one answer! So what was beautiful about that of course was that they did a number of press releases to announce to the press that they were partnering with the Humane Society. My book was mentioned, there were three newspaper articles, and it was really a win-win-win.
I would send little videos every week to the audience, because we weren’t actually there, we were out of the country – so every week I would send a little video, they’d watch it on YouTube, and I’d share a different element of the writing process, so it was very interactive.
Then my publisher attended two of the nights as well with them, so they got to hear from the publisher.
That’s really an amazing story.
That’s my favorite story around partnering with libraries, because so much good came out of that. If you want the name of the grant, I just pulled it up if you were interested in that.
So the project I refered to with Oceanside California public library, it was supported in part by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services, which falls under The Library Services and Technology Act, but the grant actually falls under the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
It would just a delight to be able to work with them. The project was called ‘Books to Action’, and it was phenomenal, ‘Paws [---] Help’
Well, that’s just another creative way to get your book in the libraries, whether it be book clubs, or courses they teach, or grants – just keep thinking of all different alternatives to get your book into libraries.
Here's an idea to get you thinking of ways you can get credible reviews for your book. In this lecture, see the list of mommy bloggers that took us hours and hours to get their emails.
The library wants to know from other sources besides you why your book is so good. Bloggers will write about your book and some give great reviews.
They also can help sales.
See the list of mommy bloggers with contacts included in this course. You have all their emails and info about them to personalize your emails to them, if you wish.
Here's the transcript of the interview With Charlene Hammond, author of Your Book as a Business, about her blog tours.
In this clip, Charlene Hammond, who created the course ‘Your Book as a Business’, discusses blog tours. The reason I put blog tours in is because bloggers will write great things about you, and she even said you can get pictures or quotes, but the more people who will write good things about your book – you can put that in your case I call it, your case to prove to the library why your book should be bought. So it really helps to show all these people like your book.
She discusses three blog tours, which is great, but a lot of people charge a lot of money, and I just don’t know about those – because you have to look at it – will you get that many book sales? I would talk to a lot of people before you do those.
Charlene mentions Beck Valley Books, but there’s another one, BlogPlay, that you might want to check out also. But do you know what might be the coolest idea? There is a list of 140 bloggers and it’s growing every day – in your course, why not just do your own blog tour, and that’s free, which is a better price definitely. So listen to what she says of how the blog tour works, and then you can just use the bloggers.
You know, the thing with the blog tours, it’s hard to get people’s emails and contact. This list has all their contact information, their first name, a link to their site, a little bit about their site – so you could just maybe use the list here and do your own blog tour.
So here’s what Charlene says about blog tours.
But we did a blog tour with a group called Karma Media – and oh, what is it, Beck? I’ll have to find her name. They did a phenomenal blog tour at no cost for us with 21 mommy bloggers, and we had great results from that.
How did that work?
So Karma Media and Beck Valley Books, I’ve actually just send an email to one of them asking for a book review, and Sharon from Beck Valley Books has responded, ‘sure, we’ll give you a review’, but she said ‘I belong to a group of mommy bloggers and we could actually put together a 30 day tour for you’, so I thought ‘well, that’s great.’
I didn’t really know what it was, so she explained that what would happen is that each of the mommy bloggers that agreed to do this, I’d send them each one book, some of them one to two because I wanted to give two away as a giveaway, and then I also provided them with two pre-written guest blog posts, and excerpt of the book, and videos and photos that they could use.
What was beautiful about the blog tour was that over a 30 day period every day, there were two different bloggers that were blogging either my excerpt or the book review they had done, or my guest article post, so over a 30 day period we had 60 really well-thought-out touches from these mommy bloggers in their circle.
So we were essentially reaching two big audiences every day that weren’t currently in our lists, so we saw a big impact in our social media following, primarily in Twitter and Facebook, and we certainly saw book sales. We can watch those sales on Amazon in our Author Central Account, and we also noticed that there was a lot of discussion. They were bloggers that were very engaged with their audience, so there was a lot of discussion, a lot of people getting excited about the books and recommending the book to other people.
So I really liked that. They coordinated the tour, I just had to provide them the information up front. I really enjoyed it.
Yeah, and the bloggers do it so they can get free giveaways for their blog?
I think the other benefit for them is that of course they promote the book using their Amazon affiliate link. So anyone who buys my book through their link, they’re getting a commission from Amazon, and of course they have other products that they’re promoting on their blogs.
So for many of these bloggers it’s a very significant stream of passive income for them. So they’re very committed to it – it’s their livelihood for some of them.
That’s really great.
The other part that was special for me as an author, and this has nothing to do with sales of the books, is that so many of these moms took pictures of their children reading my book. So we have these beautiful photos of happy little children. We have three photos of moms reading – one of them is beautiful. She’s tucking the children into bed, and she’s lying on the bed with the kids reading my book.
That’s just amazing an author to have those sorts of testimonials, because pictures say so much.
So that’s the information about blog tours. I say you could do your own – but you know what you could do just to check out to see if they’re profitable? Go to the bloggers that the list is giving you, look at their sites, at past blogs, contact authors who have been in their past blogs, and ask them if they made money. Because most companies give you references of people who’ve done extremely well, but just go to the blog sites and see.
Then again, I don’t know why you couldn’t do it on your own with this list here – and hopefully we’re getting another list soon. OK, that’s it for bloggers.
This info is not in the audio.
Here are five companies that can help you get your
eBooks in libraries.
You need five (5) or more eBooks to get accepted with Overdrive. If you have less than five books, then you can use the other services below that are called aggregators—meaning they get your eBooks into the library for you. Here's the link where you apply:https://secure.contentreserve.com/publisherapplication.asp
2) Smashwords.com is great. http://www.Smashwords.com
They do take 10% of every sale. But there are no other charges. It's free to upload and submit.
Booktango says it's free all over the place, but then says they take 10% for certain types of sales.
4) Bookbaby.com starts at $99 and goes up. But then they don't take a percentage of the sales.
5) Author Solutions.
All the above companies can help get your eBooks into libraries.
The best is if you have over five eBooks is to apply with Overdrive yourself using the link on their website. They want at least 5 titles, since they want publishers. Here's an email I received after I applied from Overdrive's site:
We are writing to follow up on the inquiry you submitted on distributing your digital media through OverDrive's Content Reserve platform.
To allow us to complete the review of your application please the requested catalog information and sample files (details below).
Sincerely,The Publisher Partner Services Teampubinfo@overdrive.com
OverDrive, Inc. Global Digital Distributor of eBooks, audio books, and more.
OverDrive Way | Cleveland, Ohio 44125www.overdrive.com
Catalog Details & Sample File Submission
To better evaluate the business opportunities Willow Publishing represents please provide details of your current available catalog including a list of current titles in .xls format with:
Please also provide details on future catalog plans
including the number of titles do you project to release in the remainder of
2012 and first half of 2013.
As part of the evaluation process we will need to review a minimum of five market ready eBook samples, representing the range of your digital content. All samples will be reviewed for adherence to technical specifications as well as rendering in Adobe Digital Editions, PC and mobile. Samples must be provided in the desired distribution format, EPUB and/or PDF, either via email or to the following FTP location:
FTP Site: ftp://ftp.overdrive.com/Login: xxxxPassword: xxxxx
Files should be posted to the 'Incoming from Publisher' Directory in a folder you create labeled with your publishing name. If samples are provided via FTP please send an email alert when you have completed your posting so that we can begin the review process.
What happened was the books were already with Smashwords, so
Overdrive would not take the books. Therefore, if you wish to be with
Overdrive, take your books off of Smashwords.
Here's the Transcript of the Audio Interview with Overdrive's Mike Loveit.
Here's an interview with Mike Loveit, of Overdrive.com. Overdrive is a HUGE supplier for eBooks for libraries.
Please note that Mikes says you need to go with Smashwords or Author Solutions. You can try first to go to Overdrive .com and apply to be a publisher at this link so you don't have to go through an aggregator. Smashwords takes 10% of every sold book. So it may be better to see if you can be a publisher yourself. If you don't get accepted, then go with an aggregator.
INTERVIEW WITH MIKE FROM OVERDRIVE
Hi I’m Elaine Wilkes and I’m on the phone with Mike Lovett of Overdrive.
(He starts by explaining what Overdrive is.)
MIKE: Overdrive we provide eBook lending platforms to libraries, schools, and retailers. Well for retailers, the book selling platforms. But we provide these platforms for libraries, schools, retailers all around the world and we have a catalog of about a million eBooks and audio books that people can check out with us.
ELAINE: You mainly deal with published authors and publisher correct?
MIKE: That’s correct we have a roster of about two thousand publishers signed up with us.
ELAINE: I heard if you’re not a published author you can get an aggregator and they can help. How does that work?
MIKE: We recommend that an unpublished author, somebody that’s newly entering digital distribution seek out an aggregator such as Smashwords or Author Solutions. (Elaine’s note: I’m looking into Bookdango.com, which may be better?) That’ll provide the author with not only with distribution through Overdrive but through other networks as well.
So say an author is working with Smashwords, we have a portal that all the librarians that use Overdrive can go into; it’s called Content Reserve. They go into that portal and see what are the new eBooks we added recently and they can see what books different publishers carry. Once you had your books in the Smashwords networks it would automatically appear in the Content Reserve portal so that librarians could add that book. (Elaine’s note: Libraries have to buy the eBook, just like when they buy paper books.)
On a general level we support independent authors and unpublished authors, and we certainly welcome their participation in the library network. As far as OverDrive works we’re just like a traditional distributor. We buy the books from the publishers then we sell them to the libraries. If the library is going to order a book from Overdrive the price is going to be pretty similar to what it’s going to be at retail.
ELAINE: My impression at first was that an eBook would be much cheaper and so that would be a cheaper thing because there’s no paper involved. But it’s not so.
MIKE: Right, I think in any business there are a lot of factors that play into it. When it comes to eBooks there’s the hosting involved the file management, that sort of thing. I do think that as time goes on and there’s more publishers offering eBooks at libraries, more people getting eBooks from libraries that the pricing is bound to change.
Our model works pretty similar to schools as it would for a library in that the school library, once they have an Overdrive platform they go into our Content Reserve portal and they order however many books they want. Then their students can access that digital library and check the titles out just like they would from a traditional library. There’s a one copy per user model on most of the content.
ELAINE: Have you noticed a trend on what sells the best, like these types of books really do well – fiction, non-fiction, kids books, whatever. What does really well?
MIKE: Well I can try to offer some insight there. Our catalog runs the gamut with a million titles. We have every genre. Some of the most popular content with us are the books that you’re hearing about at other avenues – the Harry Potter eBooks have been huge since we added those. Something like 50 Shades of Grey is doing really well in eBook format. The eBooks that do well through Overdrive are the same books that are going to do well on Amazon or any other …
ELAINE: So it’s like the same thing?
ELAINE: I so appreciate your time, is there any tips you could give—because published authors their publishers just does this all for them, right?
MIKE: Right. I guess the tips to an unpublished author would be checking out Smashwords and Author Solutions. As far as getting your eBook into a library that’s going to be the best bet. Other than that, please come to Overdrive.com and check out the website. We do have a lot of information for publishers and we could find [inaudible] independent authors. They can come find all that information there.
ELAINE: Let’s say you’re with Random house, Hay House, the bigger publishers – you would just take all their books and put it in the catalog. Is that true?
MIKE: Yes that is true. From our perspective, the more the merrier. If a publisher wants to make it available for library lending we’ll certainly add it to our catalog. We’re really not screening the content for editorial quality so much as obviously the meditated needs to be in place, the file needs to be sounds, and we need to have the relationship with the publisher but beyond that we’re not really arbitrators of good taste on our end.
ELAINE: Do you think anything helps with librarians buying the books?
MIKE: That’s a good question. We don’t tell the librarians what to buy and what not to buy. I think they use the same criteria they would with document/print collections. So in that regard, the more good reviews the better, anything that creates a buzz will certainly trickle down to the librarians. We promote some of the hot selling eBooks on our blog and do what e can to let the librarians know what content is popular. From our perspective, the more the merrier. We don’t have a particular bias towards a certain author or publisher. In a lot of cases it’s more of “we’ve noticed that throughout our network of 18,000 libraries that a lot of people are checking out Harry Potter,” so if you don’t have Harry Potter, good idea to add that.
ELAINE: So a lot of libraries just buy it like a regular book only it’s an eBook.
MIKE: That’s right.
ELAINE: Then when people check it out it disappears, there’s no more late fees. It just disappears once the book is due.
MIKE: Exactly. It really works very similarly a traditional library works although as you said, you don’t have to go back to the library to return it.
ELAINE: Thank you so much for so much useful information. I really appreciate your time.
MIKE: Thank you Elaine.
Generally you do not charge sales tax to libraries. However, it is recommended that you get an e-number or e-letter, (E stands for exempt) to prove they're exempt.
There's no tax on ebooks.
Great interview with Dan Poynter! He's written over 100 books and speaks all over the world about book publishing, sales, and marketing. Terrific, useful information!
Here is the transcript of the audio interview.
Welcome everyone, this is Elaine Wilkes, and I’m here with Dan Poynter. Actually he doesn’t need an introduction, because I’m sure if you’re an author you most likely know who Dan Pointer is.
Dan Pointer I would say is the e-book guru, or self-publishing guru. Would you say that’s your title Dan?
I guess because I started doing this and started the whole movement many people call me that. But I kind of like being called a ‘book futurist’.
OK, definitely – because Dan has predicted the trends, he speaks worldwide. How many books have you written now Dan?
132. Thank you for asking.
So he’s a little lazy, and he’s only written 132 books! Therefore Dan has travelled all around the world speaking, his site is Parapublishing.com. If you’re an author, especially a self-published author, it’s a wealth of resources at his site. His monthly newsletter is also great – really up-to-date information of everything that’s happening.
So welcome Dan. So what I want to start with is – people can create e-books, but what are your best tips for people to get their e-book sold?
Well, I have to things for your Elaine. Before I get into the promotion of it I’d like to talk for just a moment about the foundation. Years ago somebody said ‘to be successful it all depends on who you know’. I’m not sure that was every true, but it’s definitely not true today. It’s not who you know.
Today to be successful it depends on who knows, your book and what you do. So it’s so much easier to get people’s attention today because of the internet. You can find them, they can find you, and you may have people who love your subject as much as you do, but they’re scattered all over the world. There’s one here, there’s one over there, there’s one over the other side, but now you can find each other because of the internet and the other electronics we have.
So if it’s OK I’d just like to start off with the basics here – not the basics, but the preliminary message, and that is your profile online. Now I’m not just talking about your website, but you want to go and look at your website because your profile is probably out of date.
But I just in the last week or so went into a number of websites and updated my profile. You want to start off with Facebook and Twitter – you probably filled those out when you first joined them, but they’re out of date now.
Then the other ones you want to look into – and there are a bunch – there’s Klout, there’s Google+, there’s Pinterest, Plaxo, Bizoppers, Sulia, Cyfe, Reachly. There’s Twoo – but that’s more of a dating site, matchup site, and Zoosk is also more of a relationship site.
Now, if you have any YouTube videos up, go and update your profile at YouTube, and the same thing for Slideshare.
Could you go one more time over those?
I’ll read them out for you again. If you have a book out then you’ll want to go to your Amazon page and your Barnes & Noble page. You also want to get to your own website and check your bio. Then there’s another website called Dmoz where you can put your website URL in, and submit it to them for their directory.
The last three which are very important are the LinkedIn groups, the Yahoo groups, and the Facebook groups. You only have to go to them once and update your profile once – but they reach an awful lot of people.
So just to repeat that list, you know Facebook and you know Twitter, then comes Klout.com, Google+.com, Pinterest.com, Plaxo.com – they’ve been around for a long time, Bizoppers.com, Sulia.com, Cyfe.com, Reachly.com, and then there’s Twoo.com, and the next one is Zoosk.com.
I also want to throw in there – once you do all these, you probably ought to go and put up yourself at Wikipedia.org. If you’re not on Wikipedia today you’re not important.
Wow, I never even thought of that.
Yeah, people in business today, before doing business with you, they go to see who you are at Wikipedia. Wikipedia started off with a not-so-good name, but it’s completely changed now. It’s not easy. Don’t put a bunch of flowery promotional stuff because they’ll just zap the whole page.
Everything has to be referenced. If you won an award in 1992, it has to be referenced, so they can go to some other site, find it, and check that out – and put your picture up there. That’s really important because that adds color to the page.
I put my Wikipedia site up a number of months ago and finally got around to warming it up and putting a picture in, and that color makes a lot of difference.
Wait one second – on these, when you put your profile, what’s a good profile to put up?
I’m not really an expert on that, but I would say listen to your commonsense. It depends on what you’re selling. If it’s a professional speaking site at Espeakers or NSASpeaker.org or ProjectSpeaker.com, then you’d want to stress your speaking. Your books are good credibility, but you’d really want to stress your speaking.
OK. Now you said YouTube?
Yeah, if you have any YouTube’s up there – if you don’t, you should – but you want to go to YouTube, and they have a place for your profile. The same thing for Slideshare.net, where I put up a number of slide programs. Of course, if you have a book you want to go Amazon and to BarnesAndNoble.com. They have profile areas, and you’ve just got to fill out the forms.
Now, the first time you do this it’ll take you a little time, but the next one will be easier and the next one will the easier because you will have all of these other URLs and other references to yourself – so your description, your bio, and so on. So it’ll be just plugging them in as you go along.
Then don’t forget LinkedIn groups – there are a number of LinkedIn groups. Just for an example there are nine on professional speaking, and to kind of target it and narrow it down there’s a Keynote Speakers Association, Speaker Match, C Level speaking, a whole bunch, nine of them.
Yahoo Groups have three for professional speaker, and Facebook groups have four of them. One is for the Global Federation; one is for the US, one for the UK, and one for Cape Town, South Africa.
So you subscribe to these, they’re free, you get conversations off them every day, and you really find out what’s going on. Of course, you can ask any questions and all these wonderful people from around the world will answer your questions. So it’s the cheapest, fastest consulting you can get.
Also let me say that I hope everybody is using Google Alerts. Go to Google.com/Alerts, put in your keywords – it’s a clipping service. When anything appears online on any of these keywords it’ll come back to you. Now, you should have your own name in there, the title of your book, the name of your company and so on, so if somebody’s saying something about you you’ll find out right away.
[---] put your name in quotes? Because if you just put ‘Dan’ then they’re going to give you every Dan.
Yeah, all the Elaine’s and all the Wilkes’.
Yeah, exactly – so put your quote, first name, last name, and quote.
Thank you for bringing that up! My other life is in the parachute field. Some of my words are parachute, skydive, skydiving, and the titles of some of my books like ‘The Parachute Manual’, ‘Skydivers Handbook’ and so on. It’s just amazing. Somebody puts something online and boom, you get it at the speed of light. You know exactly what’s going on at that time. It’s fabulous.
That’s really great too, because I’ve had someone give reviews, and all of a sudden I’ve found reviews and it’s like ‘wow, I had no idea people were giving reviews like that’, and it’s like, ‘this is fantastic’.
Oh yeah, it’s wonderful. It’s like, ‘oh, somebody reviewed me.
I never would have found it without Google alerts.
Uh-huh – and they might have printed that on a website or a blog or something, a newsletter, whatever, and you had no idea.
But Google found them. Then just don’t forget LinkedIn groups, Yahoo Groups and Facebook groups. Put it in once for each, and then go and find the groups that match your expertise whatever it is you’re writing or speaking about, and it’ll put you right on top of all the latest information.
Then so you contact bloggers?
OK, that’s number two – how do you promote the book? What we did here was just kind of foundational, and this is something everybody needs, but now we’re talking about the bloggers.
So for example, you wrote a book on breeding Persian cats – not cats, not breeding cats, but only breeding Persian cats, OK? Very targeted. Well, you set up a website – and by the way, you need a website for every book that you do, you need a separate website today.
WordPress, absolutely. Get somebody to set up your site in WordPress and then you can go in and make any little changes you want, so you’re not coaching somebody else to do it and having somebody making the changes, and proofing their changes.
So yeah, absolutely, you’re right on with WordPress. The point is now that anybody in the world can find your website because they do a Google search on ‘breeding Persian cats’, and your site comes up because it’s very targeted.
A year-and-a-half ago I went to the BEA Book Fair in NYC. I stayed over a day for the Book Bloggers Convention. This was in the same convention the center, the [---] Center, but it was on Friday. So I went to the book bloggers convention and it was fascinating.
There were about 300 there. The demographics were 98% female. All were 20, 21, all were mommy bloggers, stay-at-home, all focused on whatever their subject was. Quite a lot of them liked young adult by the way, that category – but it could be on breeding Persian cats. It was very focused, very targeted.
Well, they need things to blog about on their subject. So you can go ahead, go to Google, and search on ‘blogs’, plus ‘breeding Persian cats’, with quotation marks again. In my case I did this for my ‘Air Travel Handbook’. So I put ‘blogs’ plus ‘passenger air travel’, because I’m interested in air travel for the industry and so on – this book was aimed at the consumer.
I came up with 123 blogs on consumer aviation travel. Now there are 165 million blogs out there, so whatever your subject is, there’s somebody covering it. So then what you do is you send your book information more than once to the person who has that blog on your subject, because they feel as strongly about your subject as you do, and all their readers feel as strongly about it.
Now, this person who has a blog is putting this blog out periodically, and they need things to blog about. Of course they like to announce new products, and if your book is an e-book you could send them a PDF. By the way, with these bloggers you also want to contribute to them.
People often ask me Elaine, ‘everybody’s telling me I need a blog. Do I need to start a blog?
I tell them, ‘do not start a blog’. The reason is, how many readers do you have? Zero! You want to become a guest blogger.
It makes so much sense.
You need to go out to the 123 air travel blogs out there, and you contribute to them.
You are a celebrity guest blogger, because you wrote the book on the subject. Whenever you write a blog or answer something on LinkedIn, you always sign the name and the title of your book, and your URL, because you want people to go to your website and see the book.
By mentioning your book you’re giving yourself more credibility. Your book gives you credibility. When you contribute to somebody’s blog they’re thrilled because you’re a celebrity, you wrote the book on the subject and you’re saying something nice, maybe capitalizing on what they talked about, so they’re absolutely thrilled. Bloggers want readers and they want contributors – you can help them out and you’re a celebrity, so they’re really thrilled.
Wait, one thing with the bloggers – sometimes on blogs there’s no way to get in touch with them.
Oh, that’s the challenge. Yes, it does take some time to build your list.
I’ve been to blogs and sometimes it’s like ‘how do I contact you? There’s no even email or anything’.
I know. You have to do some searching, and hopefully it’s not a Sally Smith because there are an awful lot of them. That’s common name. I like to keep it in an Excel spreadsheet, because I’m constantly like ‘oh, there’s her phone number, OK! I’ll [---] Excel spreadsheet’. So you’re constantly building it.
One thing for Apple about bloggers by the way is they give you 50 free promo codes, so you can send out a promo code to each blogger so they can download a free book. That’s another way for them to get a book right away.
So let me just explain what it was and then people can go both ways.
On my new book – I did 131 books on non-fiction, and I just wrote fiction. It’s called ‘Tailwinds: The Adventures of the Young Aviator’. It’s all about this young boy who’s flying 1939, 1942, and it’s all real, everything happened, the places are real, the events are real, everything. It’s 1942, ten weeks after Pearl Harbor a submarine surfaced just below my house here and took almost 30 shots into an oil facility.
Anyway, what I did is when I come up with a new book or a new project, I make up these cards, and they’re about 3 inches by 4 inches. They’re not very expensive, and there are colors on both sites. I have my picture in the book cover on one side, and on the other side it tells a little about the book and it tells you where to get it.
Now, for this book I added a Smash Words coupon code so people can initially get it free, because with fiction you’ve got to get it read so you have to give a lot away. So now I just hand cards to people, and any time somebody orders one and downloads it from Smash Words, they let me know so I know how many have gone out.
They can get it in any format they want to fit any reader. So they can get a PDF, an epub, Kindle, or whatever it is, they can get it, and then they go to the checkout page, they put in the coupon code, and it’s free, it’s $0.00.
You can do the same thing with Apple the 50 freebies. It’s really an interesting thing to put this on a card, and then you can hand it to people. What it is, it’s not a business card. It’s twice the size probably. It’s a mini-brochure and it’s pocket-sized. So they take it, and they can slip into their pocket. They don’t have to fold it up and jam it down there.
Oh, so it’s like the size of a postcard would you say?
No, I think it’s 3x4 inches. I’ll have to pull one out here.
So bigger than a business card, and smaller then a postcard?
Yeah, it doesn’t matter. One of my cover artists, a good friend, is Robert Howard, in [---] Colorado, and he’s got a printer some place, and I swear they turned this thing around in about three days. I send him the layout, then he puts it all together and sends it to the printer, and then UPS shows up.
They’re 2 ¾ inches by 4 ¼ inches. They’re just gorgeous, and people just love to get these things. They just slip them into their pockets.
It’s inexpensive too?
Oh yeah, they’re quite cheap. So getting back to the bloggers here, you’re targeting just the bloggers who are interested in your subject. By the way, this works for books, but it could work for anything you’re selling, it doesn’t matter.
Everybody who subscribes is focused on that particular subject. They want the information. Again, you can be a guest blogger and you can go to all these different blogs on your subject and comment. You should subscribe to a bunch of them.
So the blog postings come in periodically and then you can add to them. You are part of the community. You have a new circle of friends now, and everybody gets to know that you’re the author of the book.
I’ll tell you, years ago I had a column in Parachuter’s Magazine, and over I think it was a 10 year period, three people wrote to me and disagreed with something that I wrote in my column. Then I published ‘The Parachute Manual’. This was 600 pages, 8 ½ by 11’’, 2,000 illustrations. It was a pretty big thing.
Ever since that book come out not one person has ever disagreed with me again.
I wrote the book, right?
Exactly, you can’t be wrong! If bloggers have a store – some bloggers have online stores – can you say to them ‘would you want to sell my book too, and be an affiliate’ or something?
The best way to do that is for them to go through Amazon and get the commission, and I’ll tell you why. Here’s the reason. Years ago, for a number of years, we sold other books on how to write books and how to publish books, and we would buy them 50 at a time from these different publishers, and we’d put our brochures – this before the internet and the website.
We sold quite a number of these other books; our own [---] facility and so on. Then the internet came along in 1995, then Amazon came along soon after that, and what we found is that our sales were dropping. It turned out that people are sitting in front of their computer, and they see something on your website or your newsletter or something saying ‘you ought to buy this book by somebody else’, and they just go over to Amazon to see what the price is and they buy it there.
Now, we sell our own books for list price. We don’t want to compete with our dealers. We don’t want to lose our dealers or upset them. But even if we cut the price on our own books we can do that, but we can’t set the price on the books that we buy from other publishers. They control the price, we’re getting a 40% discount, or 45%, and you just can’t give something away.
So we stopped carrying books from other people, and the reason was our sales were dropping off to almost zip, and we said ‘we better get out of this thing’. That’s why we don’t recommend that people sell our books from our website. No, I don’t want drop shipping, I don’t want people to send me an order, take their commission, and then have us ship the books to the customer, because we don’t make any money on that.
I don’t want single sales any more. I think in the beginning you should do single sales – just understand the business and your customers. But after a while shipping out books one a time gets real old. We lose money on a single order – taking the order over the phone, cutting the order, doing all the licking, sticking, sorting, sacking, posting. You know, it just isn’t worth it.
If you go to my website and you want a book it’ll send you to Amazon. Let them do it. That makes Amazon happy, and of course it makes our distributor National Book Network happy.
And it helps your ranking?
It does. They both like us. We just don’t want to have the single orders. Now, you were talking about the e-books? What was your question on them?
Yeah, you can ask them [---] for physical books. Now what about e-books – if they could sell e-books on their site? That way there’s no physical – they could just make it a download.
Yeah, well, here’s the problem with that. A lot of people will do that and they’ll sell a PDF, but I read [---] Kindle books on my iPhone, and you’re not going to get them to sit down in front of my computer and read them on a screen in PDF. I’m mobile, I’m moving all the time, and I want to read them on my iPhone.
So what we do is send people to Smash Words because they can get it in EPUB, PDF, Kindle, whatever format they want. They can read on their screen if they want to, or they can read it on whatever e-reader they have. So we’re just not going to restrict people, and that’s why we don’t put the e-book there. We send them to Smash Words because they can get the versions – the choice.
OK, awesome. That’s really informative, yeah. Could you make the EPUBs yourself and give the bloggers the EPUB?
Yes, but I can read EPUB on my Mac, and I can read PDF, Kindle and so on, but I don’t know how it looks on my iPhone.
[---] give them all the formats? Could you have someone create all the formats for you and then give all the formats?
Yeah, if somebody orders it and then they call up and they say ‘gee, I got the wrong thing’, and it’s Saturday. It’s not worth it.
I mean, somebody asked on one of the forums today, ‘how do you ship physical paper books’. They say, ‘well, media mail is cheaper, and da-da-da’. Hey, look, for one or two books we send priority mail, because people expect their shipment to arrive immediately. What does it cost you four days later to answer the phone and explain to somebody that you send it media mail?
You have to go look it up.
We’ve all been there!
Yeah, what does it cost for you that? So I’ve been shipping books since 1969, and I’ve got a lot of experience doing this. Every time the rates go up and the rules change, we change and we alter to it. But right now we ship one or two books by priority mail. If it’s a larger quantity they go by UPS because the Post Office is not good and handling packages. What does that cost you?
So that’s where it is right now.
What’s a good tip for people to get a big order? How do people get big orders rather than just the one person – a company to sponsor them? How do you get bigger orders?
Well, you set up dealers. Let me just caution you that some of these bigger orders like premium sales, where the bank buys a whole bunch of copies of your finance book to give them away to people, they’re great when they come in, they’re absolutely wonderful, but they take more work.
So that’s why you don’t pursue them initially. You get your reviews out, you take to the guest blogging, you promote your book more or less to the individual – then when you have a breather, have a little time, you go after the bank about a premium.
That makes a lot of sense. You just mentioned reviews – what’s the best tip for getting to somebody to respond to you to give you a blurb?
OK – getting a blurb, a testimonial, and endorsement, there are two steps. If you just write off to somebody you know or don’t know and say ‘I want a testimonial’ for your book, they’re liable to get real anxious. They don’t know who you are, what you’ve done, and they’re not sure they want to be associated with you, so it’s very difficult.
What you do in writing your book is you go through your draft, one, two, three and four. The third draft is when you have it pretty well cleaned up, and now you take each chapter and you send it off to at least four people for peer review. You ask them to comment on the chapter – not on punctuation, grammar and style, but on content, and you match that chapter to their personal interests.
It’s only 15 and 20 pages. You’re not overwhelming them with the whole book. If you do that they’ll put it aside and never get to it. But [---] 15 and 20 pages it gets past a secretary, and this person here, she picks it up, and wow, it’s on their favorite subject. They sit down and read it right now, and they put comments in the margins, they add two more points to your list, they cross out that whole paragraph and say ‘Elaine, did you see that article in Forbes last week? It looks like we’re not doing that anymore’.
The things they put in there are just absolutely wonderful. Then you get these back in just a few days because it’s all by email, and you go through, add things and subtract things from your manuscript. Now when your book comes out you know it’s absolutely dynamite, it’s gone past the very best people. You know it’s right, and you’ve softened them up.
Now you write back and you say ‘Elaine, thank you so much for commenting on that chapter. The book is going to be infinitely better because of your input. Now, I’d love to get a testimonial for the book. Elaine, I know you’re very busy. I was thinking of something like this’, and you write it for them.
Now, here’s another one – you make it a maximum of two sentences, because you’re going to put these on the back cover. You don’t have a lot of room on the back cover. You want three testimonials on the back cover. Nobody reads the testimonials. They only read who said them.
You sign it with their name and whatever their profession and background is. Their name and their title. So those are the two steps. You soften them up with the peer reviewed chapter, and then you go back and you write it for them. I’ll tell you, 80% of the people will just say ‘that’s fine’, and 10% of them will add a couple of superlatives, pump it up a little bit, 5% will say ‘oh, that’s where you’re going. Well, I’d say it this way’, and they’ll start from scratch. Almost everybody will back to you in a couple of days by email.
I was speaking at a conference, and a very well-known author at that conference came up to me and said ‘that’s brilliant. People are always asking me for testimonials’. She said ‘I like your system’. I write back and I say ‘you write the testimonial, and I will alter it’.
Yeah. I also heard you [---] write a couple in case they don’t like the first one.
Well, you could do that. It stimulates our imagination. What I do is I try to write it with something that relates to their background. You’re an iPad expert, so I might work in that and say something about the iPad, because who else is going to say that?
Right, that makes a lot of sense. So you really personalize the blurb to them so then they would OK it? That seems good. Right.
Well, and it’s more valuable that way. If somebody reading it thinks ‘well, Elaine is the expert on the iPad, turning books into iPad’, so that just really makes sense.
Now, if their book is done and they need a blurb, can they write to someone and give the suggestion to that author?
You’ve got to soften them up. See, if you send them the whole book they’ll never get to it. If you just write to them out of the blue and say ‘I want a testimonial’, they don’t know for sure who you are.
That’s why you really need to send that chapter out first to soften them up. You don’t have to know the people. As you’re writing your book, you do a lot of research, and you come across people that you don’t know but who are experts in these certain areas.
So they would be great people to send these off to. Also you can put their name in your acknowledgments.
Oh, got it.
Once they return that chapter to you, you add them to the acknowledgements.
Oh, that’s a good idea too.
I’ve got the actual letter in my ‘Writing Non-fiction’ book – the letter that’s been used so many times it’s well-proven, and it says something like ‘I’m not going to pay you, but I’ll immortalize you by putting you in the acknowledgements of my book’.
Oh, that’s great. Yeah, you have so many books on writing. What would you say people could start out with?
It’s probably the one called ‘Writing Non-fiction’. I’ve got another one that I did just a few months ago that’s sort of on the front of that one which is called ‘Writing your Book’, and it’s about research and writing. I’m glad you brought that up, because it’s another interesting thing.
It’s just amazing the titles that aren’t taken yet. You go to Amazon, type in your idea, and I came out with this book, it’s called ‘Writing your Book’. Nobody has ever written a book with that title!
You’d think that one would be taken?!
But it hasn’t been.
Then how did your Amazon – I think for that book you did an Amazon KDP?
Yeah, I wrote a book on KDP as a matter of fact. As I did this I learned so much about it.
KDP, for everyone, it Kindle Direct Publishing.
Yeah, it’s a KDP direct program. But I came across so many places to send your e-book to tell that it’s in the KDP program on a certain date and people get it. It’s just for listing free e-books, and there’s, I don’t know, 35 of them or so. So I kind of build the book around that because I found all these places.
What you do is you have to give Amazon an exclusive for 90 days, and that means if you’re already up at Smash Words you have to take it down. But if you know about it and you want to do this from the beginning you can.
And you can’t sell it on your site? But you can sell the paper?
Yeah, right. Now, what they do is they give you five days where you can make your book free. They list it, and then you can list it in all these other sites. That drives quite a number of people there. You might a get a few 100, you might get several 1,000, and some people claim they get 10,000 or 20,000 responses – not sales, but responses.
It’s also supposed to drive your other regular sales of your book after your freebie days. I’m not sure that’s true. You get five free days, and we found it’s probably best to run 2, 2 and 1, or 2 and 3. Single days don’t pull as well as double days.
The time of the week also makes a difference. Many people like Friday, Saturday, or Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I certainly do when I’m writing and posting because most of the writers and publishers have day jobs and they’re doing this on the weekend, so that works out better for them.
But it just depends on the subject matter of your book. There may be a better day or a better couple of days. It’s a very interesting experience. When you go to Google Alerts put in ‘KDP’ as one of your keywords, and then you’ll get all of the responses from people who are posting to blogs, magazines and everybody else, so you’ll see what everybody’s experience is.
Now, what’s been your bestselling book, and why do you think so?
I’m very well known for The Self-publishing Manual. OK. In 1973 I wrote the first book on hang gliding. Hang gliding was very big then. Every magazine was writing about it, even a food magazine would write about it. It was just the right subject, the right time. My book was selling for just $4.95. It’d be more today.
I sold so many books I moved back to California, bought a house on a hill in Santa Barbara.
Wow, seriously? How’d you do it?
It was the right book at the right time, because everybody was interested in it, and $5 was cheap just to get more information.
But where were you selling it back then?
Well, I was living at that particular time in North Massachusetts, by Boston.
Then I had dealers – there were hang gliding shops all over the world. They were buying it in 10s and 50s. We’d ship to them. The book industry has changed. You’d use a distributor today so that’d cut out some of the work.
I’m best-known for The Self-Publishing Manual. That was another big one, but again it was the right book at the right time. It only took something like 20 years for self-publishing to reach the tipping point.
But I’ve got a very small publication – it’s 4x6, it’s 24 pages, on basic skydiving, and I sold 500,000 of those.
They go out by the carton to parachute centers, and they give them to people on the first jump course. So there are all kinds of possibilities. I’ve got eight different books in the parachute field, technical books for the technicians, designers and manufacturers. I have courses for people who want to be instructor examiners, who want to be parachute technicians, I’ve got The Skydiver’s Handbook which is sold in book stores because it’s a book store type book.
There are lots of very targeted books within the parachute industry.
So would you say maybe it’s better to find a targeted audience to sell your books to, and pick that audience rather than try and sell your book to everybody?
Oh absolutely, and particularly today because with Google, with the internet, they can find you and you can find them. It’s easy. People don’t want a general book. People buy non-fiction for one of two reasons – to learn something or to solve a problem.
So they look at these books on the shelf, whether it’s real or virtual, and they say ‘is this book going to answer my questions’. They don’t want a general book; they want one that answers their particular questions. We’re getting back to breeding Persian cats. They don’t want just Persian cats – they want breeding Persian cats.
So by being targeted also you have less competition. The big New York publishers are going to do things that are more general, and again you want something very targeted, very narrow, and one that answers the questions – and you can do that today. Of course with e-books it’s so much easier and cheaper and faster than it used to be.
Right. Do you use search engine optimization before you write a book, or do you just decide ‘I’m going to write this book and this is it’?
No, I haven’t used that before writing a book, but I do a lot of research online. You want to start off with Amazon and see what’s been done.
But let me give you another tip. Last year I was speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa. Just before going on a gentleman came up to me and said ‘I was in your class last week in Durban.’ He said ‘it was fabulous’, he said ‘I needed more. I drove all night to get here’. He said ‘thank you for the Amazon tip?’
I said, ‘what did I say?’
You’re welcome, yes, yes, of course!
He said, ‘to do research, to go to Amazon, look for five or six books as close to what you have in mind as possible. Think to yourself ‘if somebody bought this book, would they be a good candidate to buy my book’. He said ‘that was fabulous, because you told me to read everything on the page. I read the reviews. I found out what people liked about those books and what they didn’t like. I found out what they wanted in those books and what they didn’t want, and now I know what to put in my book and what to leave out’.
Now, what great research is that? – And it’s free, it’s right there on your desktop; you don’t have to go down to a library.
I did that with my mom’s book where we took words out for the book description – what words people are using that they really like that describe the book.
I think that’s very important for children’s books because most of them are kind of general. Children’s books cross over between fiction and non-fiction. If it’s educational and it’s about a certain thing then you can focus on keywords around whatever that subject matter is, but a lot of them aren’t, and you’ve got to make the book stand out so that people would be looking for it and would be attracted to it.
That’s a really great comment. How do you make it stand out?
Well, it’s kind of like fiction, where if you can make it about a geographical area, if you can make it about a certain subject, if you can make it about a certain industry, so that a certain number of people will identify with it – that’s a really important word, ‘identify’ with it – ‘oh yeah, I want something on that subject’.
Dan, what you’re saying is great, because you have to make sure you’re writing a book people want.
Exactly, and you do the research ahead of time and you write the book for them.
Right, that’s it, because all the marketing in the world won’t help a book that someone doesn’t want.
Exactly. Most of your books are going to be sold because people run across them and they tell someone else – that’s word-of-mouth.
OK, word-of-mouth is great too. One last thing – do you ever do in other languages?
I glad you brought that up because this has all changed. I don’t think there’s any future in the international book fairs.
Typically in international book fairs, they’re really for the larger companies. Let’s say you have cookbooks or children’s books. You might have several children’s books, and you make appointments at Frankfurt with other publishers from other countries who do children’s books, and then you go and you sell them a few and you buy a few.
Then what you do is put your children’s book together, you have it printed in Hong Kong, and Sweden want’s 3,000 so you do 3,000 with the Swedish black plate, you switch out the black plate and you do 2,000 in French, you pull the black plate, switch it, do 2,000 in German and so on, and they’re all shipped directly from Hong Kong to those publishers. That’s the typical way of doing it.
Well, it’s pretty expensive because you’ve got four-color printing, you have to much better paper because of the color, and then you have the shipping on top of that. But that’s the only way to make a children’s book go – to have it sold in all these different countries simultaneously.
Today we’re doing children’s books as e-books. You figure out how to do it on the iPad. So it’s virtually no cost. There’s no printing, no inventory, no shipping, no black plate changes. What’s going to happen now? When I say now I’m usually talking about last week.
What’s happening now is you’ll sell your book from your own website, and you can also put it up at Smash Words and also at Amazon, the same thing, and then when people go in they’ll say ‘oh, I could get it in English, but I’d much rather read it in Swedish’, and you’ve got all of these different versions, all these different languages, and they pick the one they want, they pay for it, and they get it and the speed of light.
Well, you know, the only thing to be careful about that – because my mom, we did it in Spanish too – if your book looks like it’s English, like they had ‘Moody Molly or something’, and it’s the same in Spanish, people by accident bought the Spanish book when they wanted the English book. If your title looks that American title by accident people can buy it and then they’re upset.
Then two of the people give one-star reviews because they bought it in the wrong language so they give a one-star review! So make sure that if you do put it in another language that it looks like another language.
Yeah, make it stand out. Well, if you had it listed on your website you could put the whole description in that language too.
Right, and you can also put really big ‘Spanish Version’ or something.
You can put the flags in there.
Oh, that’s a great idea.
People are used to that on websites.
So are your books interpreted in other languages?
Yes, I have books in a number of different languages. They’re all paper so far.
With paper you might as well put them up on e-books because you have all the…
Yeah, if I can get the files. They were done traditionally by publishers in other countries.
Oh, it would make sense to put them up on e-books, right?
Yeah, it’s a good idea.
But what should people do for children’s books, especially now for formatting?
I don’t know, I think you’re the expert. I was looking at your YouTube video of the book you did for your mom, and it’s just gorgeous.
Is that cool or what? Also I got the guy who does Justin Timberlake’s music and Britney Spear’s music to do the music for mom’s books. You just go and ask them. I wrote to him and I said ‘look, I said your music is phenomenal. I know this is going to sound goofy, but we’re out of budget, I’m sorry. Just if you would like it, it’s something fun, let me just send you this story, see what you think. If you like it – and if you don’t like it I totally understand because you’re a big fish and a small fish – I get it, it’s fine’.
He wrote back and he said ‘I’d love to do the music’. It was so sweet. I got him to do the music and it was just wonderful. It was amazing. So the point too is just ask, because asking – you’d be so surprised how many people will say yes.
Then I did a read along. It was so funny. We went onto Fiverr.com, gave the script, and paid $5 for someone to read, narrate the book.
Well, you are definitely in the future. Let me just tell you something that happened. A couple of months ago I was interviewed by PBS on e-books, and one of the questions towards the end was ‘well, what about children’s books?’
I said ‘let the customer decide. You give a three-year-old a printed book and an iPad. Which one do you think she’ll pick up? Let the customer decide’. So I just want to point out one of the challenges that you have – which is explaining over and over again to all of these principally women who’ve written children’s books, but they can only think of being Cinderella and somebody coming along and showering them with money and praise, and putting their book out in hardcover and paper – I think your YouTube video will go a long way. You just have to let people know about it.
Yeah, I think this is also [---] regular books. I took my Hay House book, made it into an iPad book, and I put a video at the end. Again, I contacted this video company that I love. It’s the most beautiful in the entire world; it’s supposedly their claim to fame. I said ‘would you mind putting your videos in my book, and I’ll give your logo so it’s advertising for you?’
Then at the end of every chapter is a video of like ‘let’s go to Africa safari’, or ‘let’s go to the redwoods’ at the end of my books, and I have videos at the end of every chapter in my Nature’s Secret Messages book. I have over 150 color photographs – so you can click on it and it becomes full screen.
We just launched [---] book yesterday. I uploaded Friday at 12, and by Friday night it was up on the Apple store in every country in the world.
You know, people say ‘well, my book is up for iPad’. It’s a totally different experience when your book is actually an iPad book with the video and the audio. What I noticed when I shared my book, the print version; people were like ‘Oh, OK’. When I showed the iPad version everyone’s like ‘wait a minute, where do I get this?’
I said ‘look at the video, look at the pictures’, and they’re like ‘wow, this is so cool’. There were audio interviews I put in – the audio was just drag and drop, right in, boom, done.
I’ve got a copyright question for you.
In my latest book I have click-throughs to YouTube on the videos – so I’m not worried about copyright there because I’m just giving out the URL and it’s going to their posting at YouTube – but if you take a YouTube video and put it into your book so that people don’t have to be online, do you have a copyright issue there?
You know, I believe you do. I went onto the Apple boards and they said ‘Apple won’t take it, you need to have permission. You have to show permission for everything that you use’.
So you’re saying that with the coupon code for Smash Words – or, what does Amazon call this?
Promo codes, Apple promo codes.
Those are basically the same things – you can issue those to people, then they can go in and download it themselves.
Exactly, and that way you don’t have to worry about sending people books, they just download it right from the iTunes store.
Oh, another question – I thought that Smash Words sent the files off to Apple and so on?
You know, they do, but that’s just it – when they do it it’s not made for the iPad. There are two iPad books. There’s a Smash Words book that’s just an iPad book that’s just like your Kindle book, that they can just read normally.
Oh OK, there’s a Kindle book as opposed to an iBook author book?
Right, so it’s just a regular Kindle e-book on the iPad.
So that’s what they’re sending? Their Kindle conversion, .moby, is just an e-book that can be read on the Mac and whatever?
So Smash Words does not cover the iBook author format?
They send your book to iBooks, but for me it took months. I mean, it take a long time. It takes at least weeks, whereas mine when I uploaded it – I made on mistake on Friday which took me a while to figure out, and if someone had told me that it wouldn’t have taken so long, so I put that in my course. You have to select a certain button and I didn’t know you had to press that.
But I would say the upload process is maybe 20 minutes, and then right when you select deliver it tells you right then and there if it’s going to go through, and if it doesn’t you click on exactly the link and it knows if your sample book isn’t right – so then you click right on your sample book, you fix the sample book and then you hit deliver again, and it says ‘OK, good to go, and it gives you a green check mark and you’re done’.
One thing I did get rejected for Apple was because I put my Amazon link. I’m so used to it – I just took my bio page and I took my Amazon links. You cannot put Amazon links on your Apple book because they don’t want you to buy from Amazon.
I’ve had the same problem with my books at Smash Words that list Amazon links.
Right, so you can’t use competitor’s sites.
Just to clarify that, I have a number of books I list on the back of my own books, and I give the Amazon URL and the Smash Words URL. When Smash Words sent it to Apple, Apple rejected the file because it mentioned Amazon.
Exactly. Well, this is fantastic. I can’t believe you’ve written over 100 books.
Some are longer, some are shorter!
Unbelievable. Is there one that’s your favorite?
It’s always the one that I’m working on at the time. I mean, I just finished this work of fiction, and I got so involved in it. Just proofing it and editing it I just swell up inside with pride. I get tears running down my face reading my own work. It’s hard to believe.
Then promoting it is a heck of a lot of fun, and it’s so much faster, easier and cheaper today.
Well fantastic, Dan, you’re amazing, I can’t even tell you. I’m so grateful, and thank you so much.
Oh thank you, it’s a privilege to talk to you. I’ve learned so much and I thank you for that.
Here's an interview to inspire you.
Author, Laura Scroff shares how her book, An Invisible Thread, became a New York Times best seller.
She says her publicist helped a lot. She's one of the few people that I've heard to say this.
She also works eight to ten hours a day on her book.
She describes being on the Today Show as "an out of body experience."
She has amazingly positive energy with immense gratitude. She could be a poster child for law of attraction. :-)
Here's the full interview:
ELAINE: Welcome everyone its Elaine Wilkes. I’m here with Laura Scroff. She’s a New York Times bestselling author. She is the author of the book called, An Invisible Thread and this book is amazing! She had Kathy lee Gifford crying when she was on the Today Show with her. Welcome!
LAURA: Well thank you so much!
ELAINE: This is for authors, so what’s the biggest tip you can give to authors to help them sell their books?
LAURA: Well I have to say that I’m a new author, so I don’t have a lot of tips. But one thing that I have found enormously successful for me was really to not only use the tools of my publisher, which is Howard at the business Simon and Shuster, and their PR people, but also to really have a PR person dedicated just for me. So I did go out and find someone. It has been enormously helpful and extremely successful for getting the word out as far as the book is concerned.
ELAINE: It’s interesting because I know some people have PR people, and they feel like they threw their money out because they didn’t get them anything. Why do you think yours was successful? Because she was well connected?
LAURA: I’ve heard that too, and I absolutely believe that that is unfortunately the case in a lot of situations. I happen to think than rather go to a PR company, that it is more beneficial to work with just someone who has really, his or her own business. Therefore, I think that they have a lot more at stake. I found that to be enormously successful. My PR person really was the one who did get us on quite a few national venues when the book first came out, and continues to fifteen months later.
ELAINE: Why else you think your book is spreading like wildfire?
LAURA: I think because the story is a simple story. I think it’s because it’s a true story and I hear all the time from the readers that it’s really a fast paced book. I think that this whole concept of how one simple gesture, one small act of kindness can make an enormous difference and I think it’s just resonating with people across the country and even really around the world. I get emails from people in other countries, which are absolutely astounding to me.
ELAINE: It’s amazing. I actually use your book as an example to authors. The title lures you in, and then you have your great hook. What’s your hook?
LAURA: (The hook is) It’s a very simple one-basically a true story of an eleven-year-old panhandler and a busy sales executive and an unlikely meeting with destiny. Between the two, an invisible thread. (My note: How terrific to get your book distilled down to such a captivating two lines. Can you do that with your book? Distill it down to two sentences that get people interested.)
I love the name of the book because an invisible thread is an old Chinese proverb: “An invisible thread connects those that are destined to meet regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may twist or tangle but it will never break.”
So what’s really happened in so many situations is I get emails from people saying “I’ve had this special relationship with another person. I’ve never been able to really figure it out and you have put a definition to this relationship for me. We were destined to meet; it was an invisible thread that connected us.” So the name is just a wonderful name.
ELAINE: Who thought of the title?
LAURA: Well the reason I can say I think it’s a wonderful name, that I think it’s so brilliant is because about a month before my co-author Alex T and I were sending the proposal to a literary agent we didn’t have a name. Every name that I came up with, he didn’t like, and every name he came up with, I didn’t like.
I was rushing because I had to go to a friend’s birthday party, and I like to normally go to my little local card store. But I didn’t have the time, so I went right downstairs to a drugstore, a chain store Duane Reade in New York City. And the next thing I knew I was looking at this card and it said, “There’s an old saying about this invisible thread; how it connects those who are destined to meet.” I opened up the card and it said, “I’m so happy you’re in my life and happy birthday.” I stood there and I started to shake, I thought, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.” There were five cards and I bought them all. And I brought a card for my girlfriend. I ran upstairs and I called Alex. I said, “Alex the craziest thing just happened to me. I don’t even remember picking this card up. It’s not even a particularly pretty card, but this is what the card says.” I read it to him and we Googled it. We found out that it was an old Chinese proverb, and that’s how we came up with the name.
ELAINE: It’s like the card found you.
LAURA: We believe it. My mother, who died when I was twenty-five years old, at the very young age of forty-seven, I talked about it in my book, how I really do believe that she’s always been by my side. Just like she put Maurice in my path over 26 years ago because she knew I needed something more in my life, and she knew he needed somebody to care for him. I believe she put the card in my hand.
ELAINE: That’s how the book has been too, it’s amazing. Real quick, tell us about what it was like to go on the Today Show. By the way listeners, her book has been on the New York Times bestseller list twenty six times. She’s number three on e-book and number seven on paperback.
LAURA: Yes number six on paperback, and number three on paperback and e-book combined, so we’re really very excited. In fact we’ll be in the Times next Saturday.
ELAINE: How do you feel? How is this different from a while ago when you weren’t on the New York Times best selling list? How do you feel about this?
LAURA: It’s really interesting because we actually made the New York Times bestseller a week after the book came out. And if there was anything that ever really shocked me.
I think every author kind of hopes and dreams that their book will make the New York Times bestseller list, but never in my wildest dreams did it ever dawn on me that we could do it in a week.
I forget what the number was but we were on the list and editor called. The only thing I could say is that you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was stunned. It’s great because when you’re coming out with a book – in my case it was my first book- my coauthor had published a couple of other books. I just couldn’t imagine that the book would really be significant enough that it would make the New York Times bestseller list.
My friends asked me six months ago how I was doing and I said, “I can’t explain it. The only way that I can is that I feel like it’s happening to a really really great girlfriend, and I’m really happy for her.”
So going on the Today Show with Kathy Lee and Hoda – thank goodness we had been on quite a few other TV shows before them because it is pretty daunting-- I feel like it’s almost an out of body experience.
ELAINE: Were you nervous?
LAURA: You can’t help but be nervous. Your adrenaline kind of kicks in, and when the whole thing is over you think, “What did I say?” [Laughter]
We were just on Mike Huckabee and I think that was the first time that I really really started to feel comfortable. He had read the book cover to cover, and the interview was a bit longer, it was twelve minutes. It really gave time to ease into it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get nervous. It’s the anticipation of it. Once you sit down, you’re okay, but it’s the anticipation of it.
ELAINE: Then its like, “Oh my Gosh, it’s going to be in two weeks!” How much warning time did they give you? Did they give you a week, two weeks, a month?
LAURA: We had about three to four weeks notice. But as that time is getting closer you feel like, “Oh God.” But I feel enormously blessed.
ELAINE: By the way I want to say for the people listening I had a client going on The View hire me to get their book into stores to call them and let them know he was doing media. They sold so many books that way. So if people do media, do call the stores and say, “We’re going to be on this show, could you bring the book in?”
LAURA: Our book publisher did in fact alert all of their sales people to make sure that bookstores were stocked because through their own experience and certainly past experiences with my books they did see that they really need to make sure enough copies were out there.
ELAINE: Is there anything you wish you could do over?
LAURA: Not really. I never imagined that it could have ever gone like this; I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, even my sister Annette called about a month before the book came out and wanted to know if we thought we were going to sell any books. I said, “I don’t know, I think so because so far everyone that’s read the book has kind of jumped on the bandwagon. I do think so, but I don’t know!”
Now there isn’t anything, I feel like my stars have been aligned from day one, and I don’t really quite understand it. But, as I said before I just feel enormously fortunate, extremely blessed by the entire thing. I wouldn’t want to do it over again for fear it wouldn’t go like this! [Laughter]
ELAINE: Is there any tips you can give an author if they’re starting out, or even if they have a book and they’re doing well, or anything you think, “Wow this really helps me.”
LAURA: A couple of tips. I considered it almost like my own little business and I put an enormous amount of energy, and also an enormous amount of time into it.
Also money. Again I felt that it was important to have a PR person who could not only work with my book publisher, but also work on her own to help get the book out there.
I think that also having a really interactive website is really important because people do want to go to a website to find out more information. With every TV interview that we’ve had, or when we’ve been fortunate enough to be featured in magazine, we have our website, and there’s that button that says, “Buy the book” now that takes them straight over to Barnes and Noble or straight to Amazon. I think that that’s been really helpful, but sometimes people just want a little bit more information.
The whole social networking is really incredible because Facebook has been enormously successful for me. I do think that Facebook too has been great. Building those fans before the book’s coming out like the pre, trying to build Facebook but to have people who are really your friends. I have found Facebook to be wonderful because then my friends basically shot it out to their Facebook friends and it really did help make it go viral.
I guess those would be the tips and just to work really really hard. I work from 8 to 10 hours a day on my book.
I also respond to every single email that I get from readers; I think that’s really important.
Book clubs: Some books have in the back of the book “for book clubs” and some don’t. I was lucky enough to have information about a book club in question. Book clubs have been enormously supportive of this book. Book clubs really help with the whole word of mouth. One person from a book club tells another book club tells another book club and word of mouth is really key.
ELAINE: This has been fantastic. Her website is aninvisiblethread.com she’s a New York Times bestselling author. They may actually consider making a movie from this book because it’s so fantastic.
Congratulations on finishing the course.
To make it easier, here are step-by-step tips to review.
Simply go down the list. See what is best for your book.
This is to put it all down in an order.
These things will not only help to get your book into libraries, but also help sell your book in general.
Simply focus on one thing at a time, so it's doable. You can even put in only 10 minutes a day. Just do something and it'll be so worth it.
Go down the list and see what's best for you.
Looking forward to seeing your books fly ON the shelves!
Elaine's award-winning book, Nature's Secret Messages: Discover How Nature Calms, Heals and Nurtures You, is internationally published by Hay House Publishers.
In addition to receiving rave reviews, it was awarded the rare star recommendation from the prestigious Publishers Weekly and won The Living Now Awards.
She's been interviewed by TV shows such as CNN Headline News, E! Entertainment, and has been quoted in major media such as Forbes, CNN, Chicago Tribune, and Woman's World, to name a few.
Elaine has a professional acting background and has appeared in numerous television shows and movies with the top "A" list actors and directors such as Madonna, Courtney Cox, Bruce Willis, Larry Hagman, Billy Zane, Mark Harmon, Jay Leno, Ted Danson, Patrick Duffy, John Hughes, Blake Edwards, and so many more! She's appeared in more than 75 TV commercials, and was under contract for her acting with NBC. She uses her acting skills to make her courses more fun.
She's been trained by Apple and a Mac enthusiast for over a decade.