Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Getting Your Books Into Libraries and Stores by Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud
For authors, few things compare to holding your first published book. When the day finally arrives, you squeal, post hundreds of photos of you and your books on Facebook, and organize numerous give-aways, until shipping fees devour your marketing funds—which were nonexistent. Then you wonder… what am I to do with all these books, anyway?

 Contrary to what some may think, author copies aren’t provided for the writer’s enjoyment. Or to be given as early Christmas presents. I believe publishers hope their authors use those books for promotional purposes. 

 Why not use them to get into local libraries and bookstores? I imagine many of you are thinking; isn’t that marketing’s job. Perhaps, but with all the books released each year, there’s no guarantee your marketing team will be able to actually get yours on the shelves, no matter how hard they try. Your novel is but one of millions, after all. However, by actively becoming involved in the marketing process, you increase your chances.

 Though I’m still a newbie, here are some things that helped me get my books into local stores and libraries.

1. I start with coffee and brought a friend.

Let’s face it; selling yourself and your work to strangers is scary. Bringing a friend along for moral support helps reduce the angst. Making the endeavor as fun as possible—hence, starting with a relaxing and relational activity such as drinking coffee—can help as well. Not only will this reduce your anxiety, it will also help you remain conversational. This in turn will set the librarian and bookstore owner at ease, encouraging them to respond favorably.

2. I met with the one who makes book-carrying decisions

Having a face-to-face conversation with the owner or head librarian is much more effective than simply dropping off a book and letter. The former makes it personal and helps the decision maker put a face to the novel; the latter mimics spam. No one likes to be spammed. However, attempting to pitch your book to a head librarian during their busiest times is the equivalent of an incessant telemarketer. In sales, timing and mood is important. Therefore, call ahead and schedule a time to meet with the decision maker.     

3. I was persistent

As you can see from the picture on the left, I was a tad reluctant to go into a particular Christian bookstore. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the store or the owners. Rather, I was convinced they didn’t like me. I’d already contacted the owner by phone and email on a few occasions, with no response. I assumed this meant he didn’t like my work or me. Probably both. (Yes, I’m melodramatic.)

But remember tip number one? The best of friends encourage us to overcome our insecurities, even if that means dragging us into the terror zone. Which my friend, Susan Aken, did. It turned out, the store owner didn’t hate me at all. He was merely busy, and because of my persistence, he agreed to carry my book and host a signing in December.

4. I took time to decompress at the end of the day

Always start and end your day having fun—and drinking huge amounts of coffee—which will liven up even the most discouraging of days (especially if your coffee is laden with chocolate). Life is hard enough. Shake it off, enjoy the journey, and buffer everything with laughter.

5. Follow up

Bookstore owners and librarians are busy, and in their busyness, may forget about your book entirely. It’s always a good idea to follow up with a phone call, asking if they’ve had a chance to review your book and have any questions.

For other newbies like me, did your pulse spike when you read this post? If so, what are some things you can do to feel more comfortable approaching librarians and book store owners? For those with more experience, what tips would you add?

Beyond I Do-CBD.com
Jennifer is giving away one copy of Beyond I Do. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.
Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently discounted in e-book format for under $3!
You can find it at :
Barnes and Noble

She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries. When not writing, Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 


  1. Jennifer ... I'm a reader, and an influencer. I went to my local library and asked if donate books were put on the shelves. They said yes, if they are new. I took that to mean that the books had to be recently printed, so now, after I've reviewed them I happily take them to the city library, knowing that once one of them is read, the others will be asked for!

  2. I'm a reader too. We do have some influence with libraries & book stores. With both I have asked if certain books were available. A number of times the details were taken & books were procured & added to shelves.

  3. Hi Jennifer, Congrats on getting out there. I find the local book signings are the most fun, especially for a debut author. All your friends come and get all excited for you which of course, brings business into the store. Be sure and invite everyone you know. They will have fun too.

    You have great ideas there. Thanks for sharing in Seekerville.

  4. "Isn't that marketing's job?" You're funny, JEN. If there's anything I've learned recently, and I'm never sure there is, it's that we have to do a lot of our own marketing in the current climate, if we're fortunate enough to publish traditionally, and that we have to do pretty much all of it if we're indie. It's the part I'm bracing myself for when I publish. I am fortunate to have really good relationships with several local libraries, thanks to my secular job (and also thanks to Not Talking Out Loud. Ha Ha.). I don't know much about bookstores, but will follow your tips When The Time Comes. I did one book signing years ago when I was in a Chicken Soup-like anthology and it was a disaster, so there's RFI (Room For Improvement).
    Kathy Bailey

  5. Jennifer!!!!

    So happy to see your smiling face this morning.

    AND terrific tips. It is scary to approach book stores and librarians, but part of our business, right.

    Wishing you much success with your book.


  6. Jennifer, thank you for being in Seekerville! Marketing isn't always an author's favorite thing, but I do love meeting readers! I love informal settings, easy talk and food.

    Food is a fave!

  7. Welcome to Seekerville, Jennifer!
    Thanks for the tips for those hesitate to get out there and promote.

    I've been grieved by the disappearance of bookstores, but the owner of a used bookstore in town carries my books--at a discount no less--and hosts signings. A total blessing! I gift the store with books that I've either read or been given at conferences.

    I'm also thrilled that our library carries the Love Inspired books so mine are on the shelves. Our library will also order requested books so authors need to ask. Their library might too.

    Your book sounds great! Congratulations!


  8. Marianne, that is so wonderful and thoughtful of you! I'm sure the authors and publishing houses you review for are very appreciative. I've discovered many great authors by perusing library shelves. :)

    Mary P, that's wonderful! It's great librarians are so responsive to their readers. I found our librarians to be wonderful and quite approachable.

    Sandra, thanks for the congrats! It's been a fun journey. One that stretches me at times, but a fun one no less. I recently did a signing at our local Barnes and Nobles and had a wonderful time. I enjoyed chatting with people who came in and the store workers. They were lovely! But the highlight of the day--I encountered two individuals who said they always wanted to write, to which I responded, "Just do it!"

    Kaybee, you are so right in regard to authors needing to do a great deal of marketing. I've found this necessitates good time management skills, something I'm severely lacking! I'm sorry your book signing was a disaster. :( Hopefully next time you'll get better results. Did you have bookmarks to hand out? I found bookmarks to be great conversation starters. They also helped greatly with sales. I noticed a significant drop in traffic (to my table) once I ran out of bookmarks.

    Rose, thanks! Small cyber world, huh? :)

    Ruth, yay! A fellow foodie! The frequent coffee stops and our lunch excursion certainly was the highlight of that day! (I had um... 4 coffee drinks by the time the day was done. Oy.)

  9. I enjoyed your post, Jennifer. I think most writers would rather be home writing than out marketing what they've already written.:-)

    I like people, and socializing is at the top of my list of fun things to do, so, looking at marketing that way helps put it into a fun category.

  10. JEN, I will do bookmarks. When I have a book to promote. Thanks.

  11. Hi, Jennifer! Welcome to Seekerville.

    I agree with Mary Preston. It's great to have fans actually ask for your book.

    Since I work in libraries. Two at the moment, I can offer some advice as well. Get to know your libraries. How they function. The chain of command. Many times the folks who make decisions on purchasing are NOT visible to the public.

    How do you deal with that? Participate in library events. Find out who does programming and if they offer anything to writers in the community. Then volunteer. They are far more likely to put your book on the shelf if they know you as Jennifer so sagely mentioned.

    Okay, now let's have bagels!

  12. Janet, I agree, it is sad to see so many brick and mortar stores closing, and I've noticed a change in the chain bookstores as well. Used to be they'd have numerous comfy chairs positioned throughout the store for readers to come in and relax. When our daughter was a toddler, every Saturday we'd go, get coffee, and spend a good part of the morning reading. I'd stack books beside our chair, our daughter would nestle in my lap, and we'd read. :) Often she'd hop off to grab a book from the shelf and would then come back. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning!

    I also like your suggestion of approaching used stores. Honestly, I hadn't even considered that, but it sounds like you've found great success in doing so. That's awesome!

    Mary, you are so right! Just the other day I was telling my husband I wanted to take an Internet break so I could focus entirely on writing, but then I looked at my calendar and realized I have another book coming out the first week in Jan., which means I'll soon need to start promoting again. haha! I'm like you--everything is more fun when we're with our friends! :)

    KB, how awesome that you're thinking ahead of what marketing efforts you'd like to do. That will help you greatly when your first launch comes! :)


    FUN post and pretty darn clever, too, to target the libraries like you do. Most of us, I think, forget about the huge impact libraries make on the market, so thanks for the timely reminder.

    LOVE your cover and the title -- makes me want to snap it right up!!


  14. Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Jennifer! I enjoyed your photos too. :)

    Although as yet unpubbed, I am saving your post for "when the time comes" (yes, I am optimistic, LOL). ;)

    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  15. We have a couple of small libraries near us and my mom used to work at one. The other is in conjunction w/my kid's school. I think both libraries would be open to carrying my book if I got published.

    Beyond I Do sounds like a cute story.

  16. I love the pic of you being dragged into the bookstore. That's me!

  17. Hi Jennifer

    Great post. I cringe at the thought of a book-signing. On the other hand, I love book stores and libraries. Our local stores have a shelf for local writers so I'm sure I could get my books on those. Here's another thought about libraries. I use them in my research and get to know the library personnel that way--a lot, since I'm clueless. Anyway, they know I'm writing a book and always want to know when it's coming out, etc. There's no guarantee they'd put my book on the selves, but at least they already know me and they're already invested in my book.

  18. I will add this about libraries.

    A LOT of libraries take pride in having a 'local author' section. Or maybe a 'state author' section.

    I phone libraries and say, "I'm a Nebraska author. Do you have a policy about carrying in-state authors on your shelves. ESPECIALLY large libraries very often just automatically say yes. All they need to know is that YOU EXIST.

    I have discovered so many authors by grabbing an intriguing book off a library shelf. Often I've gone on to buy that author...especially if there is a gap in a series, for example, and I can't find it.

    It's just so easy to CLICK ON THAT EBOOK LINK!

  19. Jennifer, have you talked to the Lincoln Public Library? They've got a whole section for Nebraska authors and they do readings for Nebraska authors.

    I think the Bennett Library in Lincoln is where they host these.

    Also it seems like the Kearney Nebraska library system has an extensive Nebraska Author Section.

  20. Also independent bookstores, which are so hard to find anymore, but in Omaha the Bookworm is a great place that is very open to author events. I've never had a signing there, because I am sort of, well, let's say INSANE...but I think they're great about it.

    I've BEEN to several signings there. You get a table and chair and a speaking time!

  21. Tina, thanks for the advice, and what a fun job you have! To be surrounded by books all day! :) Also, thanks for the kind words regarding the photos. They were loads of fun to take. Plus, now I have photos of that day, which was very special. (Largely thanks to my sweet friend.)

    CatMom, I applaud and encourage your optimism! Optimism helps fuel the perseverance needed to make it to publication. :)

    Connie, I bet you may even have a natural in, with your mom having worked in one of the local libraries. That's awesome! Also, thanks for your kind words regarding the story.

    In regard to the picture of my friend dragging me in, funny aside: We asked a random stranger walking to her car to take the photo. She then wanted to know why, so we told her the story. She then decided to join our mission, looping her arms through ours and marching us into the store to talk to the owner, whom she knew. I'm notorious for asking strangers to take photos of me and my friends, and some really hilarious stories have resulted from this. :D

    Elaine, those are great ideas! Adding that personal angle always helps, doesn't it?

    Mary, I haven't been to the Lincoln libraries but need to. (I need to go see their penitentiary anyway. Which they'd let me tour it. Strange, they didn't think it was a great idea to have an ignorant, petite female roaming their prison taking photos. Go figure.)

    I have called Bookworm but they were in the middle of moving. I should call them again. It'd be huge fun to have a group signing! (Yes, I'm all about dragging others into my madness! But I love the social element!)

    I'll have to try the Kearney library, too. Does Kearney have any great, must-try restaurants? (Yes, I'm all about the food, too. ;) )

  22. Thanks for the tips, Jennifer! I never thought about dragging a friend along with--that would definitely help.

    Congrats on your book release! It looks like a fun read. :)

  23. I'll add this, before my first book was published, I went to book stores to introduce myself and see if they'd carry my book.

    I seemed to make them nervous.

    I found that later, when I had the book in hand, they were more open to talking.

    I think, without the book to touch and thumb through, they just didn't quite know what to do with me.

  24. Well, I don't know much about FOOD in Kearney but I LOVE THE ARCH!
    Of course I'm a history buff but I LOVED IT. And when I was out in Kearney I also stopped at the Stuhr Museum and Pioneer Village. But those places are way better in the summer because they have living history events.

    Although walking through the Sturh Museum--when it was 90% empty...okay 99%...did give me the idea for a book....which is sci-fi and thus far I've never used it.
    Great place though.
    Pioneer Village...I could just stay in there and look FOREVER. Fascinating collections and ... well, still...
    Chances R Restaurant in York, NE is the second best restaurant in Nebraska. (I suspect this is self-proclaimed but no one's made them tear the sign down!)

  25. Thanks for the marketing ideas, Jennifer. I was particularly interested in your comment to Kaybee about bookmarks being a great conversation starter ... and how you noticed a definite link between bookmarks and sales.

    Fun pix in your post, too!

    Nancy C

  26. Hi, Jennifer!! I loved this post. I would be terrified to approach someone to carry a book I had written lol. Not that I've written one yet, but... I would be more than happy to go with someone and vouch for their books. Our bookstore has a local author's section and there is an art center that displays local talents from writing, to jewelry, to painting to photography.

    I loved Beyond I Do. Can't wait to read another of your books!

  27. I love your idea to bring a friend along when you're out 'marketing.' For some reason, I never thought of that.

  28. Mary, it sounds like I need to put Kearney on my must visit list! We're relatively new to NE, (moved here in 2012) and therefore are still discovering gems. Last weekend we went to Nebraska City. Though the recent winds had knocked a bunch of the beautiful leaves down, it was still a wonderful time! We went to Arbor Farms and tried the best apples EVER!

    Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed my post, and thanks for the kind words regarding the pictures.

    Sally, how fun to chat with you here! That sounds like such a fun bookstore! I love stores with books and jewelry, two of my addictions. :) I'm so glad you enjoyed my book! My next one releases the first week in January. :)

  29. Jennifer, I live in Kearney! I recommend a couple of local restaurants. One is The Cellar, which just happens to be in by the Hastings Entertainment Store (which has books, movies, and music.) The Western Burger at The Cellar has been named the Nebraska Beef Council's Best Burger Award. So you could eat and visit the book store, which does have a Nebraska author section.

    Another great restaurant for a more date night atmosphere is The Alley Rose which is downtown very near the Solid Rock Christian book store and about a block from the Kearney Public Library. So you can eat and sell your book there as well!

    Please enter me into the drawing. The book looks good!

  30. Mary, I got a big laugh when I read your comments about stores having a section for "state authors." I sometimes have trouble reading on the computer and I read that as "stale authors." I wondered how that would get much of a readership!

  31. As always, you're in the lead with great marketing tips. Thanks. When I get to this point, I'll use these points. Best to you and your marketing.

  32. Great tips! Here's mine for those of us who live out in the boonies and don't get to town very often. And as it happens all to often, when you do go, it's because you ran out of milk or your hubby called and asked you to run an errand RIGHT THIS MINUTE and you look like something the cat drug in. Right? Right!

    So the tips for us harried dragged-in cats...

    Make LISTS that target the towns all around you. Maybe use notecards or a small notebook, or your cell phone.

    For me, this would mean that the next time I'm in Decatur, MS, I need to drop off a signed copy of my latest book at the college library; the next time I'm in Sebastopol, I need to stop by Carrie B's and leave some more books, etc. etc.

    All while looking nice and presentable and professional. Oops. Back to the drawing board on that one!

  33. Sandy, you sold me! Kearney is a must-visit for sure! I love trying new restaurants! :) Especially those with a unique atmosphere.

    Hahaha! Stale authors. That is hilarious!

    Thanks for your kind words, Terry! :) Blessings to you and your writing!

  34. Great suggestions, Jennifer! It's so true, our friends make the greatest cheerleaders. :) Cute pictures!

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Jennifer, thank you so much for these helpful and motivational tips! Marketing definitely gives me the heebie-jeebies! I would SOOO much rather stay at home alone in my writing cave.

    Which is why I'm eternally grateful to my friend Dora Hiers for talking me into collaborating with her for library speaking events. You are so right about how much easier these things are when you have a friend along--especially one who won't let you give in to your instincts to run and hide!

  37. Good afternoon, Jennifer! What great ideas...saving them for when I have a book published. :-) I would agree with Tina about actually getting into the libraries. My homeschooled children and I spend one morning a week at our library. I don't know that I've met the decision-makers, but I've met some wonderful librarians and we're getting to know so many faces. I need to do the same with bookstores, except they're further away and more costly. :-) Thanks for the post!

  38. Great insights here, Jennifer. Love your suggestion about scheduling a time to speak to someone at the library and finding out the right person to approach. I work in a school library and we had such issues with authors dropping by and trying to aggressively sell their books to us that our board had to adopt a no-soliciting policy. Now authors are given the name of our district librarian. They need to make an appointment and she decides whether the book has merit. If so, she emails the librarians to let them know about purchasing details and if the author is available for school visits.

    So, I'd add that authors need to remember that they don't just represent themselves when they approach bookstores and libraries but all the future authors who will pass through those same doors. One bad experience can sour it for everyone.

    Don't enter me in the draw -- I have read Beyond I Do. Loved the all encompassing spiritual threads in that book. Christians who are living their lives with varying degrees of success. So true to life. Sometimes we think becoming Christian is the grand conclusion, but it's just the beginning of something so simple it's complicated. :-)

  39. Oh...and on a truly sad note, after thirty-three years our local Christian bookstore is closing its doors. I'm devastated. That leaves one big box bookstore chain in the area that does not carry much Christian fiction and Canadian amazon has increasingly long delivery times for Christian fiction -- two - four weeks! For new releases. I cried when I found out the store was closing.

  40. Welcome, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I, too, am always reluctant. So I appreciate your tips!

  41. Marianne, thanks for sharing books after you review them!

  42. Mary P, thanks for making books suggestions to libraries!

  43. I've always believed that one of the things I have going for me when I do sell is that I sell for a living. Hopefully, I'm right.

  44. Thanks for being with us today. I need to connect with the libraries in my area. Shame on me for not doing so earlier.

    Thanks for planting a seed!


  45. Thank you, Jennifer!

    Getting my books into our local library is next on my marketing to-do list. I just needed an extra push, and you gave it to me :)

  46. Hi Jennifer,

    Congratulations! Your cover is beautiful. Way to go promoting it.

    You post reminds me of a friend who says when she goes to a signing with her husband, she always makes more sales because he's a people person. He is a sweetie and very approachable.

    Thanks for the great tips today!

  47. Pam, those are great ideas, and boy can I relate regarding looking less than presentable. I'm a sweatpants-throw-my-hair-in-a-pony kinda gal, which is a problem as my hair isn't quite along enough to go into a pony. But being curly, once it dries, it's done. Cemented in whatever shape it dried in (or some form of frizz, often the latter). Finding those presentable moments can be a challenge! :) Oh, I'm so glad I spend a chunk of my day behind my computer!

    Thanks, Brenda and Cara! It sure made for a fun day. :)

    Jill, that they are, the best ones especially. I've been really blessed by the support my local friends have shown me during my first book launch. It touches me deeply!

    Hi, Myra! Oh, I so understand! If only we writers could hide out behind our keyboards indefinitely! (Though my husband says I do need to get out once in awhile. If only so the neighbors don't get suspicious.) That's wonderful that you've found another writer to partner up with for speaking events. Great idea!

    Hi, Meghan! I'm glad you found the post helpful, and it's always fun to meet another library-enthusiast! :)

    Hi, Kav! How interesting to hear from a librarians perspective! I can totally see how frustrating that would be! Demanding people are difficult anyway, but when you're already busy... Great point about representing other writers. Plus, we're representing our pub house.

    That is sad that your local bookstore is closing. :(

    Hi, Missy! I'm glad you found the post encouraging.

    Walt, I bet you're right! I would expect your experience to be immensely helpful!

    Best of luck, Debby! I'm glad my post gave you the oomph you needed. (I should probably check back with you in a few weeks to see if you followed through. Hahaha.

    Hi, Jan! Best of luck with your endeavors! :)

    Hi, Jackie! Thanks for the kind words regarding my cover. :) That is so awesome and incredibly sweet. What a gem your friend has! I know us ladies cherish our beau's opinion above everyone else's, and nothing makes us swoon like knowing our man is standing beside us. :)

  48. Jennifer, I liked how your sense of humor shone through your post. With a great attitude toward marketing, you actually made it sound fun. I look forward to wearing the writer's marketing hat someday, and will look to your blog and others for advice about how to wear the hat well and with humor.

  49. Jennifer,
    Thanks for the great tips.

    Would love to read your new book!

  50. "...he didn’t like my work or me. Probably both" strikes a nerve. I've gotten pretty much the same [lack of] response from the libraries in my area - I shall press on, however. Now that I've actual copies, I'll plan to leave one at least, at the branch near my house. I'd say your article has achieved what you set out to do - inspire and encourage others to "press on!" Much appreciated Jennifer!

  51. Hi, Tanya! This post was as much fun writing as the day was book-sharing! I think marketing CAN be fun, and bringing great friends along really helps! Do you have a friend you could bring with you? Add in lunch, and it could be an amazing day! :)

    Hi, Edwina, I"m glad you found my post helpful!

    Hi, Robin! Love your determination! I think face-to-face encounters can often help. And thank you for your kind words regarding my post. :)

  52. Thank for the tips, Jennifer! Very timely for me :).

  53. Jennifer, while I'm still unpublished at the moment, when the time comes and I am published, this is great info to have. I've booked marked this post so I can come back again and reread this along with all the comments for when my book(s) get published. :)

  54. Hi, Katie! I'm so glad you found this post helpful! :) I hope you can put some of these tips to use, and when you do, I hope your efforts are successful and accompanied by large amounts of chocolate! :)

    I'm so glad, Kristen! Now ' s the perfect time to start building your marketing plan!