Have you ever considered how books get into libraries? If you're a frequent cruiser of the library like I am - you might already know. But if you're not, here's the deal. Many of the bigger publishers are on an automatic order to libraries across North America. So if you write for someone like Harlequin - getting into a local library is usually a no-brainer. But if you're a mid or small-press author it's often a different story. Often the library doesn't get those books in because they're not on their radar. This is a huge loss for an author trying to get their name out there and have people aware that they even exist. Admittedly by having a book in the library the author isn't getting royalties for sales of those books but people are reading them and sometimes that's just as good a tradeoff for future sales. And in Canada there is the Public Lending Right Program which compensates authors for books taken out from select libraries across the country. Still, not a royalty, but as I said there's other benefits.
Selling books isn't an easy venture especially if you're that sensitive artist type - we hate rejection probably worse than the rest of the population and often experience it more. Who wants to add to the heap by going to battle with libraries to please carry your book. Sometimes they do on the request of an author - sometimes they don't. But what they almost always do is order a book in on the request of a local reader. When I find an author whose work I know I'll enjoy, and whose not on the library shelves, I not only make an effort to get my own copy but I also request the book at my local library so that others may enjoy it too.
When I occasionally host authors I always check to make sure their book made it to the local library and if not I put in an order for it. I often do it quietly without mentioning what I've done to the author but one day I had to say something - and that was the day when every copy of the book was on hold with readers vying for the next copy. I sent an e-mail to let that author know and I think I might have made her day. I know it would have made mine.
There's many small and mid-press authors to choose from - tons of good reads. Just the other day I requested White Lies by Jeremy Bates and while I'm first on the list to read it, I suspect I might pass up that option and buy my own copy.
Now there's limits to all this - you certainly can't be requesting
books monthly or even biweekly without becoming a hindrance rather than a help to the library. So while it's a limited tool, it's worthwhile because if I helped a small
handful of authors in any given year well, I've paid it forward.
How did you pay it forward this week?