Hot Update: Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary Agency (who rocks BTW!) has also generously offered a query critique as a prize (along with Alyssa Henkin and Marietta Zacker)! Woot Woot! You can follow her on twitter as well.
It's finally here - a week of giveways and marketing advice for all my wonderful followers. Come join the fun for a crazy amount of free (priceless you might say) giveaways.
1) You must be a follower of my blog and Elana Johnson's blog to win any giveaways. Remember: You must enter Elan'as contest separately from mine.
2) For Daily Prizes, you must comment on each daily post to be entered into the drawing.
3) Everyday there will be one CLUE hidden in the post that will be needed for Friday's Scavenger Hunt Question. Write it down!
4) Friday's Follower Prize - There will be a random drawing on Friday. You only need to follow the two blogs mentioned above to be entered. :)
4) Grand Prizes - one for agented authors and one for unagented authors. To enter, on Friday you must fill in the complete form to be eligible to win.
Note: For additional information and how to score extra points, see Fridays post. Keep in mind, I am going on the honor system so if you tell me you posted, I believe you. You do not need to show "proof of post" unless you want to.
Marketing To Librarians - Elizabeth Bird (Librarian at New York Public Library/Fuse 8 blog/author)
Note: Remember to write down clue #1 and comment to be entered into Monday's drawing for a stack of books!
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for being our first to kick off Marketing Mardi Gras. Tell us about yourself and experience as the librarian of one of the most fabulous libraries in the U.S.A.
Well, after I got my library degree I pretty much immediately started working for New York Public Library. I began at a library in Greenwich Village called the Jefferson Market Branch. They have a marvelous children's collection. A year later I applied for an opening in the Central Children's Room. Originally we were across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. Now we've picked ourselves up and moved to our new location on 42nd and 5th. I am pleased to now be working in the main branch of NYPL, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, where the original children's room was housed from 1911 to 1970. We are now just down the hall from where we started!
My experience as a children's librarian in New York has been fascinating. New York branches tend to be small and very centered on the neighborhoods they cater to. We've 86 locations in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. So basically, New York is all about connecting to different people in different areas with the best books, materials, and online resources that meet their needs. As for my current fabulous branch, I've a little book that I keep on the front desk that I make every author and illustrator who walks through the front door sign. We get literary scholars, teachers, educators, parents, other librarians, tourists, and kids galore at my site. Couldn't be a cooler job in the world, so say I.
As for me, I'm a writer with two picture books coming out with Greenwillow (A Giant Dance Party ) and an adult non-fiction title I'm writing with two other bloggers: Peter Sieruta of Collecting Children's Books and Jules Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast that we sold to Candlewick (WILD THINGS!: The True, Untold Stories Behind the Most Beloved Children's Books and their Creators.)
I also blog on the School Library Journal website at A Fuse #8 Production. In addition, I review for Kirkus , have reviewed in the past for The New York Times , and write the occasional article for Horn Book . I am also the author of the ALA Editions title Children's Literature Gems: Choosing and Using Them in Your Library Career.
Goodness! I had no idea how busy you were. You are a truly the Renaissance "Book" Woman. :) As a librarian, can you tell us what you feel are the three most effective ways an author can contact/or market to a library?
First off, the author should find out who does the purchasing for the library. If you're dealing with a big system like NYPL it may be a single materials specialist. Find any children's librarian working at a branch and ask who does the purchasing. Then get their contact information. If you are dealing with a smaller system, it may well be that the children's librarian you're speaking to is the person who does the buying.
Now when you meet a children's librarian, even if they're not the one who buys the books, they can usually at least make suggestions to the materials specialist in some way. (CLUE#1- the word is "Start") Here are three things you can do:
- Coming in person is actually far more effective than just calling or emailing. If the librarian is fielding lots of authors they're going to be more inclined to discount someone they can't see. Get their contact information, if you can. Then you can follow up with additional thoughts or, if you have another book, other titles. When you come in, mention that you're an author and you have a book. Talk it over with the librarian. Find out what kinds of books they lack and find out if there is a need for your title. Strike up a conversation but don't immediately push them to purchase. Have a copy on hand for them to look through, and keep. If you've gotten professional reviews as well, be sure to mention that. A positive review from Booklist or School Library Journal is worth far more to a librarian than just your word
- In lieu of a copy, have promotional materials. Some systems don't care to receive bookmarks, while others are ravenous for them. And not all promotional materials are created equal. One of the most effective we ever received came from Ruth McNally Barshaw. They were heat sensitive blue pencils. When you held them your fingertips turned them white. The effect lasted about a week, but we've been using those pencils ever since. And every time we use them we think of her books too.
- If you are able, create a program that kids can do along with your book. A lot of systems are very careful about who they allow to perform for their kids, but others like it when local authors read their books or field questions. Find out if the library will allow you to sell your books at such programs too. Not all systems allow that (ours doesn't) but some will be less strict.
Great advice! It's always interesting to me that even though we put so much time into social networking, at the end of the day, the face-to-face are still very important. As a librarian – what are the 3 things an author should NOT do when marketing to a library?
- Ah! Well, don't walk in without doing your research. As I say, find out who does the buying. You don't want to corner a page with the sole job of shelving books and sell the book to them. They might be interested, but it won't do you much good in the long run.
- Don't be pushy. That's fairly obvious, but it's best if you don't try to get an answer out of the librarian then and there about whether or not they'll buy your book. A lot of time library systems have a process in place where multiple readers look at a book to approve it before purchasing.
- Don't be discouraged if they tell you no to your face. In these tight times a lot of library systems are buying from folks like Baker & Taylor and they simply can't purchase your book from you unless it's offered through that kind of system. Take heart. Not all rejections are created equal.
I think its safe to say, most authors are used to the word no. :) But it doesn't get any easier! What are a few tips on how to run an effective book signing? What do you think an author should do to ensure its success?
We don't do many signings in my own library, but my mother worked in an independent bookstore for many years so there are a couple things I know. First off, don't worry if nobody shows up. Every author, no matter how huge, has at some point stared at a room full of empty seats. Or, almost worse, a single parent with a squirmy toddler. In the event that people do show up, be gracious. Be friendly. Be willing to talk to crazy people (there's usually at least one). And if you get an enormous crowd and you worry about your signing hand, make sure you get the kids first, the adults second.
Elizabeth, thank you for taking the time to give us some insight!
Thanks Shelli. This was fun to do!
Come back tomorrow for another chance to win a prize as well as a marketing Double Header: Lee Wind on The Zen of Blogging and Greg Pincus on Social Networking!
In Other News: Be sure to also stop by Shrinking Violet Promotions. This is a longer two part post that will discuss in more depth on how each author can identify the stages of their career and what marketing can be done in each phase. Last week, Beth Revis interviewed me for a few highlights on a similar topic. ;)