3 S.R. Johannes: Mardi Gras Monday! Marketing to Librarians

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras Monday! Marketing to Librarians

Marketing Mardi Gras Giveaway Week!

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.

To enter:

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. ;)

91 comments:

Serenissima said...

Thanks for posting, Elizabeth! Libraries are such an important market, yet there aren't a whole lot of blog posts that discuss this.

JenSwan03 said...

What great information, Elizabeth. Thank you. I think it would be so cool to be a librarian in NY. Thanks to Shelli for providing this wonderful interview.

I wanted to let you know that I tweeted about this contest today and I follow you on Twitter as well. (I'm JenSwanBooks). I put this on my FB and would like to friend you but don't know where to find your FB page. My link is http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?ref=profile&id=1569575144.

I have signed up to follow both your blog and Elana's.

I'm really excited about your contests and have enjoyed reading all your marketing tips. Thanks for the great info!

Jennifer

Alli said...

Thanks for the post, Elizabeth. I am amazed by how much you do in and outside your work as a librarian. Very impressive!

Robyn Campbell said...

Shelli and Elizabeth, thanks for this great interview. And no does discourage me but I'll try to get over it. I think I am already making nice with the librarians in our area. And I am starting to query agents this month. Can't start too early, right? ;)

Shelli here are my other links. And I am starting a blog roll so I will have all the points. MWA HA HA HA HA

Putting Pen To Paper

Twitter

Paul Greci said...

Great info about library systems! Thanks!

NanC said...

Great post, Shelli - as always!

Larissa said...

Awesome information! Thanks, Shelli and Elizabeth! :)

NanC said...

Great post - as always, Shelli!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great interview! I really did learn tons! :D

Kirk K said...

I'm always interested to read how to approach libraries about your book. Great info.

Robyn Campbell said...

Blog roll is at the bottom of my blog. I couldn't find another place to put it right now. I think I need to clean the house! ;)

just Joan said...

Thanks for the information, Elizabeth and Shelli. Great post.

beth said...

Such great information. I've been really thinking about marketing lately, and it hasn't even occured to me to start thinking of how to target libraries. Thanks so much for this!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Very cool interview and its always fun to hear a librarians perspective since I run a library but Im not a librarian in the traditional sense. :-)

Nisa said...

Thanks for the interview. This is a subject I don't know a lot about, so it was a very interesting read!

Christina Lee said...

Wow great info. in this post- thanks!

Kristi said...

I just came over from Elana's blog! Great post and contest!

shannywriter said...

Thanks for the contest and this helpful post. Haven't even thought that far ahead, but it's worth storing for later!
I posted your contest and Elana's on Twitter (@shannywriter), Verla Kay, and my blog Http://shannywriter.livejournal.com

I clicked on your Google "follow me" but can't find where to follow your blog feed.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow, librarian in NYPL. Sounds like a dream. Thanks for all this wonderful insight and advice.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great information! Thank you!

Marybeth Poppins said...

I don't think I ever even considered this portion of marketing. Great information!

Kristi Faith said...

Uhm..I think I signed up...I know I've tweeted and put your contest on a sidebar of my blog and commented. But I'd do it all without the free gifts. :0) This was an awesome post with great information that I wasn't familiar with. Thanks!!

Merissa said...

Thanks for the really great information. I'm prepublished, but will definitely be going to see my librarian when the time comes. Thanks!

CL said...

This contest looks so fun. Thanks!
I will post this on my blog.

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Awesome post as always.

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Awesome post, as always.

Julie said...

Great advice--I only hope I have the wonderful problem one day of needing to market to librarians! You do sound like the true Renaissance Librarian, congrats on your own books!

Stephanie McGee said...

Very cool interview. Thanks for posting.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Great interview! It was nice to hear from a librarian especially one from the big apple, very cool!

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks, Shelli. It was great to hear a librarian's perspective!

Kristi said...

Great contest and thanks for the wonderful interview!

Janet Johnson said...

What a cool job! Good information for someday . . . :)

Deb Salisbury said...

Lots of great information. Thanks for posting, Elizabeth!

JosephDMMiller said...

Very interesting insights into marketing to librarians. Thanks!

Jemi Fraser said...

That was really intersting - thanks for the information :)

Anissa said...

Thanks for the fabulous interview! I love librarians. :) Growing up, they always found me the best books!

Rachelle said...

Thanks for the great info! I love libraries!! In fact, I've planned a fundraiser with my tiny, local library to celebrate my book launch.
Your contest sounds awesome.

Jackee said...

Renaissance is right! Thanks for the great interview, ladies. (And the one over at Shrinking Violets was great too, Shelli--such a perfect, succinct overview.)

DL Hammons said...

Great stuff...and useful as well. Thank you!

Dreamstate said...

Such a useful post! Although it does make me sweat a bit realizing how much I don't know about promoting. Thank heavens for your blog, Shelli!

Sarah said...

Thanks for posting this Elizabeth. It's a whole aspect of things I never really thought about before now.

Falen said...

aww - it's been so long since i've been to a library. I really should go again

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, there is a lot of great information here! I just met a children's librarian over the weekend at a conference. Now I'll know what to say/do next time!

Thanks Elizabeth and Shelli.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Ruth and I were part of SCBWI-MI at the same time. I still have one of those blue pencils, too!

Heather said...

Wow, I never considered all the thought that must go into marketing to librarians...I didn't even think it would be part of the job, but of course it is! Great info!

Lisa said...

I've been reading industry blogs for over a year now, and this is the most helpful post I've read about libraries.

Thanks for working to include such a wide range of info!

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Shelli and Elizabeth thanks for such a plethora of awesome information!! When I was 16 I worked as a page in my county library and now I'm making a list of different libraries to visit if/when I've got a book coming out :-)

kathrynjankowski said...

I've loved librarians as a reader, a teacher, and a writer. Thanks for giving us more insight into working with them.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great interview! Thanks for the good info on libraries.

Rebecca Knight said...

Fascinating post, and great advice! :) I always feel shy when I think of face-to-face marketing, so having some tips ahead of time eases my mind.

Thank you both!

Alissa said...

Marketing Mardi Gras has gotten off to a great start. This was a great post. Even as a former librarian, I picked up some valuable tips for marketing to libraries. Thanks!

Stephanie McGee said...

When's the drawing? (Not that I'm eager or anything.) Great contest!

Ryan said...

>.< I didn't know that so much work went into selling a book to a library. Lol.

I really thought all of that was done through publishers and stuff. I was wrong. Lol.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great interview. Elizabeth, I know Ruth McNally Barshaw and she'll be thrilled to know how effective her pencils were for marketing. Thanks Shelli for making the clues so obvious. I'm relieved.

Victoria Dixon said...

What a great interview, guys. Thanks so much for sharing this. I will share it with my group, too!

lbdiamond said...

What a great blog! Lot's of wonderful resources!

I'm following you and Elana...woo-hoo, what fun!

kimysworld said...

Great post, my first here! I have fond memories of going to the library as a kid. I hope kids still feel the same way today.

Natalie said...

What a great interview, Shelli! This contest is crazy awesome too. I wish there had been something like this when I was looking for an agent! :)

Carolyn V. said...

I came over from Elana's blog, too. What a fun contest, and a great interview!

VR Barkowski said...

Excellent information, thanks to you both. As writers I think many of us think about individual readers and forget about libraries. But libraries buy huge numbers of books and they make those books available to everyone - not just those who can afford to buy. They are an invaluable marketing resource.

Shelli said...

i love this guys - finding some great blogs this way. Thanks for taking time to comment.

Kimberly Lynn said...

Fun post, Shelli and Elizabeth!

Susan Fields said...

Great interview - thanks for the good information, and also for the great contest. I've added it to the sidebar on my blog.

JenE said...

Wow! Excellent post!

Danyelle said...

This is perfect. Thank you! I've always wondered how to incorporate libraries. Thank you both. :)

I follow both of you blog-wise, twitter-wise, facebook-wise. *feels like she's cyber stalking you*>.< But you are just that awesome! Oh, and yes, you are in my blog roll. O:)

ali said...

This is most excellent advice! Thank you for this great interview!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

How awesome to hear a librarian's perspective. Great tips, Elizabeth. I didn't know there even was such a thing as heat sensitive pencils -they sound cool! :-)

Thanks, Shelli!

Christina Farley said...

Such great information. Thank you!

Karen said...

Great interview and wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing.

Kim Kasch said...

I think this looks like fun so I did a post on my blog about it. Way-to-Go sharing the fun Shelli.

Sarah Simas said...

Enjoyed the interview and appreciated the advice! Awesome way to end the day. :)

Cheree said...

Fantastic post. Very interesting advice.

Cheree said...

What great advice. Thanks for the interview and I'm excited about the contest.

Cheree said...

Great advice, and thanks for such an exciting contest.

Andrea L. Mack said...

Great info - thank you! Especially liked the list of what not to do.

Kate Narita said...

I'm so glad you're running the Mardi Gras contest during school vacation week. I actually have time to participate!

Scott said...

Great advice. Thanks.

S

Heather Kelly said...

That is so cool, about the New York libraries being specific about meeting the needs of the community. Loved this interview. Thanks!

Bish Denham said...

I love libraries and librarians! And I will be putting a link to your contest as a side-bar on my blog.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Wonderful interview Shelli!
:)
e

Joy said...

How wonderful for an author to get a librarian's point of view. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Great interview (I utilize the library a lot!)!
This contest sounds pretty darn fabulous!

Dara said...

Wow, I guess I didn't realize as the author I had to go and market to the libraries too! I guess it was something I always assumed was done by the publisher...:P Guess it makes sense now in these times that it's the author's job.

Thanks for this post--definitely learned something new today!

Jessica Leader said...

So useful, Shelli! I've been waiting for sometihng like this--How to Reach Those Nifty Librarians. And thanks to Elizabeth for her generosity. All in all, a stellar post!

Jessica Leader said...

So useful, Shelli! I've been waiting for sometihng like this--How to Reach Those Nifty Librarians. And thanks to Elizabeth for her generosity. All in all, a stellar post!

susiej said...

Cool. Libraries are some of my most favorite spots on earth (behind only forests and beach). And that makes librarians some fo the coolest people. I always wish I'd become one.

Thanks for the great post Shelli and the wonderful opportunities too. I'm a new follower. Just popped over from a tweet. (I'm on twitter as @susiebj)

Taffy said...

That is great info. I know my local librarians and they say they can't wait for my book to be published. Scares me :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Count me in for all these points!
+1 Tweeted the contest
+2 Follow me on Twitter
+1 Facebooked the contest
+2 Friend me on Facebook
+2 Add me to your blogroll
+2 for following Elana's blog
+1 for following my blog

Thanks!
Corey

sharigreen said...

Thank you so much, Elizabeth and Shelli -- fantastic, helpful info! :D

Carrie Harris said...

Thank you for the timely info! I was just talking to some fellow debuts about this exact thing!

Francesca said...

I'm way too late to win the prize so I'm commenting for commenting sake, mostly because I loved this post, especially this sentence:

Be willing to talk to crazy people.

So true!