How To Support Your Favorite Writers — Library Recommendations

How many times has this happened? You hear about a new book, and, unsure about forking out the money on a writer you don’t know, you head to the library to check it out. And you love it. I’m  betting at least some of you have found a new favorite author this way. Maybe you rush out and buy every book the author has written. Or you check out every one of the author’s books that your library carries.

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This wouldn’t be your typical “New Releases” shelf, but you get the idea.

But have you every stopped to wonder how those books end up on those library shelves? Do you know that you can have a hand in their appearance?

Okay, most books on your library’s shelves are there because the library ordered them. No surprises there. Many libraries have at least one person responsible for ordering books—the acquisitions librarian. The acquisitions librarian researches trade journals like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal for potential titles to add to the “New Releases” shelf. Reviews in sources like these play a large role in what you see. But the acquisitions librarian can find suggestions from other sources.

Namely, you.

What You Can Do

Yes, you. You can help a book find a home in your library, too. Did you know that most libraries are open to recommendations from their patrons? My lovely local library makes it easy. There’s a form on the library’s web site where we can recommend a purchase. We fill out a few simple fields to give the library some basic key information about our suggestion. And we’re done.

Does that information disappear into a black hole? Not in my experience. Since moving to a new house last March and getting my library card, I’ve suggested two books for acquisition. And the library ordered them both.

Now, both books that I recommended were published by “traditional” presses, not indies. However, they are small presses, not any of the “Big 6 5″ or even mid-sized presses. And my mother, who volunteers at her local library, recommended an indie book. The acquisitions librarian researched it—and ordered it. I can’t think of an easier way to help spread the word when you find a new author (or new to you) who could use some “word of mouth” promotion.

Of course, not every library will make the process as easy as mine does. You may have to contact the acquisitions librarian directly. The library may decide to pass on your recommendation. Budgets are tight, and there might not be enough funds for the one(s) you suggest. But maybe your library accepts book donations. If so, can you spare a few dollars to get that book to fellow readers in your area?

Will You Help?

The recommendation process may take only a few minutes, but the rewards for the author may be immeasurable. All it takes is one reader checking out the book and reading it to began a chain reaction of friends and family saying, “I just read this great book, you should check it out.” And before long, a snowball rolling down a hill becomes an avalanche of interest in that author.

So how about it?

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35 inches of snow later (Friday into Saturday), we’re partially dug out. This will have to make its way into a future story somehow!

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67 thoughts on “How To Support Your Favorite Writers — Library Recommendations

  1. That snow is crying out for some paw prints! I would love to play in it.

    I’ll find out what system my local library has for book recommendations. I know they’ll get a book from other libraries, but I don’t know if they take recommendations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel sorry for small dogs who have to go outside in this! I think even you would find the going a bit tough, Clowie. 🙂

      I hope your library is open to recommendations from its patrons. Local interest should be just as important in the decision-making process as those from professional reviewers.

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  2. After the publication of my novel, as a download and print on demand, I donated a couple of copies to my local library. I was theninvited to talk to two library book groups and even sold a few copies.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hope other authors aren’t forgetting to contact their own libraries. But with the focus so often on sales, some might forget that getting “in front of” a reader’s eye is so important for the long-term. And a library can really help that visibility. That visibility might be enough in itself to lead someone to buy a copy. Or, as in your case, generate enough interest to invite the author to meet with groups—and then add to book sales. It all adds up!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d heard this before about recommending books to libraries, but had forgotten, so thanks for the reminder! I’m not sure what the situation is here in England with that, but I bet they would take recommendations too. I actually never go to the library myself anymore, there isn’t one that’s convenient in my general routine, but I could still perhaps look at ways of supporting writers in this way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really hope libraries everywhere are open to suggestions from their patrons! After all, that is the community they serve, right? But I’m sure the process varies from place to place. Mine makes it so easy to do—not that I want to overwhelm them with so many suggestions that they tune me out. But I don’t think one or two suggestions a year is too many. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a really great way to support our favorite authors. I’ve heard of doing this with bookstores, but I hadn’t thought of doing it with libraries. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think libraries get overlooked when so many publishers, editors, agents, and authors are focused on sales. But libraries are a great way to bring a book to the attention of a sizable number of potential readers. And then some of those readers might just decide to buy a copy for themselves—as well as any future books. I think it’s a win-win situation all around!

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  5. I’m not sure if our library has this system but it’s definitely worth a try. I never thought of it this way and what a great writer to support fellow writers. My library website is very cool and functional so it may be it’s there and I’ve missed it. Thanks JM.

    Holy moley! That snow. I hope you have lots of soup. Stay warm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure every library has its own system for handling patron recommendations. I wish they could all be as user-friendly as the one my library has. 🙂 Sure, some readers wouldn’t go out and buy the book after they finished. But others likely would—or at least keep an eye out for more books by that author. And a recommendation to a friend might result in the friend buying the book. I know I’ve later bought some books after first reading them in the library!

      That snow is still causing a lot of headaches. Last week, my husband and I brought home work we could do here, and we’ve pretty much stayed inside except for shoveling and a quick trip to the grocery store. Tomorrow we’ll see about the commute!

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  6. This is a great article, JM. Thank you for posting it. I think most of us didn’t realize we could have a say in what our library stocks. Nice to know they might be receptive to our wishes. Off to share this on Facebook…

    Oh, and by the way, how weird is it that here in NE Ohio all our snow has melted? (Not that we even had much to begin with.) I’m looking outside the window at green grass right now. I know it won’t last, but considering it’s the end of January, I’ll thoroughly enjoy it. Sorry you got so much though. Bet all that snow limits an archaeologist’s work to indoors!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just realized there’s no Facebook tab included among your ‘share’ buttons. Did you plan it that way, or have you just not added it yet? I’ll hold off sharing it until I hear back from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now that’s interesting. Because when I look at the post, the Facebook tab/button is right next to the Tweet tab/button under “Share this.” But I’ve noticed several times over the last few months that WordPress doesn’t always reload those buttons and the “likes.” If you still don’t see it, you might try Ctrl-F5 to force a hard reload of the page.

        Please let me know if you still don’t find it!

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        • I went back and looked. There’s a tab that says “Log in.” I thought it was for LinkedIn, but when I clicked on it, it’s telling me I have to log into FB with my personal site, not my page. That’s why I didn’t see it. Guess it won’t let me share the post directly to my public page. Weird. Oh well, I’ll just paste the link in over there. Thanks for checking!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well that’s a bit of a pain! I’m sure lots of folks with pages (writers, businesses, artists, etc.) would like to easily link to their FB page. Get on it, Zuck! 🙂

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            • It wasn’t that big of a deal to go there directly and share it, but then it doesn’t show up as a share in your stats. Some articles I can post directly to my public page, others not. I guess WP falls into the ‘not’ category.

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    • I guess I never realized that most people didn’t know about library recommendations. But when it came up in the comments on a few blog posts last year, I thought I should do one about it. With presses, editors, agents, and writers often focused on sales, it’s no surprise that the thought of approaching libraries sometimes slips through the cracks. And yet libraries are a great way to get a book in front of many potential readers—some of whom then might buy the book. And, hopefully, future books!

      Yeah, most traditional fieldwork will go on hold. But in areas where we’re monitoring construction activities, well, some folks will be working through it!

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    • Ah, wonderful! Now my other English readers can know that their libraries may take recommendations, too. I was hoping that was the case! And I hope some folks will be inspired to suggest ideas.

      To my great surprise—and relief—we never lost power during the storm, even with strong gusty winds. But I do wonder when we will have more than a single-lane track plowed through our neighborhood streets! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this, JM. I thought we could do something like this, but wasn’t sure how. This is great info.

    Are the streets cleared enough to where people are able to get back to work? We had one foot of snow before Thanksgiving, and since then, it’s only been an inch or two here and there. It hasn’t melted though … still piled up on sides of roads. Some of it turned to ice.

    Stay safe and warm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Around our neighborhood, the plows made a single pass to clear a single-width path. So meeting a car coming the other direction is still a challenge. The main roads are mostly clear, but sometimes a lane still partially disappears. Amazingly, mail was delivered today. Our neighbor cleared a walking path to our “duplex” mailbox (2 on one post), and that must have been good enough. Some folks, though, still have 4–6 feet of snow blocking theirs. Schools are closed for the week, and our trash pick up should begin again next week. The reality is simply that 35 inches of snow in a day is not easily dealt with!

      I think turning to ice is the worst that can happen. So many people are bad enough drivers in good conditions. But when you add ice to the mix? Look out. So stay safe on your roads, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great idea post. I think I knew this (way down deep in the cobwebs of my brain), but I’m grateful for the reminder. I’ll have to make it a point to recommend some books this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad readers are finding this post helpful. It’s really a simple way for us to help spread the word about books that others may enjoy, too. A total win-win situation in my book. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope that snow has eased off a bit. I was told many years ago to take my books to the local library, but I forgot. I got an email from the National Library requesting my work, but I forgot about that too. Now I’m sounding like I’ve got some kind of ‘forgetting disease’, but I’m just not very good at promoting my work! I must get back onto it 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love the library!!! Every since I was a kid getting Judy Blume books 🙂 The town we live in is pretty small and our library is so tiny. I tend to go to the nice, big library in the town I used to live in to borrow books – but I’ve never recommended. Maybe that would help my tiny town library to improve their inventory!

    The storm should definitely make it into one of your stories and I know you’ll do it justice. Funny how my previous WIP kept knocking on my mind’s door during the storm and even after. It’s the WIP I kind of gave up on because I “pants-ed” my way through it and couldn’t get it under control, but there’s a blizzard in the storm and winter plays a big role in it, so going through the storm — even how the moon reflected so brightly off the fresh fallen snow brought scenes back to me. It was fun thinking about those scenes and characters. I allowed to let myself think about returning to it to rewrite and edit it … but I’ve been making good, slow, progress on my current WIP and I don’t want to get distracted from it. Part I is “done” (at least with this round of edits) and I’m a few chapters into Part II.

    Slow and steady wins the race … at least that’s what I’ve heard.
    Anyway, thanks for the tip on the library recommendations, I’m going to look into it!!! Stay warm!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Small libraries have a tough time. Funding is usually short! We’ll often donate books for library sales, but sometimes the libraries have asked if they could keep some of our donations for the shelves. We always say yes. I can’t think of a better place for those books to be. 🙂

      Frustrating as it can be to have two stories jostling for attention, I’d rather face that situation than have none of the characters talking to me! Although when they’re all chattering at once, it can be hard to concentrate on any one WIP! But I’m glad to hear your continuing with your current WIP because I think you have a really promising story there. 🙂

      I’m not sure if I’ll win any races, and even the steady part is a bit sketchy just now, but I’m reminding myself that the important thing is to enjoy the writing. It’s not supposed to be a chore! Hopefully as the snow melts, my Muse will thaw out, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, I’m glad to have my characters calling out to me asking for attention! It’s funny how it cycles and I’m finally okay with it. I’m hoping your Muse shows herself very very soon!!!

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  11. This is very interesting. It prompted me to have a look at my local library website, and I found a Writers Group that meet there once a month. Now I just have to sort out the transport problems, but that never stopped Columbus when he was searching for new lands to conquer, so I’m sure I’ll find a way

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy that checking your library’s website led you to a writer’s group to meet with! Isn’t it funny how searching for one bit of information can lead to something pleasantly unexpected as well? And it didn’t hurt that Columbus had the financial backing of the Queen of Spain. Think of your transport options if you had his connections!

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  12. Great post, JM! University and college libraries dominate our area, so I usually reserve my trips there for research, not pleasure reading. BUT your post reminded me that – duh! – I used to use the library for my fiction needs all the time! A comics creator friend of mine talked about this, too: how a library might represent only a single sale in the short run, but success in readership is as much about gaining eyes and interest as it is about generating sales numbers.

    Similar to this, our local train station has a book exchange shelf, where travelers can drop off a book or pick one up at their leisure. I can’t sell my own book, but I put one on the shelf there. After a few weeks, I checked, and it wasn’t on the shelf anymore. Most likely it just got thrown out, but it still makes me smile to think somebody did, in fact, pick it up and give it a chance. I’ve had extra copies of friends’ books, too, that I’ve put there, in the hope that others can find a little bit of the joy that I got from reading them.

    Hopefully, you continue to clear more of that snow you got. It was a whallop!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mayumi! E-readers and steady jobs can certainly make it easier to buy books rather than get them from a library. For a long time, that’s what my husband and I did. And then when it came time to move, all those books suddenly made their weight known. So many of them went to my hometown library for their annual sale. Except many ended up on the library shelves instead! They used ours to replace some that were in rough condition and to add to the history shelves. We were perfectly happy with that. 🙂

      I love the idea of the book exchange shelf at the train station! I’ve seen a few of those little “microlibraries” on some neighborhood streets, and that’s another great idea. You never know when a book picked up in such a place will inspire someone or make their day a bit brighter.

      Luckily, we’ve been above freezing all this week and should stay there for the foreseeable future. That’s helping to melt the snow. Which probably means the single pass completed through our neighborhood by the city plows is all we’ll see! Ah well. It was historic. 🙂

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  13. That’s great that you can just fill out a form to request a book for your library – and it makes the acquisition person’s job easier too. I’ve been thinking of going back to using the library more now that Kindle prices have jumped so I’ll have to look into requesting some books. It’s silly to think I’ll keep looking for Kindle deals when really all books are free if you use the library.

    I thought about you during that snowstorm! We didn’t get nearly as much – only about six inches so that was kind of disappointing. I keep hoping for more so that we’ll get a Snow Day (or maybe even a few days) off from work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve noticed the past few months how so many e-books have skyrocketed in price. $12.99? I don’t think so! So I’m reading many more “newer” and indie authors and enjoying them for significantly less money. And I’ve been checking out a lot more books from the library rather than buying others. Paper, I’m willing to pay for. Electronic, not so much. I can’t believe the costs to produce e-books are anywhere near those of the print version!

      I would gladly have sent this snow to people who wanted it. 🙂 And you’re more than welcome to the next storm that comes along. 😉 At least our above-freezing temperatures are slowly melting the piles. But I think that means the city won’t come back and expand the “emergency” single path they did in our neighborhood!

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  14. Another cool thing about library books, sometimes a person reads a book and decided “This one would make a great birthday/Christmas/get well present” and the go off and buy a copy for a gift. (And having read/previewed it, knows it will be perfect)
    No stone left unturned is important in sales (and use time effectively) especially if an author is having to do so much of the promotion themselves. Capture that new reader – and point them to an other books by the same author!
    Excellent post ( maybe re-blog one a year as a reminder.)
    Hey – be happy with the cold: it kills mosquitoes! (now if the water just drains off quickly before the warm up.) Love the picture!!!! (Sorry you have to deal with it all – but snug and warm!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s a great point I should have mentioned! Yes, turning that “free read” into purchases for others can easily lead to more sales! And as Maggie found above, getting her book into the library got her some appearances and sales from those. To me, getting in front of an audience is as important as marketing. And by removing the pressure to “sell” and potentially causing people to bolt as a result, maybe those library readers will be more likely to buy down the line.

      Alas, our cold didn’t last long enough for any nasty bug killing. We’ve been above freezing all week, and DC could hit the 60s next week. We’ll soon have far too many puddles to deal with!

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  15. My local library loves recommendations. I’ve done it a few times, both for traditional and indie. The indie author is actually a friend of mine who lives in Maine. When the library found out there is a local author who’s written a mystery series, they invited her to come and do an author talk!

    I did run into trouble with trying to get a traditionally published MG novel acquired by the library, all because it is published in Australia and hasn’t even hit the US markets yet. I guess it’s too expensive or something? Anyway, that was a bummer — but all in all, I agree, use your library!!

    I thought of you and all that snow. We’re having a warm spell this week — mid-40s — so what little snow we have is going away. Can’t say I’m really complaining, I’m still recovering from last year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear that other libraries are receptive to patron recommendations! They’re great places to learn about new (or new to us) writers. I think it could be an enlightening study to poll library patrons and find out who has read a book and then purchased it (or others by an author) for themselves or as a gift. I bet there would be a fair number.

      Hmm, maybe it is too expensive to get an international work, or possibly the local government can’t do the currency exchanges for some reason. But that’s too bad because there are some wonderful books not yet published here in the States.

      The snow is slowly melting. We’ve been above freezing most of the week, and we’re supposed to get some 50s next week. I’m ready to be done with snow for a long time!

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    • Thanks, Kourtney! I was surprised that so many people didn’t realize they could do this. And Philosopher Mouse raised the great point that someone who reads the book in the library might decide to buy it as a gift for someone, which of course leads to more sales. Totally a win-win situation all around. 🙂

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  16. They seem to be closing libraries around here and they do seem to be on their way out if it weren’t for armies of volunteers. They should be doing more for local writers.

    OMG on the snow front! 3 foot of snow in one day is beyond fathomable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate the thought of libraries closing! They offer so many services in addition to books. Cutting their funding or closing them is so short-sighted. I’m happy to say that I always see a good number of people in my local branch.

      That snow was a bit overwhelming. 😉 But luckily much of it has melted with warmer temperatures. I could do without anymore for the rest of the winter, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: How To Support Your Favorite Writers — Library Recommendations | Kourtney Heintz's Journal

  18. This is such a great idea. One we should pass on to all of our friends to recommend a book (or two, or three) to their local library, including our own books! I have been too shy to approach my library about my books. Maybe I need to recruit a friend to do it. :-0 Stay warm and cozy inside. What a snow scene…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get that shyness factor. I suffer from a double whammy—I’m introverted AND shy. That’s why I love the fact that I can make recommendations on my library’s website—I don’t have to approach anyone! 🙂

      60s today, but the weather folks are playing with that “S word” again for later in the week. Noooo!

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      • The “S” word is not allowed in our household. 🙂
        Thanks for the idea of just using the library’s website. I was thinking I’d have to go IN and TALk to the librarian. And yes, I’m very shy also. That’s why I love e-mail so much. xo

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  19. Mathair and I are constant haunts at the local library simply because we view it as our sanctuary. I volunteered at a library for more than five years as well…. and yet still I wasn’t aware that patrons could simply recommend that a book be added to the shelves. That’s awesome!!!! It’s been pretty snowy here in the Smokey Mountains. We’ve just now started to warm up a bit. Like you, we’ve been utilizing our snowed in days for writing. Have a great week.

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    • I’m really getting bad about getting to comments! I think the winter is wearing on my, as it usually does. At least we’ll be sunny and in the 60s today, but have another chance for snow later in the week. My fingers are crossed for that fizzling out!

      Isn’t amazing how familiar we can be with a place and then find out there’s something about it we never knew? That’s one way life stays interesting!

      I hope your writing is going far better than mine!

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