Most authors and publishers know that library programs can be good book promotion tools. But are they taking full advantage of the possibilities? Library Journal editor Francine Fialkoff doesn’t think so. “Publishers shouldn’t just think in terms of author-signings and readings,” she says. “There are so many programs possible on so many subjects. Publicists should call libraries and suggest programs that are right for them.”
The new website Authors@YourLibrary is designed to help with this process. It lets publicists, publishers, and authors pinpoint the libraries that will be receptive to specific author programs. Created by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the Public Programs Office of the American Library Association (ALA), Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA), and Library Journal (LJ), the site is an efficient platform for bringing libraries and authors together.
is geared to two audiences. The first audience–authors, publishers, and publicists–can browse its “Library Database” to identify libraries that sponsor speakers for book readings, special events, fundraisers, lectures, panel discussions, ongoing series, or book groups. They can also identify the types of spaces and audience capacity each library offers.
The other inte
. audience for the database–librarians–can search its “Publisher Database” to find presenters.
Browsing at Authors@YourLibrary confirms the diversity of presentation opportunities. In addition to sharing expertise related to their books in lectures and workshops, authors can offer storytelling or advice for aspiring writers based on their own experiences. More specifically, the Arcadia Public Library in California notes that their “population is 50% Chinese” so authors with themes relevant to this audience would be welcome, while Florida’s Broward County Library expresses an interest in “History Anything.” The Wyoming State Library in Cheyenne likes experts in “Western Americana,” and Kentucky’s Bowling Green Public Library brings in speakers on “southern literature.” The Skokie Public Library in Illinois claims to be open to “Everything!”
Promo and Other Plusses
The site’s Library Database also shows that many libraries do substantial promotion of their programs with activities that include sending newsletters, notices, and press releases to local media and appropriate organizations; creating and disseminating brochures, posters, flyers, events calendars, bookmarks; e-mailing announcements; and placing paid ads.
Funding for events featuring authors varies from library to library. LJ’s Fialkoff notes that most libraries–like bookstores–feel that speakers shouldn’t expect to be paid since they are getting a forum for publicity and, in almost all cases, an opportunity for direct book sales. Though it’s not unheard of for libraries to pay for speakers, most libraries in the Library Database note that honorariums and expenses are covered only in “some cases.”
Listings on the Library Database report that many libraries have both sizable auditoriums and impressive attendance track records. The Detroit Public Library can accommodate an audience of up to 375 and South Carolina’s Charleston County Library holds 250. Seating for 100 seems to be the norm.
Currently, the Authors@YourLibraryinterface is a hunt-and-peck setup. The Library Database is a listing of libraries by state and city; the Publisher Database is an alphabetical listing. Eventually, the creators of the database hope to supply a more sophisticated search engine, allowing users to search by such elements as topic or author name.
It’s simple for authors and publishers to sign up for inclusion on the database. The publisher form requests information on the genres and topics matching your upcoming books, expectations regarding expenses or honorariums, lead times, etc.
A related website, Authors on the Highway, does something that Authors@YourLibrarydoes not. It lists author appearances, though it has not, in the past, listed authors involved in library events. According to Fialkoff, the plan is to integrate these two sites eventually.
The vast majority of libraries now listed on the Authors@YourLibrarysite are public libraries. As an academic librarian, I predict the presence of academic libraries will increase, given nationwide higher education budget shortfalls and the consequent need to find creative ways to bring donors to libraries. Ideally, special libraries, such as those associated with nonprofit groups, will also discover this site.
At this writing, some 350 libraries are represented on Authors@Your Library. Since the site is new and word is now getting around that number should grow. There are about 16,000 public libraries, including branches, in the U.S. today and the American Library Association estimates 117,418 libraries overall. Now that’s promotional potential.
Ellen Metter is author of “Cheerfully Childless: The Humor Book for Those Who Hesitate to Procreate” (http://www.cheerfullychildless.com). She works as a librarian at the Auraria Library in Denver, the library for the University of Colorado at Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and the Community College of Denver.
[title] Accessing Authors@YourLibrary
One of the easiest ways to get to the Authors@YourLibrary site is to go to the main Web page of Library Journal (libraryjournal.com) and click on the box for the authors’ program in the right-hand column. This site will also soon be linked from the home pages of Publisher’s Weekly (http://publishersweekly.reviewsnews.com/) and School Library Journal (http://slj.reviewsnews.com). Authors on the Highway is currently linked from these three publication sites on the left side.