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Make the Most of the IBPA Library Mailing Programs

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Last fall we were looking for a way to promote eight of our titles to collection development librarians. The books were middle grade and young adult novels, middle grade nonfiction, and picture books. Our budget for this campaign was limited so we had to get creative. Sound familiar?

More and more publishers are looking at how to do more with less, and we’re no exception. An advertisement in a national trade publication exceeded our budget, so we turned to the list of marketing programs available through IBPA. An email from Terry Nathan reminding us of the deadlines to reserve space for the upcoming library mailings couldn’t have hit our inboxes at a better time. At a cost of $215 per mailing, how could we say no?

The IBPA library mailing program mails members’ promotional flyers to collection development librarians throughout the United States, using lists of public libraries with budgets over $25,000 a year. All mailings go third class bulk. When you participate in a mailing, your contact information goes on the list so you get the mailing too and you can track delivery time.

Participants can choose among three subsets of the program:

• the public library mailing to 3,900 libraries

• the K–12 library mailing to 4,000 libraries

• the college, junior college, and university library mailing to 3,200 libraries

IBPA’s library mailings are ideal for members who work with distributors and/or wholesalers, since most libraries prefer to order from such intermediaries.

The public library and K–12 library mailings fit our needs, so we booked a spot in each and created a flyer (shown above) to use for both mailings, which we shared with our distributor.

When we tracked sales for three months for the titles in the mailings, we found increases for a number of them through our distributor, and we attribute the increases to the mailing.

Our involvement in the IBPA library mailing program was a success and worth every penny. Robert Rosenwald, president at Poisoned Pen Press, says much the same thing about his experience: “We’ve been using the library mailing program for the last three or four years. Because we publish three new titles a month, we can use it monthly, but even if we didn’t publish as many we’d use the program at least quarterly. In conversations with librarians at ALA and PLA, I find that they really appreciate the program and keep the flyers.”

For Best Results

With budgets being stretched almost like a Gumby doll, it’s important to choose marketing programs that have a history of success and that fit your promotional strategies. Detailed information about the library mailings is available at ibpa-online.org. Here are some tips on making the most of participating.

Identify which titles you want to promote and then determine which mailing(s) will suit you best.

Create a landing page on your Web site for the title(s) in the flyer, and track hits to the page for two


months following a mailing. If your hosting company does not offer traffic reports for your site,

grab your Webmaster and a cup of coffee and head over to google.com/analytics. Adding a few lines

of code to your site will let you determine the geographic locations of your visitors, how long they

spend on your site and on specific pages, and whether they got to your site directly or via a link on

another site or a search engine.

Make your flyer professional in terms of both copy and design. If you need help in these areas,

contact the IBPA office.

Be sure all required information appears in your flyer. This includes:

* category for acquisition librarian 

* ISBN and price 

* publishing company name and address 

* a list of major wholesalers/distributors that carry the title

Include quotes from any reviews in major trade media and from influential and recognizable people

in your book’s field. If the book is a new release, list reviews for the author’s previous books along

with any awards the author/illustrator has won.

Librarians may also like to see each book’s Contents page, along with a brief description of the

content and bullet points about how this title will help/inform their patrons. Don’t write a novel

about your novel. Keep descriptions simple.

Avoid time-sensitive offers, because postal schedules vary and not all libraries have the

same fiscal year.

Include ordering information in your flyer, and be as specific as possible.

Say which major library wholesalers carry your titles and provide the name of your distributor.

Send a copy of your flyer to your distributor so the distributor can arrange to have enough stock

on hand, and so sales reps can use the flyer at trade shows and during sales calls.

Call the IBPA office if you have any questions. And don’t be surprised if you have another three or

four marketing ideas by the time you hang up the phone. The IBPA staff has a wealth of them.

Stephanie Stewart is the grants coordinator at Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited (fitzhenry.ca), the parent company of Fifth House Publishers and Red Deer Press Inc. She has served on the IBPA board since 2009. To reach her, email stephanie@fitzhenry.ca.

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