With the release of my first book, The Ascension Legacy - Book 1: The Shamed Ranger, I have been looking for ways to market my book and gain additional public exposure. I have promoted my book heavily on social media. I did a couple of giveaways through my social media during the pandemic to replace the launch parties and book signing events that were unable to be held (thanks COVID). I sent promotional copies to friends around the country, gifted copies to people I interacted with through the course of daily life, and drove around town with a copy on my car’s dash so any passers by that looked would see the cover. I was trying literally anything that came to mind to help spread the word.
Then one day my wife and I were talking and the idea of our local library came up. “What if you had your book in the library?”
It made perfect sense on the surface to try and get local libraries to include my book in their collections as a means to expose my work to a wider audience. All that I needed to do was to figure out how to get my book among the shelves that fill those spaces.
Research did not turn up much at the time. I could find information about a number of libraries across the great state of Texas but virtually no details on any of their websites about a process of submitting a book for inclusion among their collection or any criteria for selection that books would have to meet.
After a few days of failed searches and not much information gleaned from my efforts, I decided to switch gears and just reach out to a few libraries. When the book was first released in June/July of 2020 there were still a lot of places that were shutdown because of the virus but by the early spring of 2021 that was no longer the case. With their doors open again I could call or walk in to find the details that I desperately sought.
What I found out was eye opening.
It turns out that libraries have become more selective about which books grace their shelves. And, as one librarian put it to me, because almost anyone can be published today through self-publishing services there simply isn’t enough shelf space available to hold every book that rolls off a printer.
It was a bit of a blow to have her so bluntly suggest that self-published authors are largely excluded from their shelves simply for being self-published authors but she then went on to explain the criteria required of any author, self-published or traditionally published, to have their work added to the library, which helped to ease the previous blow once I had heard her out.
It turns out that there are review journals where books are professionally reviewed and those reviews are published. Libraries, book stores, and even publishers leverage the reviews published by those trusted journals to see which books or authors are deserving of their attention.
That librarian gave me the name of 3 key review journals that they used in that facility to determine which books were worthy to occupy the prime real estate space among their shelves. Speaking with other librarians (or at least library representatives) I found that those three names came up pretty frequently. It seems that there are other similar services out there but these 3 were some of the most popular in determining if a book was worthy of being in many libraries around the state.
Key Review Journals:
But it was more than just being an entry in their databases that would qualify a work as worthy. Based on conversations with multiple people it seems the most magical number that repeated itself in conjunction with these journals was 2, and more specifically it was that a book had to have a minimum of 2 positive reviews in at least 1 of those journals to be eligible for consideration. The more positive reviews a book had and the more journals those reviews appeared in added to the work’s chances of being accepted. Given the choice between a book with only 2 positive reviews in 1 journal and another book with 6 positive reviews in 2 journals the book with more positive reviews was more likely to be chosen
Beyond that it seemed that other criteria varied based on the needs of each library. If one library was in greater need of crime dramas then my high fantasy book was less likely to be added to the collection regardless of the number of positive reviews. After all, if I go shopping to buy paper towels I’m more likely the buy the best rated paper towels instead of choosing to buy an equally or higher rated box of cereal. I need paper towels so I’m going to get paper towels. The same concept applies to libraries looking to bolster specific sections or genres.
The bottom line though after speaking with the various individuals was that without reviews of my book(s) in those journals there is little chance that I will ever get a copy of anything I get published to appear in one of those libraries. And getting my work submitted to those journals is a story in itself and maybe one I’ll share later.