Tag Archive | guest post

The internet paid for my book to be published – a guest blog post

This is a guest post written by Victoria Corva – https://tootplanet.space/@vicorva


People keep asking me to talk about how to run a successful kickstarter, and I guess I did that — run a successful kickstarter, I mean. But it feels disingenuous to say it. My kickstarter was a success because it fully funded, but the amount I was looking for was not high, and I don’t feel that the credit lies with me. I wasn’t looking to launch a bestseller career or get my name in articles or anything like that, and that’s just as well because I didn’t.

What I was trying to do was to get together enough money to publish my book. A small, specific dream. To cover proofreading, cover art, and ISBNs. I needed about £1000 to get all three, but I was so desperate to publish that I figured I would ask for just enough to cover proofreading (about £700) and would somehow pull the rest from my already drowning bank account.

That might not seem like a risky thing. £700 might not seem like a lot to ask from friends and family, and kickstarters regularly fund with thousands of pounds. But I knew my chances better. Continue reading

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What I learned from the years I did NaNoWrimo (and from the years I didn’t), a Guest Post

The below is another guest post, this one from Nasim Mansuri!

What I learned from the years I did NaNoWrimo (and from the years I didn’t)

I wrote my first novel ever during November 2008. I was twelve years old.

 2008

When I decided to take on the challenge, I did it mainly to prove that when I said ‘When I grow up I want to be a writer’ I actually meant it. I quickly immersed myself in the forums, and after deciding on a fantasy novel that involved travelling, metaphors and a unicorn, I wrote it.

I learned that it is possible to come up with an idea only a few days before you begin to write it, and succeed.  I learned that it doesn’t take a wise person with decades of accumulated experience to write a novel. Becoming a successful novelist isn’t really a distant, unattainable goal; in fact, successful novelists themselves aren’t really that distant: names I recognized from bookstores popped up in pep talks, and many of the people I spoke to in the forums had links to their latest published novel in their profile.

In 2008, I learned that I can write a novel in 30 days, and more importantly: I can become a novelist.

2009

By the time October came around the corner, I was already in full novel-planning mode. I was itching to write, so when the clock hit midnight and October ended, I hit the ground running.

I quickly realized just how useful it is to outline your plot. I knew where the story was going, and I had time to focus on small details like foreshadowing and what color the main character’s bedroom would be.

I discovered a pattern:

1.  Musing.

2. Research.

3. Quotes/excerpts.

4. Outline.

5. Writing.

In 2009, I established a method to my writing which I continue to employ with everything I write.

 

2010

I had a story which had been floating around in my head for over a year, and it was epic, with hundreds of characters that had to be rendered perfectly for the story to work.

I felt like my plot had only just been born, and it wasn’t ready to be written.

So I didn’t write it.

In 2010, I learned that sometimes just have to wait for the story to be ready.

 

2011

I decided I was going to write it.

I plunged into preparation, or as I had begun to call it, thanks to twitter, #NaNoPrep.

Twitter meant that I could find writing buddies just by searching #NaNoWriMo. I discovered @NaNoWordSprints, which got me through the worst of my second-to-third-week’s writer’s block. I met people on MSN Messenger and we had word wars. This was a community, and it was a supportive one.

This realization took me to hundreds of people’s profiles and blogs, where I learned so much more about an art that I was only beginning to understand. There were so many different resources, and even just tweeting ‘I don’t think I can write 500 more words’ brought in encouraging messages from writers around the globe.

In 2011, I learned that I don’t have to do this writing thing alone. In fact, I can’t do it alone.

 

2012

I cheated by continuing my 2011 winning novel, and I quickly put in practice all the things I had learned the years before. I told as many people as I could about it.

And I learned something else: writing a novel gives you power.

People listen to a person who has written a book, because you have proven that you really do have something to say.

At the age of sixteen, I suddenly discovered that people around me actually wanted to hear what I had to share. They wanted to learn how someone like me, who was ridiculously young and hadn’t even graduated from high school yet, could write three full-length novels.

I began to understand the impact that my hobby could have on the world around me. This career could give me a voice, and I would have to put that voice to good use.

In 2012, I learned that being a successful novelist and being a published novelist doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing. One can be either… or one can be both.

 

2013

I didn’t write a novel. I didn’t have a story, but I did have a staggering amount of other things occupying my mind and time.

However, in the long gap between November 2013 and November 2014 I invested my time in learning how to write in my own time, when the pressure and excitement of NaNoWriMo wasn’t on my shoulders. I helped my fellow Wrimos edit their novels, and doing so taught me how to spot things that needed to be corrected or reworded. This, in turn, improved my own writing, and I taught myself to be disciplined with what I did.

In 2013 I learned that you don’t have to write a new novel to improve your novel-writing-skills.

 

2014

Suddenly, this year, nothing works for me. Outlining doesn’t seem to work, I have yet to properly do a Word Sprint, and I’ve even started questioning if I’m capable of writing this novel.

Why am I suddenly incapable of doing things I’ve done nearly every year? What’s wrong with me?

In 2014, I’m learning that it doesn’t matter what you did last yearThere are no formulas when it comes to writing.

I could sit here and write a ton of advice, saying this-and-that worked for me… but in the end, you’re the one that has to discover what works for you. Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you do better under pressure or on your own time? Are you going to write professionally or not? Do you let others read your work or do you guard it all very carefully? What genre is your genre? Coffee or tea?

Every year is different, so the answers to these questions will change with every novel you write. And that’s okay.

That’s NaNoWriMo. That’s writing.

 

Nasim Mansuri is currently working on an alternate history science fiction mystery novel. Originally from Paraguay yet currently volunteering on the other side of the globe, she is an avid reader and writer of both original fiction and fan fiction. You’re welcome to contact her through her blog (http://nasimmansuri.wordpress.com/) and/or her twitter (https://twitter.com/nasimwrites).

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/843243.html. You can comment here or there.

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From Nanowrimo to Publication: A Guest Post by Jeff Cook

The below is a guest post from Jeff Cook:

First, Lyn, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear on your blog. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Now for the details. Here’s the things I’ve learned about the process of taking a Nanowrimo project to publication. Now, I’m not a best-selling author, but I have published two books, with two more coming out early next year (one self-published, one traditionally published.) I’ve also been accepted in a number of anthologies. I can’t tell you how to hit it big, land the high end agent, and retire… but I have learned a few things about putting out a book that will garner pretty good reviews from reviewers I’ve never met, getting past the gates of the publishing world (there’s a lot of them), self-publishing vs. trad-publishing, and putting out a book you can be proud of. I have a long way to go, and a lot to learn, but within a year of publishing, the books are at least helping make a significant dent in the bills. So take from this what you will.

First, other authors are NOT your competition. We’re in this together. Trying to bring down anyone else’s work does not benefit you. Most authors that I’ve met have become my biggest resources. We network, we help each other find places to submit short stories to build our readership, we work on projects together, and we give each other advice based on experience. A lot of people much further along in this process than me have been a tremendous amount of help. I belong to a group of authors who help share the costs of tables at street fairs, book events and conventions, and sometimes give each other bits of editing and critique help. I push other writers that I’ve worked with and come to respect every chance I get, and while it doesn’t go both ways every time, sometimes it does. (And when it does, you’d be amazed how much more impact recommendations from others have on making some sales, instead of people trusting the author. Of course the author says their book is great. But when one of their friends, or an author they like says it, they’re more prone to check the other book out.)

Second, Nanowrimo is fantastic. Writing is such a lonely thing, its great to have that community and people striving for the goal right along with you. However, remember that your Nanowrimo project is not a novel, even if you hit way more than 50k words. What you have is a first draft. The number of first drafts in the world that were truly ready for publication right off are very, very few. Jack Kerouac could do it. You are not Jack Kerouac.

If you really want to reach publication, take your book seriously and treat your ideas with the love they deserve. Edit them viciously. Trim the fat: get rid of things that don’t advance the story. Kill characters, or consider letting characters live after all if they still served a purpose. Revise and rewrite, then read aloud, and do it again. You’d be amazed what you’ll catch when you’re hearing your work. After you have the big chunks cut out, fix your grammar. Do multiple read-throughs for grammatical mistakes.

Ok, so you’ve done three or four editing passes and major rewrites. Now you have something you can show to an editor. Now, a few people can edit their own work. Two authors I know, James Baldwin and Kennedy J. Quinn are phenomenal at this. I wish I had their skill at it. I’m just not a good editor. My talents lie with putting lots and lots of words on a page quickly. I can revise and rewrite, and I can help pick out parts I’m not happy with, but I know I need help. I’ve found that the vast, vast majority of writers I’ve met either realize this same thing about themselves, or should. Be brutally honest, and get unbiased eyes on your story. This is for 3 reasons.

1. You HAVE missed things. You’re too close to your story.

2. Because you’re too close to the story, you may be too in love with it, and gloss over scenes without a purpose, or that don’t read the way you’re picturing in your head.

3. Because you’re too close to the story, you probably hate parts of it. A lot of people are their own worst critics. Get fresh eyes that you trust on it, or eyes that have experience at this stage, professional skill, and no attachment to the story, and let them find their favorite parts.

Next, please believe your editor, and eventually your beta readers. Too many people rush to publication with terrible material because they only let biased people read their work, or people who would just tell them what they want to hear. Find people who will be vicious, then at least take a serious look at what they’re talking about. This doesn’t mean change every single thing they say. Its still your story, but if you ask them to be rough on your story, don’t hate them when they are.

Additionally, tell them to also tell you the good things, aiming for about one positive for every 3-4 negatives. Nothing, and I mean nothing hurts more in edits than having people who read the beta draft later ask why you cut their favorite scene – and having to tell them that it was because they didn’t tell you it was their favorite scene, or you’d have not cut it to make other edits easier.

Finally, look at your cover art. Are you a professional level visual artist? If not, find someone who is, whether a friend, or someone you pay. Yes, the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” is popular, but most people do. At the very least, looking at a cover makes the first impression on a reader, answering the question “Does the author think enough of their work to produce a professional looking final product?”

I think I’ve run out of space here, but I hope this helps a few people in taking the immediate next steps once they have their draft done for the month. Good luck, everyone!

Thank you,
Jeffrey Cook

Jeffrey Cook is the author of Dawn of Steam: First Light (http://www.amazon.com/dp/149427650X/ ) and Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5D9BK4/) His third book, Mina Cortez: Boquets to Bullets (a YA science fiction novel) will be published through Fire & Ice Press in February, while the third and (for now) final book of the Dawn of Steam series will be out in April. He has also contributed to publications for Steampunk Trails Magazine, Free-Flowing Stories and Disaster Strikes anthologies, and Deep7 Games out of Seattle.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/841769.html. You can comment here or there.

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NaNoWriMo Tips, a guest post from thebonesofferalletters

The below is a guest post on NaNoWriMo, written by [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters. Check out their Patreon, too, (here).

So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost upon us. From the first of November to the end of the month writers all over the world make a mad dash to reach 50,000 words and, ideally, complete a novel.

NaNoWriMo can be a wonderful experience, you can find a flourishing writing community in the month of November and potentially use the momentum you gain during the month o propel you through the rest of the year.

I personally have found that it gets a little tricky keeping things together during the month though. Between having to balance school or work, holidays, and life in general, NaNo gets a lot trickier sometimes.

Luckily for anyone who’s facing a full schedule, there is plenty of advice out there on how to have a successful NaNoing experience and I’m here to add to that pile.

So these are my tips to stay sane during November.

1) Clean and maintain your space.

Some people work well with clutter and that’s fine. If you’re one of those people, then disregard this. However, a lot of other people find it distracting and a way to procrastinate.

Ignoring the impulse to clean instead of write, having a clear and neat writing and existing space can really help some feel at ease. Without the clutter, your mind can sometimes not be as jumpy and erratic.

Make sure to not only clean the space but maintain it. If you want, you can even turn this into a daily ritual. Clean and straighten your writing space and then sit down and write.

2) Don’t be afraid to work on more than one project.

While NaNo is about finishing things, you shouldn’t let that confine what you do. I’ve been doing NaNo for years and I have found that, when I try and work on a single project, the month becomes significantly more difficult to get through than when I am working with multiple projects.

There are articles out there that put it into better words than I on why this is a good and beneficial way to tackle NaNoing but form my experience, I find that I can plow through things much easier when I am not mono-focused. I don’t get stuck as often and I don’t get bored with what I’m writing because when I do, I switch to my other project and let things stew in my mind for the one I’m faltering on.

3) Get up and move around every few hours

This is something that I’m not always good at but I find very useful when I do. The internet and writing is a big part of my life and I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen thinking about words. However, I find that, when I take a break from doing that every couple of hours, I’m able to come back and be refreshed and have the capability of plowing through more work than if I had stayed at the screen and didn’t bother to stretch.

4) Pull people into the madness.

Writing is said to be a solitary act but the fun of NaNo is that you can find a bunch of people at all stages of ability doing it at the same time. Reach out to them and say hi. Talk to them about your writing and listen to them talk about theirs. Enter a dialogue and see what happens.

Alternately if you are someone with anxiety or just not sociable, consider luring your already established people into giving it a go or get them involved in other ways.

Another thing to do with people is to try and get them involved in the plotting and planning of your novel. Give them a reason to be excited for it. Have them name a character, help you develop the plot, or anything else you can consider. Make them be invested in seeing you write this and you’ll have one more cheerleader when you when times are hard and you need motivation.

5) Approach your story in various ways.

A lot of people have internal assumptions about what kind of write they are. Maybe they think they need to plot or that they are the kind of writer who can only do so at night.

Whether this is something that is actually true or not, you should consider trying different approaches to writing, especially when you feel like you’re falling short or feeling stalled Sometimes trying a new method, be it writing in a non-linear fashion, trying to write at a different time of day, outlining or flying by the seat of your pants might just be the thing to help you jar your mind out of the rut it was stuck in.

6)) Don’t slack off on reading

You’ll hear some writers say that they don’t read as much as they used to. They’re too busy writing which is understandable but I think that reading is an absolute essential tool in creating work of your own. Sometimes you need to read the kind of book that reminds you why you write, be it because it’s just that terrible or possibly because it’s that good.

Reading helps us understand what we want to see in fiction and inspires us to create our own. Sometimes we can lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish and I find that reading and maintaining relationship with words beyond trying to commit them myself is a really helpful way to keep me energized about my work and, on the other hand, can leave me feeling out of sorts and unsure when I don’t have reading material that i am working through.

And that’s it! I hope that each of you has a successful November, whether you are writing this month, cheering people on or having nothing to do with this whole NaNoWriMo madness. If you would like to follow me on the NaNo site, I’m crossroadstories and I am happily adding people as NaNo buddies. On the other hand, if you are having doubts, fears, or just need someone to babble at, you can also approach me by contacting me at crossroadstores at gmail or prod me at Livejournal (feralletters) or Dreamwidth (thebonesofferaletters).

Good luck everyone and happy writing!

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/838125.html. You can comment here or there.

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Draconic – or this really isn’t how you should do a fantasy language – A Guest Post

[personal profile] becka_sutton is a fellow webserial author and friend. She has a new book out, Land of Myth, the first book in her Dragon Wars saga.

We share an interest in constructed languages, and today she is going to tell us about Draconic, a language from Dragon Wars.

Draconic – or this really isn’t how you should do a fantasy language (not even one that’s just for naming)

When I started writing The Dragon Wars Saga I had to do some world-building. It was interesting because while I’m not the first (and won’t be the last) writer to create a fantastical rather than hard fantasy world there was precious little advice on the web about how to do the former. I really had to go it alone. One of my previous guest blogs over at Feral Intensity discusses this.

I also needed a naming language – Draconic, which is the formal language of the Dragons in the series. I really didn’t have the faintest about conlanging and I kind of just winged it. This probably wasn’t the best idea, but there you go.

It was lucky because it’s just a naming language – even dragons only use draconic formally – so I didn’t need to work out the grammar in any great detail. But looking back I perhaps should have made a phonetics and phonotactics table. When I need a new draconic name I don’t have a table of permissible sounds and combinations which means I have to work out if the word I’m thinking of sounds right by saying it and comparing it to other names and words. Fortunately I have a pretty good grasp of the phonotactics in my head so it hasn’t been much of a problem.

I did run into phonotactics problems a couple of times. One of the dragon ranks/honorifics alra/alran did not pluralise nicely – which I didn’t realise until I tried to do it. Alri is just wrong (pluralising Ala rather than Alra) and Alrri would indicate trilling the r twice as long. But natural languages are full of such bumps so I resolved it by having a vowel insert in such situations to give Alrari.

Here’s some other facts about draconic:

• Draconic is rich is approximants – r,l and y especially. The r’s are trilled and the l’s very liquid. They also use stops a lot though not so much they make the language sound closed.
• The language is gendered – -a = female, -an = male, -ri is plural, plural can be used where gender is unknown but more usually they use female in that case. There is also -te which refers to abstracts and neutrals. Example words (miri – chief or ruler) – miria, mirian, miriri for people, miriate – everything that falls under the rulership of a particular miria. Worlds are always referred in the feminine – Taloa (Earth), Talonyka (The Speaker’s World), Kithra (The world of the Kithreiri).

If I had to give any advice to someone making a fantasy naming language for the first time it would be to at least work out all possible sounds and the way they can fit together before you start. It’ll save you pain later.


Becka Sutton is a self-described crazy cat lady, but she’s not very good at it: while she is crazy she only has one cat. She was born in Britain in 1972 and has lived there her entire life. In her early teens she started scrawling fantasy stories in exercise books her mother bought her to stop her scribbling in her school books. She hasn’t stopped writing since, and she credits writing as the outlet that allowed her to recover from the nervous breakdown she had after her parents died.

Her other interests include reading, listening to music, attempting to draw, growing her own vegetables and looking after the aforementioned Pumpkin cat.

No, you can’t read the novel she scrawled as a teen – she burned it long ago because it was awful.


Read Dragon Wars; buy Land of Myth

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/350597.html. You can comment here or there.

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Guest Post:Characterization

The following is a guest post from Sharon T. Rose, a fellow weblit author. Sharon can be found on Twitter at @sharontherose

Characterization

If you want to write, you have to be paying attention. This goes for anything you want to write, whether it’s a novel, a comic, a game, a song, or what-have-you. Pay attention to real life, because your experiences are the best research you could ever do.

Now, this is not carte blanche to put all your friends and family into your writing; odds are that someone will be upset at how you choose to portray them. However, the way that your acquaintances do things will be invaluable to making your writing more realistic. Every person has unique mannerisms and habits that make them who they are. Does your writing have its own idiosyncrasies to make it come alive?

Say you’re writing something that’s supposed to make the reader feel anger. It’s a scene of betrayal, treason, stupidity, violence, whatever. It’s an intense scene, but how do you make sure that the audience really gets into the heart of the action? Maybe it’s the grin on one person’s face. Maybe it’s a peculiar word choice. A change in body language. A gesture. An attitude, a glance. What does an angry person look like? Pay attention to how real people express themselves.

Example: A friend of mine was going through a horrible situation. As I gave her friendship and comfort, she poured out her heart. Anger, fear, pain, and determination filled her voice, creased her brows, flavored the tears on her lashes, trembled her voice, shook her hands. She slumped in her seat, gripped her fists, worked her jaw, pierced the night with the fire in her gaze. She ranged from terror to despair to rage to acceptance to resolve. So much poured through her heart and mind that she became physically exhausted, yet her hands twitched whenever she thought about it.

Of course, I stayed focused on my friend and on being with her through the event, but a corner of my mind couldn’t hold back from thinking about ways to apply this observation to my writing. If I don’t give my readers a figurative knife, writing that “the air was thick with tension” won’t cut it. The best fiction is based in reality, founded on things that we know and can experience. The more variation in the experience, the more realistic it is and the more the audience will identify it.

Everyone has a different approach to life. Some people are head-on, no-nonsense. If you’re writing that character, add detail to emphasizes that. Not “He was a no-nonsense kind of person”. Tell us how he’s no-nonsense, show us how he becomes impatient with emotion or excessive details or disorganization. As you spend time with a real person who is “head-on”, observe how that disposition becomes evident. Does the person talk about it all the time, complaining or offering advice? Does the person simply act, straightening all the french fries and ordering them by size? What proof is there of the attitude?

Another example: Artwork. Ever use a coloring book? Pages of printed line art just waiting to be colored in. The lines give us definition, tell us what the image is and where to apply our crayons. But it’s boring. It lacks depth and life. Once you started shading, adding colors and hatchmarks and scribbles, the picture suddenly becomes more real. Line art is like pure logic, setting boundaries and giving basic definition. But it isn’t complete. Shading and colors are like emotions, making a picture or situation more real. Yet it’s hard to understand an image that’s just a bunch of colors and squiggles. You need both.

The audience needs to know that the character is so tall with this hair and that attitude. That’s the logic, the outline. But it’s the mannerisms, the choice of words and the little motions that color in all the detail and bring the readers right where you want them to be. Yes, you can get the picture with just lines or just colors, but it’s better with both.

And remember to never use 10,000 words when 10 will do. A few carefully chosen details often give more punch than a chapter’s worth. Make every detail count; make the most of every word. And make the most of what life offers you.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/54713.html. You can comment here or there.

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Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Five – Not Actually About Libraries…

This is the fifth in a series of posts by Eseme. The Intro;
Part One,
Part Two,
Part Three, aannnd
Part Four

Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Five
Not Actually About Libraries…

I’ve done a lot (fourteen pages thus far!) of talking about self published books in libraries. I’d like to shift focus a bit, to talking about things that people in the book business (both libraries and bookstores) look for in a physical book and then totally sift to bookstores. I am not, by any means, an expert in bookstores. I did work at one for about three months one summer in college. However, I do read a fair amount of the articles up at Publishers Weekly’s website, and one of the blogs they host is written by a couple of owners of children’s bookstores (which also have small sections of adult fiction). And they have talked about approaching bookstores with an indie book, so I dug up a whole slew of links.

Bookstores and libraries want a book which will be of comparable quality to the other books on the shelves. Self-published books have improved by leaps and bounds, but there are still some people who feel they can spot a self-published book by looks alone.

There are blogs out there that focus on cover art design, and why some things work and others don’t. They also post a huge number of cover images. I managed to only find two teen/YA ones, and one humor one. Take a look:

This blog compares covers every friday (often two covers for one book, either the paperback and hardcover, or an older edition and a new one): http://hookedonyabooks.blogspot.com/search/label/Cover%20Compare%20Friday

Jacket Whys focuses just on teen book covers. There are a lot of posts on the use of stock photography. http://jacketwhys.wordpress.com/

The Jacket Whys author asked book cover designers to walk readers through the process:
http://mackids.squarespace.com/mackidssquarespacecom/2010/6/4/staff-post-covers-that-go-bump-in-the-night.html
http://cwdesigner.blogspot.com/2010/05/evolution-of-the-strange-case-of.html
http://cwdesigner.blogspot.com/2010/06/evolution-of-attack-of-fluffy-bunnies.html

This one highlights bad book covers, go there for a good laugh, and to be confident that your cover is not that bad!
http://judgeabook.blogspot.com/

Here is some additional book design advice from the readers of the Shelf Talker blog on Publishers Weekly. Remember, making your book stand out on the shelf matters.
Nancy Werlin : The Anatomy of a Book Cover
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=1788
One author shows the cover design process one of her books went through. In it she links to one stock photo website. You may not have the mad photoshop skills of her big publisher’s cover team, but things like mood and lighting and fonts are discussed.

Strong Spines Redux : Essentials for Standing Out on the Shelf
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=104
At most bookstores and libraries, people will see the spine of your book. This post includes tips for making that look good – sadly it looks like all her photos from a year ago vanished, but the text still has her salient points (as well as a link to a book cover art blog).

What You Wish They Knew : A Conversation Between Authors, Publishing Folks, and Booksellers
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=610
This is a great post. Take note of what booksellers say sells books. There are a lot of comments, and it is worth it to click through and read the older ones.

And now, on to indie books in indie bookstores!

Shelf Talker is a blog by children’s booksellers, and while it often focuses on children’s books, a lot of this applies to all books, and they do sell adult materials. There have been multiple posts about getting self published books into bookstores. I think that, like with libraries, this will vary widely from bookstore to bookstore. It sounds like the best policy is to let the bookstore take one or two copies of your book on consignment with a time limit. The store does not pay you unless the book sells (which the store will be happy with).

The oldest entries listed first – the very oldest is from 2008.

Do read the comments – other booksellers chime in which gives a wider range of opinions. One annoying thing about the comments – the oldest ones are on the bottom, so if you read down you get the conversation in reverse order.

Why No Bookseller Can Read Everything
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=539
A visual depiction of how much stuff bookstores get sent to preview.

Self Publishing Tips
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=56
A DO and DON’T list of tips for interacting with your local bookstore. I believe this one is the one where she discusses, in the comments, the need for self published authors to offer her the same discount that big publishers do.

Promotional Emails: Do’s and Don’t’s
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=564
All good tips, which can also apply to contacting librarians (we get lots of email too).

How, Ultimately, to Get a Book On My Shelves
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=729
This is a tale of what not to do, in which she points out several mistakes a self-published author made in contacting her store. Tip number one is NOT in December!

Self-Publishing Successes
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=4161
From just last month, she outlines how two local authors were able to each sell very well at her store. She highlights what worked.

Her 2010 End of Year Advice post included one item for self published authors:
“Self-published authors or new reps for sidelines should not come to any store in December and expect anyone to be able to talk to them about their book or product. This is our busiest time of the year and while you might think it would be a great time to sell your book, you should have thought about approaching your local store in October or November when staff would have been much more receptive.”

So You Want to Publish a Book:
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=4270
While I think anyone reading here knows not to hand their manuscript to a bookstore manager or librarian, apparently this needs to be said. There are good author resources mentioned in the comments.

Finally, while I can’t reccomend paying Publishers Weekly Select to review (or more likely, just list) your book, they did interview bookstores all over the country on the topic of what makes a self-published book successful at their store. The full article is worth reading:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/46619-pw-select-booksellers-reveal-secrets-to-self-published-success.html

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Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Four – Author Events at Libraries

This is the fifth in a series of posts by Eseme. The Intro; Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Four
Author Events at Libraries

Welcome back. The past three posts have focused on getting your book into a library, be it a physical copy or an electronic one. It’s not easy. The response will vary widely from library to library. This is really unfortunate, as it means that one indie author may get her book into three libraries and another with a book that is just as cool gets her book into zero libraries. Library policies can and do change, but they do so slowly. They may seem draconian from the outside, which is why I’m writing this series of guest posts. Knowledge is power, and understanding how things work can help you as an author.

So, perhaps you have visited your local library, book in hand.

Some libraries will happily take donated self-published books from a local author, but might be inclined to toss that box which was mailed from halfway across the continent which contains the complete opus of a hopeful self-published author. And yes, we do get boxes like that, and every now and then the Church of Scientology sends us heavy boxes of books (often the very same books they sent two years ago). Imagine how thrilled we are. If it wasn’t clear in Part Two, this is why libraries don’t accept everything that is donated to them.

Some libraries won’t take a self-published book at all.

Or maybe your book is currently only available in electronic format, and Smashwords has not yet hooked up with OverDrive (I’m hoping that they will) and your local library doesn’t own an ereader?

So you tried, and you cross the local library off your list.

Wait! Not yet!

Now we’ve reached the topic of today’s post : Author Events at Libraries. The library may not put your book on their shelf, but that same library might be willing to have you come in person to talk about your book and do a reading. Yes, this seems hypocritical. I’ll try to explain what could cause this (though, again, all libraries are different and have their own way of handling books and programming).

And that is what you, as a local author are: Programming.

Library programming is often a really interesting mix of stuff. We try to find presenters who will speak on topics of interest to our community (everything from gardening to local history to solar power to internet safety), authors to promote their books, music, and the ever-popular craft program. Programming is a line item on every library’s budget. However, it has always been a smaller line item than the materials (book, magazine, audiobook, DVD, etc) budget. Right now, many libraries are experiencing budget cuts. We try to cut the materials and the staff last, because without new materials we are not current or of interest to the community, and with cuts to staff we often have to cut hours (because there are no longer enough people to staff the library for the hours that are currently open).

So programming budgets get cut. Here is an actual quote from one of my coworkers (only the names have been changed for anonymity):

Sharon: “Jane, can you find more programming? It needs to be free and not suck.”

Jane: “Well, that second part makes it harder.”

I am not making this up. Libraries do try to pay for big ticket programming: a concert series over the course of a month or more, a bestselling author who will draw a big crowd, puppet shows or other children’s entertainment for the summer reading program. But sometimes it is hard to find money for even those programs, and many libraries have large programs only a handful of times per year. The rest of the time we want local authors who may not be as well known but who also don’t have travel expenses or appearance fees. Small local bands just getting started. Craft programs with little to no material costs (or a small materials fee).

Did you see that bit about local authors with no transportation costs or appearance fees? That can be you. Even if your book is not in the local library, you can be, and you can often sell your books at your author event (though some libraries, often due to their non-profit status may not be able to allow commerce to take place in their building). Even if you can’t sell your books, you can meet readers and tell them about your books (and hand out business cards or other material with your website address).

Approaching the library about an author event has a lot of similar elements to donating your books to the library, so make sure you have read Part Two. The best way to start is with a phone call, to find out who organizes programming. Calling during normal business hours works best, but be prepared to go to someone’s voicemail if they are busy. You may end up arranging things over email, or the phone, or you may meet someone in person once and then follow up over email.

The most important thing to remember is that libraries plan programming in advance. And we are not talking one month in advance. At least two months in advance. So if your next book is due out in May, call them in March or earlier (sometimes much earlier). The reason for this is simple: publicity. Most libraries put out a monthly newsletter. In March, they are working on the April newsletter, and already have all the April events booked. Libraries also send out press releases to their local papers. If it is a really small-town paper, these can go out a week to a week and a half in advance. For larger papers, they like two to three weeks notice. The library will also make flyers for their events which get posted around the library building (and sometimes in other places around town, like grocery store bulletin boards or in the windows of local businesses). All this takes time, so things get planned in advance. I know when I contacted Sharon Lee and Steve Miller in May or June, I checked with the programming committee first and learned that we were planning September, not October (there was themed programming that month), and November.

So, plan ahead!

Here are some tips for contacting a library and scheduling an event:

You remember that “free but doesn’t suck” comment? Some libraries are going to assume that a self-published book, and therefore a self-published author, will suck. Possibly because they have encountered some really terrible self-published books. Things you can do to mitigate this include being calm and not getting upset, offering to send links to reviews of your book, and sending a sample of your book. Let the staff see that you wrote a cool book.

Mention that you are local, and that you do not charge any sort of fee. People like local authors. If you have a bunch of friends and family in the area, mention them (especially if you have a rough idea of how many might show up – libraries use event attendance in their statistics).

Be flexible about when. Remember that many libraries close early, at 5:00 or so, on Fridays. Often, a Friday night event is just not possible. Sometimes Saturday morning or afternoon events work well, other times they don’t (often depending on the weather). Be willing to try a weeknight – the programming person at the library knows which nights are better in terms of attendance at their library. At the libraries I have worked at, that tends to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night. People seem to stay home on Mondays.

Ask about selling books at the event – can you do it? Does the library have a partnership with a local independent bookstore to sell books at events? If so, is your book available through book distributors (two big ones are Ingram and Baker and Taylor)? Find these things out before the event. If you can’t sell your books at all, you’ll have time to make up postcards or business cards or even just quarter sheets of paper with your website address and book titles and descriptions.

Can you have food at the event? “Light refreshments will be served” can bring in crowds. Some libraries will let you bring food, others will not. Do you want there to be food? The “free food” crowd may or may not be what you want.

Be prepared to send over some images. Book cover art, maybe an author photo (the libraries I have worked at have generally just used book covers, but a library may ask for a photo of you). The library will use them in flyers, the newsletter, and other publicity.

Keep in touch with the library, and make sure that the contact info you gave them stays current! The librarian will probably email you a month before the program, maybe asking for publicity materials. They may also email the week before, just to touch base.

Also, the library may say no. This can happen for a variety of reasons. They may have already booked the next six months, for instance. You write in a genre that isn’t popular at their library – if you write Westerns and the librarian knows that Westerns don’t go our much, you and your book may not be a good fit. Westerns are one example, at many smaller libraries, science fiction and fantasy are less popular. Try a different library, maybe one a bit farther away. If you are willing to drive an hour, see how many libraries are in your area.

Once you have a program scheduled, great! Here are some things to keep in mind at the event itself:

Pick a good piece to read, and practice it. You don’t want to read for too long. You also want a piece that is indicative of your work, and makes people curious. One author I know picked chapter four of her novel. For advice on picking something to read, see my links below to the reading out loud series by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Make sure you know how to get to the library, and where to park. If you aren’t sure because you haven’t been in a while, ask.

Figure out what you need to bring, and how you will transport it. The most organized authors I have seen had a small folding wheeled dolly that their boxes of books fit on. Great plan! Also, bring water, in a well-sealed container (we should be able to get you water, but it’s a good idea to have your own).

Arrive early, a half an hour early is not bad, to familiarize yourself with the room (and set up your books if you are selling them). Be aware that some of your audience may show up fifteen minutes early.

It’s OK to ask for a copy of any flyers or newsletters that the library made for your publicity file. This is a great way to convince other libraries to host an event (“I did a reading and signed books at Library A two months ago” is a great selling point, just don’t make the visits too close together and saturate the market). Also, if the library made a display with your books (if they have them) bring a camera and ask if you can take a photo.

The library staff will probably want to take photos of you, to put on their website or their Facebook (yes, libraries are on Facebook, so search for yours and “like” them). You may need to sign a form. If you are not comfortable with photos, let the staff know (preferably earlier than the event itself).

Be prepared for more people than you expect, and for far less. Some author events get one person. Some get none. Some get a roomful. It varies so wildly, even libraries can’t really predict (we know a New York Times bestselling author will get a good number of people, but will it be more or less than last time?). Having friends or family members come will prevent you from being in a room alone (I’ve had that happen to me, when I was running a program, so it can be endured, but it is no fun). But also be prepared for more people, and people you don’t know. There are some people who show up to nearly every library event. They are regulars. You may also get… well… the public. This can mean all sorts of people, including some who don’t quite know how to behave at a library program. I’ll address them a bit more later. You will also probably have a library staff member in attendance.

Because of that last bit, please don’t go on any sort of rant about Big Publishing. The library buys books from all sorts of publishers, and you ranting about how Big Publishing or Traditional Publishing does not pay authors enough in royalties, or how they are elitists, or anything else is not going to leave the library staff member with a good impression of you. If the library does not have a copy of your book, this is your chance to impress them and maybe they will reconsider their decision to accept a donation of your book. If they do have your book, you want them to stay impressed with you so they might buy the next one.

Leave time for and be prepared for a Q&A session. People at author events ask questions. There will be at least one person who wants to know how they can get their book published, and they will ask you publishing questions. There is ALWAYS at least one. I’d advise at least telling them about the Big Publishing system, in the form of, “Well, you can submit your book to agents, and once you have an agent, they submit it to publishers. I chose a different route…” Again, don’t bash publishers. Definitely talk about what you did, and the pros and cons. Also, you may get some totally bizarre questions, or people who ramble a lot. See my mention above that anyone can attend your program. Be polite, and it is all right to say “I’m not sure how to answer that.”

Be prepared for people to walk in ten minutes late, in the middle of your reading. This happens a lot.

Leave time for not only Q&A, but for selling your books if you are able to.

And finally, be aware that some people are so excited to talk to a real live author that they will hang around after the program to talk. The library will have scheduled your program to end at least a half an hour before the library closes for this reason. Some people may have questions they didn’t want to ask in front of the group. If anyone is lingering too much, be polite, pack up your things, and go find a staff member. I have in the past escorted presenters to their car.

Here are some other great tips on author events, by author and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal (http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/). She knows about audiences!
She has advice for reading aloud (16 part series!) and for podcasts:
http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/category/reading-aloud/
Her series of posts for Debut Authors contain a bunch of good advice for meeting fans and such, and as a performer she knows her stuff:
http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/series/debut-author/

And here’s some advice from Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series:
http://gailcarriger.livejournal.com/128211.html

Good luck! And as a brief, non-library note, if there is a science fiction and fantasy con in your area, be a panelist! A lot of this advice applies there too (go to local ones, don’t expect a fee, bring water, be prepared!).

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/27921.html. You can comment here or there.

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Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Three: Ebooks in Libraries

This is the fourth in a series of posts by Eseme. The Intro; Part One, Part Two

Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Three
Ebooks in Libraries

So, the first two parts of this series focused on getting a physical copy of your book into a library. It’s not as easy as I’d like or as you’d like. But it is possible. The library I work at has had me add one self-published book in the adult section, with another on my desk. I have also added a couple of children’s books and a few CDs from local bands.

But the best way to get a physical copy of your book into a library is to buy one and give it away. We’ve got ebooks though – they cost less, and libraries are lending them.

Yes. Libraries have ebooks. Many people still don’t know this, but we do. Heck, it recently made the New York Times (when Harper Collins announced it would only allow libraries to lend out an ebook twenty-six times before the library has to buy a new copy). But people still may not know that their local library (even ones in small towns) have ebooks.

At public libraries, this works one of two ways: the library owns ereaders and lets patrons borrow the ereader, or the library lends out ebooks to people who have ereaders (or a home computer) using special software.

So, visit your library, or their website. Find out if they have Kindles or Sony Readers or Nooks that they lend out. Each ereader is loaded with a selection of ebooks. Most of those are either free out of print books or current bestsellers (every one I have seen has had The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on it). Most people who check these out from libraries want to try out an ereader before buying one. Or they want to read a bestseller without waiting in a longer line for a print copy (though sometimes the ereader lines are longer!).

Could the library buy a copy of your ebook and put it on one of their readers? If you made the EPUB file or a MOBI file, can you donate one to the library which they can load on one of their readers? I believe that Kindles can read the latter, but if a Kindle owner wants to jump in and confirm, that would be great.

The answer to those questions is that I’m not sure. I have yet to work at a library that owns an ereader. The libraries I have worked at have not had the budget. So I’m not sure if a library would buy a local author’s ebook from Amazon for a Kindle, or if they would let you load a file onto their Nook. This is another thing that varies library to library. Please, don’t be upset if a library says no to a free copy of your EPUB file. The library paid for that Nook, and I can see a tech manager being concerned about a virus getting onto their device (to address that, I’d suggest finding a way for the library to get it for free from a trusted vendor, like issuing a coupon that makes the book free and only giving the code to the library and limiting the timeframe it could be used). Also, the staff may want to see reviews or a sample, to get some idea of the book’s quality. Finally, all their ereaders might be checked out the day you arrive, so be aware that
even if they say yes, this could take time.

Honestly, I think it is worth talking to your library about if you can. Ereaders can hold lots of books, why not one more? Now, it is harder for a library to add an ebook to an ereader than it is for most owners. Some libraries try to keep their ereaders locked down so that books cannot be added or deleted, while others erase the contents and reload the books when the device is returned. Also, ebooks are just like paper books in that they have to be cataloged. Most libraries make extra-scant records for ebooks (as little information in them as necessary) for ebooks because they can be easily deleted off the device if the book is no longer a popular title. But this will still take staff time. Again, libraries do things slowly.

And libraries do like local authors. The next post will go into detail as to why. I’d say that if your book gets on an ereader at a local library, it is likely to stay there along with Huckleberry Finn and Sherlock Holmes after bestsellers fade.

What if your local library, like the one I work at, doesn’t lend out ereaders? They may still loan out ebooks, typically through a company that makes special software. The biggest company doing this is called OverDrive, but there are others. Check your library’s website. If there is a link about ebooks, check it out. Or give them a call. If they don’t loan ebooks at all, they probably keep track of the reference questions they get over the phone. People calling about ebooks can give them the idea that there is interest in ebooks.

If your library has OverDrive or another system, how does that work? I can talk best about OverDrive, as it is the company that the library I work for uses. Overdrive contracts with publishers to make ebooks available (both text and audiobooks). The publishers provide the files, and OverDrive makes software that adds DRM (digital rights management). Yes, everyone hates DRM. In this case, it does make sense. What this DRM does is it lets you download the file, and then either read it on your ereader or listen to it on an iPod or MP3 player for a set period of time (usually one or two weeks). After the time is up, the file becomes gibberish, and you can’t open it, you just delete it off your device (it has been “checked in” to the library and now someone else can download it).

I won’t go into the specifics of how to use the OverDrive, although I have done so before and can add that into the comments if someone asks. What I can say is that for text ebooks it works on everything from a desktop computer to a smartphone to an iPad to a Nook. The biggest downside is that it does not work with a Kindle, because Amazon refuses to support the EPUB file format that every other device can read.

How to get your book on OverDrive? I don’t know for sure. I do know that publishers can contact them, but they are probably used to dealing with Big Publishing companies who contract for hundreds or thousands of books at a time. So just contacting them on your own may or may not be effective.

However, I would imagine that a company like Smashwords, with thousands of authors, could better negotiate with OverDrive. In fact, I would suggest contacting Smashwords about that if you are an author or a reader.

Your book still has the problem of ordering: libraries choose the ebooks that they get from OverDrive by ordering from a catalog (a digital one, but still). They will be looking for titles that they recognize. Also, my library and all the others in Maine are part of a consortium – the books are ordered by the state library and we all use the collection. So my library doesn’t choose titles (although there is a form to suggest titles). However, if Smashwords can get your ebook into OverDrive, you can contact you library and let them know. Let them know the pricing too – your book probably costs less, and unlike Harper Collins, you are probably not trying to make a library only lend your book out twenty-six times. Examples of reviews are also helpful, if you have them from review sites or book blogs.

It’s an exciting world out there, and I think that indie ebooks in libraries really work. It just may take time to get Smashwords and OverDrive talking, and to get librarian buy-in. The other thing that OverDrive does is give us statistics. We can see which titles go out the most, just like we can in our database systems for physical items. If a title circulates well as an ebook, that’s a sign to a library that doesn’t own the book that maybe they should order it. Again, ebooks can act as a gateway, and not just to publishers.

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Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Two: Donating Your Book to a Library

This is the third in a series of posts by Eseme. The Intro; Part One

Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Two
Donating Your Book to a Library

Thanks for reading Part One, and thanks for coming back. I will warn you now, this is REALLY long. Sorry, but there is a lot of stuff here.

When we left of, I was saying that it is hard to get a library to buy your book. But there is another way to get your book into a library: donate your book to the library.

This is in some ways easier. The library doesn’t have to buy your book. They don’t have to justify it on their budget. This makes it much easier for the library, which makes it more likely to succeed. However, I will admit that this is clearly not easier for you, the author. You have to get a physical copy of your book, which means that you need to pay for it. And then give it away. So this is not for everyone. However, I would consider it marketing expense, the same way that getting review copies to reviewers (either at a local paper or a book blog) is a marketing expense. Your intent is to find new readers. So plan this the way you would any other advertising. Start local, with your local library. Maybe visit a library in a larger town nearby. Find out if your state library has a fiction collection of in-state authors. I know that the state library in Maine tries to get copies of books written by state residents (though I do not know if they consider
self-published books).

And that brings me to the first problem with donating a book to a library. The library does not have to add it to the collection. Many libraries simply put all donations into their book sale. Some libraries pull only the books that are current, popular, and in good condition for their collection. Libraries also may apply their regular Acquisition Policies to donated books (if they would not buy it, they don’t take it as a donation). This varies library to library.

And I will also admit that some librarians simply don’t like self-published books. Like bookstore owners, librarians have seen a lot of self-published books, and have likely seen the wide range in quality. I know I have. Yes, we know about vanity presses like Publish America. Libraries are a lot less likely to take a book from the Publish America’s out there, but I’m assuming you know about those scams. If not, visit Writer Beware or Absolute Write’s forums. You can google them.

While a lot of more recent self-published books are vastly improved, the stereotypes you are battling have had time to form at libraries. At least one library I have worked for would not take donations of self-published books (they went right in the recycling or the book sale). Granted, that was about five years ago, and my current employer is much more open minded, but those prejudices are still out there. So, just like policies regarding donated books, this will vary library to library.

Fortunately, you can find out what your local library will do with a donated book, or whether they accept self-published books simply by asking. Go in and explain that you are a local author, and that you would like to donate a copy of your book. Use this opportunity to ask what the library does with donated books, and books by local authors (some libraries are more likely to buy a book by a local author, and see Part Four for reasons why). The worst thing that happens is that they explain that they cannot take your book, or that it would go in the library book sale. You can then decide what to do.

Tips:

If possible, go during normal business hours. The people who are working the circulation desk may or may not be the people who make decisions about adding books to the collection. The people who make those decisions are more likely to be in the building during normal business hours. However, more likely is not a guarantee. They may be in a meeting, or working the night shift and coming in later, or running a program, or the person on the circulation desk who is busy right now. If you can’t go in person, you can call during business hours.

Try not to show up in the middle of a program, or on a very busy Saturday. You want someone to be able to talk to you for a couple of minutes, so if you check the library website and there is a program scheduled when you planned to go in, change the time.

Don’t lie about the book being self-published. You probably don’t want to lead with that, but if the librarian asks, tell the truth.

Have an insert for your book – a sheet of paper with the title, genre (if it is not otherwise clear, and it’s worth it to write it down even if you think it is clear), your name and contact information, and a plot summary (the whole thing, with spoilers). I’ll tell you why this is useful later. The other thing to have is any reviews your book has gotten, even if it is off a blog or website. Having some idea of how readers react to your book helps librarians make a decision.

Don’t be pushy. You want to make a good impression. A lot of these tips are pretty common sense stuff, but it is easy to get excited about your book, and that can sometimes come across as pushiness.

What will probably happen is that the person you want to talk to is busy, and the person working on the desk is busy too. They will explain that they can take the book, but that someone else will decide if it is added to the collection. If you don’t want your book in the book sale, you can decline. Even if you do speak to the person who ultimately makes the decision (they may be the library director or the librarian who manages that section – for example I would make the decision if a donated book was science fiction or fantasy) they may well say the same thing. Librarians like to get more info about a book, and tend not to make snap decisions. But talking to you, learning more about the book, and most importantly, learning that you are a local author, can sway that decision. Some librarians will make the decision quickly and tell you. Others won’t, to avoid saying no and hurting your feelings.

Personally, I’d say to leave your book, even if it ends up in the book sale, as it is likely to find a reader even then. You may not want it in the book sale selling for a quarter. It’s your call. You may be able to get a sense of whether the person who makes the decision seems likely to add it.

If you decide to drop off your book, be patient before you head into the library again and look for it on the shelf (or go to the website and search the catalog). Because the next hurdle your book has to face is getting into the library database. This is done by a cataloger, and adding your book is inherently harder and more time consuming than adding a book put out by Big Publishing.

There are two basic types of cataloging. The first is called copy cataloging. It is basically what it sounds like – a librarian adds a book to the local database by copying a record from another database. Computers allow one library to buy a book, make a record for it, and then other libraries can copy that record. It’s much faster than everyone making their own record, and it’s how nearly all books from Big Publishers get into the databases of libraries.

Your book is almost certainly headed for the other type of cataloging, called original cataloging. As a self-published author, there is probably not another record for your book for the cataloger to copy. So the cataloger has to make the record themselves. This will take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. There is a lot of information in a good library record, and it has to be typed up by a person who will have to find all the information they need, and then check it two or three times for typos and other errors. So the cataloger may very well put your book aside, and work on the big pile of other books and movies and audiobooks that they can work through quickly. They’ll wait until they have a lull in new materials, and then they will take their stack of oddball books that need original cataloging and work on it. This can take weeks.

Sorry – catalogers are busy people whose work is never done (there are always more items to catalog) and they often have other duties and help out at the circulation or reference desk. You could call, and ask. Just remember that libraries get a lot of donations, and they don’t write down what happens to each one. If it is on a cataloger’s desk, it can probably be located (though catalogers’ desks are giant piles of books…) but if it is in a box for the book sale, the staff doesn’t have time to go looking.

When the cataloger does get to your book, what do they need to know? They need the title, the author’s name and possibly date of birth (more on that later), the ISBN, the publisher, the place of publication, the year of publication, a physical description (number of pages, illustrations (if any), and height (yes, I have a tape measure in my desk)), a summary one to two sentences long, any pertinent notes (like the fact that you are a local author), and one two three subjects. Yes, all that, and some other things we have to add to the computer file. So a summary of your book (with spoilers) will help the cataloger figure out a subject. The genre will help the cataloger when it comes to subjects too. And being able to contact you helps a lot.

You see, every author in the library database has to be unique. If two authors have the same name, like Bruce Smith, it makes a mess. Bruce A. Smith writes true crime novels with crime scene photos. Bruce B. Smith writes books for kids. If the library owns the first Bruce Smith’s books, and he is listed as Bruce Smith because that is the name on his books, and you are the second Bruce Smith, you don’t really want your books mixed in with his in the catalog. And the library doesn’t either. The first guy gets to be Bruce Smith. All other people with that name who get added later are designated by their middle initial (only if used on the book cover) or birth year, so you would be Bruce Smith, 1980-. This indicates that you are a different Bruce Smith, and there will be something called an authority record that lists your name, birthdate, and the name of one of your books, and it exists to prevent your books from getting mixed up with another Bruce Smith.
So leave an email address, because we catalogers care and we want to get it right.

Then your book goes on the shelf, like all the others. It should be on the new book shelf, but not every library will put it there. If it isn’t, you’ll love Part Four, which will talk about Author Events at libraries – yes, there are ways to help people find your book even if it is not on the new book display. And if the library didn’t add your book to the collection? An author event can still help you out. But next, we’ll have a brief diversion into the world of eBooks in libraries.

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