Libraries are magnets for writers and would-be authors. One of the questions libraries often hear from writers is, “How can I get my book into your library?” The answer can vary from library to library based on the library’s collection development policy and the type of book in question. For example, a law library is probably not going to be interested in a science fiction novel. A public library will probably not be interested in an extensive multi-volume textbook about string theory. However, public libraries oftentimes are interested in collecting well-written books by their own local authors. A big plus is if the book has been reviewed in a reputable book review publication like Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal. There are lots of other things that authors can to do make their work more attractive to a librarian.
First off, authors can do the work to make their book the best book they can possibly write. There are many organizations that hold online writing classes that help writers hone their skills, learn about the publishing industry and get connected with other writers. Midwest Writers Workshop has virtual conferences for writers and the Indiana Writers Center has over a dozen classes offered at any given time covering topics from plays to poetry.
Authors can learn tips and tricks from other writers by joining a writing community. There are organizations for writers in almost every genre imaginable from Romance Writers of America to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Benefits to joining one of these groups are manifold. Writers can find critique groups, learn about upcoming opportunities or be listed in a speaker’s bureau. One of the best things that a burgeoning writer can do is to get hooked into a network of other writers.
Library programs are another outlet that might be available to new writers. Some libraries have local author fairs where many authors can showcase their work at one time. The Indiana Historical Society has done this in the past as well as the Indianapolis Public Library’s Meet an Author / Be an Author event. Author events that showcase just one local author are a bit more rare and harder for a library to justify, due to the fact that one lesser-known author is not as likely to bring in a crowd versus a group of authors. Nowadays, a virtual author event might also be possible.
When in doubt, read a book. “Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book” by Courtney Maum can serve as a how-to guide for authors just starting out. In down-to-earth chapters, Maum offers all kinds of advice about writing and the publishing industry.
The Indiana State Library is one library that actively collects fiction and poetry by Indiana authors who write for all audiences. For more information on donating your work to our collections, reach out to Suzanne Walker, the coordinator for the Indiana Center for the book.
This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.