Small mailings have worked well for me most of the time. Libraries are actually a major part of my market, and it is interesting to get comments from librarians. For instance, the interest in boatbuilding is strongest along the coasts, but surprisingly, our books on non-fiction "beachcombers" tend to sell best in the Midwest. Go figure.
Thanks to each of you for the comments. I appreciate the insight. I had hunches about the smaller town libraries, but no experience. This will help. Ken and Nicole, I wonder if you sell through library jobbers or direct? Sounds like Patrice-Anne uses a distributor.
I publish all of my books through LSI for a variety of reasons (including not having time to do my own fulfillment), and consequently they are also available through B&T. Originally I had an account with B&T separately, but was truly relieved when they negotiated an agreement with LSI.
I don't have the favorite available on this computer, but I track where the books are sold through an online search that shows what libraries the books show up in. That also lets me know what sells in what areas of the country, so I can target mailings as appropriate.
One thing I've learned is that librarians and library buyers check Amazon frequently, and in many instances, that is where they often order if they aren't looking to discount on a bulk buy.
One other thing I've learned: selling to libraries is one of the best way to build up long-term sales to individuals, especially if your book is a reference of one sort or another. I first ran into Dan Poynter and John Kremer through my local library, and purchased their books as I became more serious in purpose.
You might want to check out PMA's (Publishers Marketing Association's) co-op mailings to libraries. They are a great bargain for those authors/publishers who are wanting to test the waters of direct mailings to the library market. www.pma-online.com/programs.cfm
I've been selling outdoor recreation guidebooks for 10 years. I got no where with mailings and dropped B&T when their fees surpassed my revenue from sales through them. What I had phenomenal success with was searching the internet for library systems, then looking up the web site of each individual library. Larger libraries often have a staff listing (sometimes well hidden). I searched it for the acquisitions librarian or collections development librarian. I then emailed this person (or the library director for a small library) with a small cover file of my latest book, a short summary and all the details libraries need, plus an offer of 20% discount if they ordered directly from me. I'm still in Brodart and I'm sure some libraries sourced there. Others went to Amazon, but I got a flood of orders that didn't slow down until 4 months after the email campaign. It was time consuming finding the best email addresses for each library, but I was able to cut and paste the message once I located the email address, and the response rate was wonderful.
I agree with John, direct mail is good when marketing to libraries, I do know that they buy at the beginning and end of each fiscal year so you may want to send out your promotional mailings at that time. Here is a link that may be helpful when marketing to libraries: http://www.jdwrite.com/writing/marketing_libraries.htm
Another tip: If you write articles you can submit them to publications that are getting read by librarians, such as Publisher’s Weekly. You want to get in front of your target audience. Also if you are going to do a direct mail campaign targeting libraries I would start with a postcard campaign, something simple, colorful, and eye catching…and remember to do your follow up!
I have had two experiences marketing my book to libraries.
Donating copies to libraries.
I have donated copies of my book to my local library and libraries in other cities in which I do business. Reason: I am a coach and trainer, so my book serves as a marketing vehicle for these activities, which in turn are forums to sell my book.
For my local library, once my book was catalogued, the waiting list rapidly grew to over 20 and remained there. After several months, the library purchased four additional copies and there is still a waiting list, however a more modest 3-5.
I approached the New York City library about donating a copy and received a reply that they only accept copies of books that are on the NY Times Best Seller list.
Authors Prepare a Catalogue to be sent to Libraries
I am a member of the Ottawa Independent Writers Association. The executive took the initiative to produce a catalogue of all books written by the members. This catalogue will be sent out to all Canadian Libraries later this summer, so I do not know how effective this initiative will be. Members at this forum (Book Marketing Network) may wish to pool their resources and do something similar. To see a copy of the catalogue visit www.oiw.ca and click on book catalogue in the left-hand column.
The key to getting purchased by a library is to get a favorable review in one of the journals/book review publications your library subscribes to. Most use Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, etc. Also getting individuals to request your book is always a plus, but libraries have to go for the big bang - the most book for the little money they have, so they're going to purchase books that are recommended by the big journals.
In my opinion, direct mail is a lot of money for little return. Most people, including librarians, see direct mail as junk mail. They want a knowledgeable source to recommend a book, not an ad.
I was just wondering, you mentioned that librarians order books after they are reviewed in places like the Midwest book review. So, what should publishers do once they get a good review? Sit back and wait... or is there a way to kind of point it out to librarians w/out sending them expensive "junk mail?"
Thanks for any input!
In Italy most of book distribution is managed by few companies with strong relationships with four large publishers. Most of small and medium publishers are penalized, because it si not really the library to order books but the ditributors to decide what to distribute. Direct marketing by authors is quite expensive, so the only way is to find a sponsor company for co-advertising.