Libraries: The Best Friend You Don’t Know About

Hello all! Gods of IMAGO (book 2 in the IMAGO series) is moving steady through the arduous process of publication, and we do actually now have our official Publication Date: August 16th, 2023. A special day, actually, not because of the novel release, but because it’s my beautiful spouse’s birthday (shout out Patricia!). On a side note, many of you have asked what this novel is about. Well, my default response is: check out book one – IMAGO. And then, hold on to your seat! Gods of IMAGO is gonna be a great ride!

Anyway, the Pub Date made me think of intentionality and that made me think how so many novice writers and seasoned pros I have talked with over the years, don’t actually understand how desperately important that pub date is to the success of your book. Yes, the time of year is important (A summer read, a Christmas Gift, A Spring release, etc…), but those are not as important as the seemingly unknown friend all authors have: The Library Review System.

The Library, its use, purpose in the Digital Age/Information Age has been called to the dock and interrogated in the last decade, and while all these existential questions are important (both as humans and a culture), its importance to the publishing writer has not changed. The Library and the Review System established decades ago is a gold mine of potential for sales. This is why your publication date is so important to your book/novel. To understand who the gatekeepers are and how to enter those gates is the difference in selling a few hundred copies of your novel and thousands and thousands. Here’s how it works:

Libraries buy books for their readers to borrow. There are thousands of libraries across the country (every county, city, public and university), and all of them are using a process to do that. The process (now completely digitalized) begins with two of its auxiliary gatekeepers: Library Journal and BookList. Formally it was a subscription based physical magazines bought by libraries, scanned by acquisitions librarians, physically gathering books for the physical library. If your book was reviewed by Library Journal/ Booklist (had received a good review), it would be in that physical journal, and the librarian would circle it, write it down on a list and make sure that library ordered multiple copies for that particular system. Well, in the Digital Age, it is a bit different. Most libraries order their books online, and those with budgets devoted to acquisitions, buy automatically all those books reviewed in Library Journal and Booklist. That’s right, you are beginning to see the point. Ebook, Hard Copy, Trade Paper Back – no worries: if it is listed, the library buys multiple copies. Again, the only thing standing in your way to access this amazing, standardized market: Library Journal/ Booklist. Ah, and there, my friends, is the rub.

Since these two publications (and others) are the gatekeeper to the national library system, they are highly skeptical of all those approaching these hallowed gates. Ten years ago, they were not interested at all in eBooks. In fact, there was a stigma to such things. Then eBooks took off, and the population adapted to the Digital World of reading, bought digital reading devices and demanded to fill them with eBooks from their libraries. Well, they sort of listened. Then COVID hit. Then all borrowers stopped going to the libraries all together. That got their attention, so the libraries now purchase massive amounts of digital books, which forced Library Journal/ Booklist to accept eBooks and prefer eBook submissions. Finally, this has opened the doors to all the small publishers who for so long have never been able to access the gates because they produce eBooks and POD trade paperbacks.

So much for the history. Now, briefly, back to how it all works. Your publisher must fill out a form with all the “traditional” information. This is important because it demonstrates immediately if your publisher has the ability to distribute your book (eBook and Trade Paperback) to the actual libraries. There are places the publisher must subscribe (Distribution systems like: Ingram, Spring Arbor, etc…). I won’t go into detail here, but this has always been the dividing line to the have’s and have not’s. Thankfully, it is getting easier to become a part of these systems. And this leads me to: Publication Date. Library Journal and Booklist only take Advanced Review Copies (ARC’s) or Gallies six months before publication date. That means strategy and intentionality. That is why Gods of IMAGO is coming out August 15th. It was based on when we would have the cover and ARC completed. Now, that does not mean just because you submit it properly and have all the criterion met – this does not mean you will get a review. That is up to the publishing gods at that point. Library Journal and Booklist are pretty blunt: They receive thousands of ARCS, review what they consider something the library would want. Once again, intentionality on every level. If you have mastered your craft and written a good novel; If you have created a catchy cover; if your publisher fulfills the qualifications of distribution elements… and if the publishing gods smile on you… If, if, if…. You just may get reviewed and suddenly be placed in a truly life-changing moment for your professional life. For once you and your publisher are reviewed well in Library Journal/Booklist – your trips through that gate get easier and easier and easier.

As always, email me with questions. Go to the Library Journal Booklist website for all submission details.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s