Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about “book-building” for indie authors. By that I mean putting a book together from your perspective as an author. So I haven’t covered topics like cover design or interior design – you may choose those, but you’re probably not creating them.

However, you will need to make some decisions about what goes on your copyright page. Last week, I discussed Library of Congress Control Numbers. The week before, I wrote about the ISBN, and the difference between being an Amazon-only author – with an ISBN provided by CreateSpace – and an author who makes his/her books available on other platforms like iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

For this week’s post, I want to delve a little more into selling to libraries. Thing is, libraries do buy books, and they may even be open to a sale from an unknown author – especially one in their own local community.

Why Sell to Libraries?

Some authors have a contentious relationship with libraries, and it’s understandable. After all, libraries are the place where people can go and borrow your book for free. Those readers don’t have to buy anything, so you’re not getting a royalty when they read your book.

But if you’re an independent author, it can be advantageous to have a good relationship with your local library, or even libraries in other areas. I know from my own experience that my having gone to grad school in upstate New York and living currently in Tampa gave me some marketability when I reached out to library systems in those places. And there’s a chance that a reader who borrowed my book from the library will still buy a copy – if they liked it!

The Need for the CIP Data Block

If you’re going to sell to libraries, you’re going to need a CIP data block on your copyright page. That’s the first thing librarians look for when they flip open a book.

CIP stands for Cataloging-In-Publication. Go to your local library, take out a book, and check the copyright page. You’ll find a block of info, most likely provided by a company called The Donohue Group, that shows librarians how to catalog the book.

When you’re marketing your books to libraries, you must have a CIP data block on the copy you send them. If you don’t have a CIP block, your book goes into the “No” pile; if you have a CIP block, it goes into the “Maybe” pile. Having a CIP block is no guarantee that a library system will buy the book. However, without one, it’s unlikely a librarian will purchase it for the collection.

There’s another benefit to getting a CIP data block: it provides you with keywords that you might not have even considered for indexing, Amazon categorization, and so on.

My CIP block for Brothers’ Hand includes the phrases Amputees–Rehabilitation–Fiction and LSD (Drug)–Psychological Aspects–Fiction. A quick look at Miles of Files shows subjects like Embezzlement–Fiction and Whistle blowing–FictionI never would have come up with those on my own, but they are appropriate. And if readers use those keywords on Amazon in their search for something to read, my novels might come up.

Of course, these topics just scratch the surface when it comest to launching a book. If you need more information, feel free to contact me at info@msahno.com. And I’d love to hear about your experience with your own projects in the comments section.

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