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.

balance

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #7: The Elusive Search for Balance

It's Labor Day today, and what are my wife and I doing? You guessed it: laboring! I've just finished a massive job, editing a manuscript for a 90-something client. Hey, God bless him, right? And God bless me for having the intestinal fortitude to get through the most...

Memorial Day 2019

I don't have a special message for Memorial Day. I never do.In fact, looking back through the archives for previous years' messages, I see I don't have any. Maybe I deleted them to save space on the server. Perhaps I deleted something in an effort to avoid courting...
president

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It—Then Let It Go

​In 1994, I wrote a novel called Brothers’ Hand, in which the titular character mentions that someday working class people might very well use billionaire “Duncan Scrump’s” name as a curse word one day. Of course, I never imagined such a person could become our...
software

How Hard Is Software Supposed to Be?

So last week I took the Memorial Day holiday off from everything: no blog, no book project...nothing. Just me and my wife enjoying the day off from work. We don't get that many of those together, so it was nice to just hang out, sleep late, and watch mindless TV shows...

A Journey with A Few Heiresses

Way back in 2016, I got a guest spot on a blog called Writing in the Modern Age by an author named Marie Lavender. Of all the writers I've contacted online, Marie has to be the most prolific – more than 20 books published over the course of 15 years. Marie and I have...
spirituality

Spirituality in the Fictional World

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called Talking About A Metaphysical Work where I tried to discuss spirituality in fiction. At least, that's what I thought I was doing. See, I had just published my fourth novel, Whizzers, and I knew I needed to promote it. I had a...
sanity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #10: Maintaining Some Semblance of Sanity

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. —Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"   Last October, I posted an article on pandemic fatigue, about how 2020 had been exhausting. Ha ha ha! The pandemic was only seven or eight months old by then! Who’da thunk it? I must be some...
indie author

What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business

As someone who’s spent the better part of the past 20 years making his living as a writer, I definitely have some opinions on what works and what doesn’t in this business. However, there is a subset of that 20 years, and that’s the novelist part of the equation. Some...
technophobe

The Technophobe Part 2: Why I Wish I Was Better At Some Of This Stuff

The last few weeks have been all about pros and cons. In June, I wrote several blog posts about my biggest strengths, and now I’m writing about some of my greatest challenges. So the two categories are, roughly, “Stuff I’m Good At” and “Stuff I Wish I Was Better At.”...
impostor

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #3: Impostor Syndrome, aka The Self-Confidence Deficit

“The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence—arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.”  —Hilary Mantel  ...