Take a Tour with C. Hope Clark

One of the best ways to sell your books, or perform is to go where people love books and story performance–libraries.

As a writer, I have given talks on my books and on writing in various libraries but have never gone about planning a tour of libraries around a state. One of the best bloggers, and a superb author of three mysteries has taken her brand on tour in a big way. C. Hope Clark.

I have followed her newsletter for almost the entire time she has been writing it! She is definitely one of my writing heroines. Recently she offered to provide a blog entry for those of her fans who asked. I requested a blog on touring libraries , hoping it would help all of you, who like me, struggle with marketing. Graciously, C. Hope Clark responded affirmatively and send the wonderful how-to article below.

Thank you! And for those of you out there looking for something to read, do sample her Carolina Slade mysteries!

Authors Touring Libraries

C. Hope Clark

Authors have a deep respect for librarians. As a child, I saw librarians as gatekeepers; guardians to all the knowledge in the world. Today many think of the Internet as the gatekeeper to reading material, but the Internet cannot think, advise, or open doors to new worlds like a librarian. So when I’m asked to speak at a library, I jump at the chance, as should most authors.

But how does one land a library gig?

Library opportunities come about through a myriad of ways. No two libraries are alike, just as no two librarians think the same. As a result, there is no one way to acquire a library opportunity, but we can discuss several.

Know somebody. Believe it or not, this is the easiest method to receive an invitation to speak. The majority of my library invitations come about via regular library members who ask the library to feature me. Librarians know their customers and pay attention to their needs, and those familiar faces can break the ice easier than your cold call.

Librarians as Readers. Two library events of mine originated because the librarian was a mystery fan. Upon hearing about one of my new releases, they contacted me. Yes, your librarians are avid readers, so pay attention to their likes, too. Chat with them. They don’t bite.

Friends of the Library. Libraries usually have a Friends of the Library (FOL) group to assist the library in meeting the needs of readers. They are a nonprofit organization and love to assist with library events. Not only can they ease your entrance into a library’s inner sanctum, but they may also invite you to events of their own. One of the best presentation experiences in my writing career involved my role as keynote speaker for the Newberry County Friends of the Library in South Carolina. Consider joining all the Friends of the Library groups in your town or county.

The Library Family. Libraries belong to a county, city or regional system. In my state, the libraries are usually categorized in a county system. For instance, I recently spoke at the Surfside Beach Library in Horry County which contains ten libraries in its system. A library assistant at Surfside made contact with the other libraries, recommending me for their programs. Libraries will trust each other’s judgment, so ask a librarian you trust to put in a good word for you at other locations.

Send a Packet. Go to http://www.publiclibraries.com to find all the libraries in your state, then send them an introductory packet, requesting to be placed on their agenda. Make sure you give them great ideas on what you can talk about.

Why speak at libraries?
The reasons are many, even though a library may not purchase a large volume of your books. Let’s explore a few of them.

Librarians are trusted, and their recommendations carry weight to many readers.

Libraries can purchase your books, and requests for your book dictates how m any copies they buy.

Libraries can introduce a new author to the world. To prime that pump, donate one book and offer to give an appearance.

Libraries feature special programs. Ask to play a part, whether it’s a program that involves several authors or just you. Make suggestions. Let them know you care and want their programs to be popular and successful. Ask them what they need and see if you can fill that want.

How do libraries impact book sales?

Book sales may be difficult to measure, because sales don’t consist of how many books you sell at a speaking invitation. Sure, you may sell a handful at your face-to-face event, but there’s a residual effect that continues after you leave.

Avid readers talk to each other, and these readers congregate at libraries, at Friends of the Library events, at programs, and in reading groups. Ten people may attend your speaking event, but each of them may tell five others. And if the library doesn’t carry enough copies of your book, then those readers may purchase instead.

When someone reads one of your books available at the library, and falls in love with your story, they may then decide to purchase your other books in support of you or simply to have a book the library doesn’t carry. And they may then suggest the library stock the book.

How to afford a library tour.

Libraries are not wealthy. Some will compensate an author and others won’t. Here are a few ideas on how to set up and afford a library tour.

Connect via the Friends of the Library (FOL). They often have the deeper pockets, and if they sponsor your event, you might walk away with an honorarium or travel expense.

Start close to home. Connect with all the libraries in your region first, keeping expenses down. Gather great testimonials from those librarians to help you reach further.

Charge a per person fee. If the event you propose is strong enough, maybe including a meal, workshop, or other performance, you might suggest the library, or FOL, feature a more widely advertised special event and charge admission.

Sell books at the event. Clarify well in advance if you wish to sell books. Many libraries have restrictions in this regard, and knowing ahead of time can avoid miscommunication.

Libraries remember authors, and librarians recommend them to readers. Stand near the checkout desk of most library long enough and you’ll hear the person behind the counter suggest a book or author. As a matter of fact, at the last library event I attended, the librarian had read my books, and immediately gave me two authors’ names who wrote along the same vein that I did. Their minds are like the libraries themselves, with mental shelves of titles and topics at the ready, to best direct a reader to the best stories.

BIO: C. Hope Clark is author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series, covering rural crime the average urban dweller could never comprehend. http://www.chopeclark.com She is also editor of an award-winning website for writers – http://www.fundsforwriters.com – chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years.

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