Today Trish Hull from the Salt Lake County Library (Utah) will be visiting with us. A few weeks ago, Trish and some of her co-workers visited our Utah RWA meeting to give us some tips and I thought they were important enough to share.
Mary: Before we begin, Trish, could you tell everyone a bit about your background and what you do at the library?
Trish: I earned my MLS (Master of Library Science) in 2002 and started working for Salt Lake County Library Services in June of that year as a Children’s Librarian. I became an Assistant Manager in February 2006 and Manager of the Magna branch in November 2006. I serve on the Reference Committee and also serve in ULA (Utah Library Association) as Chair of the Reference and Adult Services Roundtable. All librarians in our system our book selectors for their branches and I select Action Thrillers for the entire System (18 branches) We also do a lot of Reference and Readers Advisory for our customers. I am the mother of 6 and grandmother of 8 and love books and read lots and lots of books. I read romance and enjoy almost all the genres.
Mary: I know all library systems are different from county to county, and state to state. So in general can you give us an idea of why it is important for an author, to have his/her books in the library?
Trish: Libraries are a great public service and many people never buy books because of the cost. Once a customer finds an author they like they often come to the library to find the rest of their books. Also library patrons hsare with others great books they are reading. As librarians we often help customers find “read alikes” If they have read all of one author they want to find a similar author. If we know about you and your books we can suggest your books. We buy a lot of books every year and if an author is popular we will repurchase books year after year as well. In these hard economic times library use is increasing and circulation is increasing. Our system is the largest system in Utah and covers about 2/3 of Salt Lake County. We circulate about 16 million items every year. We purchase a lot of books (hopefully yours). Also we have customers who if they really like your books will go buy them.
Mary: Who would a person contact to find out the procedure in their area?
Trish: I would just ask their local librarian who can tell them how the system operates. Every system has a different process and it is hard to always pin down who that is. Librarians are great sources of information and can find who you need to contact. PS We are great research aids as well. If you are researching a book we may be able to help you find resources.
Mary: When you visited us you spoke of the library program information. What does this mean? And how can it help promote an author?
Trish: Many libraries have programs for the public. We like author visits and programs where you can explain the writing process and give others ideas on how to write and get published. We also love to hear your story and how you got started. We aren’t wild about hearing you read your book however. Again contact your local library and see if they would be interested. Often we may let you sell your book and sign it as well. (This may vary from system to system so please check) Just a side note “free” programs are the best. We have very tight budgets and only getting tighter.
Mary: What do you take into consideration when you buy a book for your library?
Trish: Reviews!! If you can get your book reviewed by a fairly reputable source (not your Mom or husband) it helps us immensely. Also if your publisher can get it into one of our “jobbers” it is helpful. We buy from wholesalers like Ingram, Brodart & Baker and Taylor for the most part. We can buy direct but we need to have a good reason.
Mary: Can you give us an idea of what an author who is with a small press or self published needs to do to have their book in purchased for the library? Is it even a possibility?
Trish: We have information on our website on how we do it and much of the information here can apply to most libraries I would think.
Mary: On a hand-out I received from our meeting it says that one of the best ways to bring attention to my book is through reviews. What sites do most libraries consider legitimate review sites?
Trish: Well, that landscape is changing a little but Library Journal, Booklist, Booklinks, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus (although I understand they don’t like romance much) are pretty basic. But with bloggers and other online outlets I think we would look at any one with a pretty good reputation. We look at lots of local media, Romantic Times, and places like that. If you can bring a few reviews like that it would help. Also in the link above there are a few others mentioned for self published authors.
Mary: Is there anything you can think of that may be important, that I haven’t thought to ask?
Trish: Yes. Keep writing! Without you we don’t exist. And personally if you could write a little faster…. I read your book and you leave me hanging and then I have to wait for ages>>>>>>>>>>>>. Sigh.
Also thanks to Mary and URWA. We have started a great collaboration with our state library association and your organization. Going to your local state library conference can be a great place to meet lots of librarians. We love authors and would probably love to have you speak at our conference in a workshop. I can’t speak for everyone but we are having a panel from the Utah chapter come to our conference in May) Get to know your local librarians.
Thank you, Trish, for joining us on the Mysteries and Margaritas. You’ve been very informative.