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Run, Rose, RunRun, Rose, Run
Run, Rose, RunThe Book Woman’s DaughterRun, Rose, Run
According to the Public Libraries Survey, conducted by the IMLS, there are over 9,057 public libraries in the United States. If a thousand libraries spent $810 on Run, Rose, Run, with the example calculations I’ve run, that would mean over $105,000 in royalties. Obviously, Run, Rose, Run is the exception: It’s cowritten by a popular author and the beloved Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, my library system does not have the budget to purchase every title by authors across all formats. However, at the very least, my budget allows me to purchase the print book and ebook of most titles. I live in a small town in Alabama, but a larger system will have a higher budget and will purchase a lot more titles. The $810 my library system spent on Run, Rose, Run pales in comparison to what a larger system with a larger budget would spend. A quick search of the San Francisco Public Library’s OverDrive consortium reveals forty-nine e-audiobooks and sixty-eight ebooks of Run, Rose, Run in their collection. That’s a total of $8,285 spent on just electronic materials (ebooks and e-audiobooks) and an estimated amount of $2,071.25 in royalties from one library system alone.
A writer doesn’t have to cowrite a book with James Patterson or be an über-popular author like Kim Michele Richardson to get their book into a library. Libraries purchase books not only across different formats but across all genres and levels of popularity. For every patron who reads Patterson books, there’s a patron at a local assisted living facility who loves cozy mysteries from debut authors, or the patron who enjoys steamy romance novels by a midlist author. If your local library has not purchased your book, request it, and even ask other patrons of your local library to make the request as well. It’s as simple as calling the library or checking their website for a suggest-a-book-for-purchase link/form. Most libraries take patron requests. In your newsletter or on your website or your social media platforms, ask your followers to request your book (in all formats) at your local library. These requests land in the inboxes of collection-development librarians like myself, and multiple patron requests of the same title show me that there’s a demand and that it will circulate well in my library.
As a collection-development librarian, it’s vital that I provide library patrons with access to titles across a variety of formats. Equal to that duty is the importance of helping writers earn out advances. It’s especially important to me now, as an author myself, that other writers understand how libraries acquire books, since I will have the unique advantage of purchasing my own book for my library next July.
It’s worth mentioning again that the process outlined in this article is how I purchase adult materials for my library system. Based on budget and library size, my process may differ from your local library. But what remains the same is the impact libraries can have on book sales. Libraries are silent champions for writers, and that doesn’t just include putting your book in front of readers; it also means making one more dent in earning out your advance.
Terah Shelton Harris a collection development librarian and a former freelance writer who now writes upmarket fiction with bittersweet endings. Her debut novel, One Summer in Savannah, will be published by Sourcebooks in July 2023. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, Natural Solutions, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Backpacker and more.