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Public Library Talks
Yes, this week I stumbled upon what, for me, is the neatest PR tip since sliced bread: Public
Did just one a couple of years ago, and the flyer designed by the library had major problems--I
had it recalled a week in advance, and a better one made--which evidently wrecked my
relationship with the librarian in charge--and they didn't promote it as well as many other events.
It wasn't that great an experience--except that 40 people came, we had a great time, and at the
end I sold about $200 worth of books.
Now I've set up three signings at branch libraries in wealthy communities in metro
Washington DC (which is saying a lot since new census data shows that the county next to mine,
Fairfax, VA, is the #1 median income county in the whole US).
What makes library talks so great?
- Librarians are grateful you'll speak for free (assuming, of course, you have credentials and an
interesting topic). I've known some wonderful CRCs at bookstores, but they have to fend off
authors (at least here, in metro DC) and are hardly excited at the thought you'll give a free
- You can sell your books. (Probably. Check if they'll let you sell books, tastefully, afterwards.
It's OK here!)
- Unlike those mixed-bag bookstore signings, you're not one of 12 events for the week. You
may be the only one that week or even that month.
- For book sales after you've fascinated the group, how do you think it compares, being the
only vendor around or being in a bookstore surrounded by thousands of other titles?
- Acoustically and energy-wise, you have your own space in a library room. Not some corner
where people wander over to snooze in comfy chairs, cruise for dates, sit reading other titles
daring you to be more interesting, etc. Don't get me wrong--I actually enjoy bookstore events
(and I've been asked back often, because they're fun for everyone) (and my last one set a personal
record of about $700 in sales). But libraries have so much to offer. (Unlike Bonnie M-P, much
missed from the list, my work doesn't involve horses, so I don't have to cart around any animals
for my events--just kidding.)
- A presentation at a library ups your chances of having the branch library, or even the system,
order copies of your book.
- A final feel-good point, for those of use who are library lovers. (As a kid, half joking, I once
ran away from home with my best friend. We went to a library.) It's an honor to give back.
P.S. This time around, I made my own poster. The librarians are delighted and I am, too.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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