Librarians obviously love authors, and there is nothing most of us enjoy more than putting the right book in a reader’s hands at the right time. Will that be your book?
There are a few things you could do to make our job in readers advisory (that’s what libraries call the very personalized service of matching a book with a reader) a bit easier. You see, in addition to talking with readers one on one, we’re building displays, writing blogposts, curating book lists, and creating social media posts, shelf talkers, posters, flyers, and all other sorts of promotional materials (all of which I like to call “indirect readers advisory”) to help readers discover books. The help we need from you, dear authors, is so basic that it’s almost embarrassing to devote a blog post to it. Turns out, though, that only a teensy tiny percent of the authors I encounter have done the three things listed below (and nearly no one has done the last one):
- Book cover image: Make sure that there is a high-res cover image readily available on your website. Ideally, make it more than 1mb. We can use these in blog posts, book lists, shelf talkers and other print materials. You would not believe the number of books I’ve wanted to include in book lists and blog posts, but then had to delete when a good image wasn’t available. I’m not talking critically of book cover design – but the mere fact that I can’t find a watermark-free high-resolution image to promote your book.
- Author photo image: Here’s another one that should be on your website. A nice headshot that’s, again, high resolution. Perhaps you’re entering your book in an awards competition. Perhaps it becomes a finalist. Or perhaps you are speaking at a library event. We’ll want to share the good news, which will be less powerful without a decent author photo. It should be on your website and easy for me to grab. Your phone can yield a 2mb or higher image, so no more of this 33kb grainy photo business, please.
- 30-word book annotation easily available on your website. Please don’t rely on the publisher’s summary or book jacket copy, which is much too long for promotional purposes. A short, tight, and snappy description is something we can use in book lists and blog posts, perhaps even on shelf talkers. I would say that less than 10 percent of the books I want to feature actually have a short annotation ready to go. My colleagues and I used to write our own, but library work has changed so much in the past decade and there simply is no time to do that when, say, you’re putting together a list of 30 books. If it’s too cumbersome to find something pithy to write quickly about your book, you’re getting cut from my book lists.
Those are the three most crucial things that I wish every author would do. Take a half-hour to update your website with downloadable book covers and author image, and get your books’ summaries down to 30 words. You’ll make this librarian happy (or, at least, happier), and help all of us with connecting readers to your books.