Guide to Get Your Book into Libraries – How to Secure a Spot

Increase Your Chances of Getting Your Book Into Libraries

Libraries are fantastic places for authors to get noticed and meet new readers. They actually draw in more people than museums or sports events, making them perfect spots to introduce your book to the world.

But getting your book onto library shelves is more than just handing over a copy—it’s about thinking carefully about what librarians and their visitors are looking for and planning your approach accordingly.

Guide to Get Your Book into Libraries Infographic

How to Prepare Your Book for Library Acquisition

How to Prepare Your Book for Library Acquisition

Essential Identifiers and Registrations

  • ISBN: An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is crucial for any book’s distribution and sales tracking. It uniquely identifies the book and links it to the publisher, thereby facilitating easier management of its sales in various markets.
  • LCCN: In the United States, a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is essential for making your book available in libraries. This identifier helps streamline the administrative process of entering new books into the library’s national database.
  • CIP or PCIP Data: Cataloging in Publication (CIP) or Publisher’s Cataloging in Publication (PCIP) data blocks help librarians understand what the book is about and where it fits into their collection. This preliminary bibliographic record can be crucial for libraries when they integrate the book into their existing catalog. It also assists in the faster processing of new arrivals and easier retrieval by patrons.

These identifiers not only simplify the cataloging process but also affirm that a book adheres to standard publishing criteria.

Physical and Digital Book Qualities

Physical and Digital Book Qualities


A sturdy binding and clear lettering on the spine ensures the book withstands frequent handling and is easily identifiable on the shelf. These physical attributes help extend the life of the book, reducing the need for replacements and ensuring it remains available for checkout.

When deciding which formats to publish, whether eBooks or print, considering the durability of the physical book becomes crucial for long-term availability.

Availability on Digital Platforms

For ebooks and audiobooks, being accessible on popular library platforms like OverDrive is crucial. Many libraries are expanding their digital collections, and being present on these platforms can significantly increase a book’s usage and visibility.

Securing Reviews from Credible Sources

Positive evaluations from respected literary critics or professional review sources significantly influence a librarian’s decision to acquire a book. These endorsements validate the book’s quality and its potential appeal to readers.

Having reputable sources vouch for a book can also bolster its standing in the literary community, making it a more attractive choice for libraries.

How to Engage with Libraries

How to Engage with Libraries

Collaborate with Libraries

Authors might consider proposing events at local libraries or creating content for their websites. This not only aids in promoting the book but also builds a relationship with the library.

By fostering direct engagement with the library community, authors can better understand their audience and tailor their presentations to meet specific local interests.

Offer Direct Purchases

While librarians often prefer purchasing through wholesalers for ease, offering the option to buy directly can appeal to some, especially if financial incentives or discounts are provided. Direct sales might include signed copies or special editions, which can be enticing for library special collections or promotional events.

Librarian Preferences

Librarian Preferences

Librarians generally favor dealing with wholesalers due to the streamlined purchasing and processing benefits. However, understanding their preferences can lead to more targeted approaches that align with library policies and budget constraints.

Being flexible and responsive to feedback from librarians about selection criteria and collection needs can further enhance an author’s chances of success.

What’s the Reality of Library Acquisition?

Despite meeting all the suggested criteria, the reality is that librarians operate within constrained budgets and face tough choices about which books to add to their collections.

This means that even well-prepared books may not make the cut due to factors beyond an author’s control, such as current budget limitations or a surplus of similar material in the collection.

How to Increase Your Chances

How to Secure a Place for Your Book in The Library

Persistence and flexibility are key. Authors should continuously seek feedback from library staff and adapt their strategies accordingly. Engaging actively with the library community through readings, book signings, and other events can maintain visibility and relevance.

Staying informed about trends in library acquisitions and emerging topics of interest can also guide authors in tailoring their submissions to meet evolving library needs.

The Bottom Line

Making sure your book checks all the right boxes, connecting with library communities, and fitting into the librarians’ way of choosing books, can boost your chances of seeing your book on their shelves.

While there’s no guaranteed success in this effort, putting in the work can really pay off by expanding your audience and advancing your writing career.