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Library Sales Part 2: The American Library Association

By Danielle Sinon

Following up from last week’s post about how local libraries work to help authors and publishers, we thought it would be prudent to discuss something a little larger: the American Library Association.

What is the American Library Association?

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Since it was founded in 1876, ALA’s main goals have been to provide libraries with the resources they need and to educate librarians on how to further learning in their libraries and communities. More than anything else, ALA is focused on ensuring library patrons have access to any, and all, information they could possibly want.

So as an author, where do you come in? Lucky for you, ALA has resources that will help you too!

How ALA Works With Authors

ALA hosts two conferences each year for members of the book world to come together and learn even more about their favorite topic: books! Most of the attendees are librarians from all around the country, but authors are also able to attend and can pay for a booth to advertise themselves and their work(s). This is the perfect opportunity to sell to libraries because most of the librarians at these conferences will have authority in their districts, meaning that they have the power to purchase books. They may only buy one copy of your book, but once they get back home they may decide that each of their 12 branches should have 10 copies, giving you the chance to sell 120 copies of your book! Just imagine if multiple librarians did the same thing!

The association also has a newsletter, a bi-monthly magazine, a blog and a podcast to keep members up-to-date with the latest in ALA news. While this mostly includes current events related to the ins and outs of public libraries, there is also space designated for authors to advertise their books. The magazine alone is sent out to 65,000 individuals and organizations worldwide, giving you a huge audience.

While it might not be financially feasible to travel across the county to attend these national conferences, each U.S. state hosts a smaller conference as well. It would be worthwhile to try and attend the conference in your home state, giving you the opportunity to build relationships with librarians from all over the state.

You can find a calendar listing every conference on ALA’s website: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/planning-calendar/2019-03

We hope that this two part series has shown you just how easy it is to work with libraries. Whether you decide to connect locally with your public library or go to a larger event hosted by the American Library Association, you will not be disappointed. You will make connections and be given opportunities to get your book out into the world, something that every author dreams of.

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