Let Me Tell You a Story #26: The Power of Asking for Help

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I went to the library yesterday, after receiving a notification I had a book waiting for me. (I’ve been on hold for A Court of Mist and Fury since just before its release two months ago.)

I took my writing journal along, because I hadn’t done an observational entry in the library yet, but I ended up writing about how nervous I was to be there.

That’s not a typical reaction to a library for me. Yes, I’m an anxious person in general, but libraries? One of the best, most soothing places on earth to me. All those books.

I wrote myself a pep talk, to work up my nerve to go to the desk and ask about the process of getting my novel into circulation.

I’d already read numerous articles on the Internet about the process, and they all offered various forms of advice, from sending a formal query directly to the purchasing department, to having friends and family request the book through the system until enough attention accumulated to prompt the library to make a purchase.

Most didn’t recommend walking in with a copy and handing it over, because even if the book is a donation and doesn’t cost them money to purchase, it does cost them time and money to process and get on the shelves–not all libraries have that extra bit of time and money.

But I’m not my best via email, even worse on the phone (anxious, you know). I’m great in person, when I can see who I’m talking to. Especially since I’m a regular at the library, if not on a first-name basis with any of the librarians yet.

So I took a copy of my novel, just in case, and told myself I was on a fact-finding mission.

I happened to have the head librarian wait on me at the desk, which made my mission even easier. While she was checking out ACOMAF for me, I asked, “If I were an independent author and wanted to get my book into circulation, how would I go about doing that?”

She answered, “Bring in a copy, tell us it’s for the collection rather than the book sale, then we look up all the information on it we need to make the bib, and get it onto the shelves.”

I blushed (I know I did, I could feel it) and pulled the copy out of my tote bag, explaining that I hadn’t counted on it being so simple, because of the Internet articles, but I’d wanted to be ready.

We chatted a bit about the process, and she offered to talk my book up at the next branch meeting, and I thanked her profusely, probably a little too profusely, but she understood. She said, “It’s harder sometimes to ask for help than it is to get it.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Fellow authors, I know it’s hard for some of us; self-promotion isn’t a skill that comes naturally to everyone. But make friends with your librarians. They’re generally lovely people, and they do want to help.

(She also brought up the idea of me hosting a book talk at the library, “not promising anything yet” but recommending I think about it, maybe in time for the holidays when “hordes of grandmas come in and want to know what books to send off to their college kids for Christmas.” I’m not at all ready for that now–I didn’t even know I’d get my book on the shelves that easily–but libraries love events, and they love local authors. I’m nervous, but if I can, I think I’d like to do it.)

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7 thoughts on “Let Me Tell You a Story #26: The Power of Asking for Help

  1. Courage! (as the suffragists to say.) Give the talk. It will be a wonderful experience (once you get through the first one…..) Ask a couple of friends/family to come along for support if you like, or just go out and do it. Once you start talking I bet the words will just flow out. You have put so much thought into the process. This is your turn to share your experience and promote your book(s) as well.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely, your story reminds me a little of the time I got up the nerve to contact our local police station to ask questions related to a story I was writing. After that (still super nervous), I called and spoke with a really helpful social worker re: what might happen to a sixteen year old minor if her parents died.

        Liked by 1 person

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