How To Help An Author (Beyond Buying the Book): Part Two

By Jen Malone

Most of us writer types could probably find a way to live on books alone, but sadly, the kids need new soccer cleats, the car needs gas, and there’s the small matter of the bank preferring our mortgage payment in dollar form thankyouverymuch. So at times we’re forced with some tough choices with regards to the books we purchase, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be vital support systems for our author friends. Last month I blogged about how to support an author through well-timed book purchases.  This month’s follow-up will discuss ways to put a book on the radar of librarians. Stayed tuned for more in this series; there are tons of free and easy ways to help boost book sales for the authors in your life!

 ImageLibraries have to make the same tough book-buying decisions the rest of us do. Budgets are being slashed and libraries need to expand the scope of their services and resources beyond just offering books. That said, there are few more passionate and dedicated book lovers than a group of librarians.

Here are some ways you can put a book on their radar:

Request a copy of the book.

This seems simple, right? Most libraries make this quite effortless to do with an online link such as this one from Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA (also pictured below):

library order

You will typically need to know the information listed in the screen capture above, which is readily available on publisher’s websites or on Goodreads when you search for a book by title. Most libraries will only allow card-carrying members to request a title for purchase, which is where the beauty of Facebook and a vast network of friends and family comes into play! If each one asks their local library to buy a book, it adds up.

Talk Up the Book with Librarians

When the book on order comes in, make a big deal about it as you check it out. Librarians love to hear what their patrons are excited about.  The same goes for when you return the book. Letting librarians know what you liked about the title and what titles you would compare it to will help them more easily recommend it to other patrons.

Speak to librarians about programming

If your author friend is comfortable with public speaking and able to visit the library in person, make mention of this to the librarian in your branch. Often they are on the hunt for local or visiting authors who can meet with a book club or discuss a particular topic that fits with the library’s upcoming programming.

Vote for and review the book on Goodreads.

In general, it’s a great idea to cut and paste your review of the book anywhere and everywhere readers look for books (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) but did you know many librarians also take to Goodreads to help inform their purchasing decisions?  Librarians find new books by searching for lists such as “Best Middle Grade of 2014” or “Debut YA Authors 2014”. You can easily find the lists your author’s books are on by scrolling to the bottom of each book’s Goodreads page until you get to the section titled: Lists With This Book”

AYS blog

Click on those lists and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE for your favorite books!

If the book isn’t on lists yet, you can add to it any list or even create your own. Goodreads lists can be found on the top menu. Select Explore and then Listopia. From there you can browse or search existing lists or create one of your own.


Once you’ve found or created a suitable list, you can easily add your author’s book by using the tab that says: “Add books to the list” or the tab in the upper right that says “Create a list.”

adding list

Then pat yourself on the back. You’ve made an author’s day! Stay tuned next month for more tips on boosting a book’s visibility in the world and helping out the authors you love.

In the meantime, how do you use your local library to your advantage? What programs do you support at your library?


  1. Great tips! I’m not sure if this helps at all, but I have limited storage space and a LOT of books. (Not as many now that I have a Kindle!) Often I’ll donate books to the library. I know they sometimes donate them elsewhere themselves, but I feel like that gets it across a librarian’s desk at some point? Are there other suggestions of things we can do with used books that might help the author somehow?


  2. Just make sure you are talking to the librarians. The people at the circulation desk are typically not librarians and may not pass the information on to the people who make the purchasing decisions.


  3. If you don’t want to fill out an on-line form but are a heavy library user, you can often just talk the book up at the desk and get them to buy it. Librarians listen to their repeat patrons! I’ve often mentioned I loved a book I got through our library system that our local branch didn’t own and come back later to find they’d bought it.

    I also make a point to tell our children’s librarian when I find a book that I think will be particularly useful for story hour.


  4. Thanks, Jen, for all your suggestions. I will definitely be filling out that form to buy books written by my author friends. I am an avid library user, and order every book that I hear about or that wins awards so I can see what is getting published and what works. Libraries are most definitely a writer’s friend!


  5. Each of your posts on Rumpus is a goldmine of information! You are a marketing guru and writer extraordinare!
    Libraries often have authors visit for programs for kids. Some of these are supported by grants from the Mass.Cultural Council. I’m on the Cultural Council in my town and we have funded events like this. Each city and town in the state receives money annually for art and culture related programs. If you know of a terrific author in your town, encourage your librarian and your author friend to conjure up a presentation or activity of some kind. Cultural Council funding would mean that the author would be paid, at no expense to the library.


  6. Great post Jen! There are some great ideas in here. I’ve personally done a different flavor of Talk Up The Book With Librarians. As a library volunteer with a strong relationship with my librarians, I brought in a couple books I’d purchased and showed them off. Once they saw them, I didn’t have to ask them to purchase the books. They desperately wanted to! And did! Right on the spot. 😉


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