I’m starting this blog post sounding like a Trump surrogate on CNN:
I can’t find the quote or the article it appeared in, but according to a friend of mine … humorist Dave Barry once said, “Libraries are socialism.” Or something like that.
The idea goes something like this: Libraries buy one copy of your book, with taxpayer dollars, and then loan it out to all takers. That means lost sales for writers. You can argue both sides of this allegation—whether it is good for writers—and you can argue it into the ground, and the only result will be that you and your literary friends will end up looking like frustrated, disbelieving journalists sitting across the table from starry-eyed Trump surrogates on a Sunday morning talk show. It’s socialism!
But despite all this, I decided to take my novel, Rules for Giving, to the local library. The result was not quite what I expected.
The adult literacy librarian told me that once my novel got through all the hoops and ladders of library bureaucracy, it would end up on the “Local Authors Shelf," which includes titles from local writers I know. A couple of weeks later a message popped up on my cell phone. It was the librarian. Rules for Giving was on the New Releases Table.
I hustled over to the library and there is was. Great placement, too, across from the main entrance and in view of library patrons waiting to check out their books (for free). I took a couple of photos, including the obligatory selfie, and posted them on social media.
The likes and comments started flooding in, more than any other recent post concerning my novel, and many by folks who had never posted before. There was a theme, too. People viewed my novel on a library shelf as a brand of legitimacy.
I was no longer some hack, schlepping his crappy novel to anyone who would listen. I was legit. A real writer.
Even one of my darling daughters-in-law, a high school science teacher who read an early draft, purchased two copies of the final product, and had me autograph one for her mother, was impressed. “… that really makes it official,” she wrote.
Forget that all I did was make a phone call and take my novel over to the library. There was no board of review or anything like that. The only thing that mattered was that a novel with my name on the cover was on a small-town library shelf.
I had arrived.
Interesting factoid: According to Librarian Kristin Laughtin, over on literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog, “… It’s also a necessity for libraries to buy multiple copies, as books wear out quickly, often after 25 check-outs or so. One copy just won’t last for 1,000 uses.”