This is a don’t-miss podcast episode! This interview was recorded live at the Kobo office in Toronto, where we hosted a group of local librarians and indie authors and fed them copious amounts of cheese (and respectable quantities of wine!)
KWL director Chrissy Munroe spoke with digital collections specialists Maria Cipriano and Beth Godlewski, who were informative, engaging and hilarious. Tune in to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or anywhere you can download podcasts!
Maria Cipriano has worked at Toronto Public Library for almost 30 years doing collection development. She has been in charge of ebook assignment for 6 years and she goes by the unofficial title “eBookGoddess”.
Beth Godlewski went to library school with Maria and has been on the collections team for two years. She deals with customer requests, many of which are for titles by indie authors. She’s the first point of contact for authors hoping to get their books into the Toronto Public Library catalogues.
How is digital content selected for the library catalogue?
Maria logs on to OverDrive every day to look at all titles released over the past 24 hours—this amounts to a mind-boggling 500,000 titles annually. Around 30,000 titles a year a year and TPL has an annual budget of $3 million.
TPL has a very diverse catalogue, including all genres of fiction and non fiction. This includes almost all titles published by the big five publishers; as much Canadian content as possible and lots of indie fiction. Audio is also tremendously popular and growing rapidly.
With this vast volume of new releases, they rely heavily on customers to indicate which indies titles they should buy. If a customer is looking for a title which isn’t listed, they have to option to click “recommend to library” on OverDrive to suggest a title. They can do this only once per month. If the library chooses to buy it, that customer is top of the holds list.
Advice from Librarians: Author DOs and DON’Ts
DO make your book available on OverDrive—you can do this very easily through KWL. Click “Make available to libraries” and set a library price, then start earning the best payment rate (50%, no aggregator fee) you can get anywhere.
DON’T set your library price too high, especially if you’re a new author.
DO work on creating demand—librarians really respond to demand, but they can’t create it. Ask your readers to reviews your books on Goodreads, recommend your titles to friends, or post about them on social media!
DON’T make your book available in PDF only—it must be available in ePub (yes, even academic texts!)
DO ensure that your metadata is clean and that you’ve selected appropriate categories for your content.
DON’T make your cover yourself (unless you’re a designer) and never upload a book with no cover.
DO offer a book free (even temporarily) to build buzz and create a following—50% of readers discover new readers via word of mouth and 30% via social media. Give your readers a taste and leave them wanting more!
DON’T turn up at your local library and gift your book. TPL cannot accept free gifts and cannot add them to their catalogues.
DO get your book edited and ensure that the description is well written and free of typos.
What are Toronto Public Library readers looking for?
TPL circulates more ebooks that any other library in the world, with a readership of three million avid book lovers. They are highly engaged, sophisticated readers and they want a diverse catalogue. Romance is the most popular genre and Torontonians like sexy, steamy romance, while smaller towns in Ontario like “sweet”, chaste romance. They also read a lot of Canadian literature, poetry and nonfiction. There’s a big indigenous borrowing community and TPL is always looking for more indigenous content. There is a high demand for political non-fiction (particularly books about Donald Trump), books on urban planning, and cookbooks.
Librarians see trends before anyone else and have incredible insight into what’s new and hot. Audiobooks have been popular in libraries for years (remember books on tape?) and digitization of audio is leading to faster growth than ever. Audio also attracts new audiences; millennial men are joining in higher numbers than ever and they’re listening to audio.
How can authors support their local library, other than selling books?
Borrow library books!
Say nice things about your library on the internet!
Suggest programmes that you can help facilitate.
Links of Interest
Reach out to TPL directly and let the library know who you are! Include links to reviews and anything else to demonstrate that you have a following.
While Toronto Public Library welcomes submissions from self-published authors, we receive a large number of submissions and purchase self-published books very selectively. We are most likely to purchase books of significant local interest or which have received media attention.
SELF-e — Connecting Indie Books, Libraries and … – Library Journal