Saturday, June 23, 2012


I finally got my novel into the public library in New Orleans. This was a big deal to me, being that my novels are set in New Orleans, and being that I was born and raised in New Orleans, lived here my whole life, and still live here.  I would have thought the New Orleans Public Library would have been happy to have the novels of a local author, set in New Orleans, in the library.

This was not the case just a year ago. I emailed the acquisitions division of the library, which is what the website says to do if you are a writer or a publisher.  I explained who I was, my credentials, and provided a short summary of both books.  I made sure I mentioned I was published by Oak Tree Press, because I wasn't entirely sure if the library accepts self-published novels, and wanted to make them aware I had a real publisher.

I didn't hear back from them.  Despite the fact that the library system to this day is still recovering from Katrina, the website mentions that they received so many donated books they either sell most of them or donate them to a group that sells them.  So it wasn't a guarantee that even if I donated the books to them, they would put them on the shelves for the public.

Maybe I should have mentioned then that the public library system in Jefferson Parish, the unofficial sister parish to New Orleans, has 11 copies of my first novel and 3 or 4 copies of my second novel.  Maybe I should have mentioned that although I was agreeing to donate several copies of my novels to the New Orleans library, and send them at my own cost, the Jefferson Parish Library had purchased all of the books on their own, without me contacting them and without my knowledge that they had purchased them.  Maybe I should have mentioned a small town in north Alabama also has copies of my books, because I have an evacuation house there.  But I didn't.

Until last week.  I am nothing if not tenacious, so I emailed the library again, this time mentioning the facts above, as well as the third book, Chocolate City Justice, would be out before year's end.

I don't know if it was just luck, the fact that Jefferson Parish carried my books, or that my next book was called Chocolate City Justice (which seems to catch people's attention), but whatever it was, the acquisitions department emailed me back within a day and asked for two copies of each book.

It may seem silly that I worked so hard to give away four books, but I have a few reasons I think are pretty good for wanting my books in the N.O. library.  First, despite the fact that I have two books published by a reputable, if smaller, publishing house, and a contract to continue with the series, I still feel the need to legitimatize myself as a writer, particularly to people I actually know.  I don't know why, except maybe I believe those that know me will not think of me as a "real" writer.  Having books in the public library makes me more legitimate.

Second, I can refer people who aren't certain about buying my book, or who I know really can't stretch their budget to buy a book, to the library.  If they enjoy it, they may eventually end up buying the others in the series when they are able. 

Third, if enough people check out my book or request my book at the library, the library may buy more copies, and may purchase the series as it is published.

Fourth, I can consider doing a reading or an event, especially with another mystery writer, at the library if my book is already there.

As much as I hate to admit it, my town is not a reading town.  Most people I know don't even get the newspaper, much less read books.  And I'm talking about a lot of educated professionals.  Some people even brag about the fact that they never read, as if that's a good thing, so getting my books into the hands of those that do read is a big deal to me.

While everyone wants to make as money as possible, the way to do that as a writer sometimes involves giving something away for free.  The bigger picture is the more people who are exposed to my books, the more books I will eventually sell.

And if I never become rich off of this gig, at least I made a modest sum doing what I love, and not everyone can say that.

God bless the public library system.