Wednesday, August 4, 2010

14 Reasons Why Libraries are Writers’ Best Friends--Elizabeth S. Craig

Henry Lamb, The Artist's Wife 1933 You don’t have to spend a lot of money to become a better writer. That’s a good thing because most writers don’t have a ton of money to throw around.

The library has all the resources a writer needs. It’s always been one of my favorite places on Earth.

Here are the reasons why libraries are writers’ best friends:
Research
*Researching your book: Libraries have computers with internet capabilities. They have books and periodicals on a multitude of different subjects. They also have research librarians/information specialists who can help you with research and find reference materials to help you in your search.
*Researching your genre: You can easily check out a dozen recently-published books in your genre. It’s a quick way to see what publishers are looking for.
*Need help with grammar and writing style? The library will have reference books to help you. My favorite style book is Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It’s been around for ages.
*Books on the writing craft? Different libraries have different books, but there are some that will be in nearly every branch: like On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
*Some libraries will have subscriptions to helpful periodicals like Writer’s Digest.
A Place to Write
*Has your house gotten crazy? Kids/spouse driving you nuts? Is a coffeehouse too expensive? The public library is a great place to write.
Help With the Submission Process
*Looking for an agent? Look at the acknowledgements page in one of the recent releases in your genre. Agents are nearly always thanked.
*Another great way to find agent and editor names is by using Writer's Market and Literary Market Place. Using these books at the library means saving lots of money—these books are expensive.
*Need help quickly summing up your book in a query letter? Look at back cover copy of novels in your genre.
*Don’t have email and you need to email some queries? You can set up a Gmail or Hotmail account that can be accessed from a computer at your local library.
Promotion
*Libraries are major book purchasers. Find out which libraries have your book. Go to WorldCat.org, which searches libraries for content worldwide. You just plug in your book’s name, hit the search button, and find the results. For a listing of public libraries, go to Public Libraries.com. You’ll get physical addresses, phone numbers, and websites (from which you can get the library’s email address).Send the acquisitions librarian an email or postcard with your cover photo, ISBN number, title of the book, publisher’s name, your name, release date, short summary, and any good review snippets.
*The librarians at my local branch are my friends, too. They’ve been incredibly supportive—my book is nearly always checked out of the library or on request because of their generous recommendations of my book to patrons. They’ve also put my book on a display with other regional authors.
*If you’re looking for a place to give a writing workshop or talk, your library usually has a meeting room that’s perfect for your event. Many of them will allow you to sell your book as well (it’s nice to give a donation to their Friends of the Library program if your signing is for-profit.)
*Libraries also provide locations for writing groups and book clubs to gather. For some writers, meeting with other writers and readers is a great way to network and find support and encouragement.

There are many expensive paths a writer can take toward professional development. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Writing shouldn’t have to cost more than the pen and paper you’re writing on.

4 comments:

Laura Marcella said...

I love libraries! I'm thankful for everyone who keeps libraries up and running.

These are all great ways to take advantage of your local library. They're there for everyone, no one gets turned away from the library, and that's the best thing about them!

Augusta Scattergood said...

Good info. As a former reference librarian, may I add that many libraries have inter-library loan (ILL) to get books from almost any other library anywhere. All you have to do is ask!

Not only that, but most libraries now have resources you can use from the comfort of your own home computer- magazine databases, reference resources, etc.
Yay for libraries. Support your local library so it will never go away.

Cassandra Jade said...

Libraries are everyone's best friend. They are the home of books and what could possibly be better?

I have to agree with all of your points here about libraries being a writer's best friend though. Thanks for sharing this.

Renea said...

Fantastic post. What's not to love about libraries? They are the best hiding places in the world.