With only a literary novel about migrants under my belt, I know I cannot aspire to a huge readership. However, after a few years in the indie “business”, I have a rough idea of where my readers may be. And I find it much more satisfying to deal with universities and libraries than to slave away at marketing and metrics of various sorts.
Some universities in the US stock my book in their bookshops and libraries, following recommendations from professors and students of Latin American studies. A niche I’m working on.
On the library front, I recently had a very positive experience while visiting Palermo, as a tourist and also to meet in person my Sicilian translator, Giacomo L. Bellomare. We set out one morning with five Italian and five English copies of my book, to offer them to local libraries. The director of the Biblioteca Regionale was delighted with our visit and donation of one copy in each of the two languages. When the meeting was over, Giacomo and I hung around the splendid building for a while before a coffee-and-cannoli break. We then continued to the central branch of the Biblioteca Comunale, whose main librarian said she was happy to distribute to other branches of their network the copies we were carrying. We offloaded ballast, did the required paperwork, and left with the satisfaction of having the capital of Sicily sort of covered in no time at all.
I know I cannot afford to travel around the world, giving away free copies of my work. Fortunately, however, librarians do want to help readers discover new books, and can purchase them if they are available on the vendor platform they use. IngramSpark has me covered in print distribution, and an aggregator gets my electronic versions to several such platforms. Of these, Overdrive alone, which serves over 20,000 libraries worldwide, offers different language versions of my novel. That is half the battle won! The challenge I face is letting collection-development staff know that my book is available on their vendor platforms, as well as making potential readers aware that they can ask their library to acquire the book for them.
A year ago I contacted a number of British libraries about the original Spanish version of my book. Several wrote back with interest in acquiring it for their Spanish collection. Cambridge Central Library invited me to a “Meet the Local Author” event, where I made a few sales and acquaintances. Others advised me to get back to them when the English version was available but then life got in the way.
Along with universities, libraries are a priority for me in 2017. Dealing with them doesn’t bring me stress, anxiety or a sense of trying to be someone that I am not. They fit in with what matters to me, why I write and the vision I have of my journey as an author.