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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guest Interview: RWA Librarian of the Year, Deborah Schneider

Our Guest today is Deborah Schneider, 2009 Librarian of the Year for Romance Writers of America. RWA Librarian of the Year is awarded to a librarian who demonstrates outstanding support of romance authors and the romance genre. Deborah is also the author of two historical romances, Promise Me and Beneath a Silver Moon.
Hello, Deborah! Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you today. When I told the Lady Scribes you were stopping by, I was immediately inundated with questions from authors who would love to see their books promoted in libraries.

Can you tell us about the author-librarian connection? What can a librarian do for an author, and what is the best way for an author to approach librarians?

First of all, always remember that Librarians and library staff members (not everyone is a librarian) LOVE books. They read a lot, because that’s what they do for fun, and they LOVE authors. So, get over the “I’m just a little ole romance writer thing” – and remember you are a talented author!

A library event, which is what I’m most familiar with and so can speak about best, can provide a lot of exposure. Most libraries have a webpage that leads to their on-line catalog. They promote their events on that page and it’s a great place for readers to discover you. They also create flyers, have Email lists and some even have Facebook pages and use Twitter to promote library events. So – the best thing a library can do for an author is provide free promotion. They can also put your books on the shelves. That introduces you to new readers and might lead to more books sold when your next book is released.

Getting your books on the shelves depends upon the library or library system. We have a department called; “Collection Management Services” and the Selectors are the people who order the books. They place these orders based on several factors including popularity of author if they’ve previously published books and reviews. It’s important to get reviews from sources a library might be familiar with, and I think “Romantic Times Book Reviews” is one of the best. Publisher’s Weekly is great, but they review very few romances each week and it’s difficult to get a review unless you are a well-known author. We like to purchase books from local authors, and if I want to hold an event with an author, I can usually convince our Selectors to order some of the books for our libraries.

Does this advice also work for international authors who would like to see their books in U.S. libraries? Would you recommend mass mailings to someone who can’t go to the library in person?

We don’t purchase many books from overseas, so the important thing for our library system would be to have the book available in the US, and we prefer to use Ingrams or Baker&Taylor for orders, (they are distributors). Get into their catalogs, that’s very important! If you do a mailing, try to keep it simple. A letter telling a bit about the book and a short bio, all the ordering information, ISBN number, Edition, copyright, publisher – all of these are important. Include copies of your reviews. A bookmark is a nice touch, but for Selectors – you don’t need a Media Kit. For a program, you do need one. And if you don’t know what a Media Kit is, there’s an example on my webpage, www.debschneider.com

What suggestions do you have for authors who set up readings or discussions with their local libraries? Are there things an author should or shouldn't do at such an event? Other than a reading or discussion group, what are some ways authors have connected with their readers through her library?

I don’t like to do “readings” – they sound boring and they don’t attract much of an audience. I prefer to offer author events, panel discussions, and writing workshops. We have a series of writing workshops with author Bob Mayer going on right now, and we have nearly 100 people every Tuesday night. He knows how to structure a great workshop and people are interested in what he has to say. And he sells books at every workshop! Be creative, research what your library has done in the past and discover what other authors are doing that’s successful. Recently I’ve been combining book events with music programs, and that’s been very popular. I have a mystery writer coming to a library next week and she sets her books in Paris. I’ve arranged for a French cabaret music group to perform for 45 minutes before she speaks, and the Friends of the Library are providing refreshments. This makes the event an evening out – and it’s been very successful.

How do you see the future role of libraries now that e-books are growing in popularity?

We purchase licenses so our patrons can download e-books and e-audio books. They’re growing in popularity. We’re now talking about purchasing e-book devices to loan out to patrons, and we think this could be especially applicable to our outreach to older patrons, who will be able to enlarge the type face. This would allow us to make more books available to the visually-impaired. Libraries are very viable in the 21st Century. We have programs for people who need help finding a job, free access for those new to the US and low-income families, we offer cultural programs for all ages. All across the country, library use has increased in the past year. People are still reading, but they are accessing the materials they want to read in different ways. The book isn’t going away, but stories will be available in different formats.

Your latest novel, Promise Me, has received stellar reviews. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what you’re working on now?
Promise Me” is the story of a young widow, Amanda Wainwright, who suffered through a loveless marriage with an older man that was arranged by her father. She made a deathbed promise to her husband to go to Willow Creek and help the miners. He was searching for repentance, but Amanda is searching for meaning for her life. She meets Sam, who is a handsome, charming and glib businessman. What she doesn’t know is that Sam is actually a Secret Service agent, in town to investigate a conspiracy of mine owners to control the price of silver and possibly change the US monetary system. The story is about how they meet, have an affair and fall in love set against the backdrop of a wild mining town. It’s a story about second chances and never giving up, things I believe deeply in.

I’m finishing a Steampunk romance, because I love that sub-genre and it combines my favorite time period, (Victorian) with magic and strange technology. It’s been a lot of fun to write.

Thank you so much for answering all our questions, 2009 RWA Librarian of the Year, Deborah Schneider. For more information, please visit her website at http://www.debschneider.com/ . Be sure to check out the historic trailer for Promise Me.
We'd love to hear your experiences promoting through libraries. Please post them in the comments sections.


  1. I work at a library and have presented a YA writing program, and adults wanted to attend also. I've been asked to promote NaNoWriMo for the fall, and with my local RWA group, we've presented a writer's question and answer session. We also meet at the local library and have presented special speaker presentations, like from a woman who was a nurse during WWII. Our library's policy was not to buy mass market books, although after I started working for them, they started to do so. Before this, they would only accept donations for mass marketed books.

    I put my new releases up on a shelf behind our counter, and patrons are always waiting for the day they can finally put their name on the list to check them out. Some end up buying them at the local book stores and have them autographed!

  2. Deborah, what great information! I'm headed over to your site now to check it out. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  3. Hi Terry! What great ideas you have. I remember the first time I read one of your books, I got it at my local library. Then I bought a copy to send to my mother :)I'm excited about your new releases too. And congratulations on the awards, they seem to be raining down on you lately :)

  4. great blog (hi Terry!) I guess I will go make friends with my librarian next week, lol. Thanks for addressing the ebook issue!

  5. Great blog and interview. I'm not quite at the promoting stage of my career yet but I will definitely tuck this information away for later use. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us Deborah!

  6. Really useful information! Thanks for all you do for readers and writers!

  7. Thanks for stopping by, Deborah. This was really informative. I don't think I realized libraries did other types of author events than readings. This is exciting to me. I think I'll have to check with my local library and see what ideas can be worked out. Well, at least once I'm published. LOL.

  8. Congrats on your new release! Thanks for the informative post--and see you at the library soon. :)


  9. Thanks so much for the great information. As an Australian author, I was curious how the American Library system worked. Thanks Gail for the great interview. I'm off to ransack Deborah's website. :o)

  10. Thanks everyone for stopping by, and if you have any more questions about library programs, feel free to email me through my website! And special thanks to all the "Lady Scribes" for inviting me over!

  11. I am one of the authors wondering how to approach the libraries in my area. Thank you, Deborah, for taking your time to share the information.

  12. Hi, Deborah and Gail. Thanks for this fabulous information. I wish I could get over there for Bob Mayer's workshops!

  13. Great info. I'm printing this off and using your suggestions. Thanks