Monday, October 6, 2008

Our First Shrinking Violet Softlight: Lisa Chellman, Librarian



Dear Friends,

We are debuting a *New* Shrinking Violet feature today, and the lovely Lisa Chellman is here to kick it off. A "Softlight" is what extraverts might call a "Spotlight"-- the mere sound of which of might send many of us introverts into a near catatonic state. And, I love that Lisa's pup, Carly, with her truly remarkable ears is buddying up with her for the photo op. ;-)

Lisa Chellman is a youth services librarian in the Chicago area, as well as a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction. She looks forward to the happy day when someone buys her first novel. We do, too!

Lisa just wrote a fabulous blog entry the other day entitled "Meeting Your Librarians: A How-Not-to-Do-It Guide for Authors" She has generously consented to let us feature it here.

* * * * * * * *
Even though I'm not yet a published author, I love reading marketing advice on Shrinking Violet Promotions ("Marketing for Introverts"), mailing lists, and author blogs. It's great knowing that when the time comes, I'll have plenty of wisdom to take advantage of. That's why I'd like to share some advice of my own, for all the writers out there. I'm always encouraging writers to introduce themselves to their local librarians (heck, I'm always encouraging everyone to do that), and I have, happily, met several highly personable authors in my time as a librarian. But I never knew how... um... special an experience it could be, until today.

Without further ado, here's my advice for authors on how to impress their librarians in all the wrong ways:

Stride into the department and demand (of the librarians) to talk to the librarians. You were, after all, informed that there were two librarians working today.

When informed by the bemused librarians that they are, in fact, librarians, immediately ignore the younger of the two. Obviously she knows nothing.

Admit that you haven't come into the library in the two years since your book was published.

Inform the librarians that you have donated your book to the library—your book which has, you brag, sold over 200,000 copies (yet is, strangely, owned by only four libraries in the consortium).

Don't pitch your book. Instead, launch into a lecture about a peripheral topic, e.g., the importance of a good night's sleep.

Never let the librarians get a word in edgewise.

Offer to do a program at the library, but, when informed that you will need to talk to the person who actually coordinates such programs, say (as dismissively as possible) that you already have that person's name.

Talk repeatedly about the "literally, thousands" of promotional posters the publisher gave you, and how the library could hang them up and give them away (i.e., advertise for you).

I wish I were making this up. I can think of three things that author did right: introduced herself, donated her book when she found we didn't own it, and expressed interest in doing a program at the library. Everything else—her disrespect, her pushiness, her unwillingness to listen—was wrong from beginning to end.

And, in the words of my husband, "Authors who never visit their library are not to be trusted."

* * * * * * * *

Lisa, thanks for sharing your experience with us. All of us pinky swear to you that we will never behave that way, because here at SVP we believe that that librarians are all Divine Book Goddesses!

Now I want everyone to hop on over to Lisa's blog and give her a high-five for being our first Softlight. Thanks, Lisa!

Back on Thursday--
Mary Hershey

7 comments:

beckylevine said...

Never go into a library???!!!

Great post, Lisa. Thanks for the good advice. :)

Celise said...

How can you not go into a library since your book has been published? I mean, when was the last time the person went? I lived in my local library all through high school. Particularly during my senior year.

liquidambar said...

I love advice that's funny as well as useful. ;-)

Lisa Chellman said...

Believe me, the entire time this author was talking, my eyes were aflutter in disbelief! Or they would have been, had I not been trying to maintain an expression of polite and professional interest...

Shari said...

I've hopped over to Lisa's blog, and now I'm back to say thanks, Mary, for this post. :)

I <3 SVP!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone and ESPECIALLY Lisa the Uber-Cool Librarian!

:-)
Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

...but of COURSE authors don't go into libraries! If there weren't libraries, then every reader would BUY the book, instead of borrow it from the library. Libraries are responsible for lower sales and lower royalties, and they will be the death of the publishing industry, and therefore, authors!

(Yes, this is tongue in cheek, but I seem to remember Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, saying something similar, when I was a librarian--many years ago)