Public libraries have always been an important aspect of a writer's success. Having a venue where people can read your books for little or no cost is a very useful tool for gaining fans. Although online displays and ebooks are supplementing this sort of low-risk exposure, the old fashioned brick-and-mortal repositories of printed tomes is still a major key to getting noticed.
That being said, it is increasingly difficult for a lesser-known author to get a book onto library shelves. With thousands of new books being released each year, libraries must be selective in the titles they purchase, for there is only so much space on the shelves. They have to find books that people will be checking out, and that means going for authors who already have a preexisting fan-base.
I've found the only way to get a book into a library, other than being famous, is customer requests. You need people who visit a library to request a particular book. In other words, there must be a demand for the title. If enough people ask for a book, the library will often order it, but the volume of requests varies. Another way to get books into libraries is through donations. This removes the financial burden on the library, though the matter of shelf space remains.
I have been actively seeking to get my books into libraries for years, though it is not an easy process, and one I cannot do alone. It isn't a matter of simply mailing free copies (which I paid for, mind you) to every library I can find. Most likely, such unsolicited donations will find their way into a discard bin (shelf space necessity). An unknown author asking the libraries to order copies of a book is also pointless. If they don't know you personally, there is zero chance of them responding to such a request.
This is where I need other people's help. I need you to be my proxies when submitting to libraries around the country and the world. Everyone has a local library, and anyone interested in reading visits theirs on occasion. There is an opportunity here for you to help me, yourself, and the reading community in your area. All it will take is a little leg work and minor chit-chat.
I am asking that you, the reader of this column, join my "Library Brigades," and help get my books into public libraries in your area. The next time you're at the library, ask a librarian if they'll be willing and able to order one of my books for you to read. It's not something every library can do, but it never hurts to ask, does it? If we get lucky, the librarian will be able to get the book, and you will then be able to read it for free (and so will anyone else who goes to that library).
If enough people do this, it will:
1: Help me expand my readership significantly, and facilitate increased demand for my various writings.
2: Help readers get their hands on my books at no cost to themselves, and discover that I'm worth their time.
3: Help you, for you'll also have access to the library book!
It's a win/win/win! Let's get these books circulating today!
Ask your librarian for one of these fine selections (each by Martin T. Ingham):
The Guns of Mars
The Rogue Investigations
Prisoner of Time