Getting Your Book into Campus Libraries and More!

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson in celebration of the release  of her The Great First Impression Book Proposal as an audiobook

A long time ago, so long ago that authors and others in the publishing industry didn’t use the words independent publishing or self-publishing, in fact didn’t know such things were possible but used a belittling term for something similar advertised in one-inch ads in cheap and fringe pulp magazines, I was a journalist for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that finally discontinued its print edition in these days of disease, political extremism, and the demise of ethical journalism. I loved it. I loved the clatter of the Associated Press teletype, the smell of printer’s ink in the back shop, the variety of stories I was assigned to, and some of the duties I took on out of curiosity, like making the stories for our “society page” fit the space left to us after the paid advertising (you know, that stuff that paid the bills for a huge percentage of publishing entities like magazines) had been blocked into the layout of each day’s paper. One of the daily stories I worked with was Ann Landers’ question and answer columns. If we were short on space, it was my job to cut the questions in answers while leaving enough for readers to make sense of them. That format is still so popular more than 50 years later my beloved LA Times still publishes a syndicated column like that called “Ask Amy.” And I still use that format for my newsletter and columns because it assures me that I am writing about things that authors need to know. This is a version of one of those columns that tells authors exactly how to get their books into the college environment by using a few great marketing skills (like query letters) and lots of and what Elizabeth Warren has made famous, persistence.


Dear Carolyn:

I have a question regarding university bookstores. I know that Random House had my book in their catalog targeting educational sellers. Is there more than that I can do? How would I :

  1. identify them and
  2. approach them?

Traditionally Published Author Who Has Found I Must Help Market My Book


Dear Traditionally Published Author:

I’m going to use my husband’s experience with his What Foreigners Need to Know About America from A to Z as an example because he was so successful with a process I recommend in the third edition of my The Frugal Book Promoter (Modern History Press). The difference between the way I present it there and here, is this is more specific to a genre, theme, book. And so it includes a lesson in relearning—rediscovering if you will—your own book to find ways to present its essential benefits to whatever group you are targeting.

I plan on using the method I advocate so often with the release of my book The Great First Impression Book Proposal from Modern History Press. You may wonder why colleges would be interested in a title aimed at authors. And that leads me to one of the most difficult parts of this promotion. You must rethink your book in terms of what universities offer—meaning the departments existing under their college or university umbrella. In this case perhaps an MFA degree (Master of Fine Arts), or an extension writers’ department.

Using his wife’s book named above (ahem!), Lance put together a form letter (which he tweaks depending on who he is sending it to). He goes online and finds areas on campus that could use his book. He also tried to find specific people in charge of acquisitions of entire departments if he can. This is more or less what he came up with some of which he hadn’t thought of as an audience for his book. They include: 

  1. Libraries (Find their acquisition librarians if possible. The Head librarian will do.)
  2. International Student Programs (Find the head of this department but also officers of student organizations.)
  3. Instructors that teach courses to International Students . If you write fiction, you might find English Lit or writing professors looking for books that illustrate a specific writing technique or other professors who teach a topic related to your book in some other way. I found a college professor who taught diversity once and it resulted in fifty copies sold of my This Is the Place (now out of print and available only occasionally through Amazon’s used book feature—usually at bargain prices!)
  4. Campus Bookstore Buyers.
  5. English as a Second Language  (ESL) classes, usually through extension, but often offered or required for all freshmen coming from other countries.

He spends about 30 minutes a day sending the letter to the correct person when possible. Sometimes that’s only one contact. Some days, when research goes well, it’s three or four.  He’s had some amazing successes like having his book chosen as gifts/recommendations by the university that hosts the Fulbright Scholars in the US each summer. There is a cost to this process beyond time. He offers a free book to those influencers who show an interest. Notice I didn’t say he sent it along with a query without a specific request from his contact to take him up on his offer, though that could be a great tactic for authors or publishers with liberal budgets or those with paper copies that cost little to produce. I say that because sometimes a “hit” on a query most often doesn’t result in multiple book sales, either. The top sale we could trace to his letters (it’s sometimes easier for self-published authors to trace sales to a specific effort) was fifty-nine copies. 

Be aware, that if you find an instructor who recommends your book or uses is at class reading, the bookstore often stocks the book automatically. But not always. It doesn’t hurt to mention in separate queries or phone calls to the bookstore events director and book buyer that your book was ordered for a specific class or that Professor X showed an interest in your book.  

I mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Lance keeps at it.  About an hour a day for months…and now years.

Here’s an alternative that isn’t as frugal and not as effective because the contact is not personal (but it’s a lot less time-consuming!):

 IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) had a catalog that they send out to libraries, a separate one to university libraries, and one to reviewers.  I’ve used that program. It can be good…or not. Depending on the title.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi-award winners including the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter published in 2003. Her The Frugal Editor, now in its second edition, won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books, and others including the coveted Irwin award.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her new website is at Find more articles similar to this at

Very Best,

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Bestselling Author Karen Dionne speaks about The Wicked Sister in a recorded interview on YouTube

wicked sister book coverThe Upper Peninsula Publishers & Authors Association (UPPAA) hosted a special online event with U.P. author Karen Dionne about her new novel The Wicked Sister. The interview was hosted by UPPAA President and publisher Victor R. Volkman (Modern History Press, Ann Arbor).

The event featured a brief reading from The Wicked Sister from the author Karen Dionne to be followed by a question-and-answer session. She had originally planned a U.P.-wide book tour which had to be cancelled due to coronavius conditions. However, readers who purchase a copy of The Wicked Sister at area bookstores Snowbound Books (Marquette, MI) or Falling Rock Cafe (Munising, MI) can receive a complimentary signed bookplate with adhesive to insert in their own copy of the book.




Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of the award-winning psychological suspense novel The Marsh King’s Daughter published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 25 other languages. Her next psychological suspense, The Wicked Sister, will publish from G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and Little, Brown in the UK August 4, 2020. Karen enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs.

Established in 1998 to support authors and publishers who live in or write about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, UPPAA is a Michigan nonprofit association with more than 100 members, many of whose books are featured on the organization’s website at UPPAA welcomes membership and participation from anyone with a UP connection who is interested in writing and publishing books.

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Q&A: Second Edition or Second Printing?

I will soon be doing a second printing of my book with some minor corrections such as punctuation, and a few word changes. Do you know if this would be considered a 2nd printing or 2nd edition, or still the 1st edition? I want to add the edition on the copyright page. Any suggestions?

This is a VERY common question.  In general, what you have outlined is a “Second Printing”.  And what you would do is underneath the copyright notice on the copyright page indicate “Second Printing — August 2020”

A “Second Edition” is only warranted when there is at least a 20% change in content (as in new or changed content).  Also, you do not want to disappoint fans of the first edition who run out to buy a second edition only to find out there’s virtually NOTHING they can identify as changed.  That makes them feel cheated.  And then, to be perfectly correct, a second edition OUGHT to have a new ISBN.  Why is that?  Because otherwise someone who buys the book would randomly get a first or second edition depending on what store they bought it from.  And the store would not be to blame because they fulfilled the order for a specific ISBN correctly!

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Q&A: Why don’t I get royalties for Used Book Sales?

Q:  I see my book is selling used at Amazon, why am I not getting royalties??

A:  I regret to say that no author has ever been paid even $1 from Used Book sales.  This is because the Used Book sellers have purchased a book and have every right to sell it for as much or as little as they like with no concern for the author.

An author only gets paid “once”:  when the book is sold for the first time. Can you imagine if a book was resold 6 times getting 6 times the royalties?  Well that would be like Christmas morning, but it’s not how it works for Books, Movies, Music, or any other royalty stream.

If it did work, I could imagine a scene where the author would keep selling the same book to himself for a penny and collecting $2 royalties, sell it again for a penny, get another $2.  The publishers would be broke in no time…

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news

Got a nagging pubishing question?  Write to

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U.P. Reader Issue #3 includes Best Stories from U.P. Writers of All Ages

U.P Reader Issue #3

U.P Reader Issue #3

(MARQUETTE, MI, April 5, 2019) The Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) presents the third installment of the U.P. Reader. This latest edition of the annual anthology will feature the collected works of thirty-six of the best of the authors of the Upper Peninsula. We are again thrilled to include the three winners of the Dandelion Cottage Short Story Award in our publication. This award, created by UPPAA member Larry Buege in 2017, showcases the best writing from young authors who are enrolled in U.P. primary and secondary public schools.

“The U.P. Reader is something I hope will put Upper Peninsula authors in touch with the readers to expand their exposure to a much greater and more effective level,” commented Committee Chair, Mikel B. Classen.
This collection will be published by the UPPAA and will showcase the multitude of talent within the membership of the organization. The U.P. Reader will average 45 – 50K words and will include all genres of writing including non-fiction and poetry. Artwork and photography pertaining to submissions are encouraged.

The U.P. Reader will be available to booksellers as well as authors for sale and promotion. This will allow the members an opportunity to participate in a project that will not only showcase their talents as writers but also to get the finished product in front of readers so they can discover the U.P. authors that interest them no matter what their reading preference.
Submissions will be juried by a panel and those chosen will appear in the U.P. Reader. Authors chosen to be published in the anthology will see their submission published along with an author’s bio to steer readers to more work by that author.

“This is a publication about discovery. Finding new favorites and maybe rediscovering some old ones too. I think it is underestimated how many really talented writers we have living right here in the U.P. and the Reader will be the place to find them.” said Mikel Classen.

Tyler Tichelaar, President of UPPAA, adds, “A collection of short stories, poetry, and essays will allow readers to enjoy a hodge-podge of U.P. literature from many different voices and will offer numerous visions and definitions of what it means to live here. The U.P. can be many different things to many different people and such a collection will help make that clear.”
Proceeds from the U.P. will be used to support operating costs of the UPPAA and its many events to educate its members about writing and publishing, and to support educational projects like the Dandelion Cottage story contest that encourages young writers, but the main focus remains to get U.P. literature into the hands of readers.


For more information, including submission guidelines, contact Mikel B. Classen at

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