Top 10 Things Librarians Look for When Purchasing MG & YA Books
I joined the public and school library world a little over two years ago, and since then I have picked up a tip or two on what to look for when purchasing books. There is a criterion that must be met, especially when it comes to limited budgets. Now, we all have our own tastes, so I surveyed my colleagues all across North America to come up with a top ten list of what librarians look for when buying MG/YA books:
10. Personal taste. If I’ve read a book and liked it, I trust to recommend it. Keep in mind censorship is a big no-no in the library world, so even if I don’t love a book doesn’t mean I won’t buy it if it fits other criteria.
9. Try to think of one student, one patron that will read it. If I can’t picture it chances are I’ll move on.
8. Fits the curriculum, or fills a gap in the collection, or covers a current topic. If I can clearly see how a book will fit in, I’m more likely to buy it. This is especially true when it comes to buying non-fiction.
7. New authors.
6. Books made into movies or TV shows. Kids will ask for them!
5. Requests from students/patrons. This easily makes up 50% of what I buy.
4. Reviews, especially starred reviews, recommendations from trusted sources such as other librarians, or alternatively popular titles at the bookstore.
3. Curb appeal. I know…I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, right? But your target market, kids and youth, in most cases will not read your book if the cover looks bad (even if the storyline is enticing).
2. A story well told with an enticing storyline.
Drum roll, please. The number one thing librarians are looking for is…
1. Community, meaning books reflect readers and their experiences. Alternatively, books that provide different perspectives and worldviews. #weneeddiversebooks
There you have it. I believe you should write what you want to write, so I hope you take this list and use it as a way to position your book to agents, librarians etc. vs. thinking you have to write XYZ to succeed.
Stay tuned for part two for what I look for when purchasing picture books.