The Library Dilemma Isn’t Really a Dilemma

At a recent conference, an elderly lady asked me if my book was in the library. Keep in mind that I was speaking about writing and the book, and the attendees knew that all speakers had their books for sale in the bookstore. The gentle woman was intrigued about my story, but she waits until they are in her library.

She clearly informed me that she doesn’t buy books. She checks them out from the library.

I was very polite, and my initial disappointment quickly passed. After all, my intent as a writer is to draw readers to my stories, and if she loves Lowcountry Bribe, she’ll most likely look for Tidewater Murder in 2013. Of course, if she loves it, she’ll tell her friends, mention it to the librarian, maybe (fingers crossed) leave a review on Amazon.

Upon returning home, however, I stumbled upon a news release. Sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), a survey was completed . . . a huge survey. It constitutes the largest study of library e-book usage ever, with more than 75,000 people responding. Turns out that:

  • Library readers actually BUY 3.2 books per month (print and electronic).
  • Over a third of library readers subsequently purchase a book they’ve borrowed.
  • These readers usually experiment reading new writers via the library.
  • Over half of the readers are aged 40-64, avid readers.
  • Almost 80 percent of the readers are female.
  • Three-quarters of library readers hold college degrees.
  • Readers are readily borrowing ebooks from the library now, with 84 percent borrowing on their Kindle, Sony Reader or Nook.

From Marketwirepress release:

The survey took place between June 13 and July 31, 2012, at thousands of OverDrive-powered public library websites in the United States, with 75,384 respondents completing all or part of the survey. The intent of the survey was to gain insight into the borrowing and buying behaviors of library e-book readers and is not representative of the U.S. population as a whole. To see the full survey data, please visit OverDrive’s Digital Library Blog. With more than two-thirds of U.S. public libraries participating in OverDrive e-book lending, 87 percent of the U.S. population has access to e-books and audiobooks through this service. To find a library with OverDrive eBooks near you, visit

In my house on Thanksgiving Day, we go around the table and express one thing we’re thankful for. So…this Thanksgiving week, I am very thankful for library readers. I am very thankful for librarians. I appreciate the cities, counties and states that continue to fund libraries. And I bow humbly to all the Friends of the Library nonprofit groups that promote, support and assist libraries across the country.

Just take the time to leave a review someplace.

Just remember though, if you borrow your reading material from a library, please take the time to leave a review for the author at Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, a blog or even Facebook. The author will be eternally grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.



Overcome Writer’s Block

Note from Hope:

I met Rochelle Melander at the Mississippi Writer’s Guild Conference this past summer. I kicked off the event with an opening keynote message . . . she closed the event with her closing keynote. The Yin and Yang of the conference. She’s open, vocal, and goes ninety miles per hour which was fun to watch in a room full of Southerners. But she fit in well, and we enjoyed our brief private chat. She’s published with Writer’s Digest Books and is quite the author with multiple books under her belt. She has offered us a guest message on how to deal with writer’s block, especially with the onset of NaNoWriMo in another couple of weeks. Enjoy!    ~HOPE


Overcome Writer’s Block

By Rochelle Melander

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” -Terry Pratchett

I don’t have time for writer’s block. Every day, I juggle my professional life (writing and coaching) and my personal life—husband, kids, dogs, exercise, laundry, and other household chores. Nearly every book I’ve written has been completed in less than six weeks thanks to publishing contracts with tight deadlines. In the past five years, I’ve also tackled National Novel Writing Month ( and the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Writing books fast with children and dogs underfoot has given me tools to prevent, diagnose, or overcome the infamous writing disease—writer’s block—and finish my assignments on time. While movies portray writer’s block as something you’d kill to get over (Secret Window) or drink your way out of (The Lost Weekend), I’d prefer to see it as something manageable, like a headache. Here’s how I’ve learned to thwart writer’s block:

1. Prevent it. Prewriting prevents writer’s block. Often writer’s block is simply a moment of panic—what do I say? Eliminate that fear by planning. Before facing the blank page, record ideas for your article or chapter. I like to use mind maps ( as prewriting tools because I can brainstorm freely without worry about what comes first. Once I get to the computer, I have a whole page of ideas to work from.

2. Diagnose it. Writer’s block can also be a symptom of a manuscript issue. As writer-in-chief, it’s my job to dig around and find the problem so I can fix it and finish my assignment. Here are three common issues that present as writer’s block:

*Structure. When you feel bogged down or muddled while writing simple concepts or stories, chances are the structure does not fit the type of information you’re writing or the audience you’re writing for. The fix? Ask yourself, “Could I write this if I structured it as a . . .” and then give yourself several options. Look at books or articles in your field and note the structure. How can you borrow their structures to make your article work?

*Content. When you hit a speed bump in your writing, check to see if you have enough information to write the article or book chapter. The fix? Research! Take a day to read articles and interview experts in the field. When you go back to the computer, you’ll have plenty of info to wow your readers!

*Audience. Often we get writer’s block when we do not know who we are writing for. We struggle to put together a book or an article for the amorphous “everyone.” The fix? Forget everyone and find your ideal reader. Once you know who you are writing for, you can shape your work just for them.

3. Overcome it. So what happens when you prepare like a pro, check the big three (structure, content, and audience), and still feel stuck? Chances are good you are dealing with one of two issues: you’re tired or you have some other sort of writing glitch to overcome (e.g., you need a good lead or you haven’t figured out the angle you’re taking). Fortunately, the fix for both is the same: take a break. Engaging with nature or doing a menial, repetitive task will help you restore your ability to pay attention. And, the time away from your work may lead to what psychologists call the Eureka effect (

So next time you get stuck, take a break to watch the clouds or sort the laundry. No doubt you’ll return to your desk refreshed and ready to write—and potentially with a solution in hand!

Your turn: How do you overcome writer’s block?


Rochelle Melander is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. She is the author of ten books, including the National Novel Writing Month guide—Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to write good books fast, use writing to transform their lives, navigate the publishing world, and get published! For more tips and a complementary download of the first two chapters of Write-A-Thon, visit her online at