3 Ways For Self-Publishers to Break Into the Public Library Market

POSTED ON Apr 6, 2015

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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When you’re publishing your own books easy to get so busy and wrapped up in details that you often miss book marketing opportunities along the way.

For instance, I see lots of indie authors publishing books that would be great additions to public libraries. Have these authors tried to alert librarians—a huge group of professional book buyers and advocates for authors—to their publications? I don’t think so, because I rarely get asked about marketing to libraries.

That’s one of the reasons I was interested in this great article about publishers and libraries from Publishers Weekly, The Case for Libraries by David Vinjamuri.

Although many of the points Vinjamuri makes are oriented to traditional publishers, self-publishers can also learn a lot about how libraries and publishers work together, and the changing environment in our public libraries.

With the gradual disappearance of many retail bookstores, libraries are becoming more important as places where our books can be discovered.

That’s why I was pretty excited to find just last week about a new program specifically designed to introduce indie-published books to libraries.

I’ll also tell you about two other ways you can bring your books to the attention of librarians.

New Opportunity in the Library Market: Self-e from Library Journal

Library Journal, The most important publication in the library market, is in the process of rolling out a great service that will bring independent books to the attention of librarians at the U.S.’s 16,000 public libraries. This is a curated program, so not every book submitted will be accepted.

Here’s their description of the program:

“SELF-e is a discovery platform designed to expose your ebook(s) to more readers via the public library, locally or nationwide. Authors whose ebooks are selected by Library Journal for inclusion in our SELF-e modules can use a digital badge promoting their inclusion to potential readers who may choose to purchase a copy of the title and/or to purchase other books by that author via retail channels. Ebooks that are not selected by Library Journal will still be accessible to local library patrons via state-specific modules.”

Prominent indie authors are also lining up behind this program, and you can see why. As many people have said, the biggest enemy of the indie author is obscurity. Getting into a program like this could really have a big impact on how discoverable your book is, and that can be an incredible boost.

“Libraries are all about readers and writers connecting. Since so many of my new readers discover my books via their local libraries, it’s vital that all my books, whether traditionally published or self-published, be easily accessible to library patrons. This program helps librarians to better serve readers and authors to grow their audience, creating a perfect synergy of benefit to all book-lovers.”—CJ Lyons, Best-selling self-published author, 2 million plus books sold

“The number one challenge any author has is building an audience. Once they have an audience, they have an opportunity to grow their work professionally. Librarians can be a powerful marketing force for emerging authors, especially if they can promote the books without fear of success. The SELF-e approach to curation combined with simultaneous user-access will encourage books to be discovered and even go viral.”—Hugh Howey, Best-selling self-published author, 2 million plus books sold

I’ve submitted my recent book, The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide to Self-e, so stay tuned and I’ll report back once this program is fully active later in 2015.

Here’s an interesting infographic that explains the program at a glance: Is Self-e Right For Me? [Infographic PDF]

Quality Books

Editor’s note: Quality Books is no longer available as of July, 2017.

Another way into the library market is Quality Books. In the past I’ve sold books to this company, which is a great distributor of indie books to libraries, and they remain a viable route into this market.

Here’s how they brand themselves on their site (Quality Books):

“For more than 4 decades Quality Books Inc. has been dedicated to being the premier supplier of small press titles and special interest non-print resources to the library community. We stock titles from nearly 1800 small and independent presses and are committed to bringing the voices of the vibrant small press community to a larger audience through libraries.”

You can find out more about getting into their program here: Quality Books for Publishers.

IBPA Library Marketing Program

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) offers, among the other benefits of membership, a lot of targeted marketing campaigns. Most of these are cooperative programs that make reaching a lot of book buyers more affordable than it would be if you tried to do it on your own.

One of these is their Library Market E-Blast which can be another way to penetrate this important market. Here’s the description from their site:

Members present their titles alongside only 14 others in a special e-blast sent to 5,000 qualified collection development librarians. Three options: Public Library, K-12 Library, or College Library. Cost is $199 per title. No title limit applies.

Find out more here: IBPA Library Market E-Blast

However you choose to approach the library market, remember to include it in your marketing plan. For the right book, sales and visibility you achieve through public libraries can make a crucial difference in reaching your publishing goals.

Photo credit: Pender County Library, Burgaw via photopin (license)

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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