Self-published authors learn how to get their books into libraries

by Public Libraries on June 5, 2014

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Are you associated with or working in a library? If so, you might want to prepare for an influx of bids from self-published authors asking you to stock their work. Just this week, the Book Expo America kicked off in New York City, with thousands of books, library, writing, and reading enthusiasts gathered to a plethora of various talks and events. Within the conference, however, sat uPublishU, a sub-conference whose talks focused entirely on the self-publishing market and what authors could do to expand the reach of their self-published books. One speaker, Ian Singer – the vice president of Library Journal – urged authors to do themselves a favor and get their work into the hands of librarians, and by extension onto the public library shelves of America.

Singer described the library system across the country as a changing landscape, but a currently receptive one to self-published works. Library budgets are constrained, and librarians may look for cheaper alternatives to large publishing company contracts. Additionally, librarians know that interest in libraries in general has been in flux in recent generations with access to so much online and digital technology and content; self-published works could be a breath of fresh air, bringing unique genres and new styles of writing to young people who might not be interested in more of the same. Sprinkled into the talk were plenty of statistics to make self-publishers happy – including Library Journal conducted surveys which showed between 60 and 70 percent of respondents possessing an interest in making self-published titles available in their libraries.

As for barriers to entry, Singer noted that the vast majority of libraries now include ebooks, a platform that many self-publishers already are taking advantage of and have their works formatted for. That said, Singer did concede that there are processes and cataloging policies at libraries that currently favor established publishing companies. With time, though, these barriers should lessen and self-published should help this transitional period along by soliciting libraries now, rather than later.

At the same event, computer programmer Lori Bennett also spoke. In Lori’s mind, those bureaucratic barriers to getting self-published materials into the hands of libraries isn’t much of a problem at all, thanks to newly emerging cataloging systems that let self-publishers enter their book data. These systems create, as she calls it, a self-publishing network, and allow for ease of access into official bookkeeping systems. Bennett says that more than anything self-published authors need to focus on the quality of their ebook production; maintaining the integrity of these new networks and getting libraries to accept self-published works relies on high quality content that is formatted and displayed in just the right ways.

Finally, Bennett encouraged authors to think outside of the box, noting that getting a book translated into another language can open up huge new markets for writers. Many ebook publishing services can stock multiple languages, as well, streamlining the process of uploading and publishing in languages other than English. Finally, speakers of the event noted that printing services for third-party self-publishers are becoming more and more affordable in an effort to make the printed market more easily accessible.

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