Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Libraries

According to the American Library Association there are nearly 120,000 libraries in the United States. If you are considering self-publishing, that number should make you salivate.

Libraries are not only a huge market, they are frequently an untapped one for self-publishers. Unfortunately, libraries usually order books from their own distributors, which means approaching them directly to purchase your self-published book may be an uphill battle.

Don't despair.  Self-published authors have several options for getting their books into libraries.

1) Smashwords - If you publish through Smashwords, your book will be available to libraries through OverDrive (world's largest library ebook platform serving 20,000+ libraries), Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Tolino, Gardners (Askews & Holts and Browns Books for Students), and Odilo (2,100 public libraries in North America, South America and Europe).

2) Self-e - This is a joint venture from Library Journal and BiblioBoard. It is designed to expose self-published ebooks to more readers via public libraries. Distribution through SELF-e is royalty free, which means authors do not earn royalties though this platform. SELF-e is best viewed as a marketing tool to build a readership. If your ebooks are already generating satisfactory royalties from library sales via other channels, then SELF-e might not be a good fit for you.

3) eBooksAreForever -  EbooksAre Forever has suspended operations. I'm leaving this information up, in case anyone wants to know what they were doing.

The eBooksAreForever mission is to create a "large, curated collection of ebooks to every library in North America, at a fair and sustainable price, where the library owns the ebook forever and authors and publishers make great, ongoing royalties." The current pricing for novels is $7.99 and $3.99-$4.99 for all shorter works, including essays, short stories, novellas, etc. Many libraries buy the entire collection.

4) Book Reviews - Librarians order books largely based on reviews. Getting a review into one of these magazines will provide you with maximum exposure.

5) Direct marketing - This works for print books. Walk into your local library and ask them to order your book. While you're at it, offer to do a reading.

Helpful resources (Read these articles!):

The Library Market: What Indie Authors Need to Know

Getting Indie Authors Into Libraries - An Interview with Mitchell Davis of BiblioBoard

SELF-e: Frequently Asked Questions

Top 25 Librarian Bloggers (By the Numbers)

Publishing U: Getting Your Self-Published Book into Libraries


  1. Your article mentions ebookareforever. When I follow the link and click on the "For Authors" button I get an error message related to security certificates. Besides that, I don't find any information regarding the operation after 2015. Are they still functioning? If not you probably want to let your followers know.

  2. As far as I know, eBooksAreForever is still in beta. According to the founder, they are accumulating "content." http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2015/03/ebooks-for-libraries.html

    1. eBooksAreForever "suspended" operations in 2016. Co-founder August Wainwright posted to KindleBoards to make the announcement, but the news seems not to have circulated--it looks like they chose to keep it quiet. Interestingly, the other co-founder, Joe Konrath hasn't made mention of eBooksAreForever on his blog since 2015 (based on a quick search of his site). I'd guess there's a story there.... http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,237774.msg3315623.html#msg3315623

    2. Thanks for the information! It is surprisingly difficult to get updated information on some of these sites.

  3. My local library would only take a copy if I donated it.

  4. Remember, for even a free book, the library has to add that book to the collection - and that is not inexpensive. And some libraries have space problems. As a writer, you know your local librarians, ask about how the library acquires books. Each one is different.

  5. Thanks for a helpful article. I have sold my books to local high school libraries with success. Most will usually buy 2-3.I am self-publishing this time and so far every site for libraries costs a bundle. Thanks for some more options.

  6. Great article! Thanks for all the ideas and the links. :-)

  7. Thanks for this helpful information. :) --- Suzanne

  8. Great information and thank you. Liz Gablonski.

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