Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Libraries

Updated 9/22/23

According to the American Library Association there are nearly 117,000 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 Draft2Digital (formerly 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) Indie Author Project - The Indie Author Project (IAP) is a publishing community that includes public libraries, authors, curators, and readers working together to connect library patrons with great indie-published books. IAP has helped hundreds of libraries engage their local creative community and assisted in getting more than 12,000 indie authors into their local libraries. Most importantly, the project has worked with top curation partners and librarians to identify hundreds of these as the best indie eBooks available to readers—so they can be sustainably circulated to library patrons with confidence.

Through this publishing community, authors are able to submit eBooks directly to their local public library to then be vetted by industry editorial partners and regional library editorial boards. Being selected by these curators can lead to expanded discovery, distribution, and networking opportunities.

3) 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

Top 25 Librarian Bloggers (By the Numbers)


  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


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