Elements of creating a successful book business
Writing affirmation: An outline is the gas that my creativity needs to drive down the writing road.

How to get your self-published book into a library

Getting your 0041 book into a library is a good marketing tool. It’s the equivalent of giving away free copies in those Kindle programs, except in this case a lone free copy can seen by multiple people for several years. Your book also is on a library catalog system, often available online, that gives people yet another way to stumble across the title.

Unfortunately, some libraries simply won’t even consider your book for inclusion on their shelves should they learn you’re self-published. Others will consider it but only after you’ve jumped through an incredible number of hoops. In fact, one author client of mine said after going through that process he’d have an easier time getting his retired, draft-dodging father into a veteran’s home.

First check with your library to see if they’d like to carry it. You’ll get a good idea right away about their attitude toward self-published authors. Those attitudes do vary. Indeed, the library in my hometown where I both grew up and now live doesn’t have a single copy of my 20-plus books and doesn’t answer my emails about them. The city library in the town where I attended college, however, carries almost every one of my books. And my college’s library? They don’t carry me either, though I suppose my books are exactly academia-styled material.

To get your book into a resistant library, you generally need to do the following:
Include Cataloging in Publication data – This information, offered by the Library of Congress, goes on your title page. It’s the info libraries use to catalog your book.
Obtain at least one professional book review – Common book reviews that libraries consider professional include Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, and the New York Times Book Review.

Unfortunately, both of these efforts can cost you money, so the question is if the return on investment from offering free copies in your library is worth it. After all, even if you spend the money for the publication data and for a book review in Kirkus, the library still may turn you down.

I prefer my books to be in a library and always will donate a copy to one if they request it. But if a library isn’t interested, it’s not a big deal. The reality is that a book in a library won’t cover the costs of obtaining publication data or purchasing a book review. Indeed, the majority of readers looking for book buying ideas will go to any of the free online blogs or social media sites (such as Goodreads) that offer reviews of titles in their preferred genres. You’ll spend a lot less time and money targeting those specific readers via social media than you ever will by getting a book in a library. Given this, the only real reason to spend money on the effort is for reasons of pride.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Great post, Rob.

I agree, it can be a great idea to donate your book to the library.

I did so many years ago. And I'm not adverse to trying again, but the reason I stopped was because unless the library advertised books by local authors, it turned out to be useless (at least in my personal experience). Most people come into libraries for specific authors/books and are unlikely to stumble upon other books, esp. if they're not on eye-level shelves.(At least at the larger libraries where I donated my books.) Then, if nobody takes out the books, they're taken of circulation and sold at a library sale. (Often by people who re-sell on Amazon.)

I did mention some of this to one library and was told they had no room to feature local authors. I suggested a mere colorful list on their bulletin board -- involving no physical books on display, but that idea wasn't accepted. Disheartening.

Anyway, that was over a decade ago, but still, today, if I did go to a library, I would check to see if they advertise books by local authors. To me, that makes all the difference.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)