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For the Self-Publishers

In my last post, I specifically wanted to find out why people would self-publish novels when the vast majority of self-published works are likely buried in the avalanche of self-published books. Fortunately, a lot of authors did comment, and I learned a lot. So, I’d like to thank the authors for that.

However, there were also comments from authors expressing surprise, anger, even resentment at the way many librarians view self-published works. The initial thrust seems to have been my comment that traditional publishers act as a gateway with some assurance of editorial quality.

Perhaps that’s not true anymore, as publishers cut down editorial services to make money. Perhaps it was never true. I think the jury’s still out, but I can concede the point. Maybe I was wrong on that one.

Another thread in the comments was trying to teach librarians that traditional publishers are businesses, not guardians of literary culture. Trust me, librarians definitely know publishers are businesses. If they didn’t know before, the ebook debacle of the last few years has taught them well.

Publishing is an industry, and libraries are a part of that industry. Since so many self-published authors took the time to share their thoughts about motives, I wanted to consolidate thoughts in the discussion about libraries and try to explain more succinctly why they’re resistant to self-published works.

This has nothing to do with quality, and in the last post I specifically said I thought plenty of great work was being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of publication. Thus, I wasn’t “bashing” such books, as some claimed.

Some authors don’t care if libraries buy their books. They’ve avoided traditional models for a reason. If it works for you, that’s great.

But for those of you who might want to market to libraries, here’s a few points about how libraries work, because their traditional model is still going pretty strong.

Selection is always relatively small compared to availability.

Some comments wondered why librarians aren’t evaluating every book published for its literary quality, and select the good self-published books over the bad traditionally published books.

But that’s a statement coming from people who don’t know what it’s like to buy hundreds or thousands of books a year from the several hundred thousand published. Libraries are always going to buy a very small subset of the total published work, because there’s too much to choose from. They don’t have time to look for other books on the chance their patrons will like them.

This is important because:

Readers matter.

One comment suggested the libraries vs. self-publishing battle, such as it is, has been decided, because readers have made the choice.

But readers make the choice in libraries as well. Most public libraries aren’t buying books because they want to improve the tastes of readers or provide them with literary gems. They’re buying books that people want, based on best-seller lists, reviews, requests, etc.

Libraries are lowest common denominator suppliers of books, and most people don’t want niche self-published books. They want John Grisham and company. That’s what sells the best, that’s what most people want and request, and that’s what libraries typically supply, for better or worse.

Reviews matter.

Librarians buy relatively few books out of the overwhelming number of books chosen, but they still buy a lot of books, far more than any single librarian can read. That’s one reason they rely on traditional reviewing sources like Choice, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. There’s no way to read even all the good books, so they try to buy books that have been well reviewed.

One librarian suggested that self-published authors would do well to get their books reviewed in those sources or even set up alternative review sources that librarians could depend on. At least one author balked at that, because librarians don’t need reviews when they can just click “see more” on Amazon or whatever and read the books for themselves, as if they were readers trying to discover the next good book to read instead of librarians buying en masse.

That’s not going to happen, because there’s no incentive for librarians to do that. Why, might you ask?

There are already too many books published for libraries to deal with.

I’ve yet to hear of a library that had problems spending its acquisitions budget. Just buying reviewed books from the Big 5 publishers that people definitely want is more than enough to break the budgets of most libraries. Even within that subset, careful selection is necessary, so there’s no incentive to explore the unknown and unrequested.

If there’s a librarian out there with unlimited funds and unlimited time to explore the 400,000 self-published works out there, then please let me know and I’ll revise that comment.

Libraries are the establishment.

This one is likely to rile some librarians. They like to think of themselves as countercultural. After all, they provide free access to books and have tattoos and everything!

But libraries are part of the publishing establishment, along with the Big 5 publishers and the traditional review sources, and because of the sheer number of books published, the limited funds libraries have to buy books, and the reading tastes of the majority of people, that’s not changing anytime soon.

People can protest this isn’t fair to self-published authors. I agree. However, that’s not an argument that libraries that will convince librarians because there’s no reasonable alternative yet.

Maybe you don’t care if libraries buy your book. After all, if every public library location in the country purchased your book, that would still be only about 16,000 sales. That’s not a tiny amount, but it’s not going to make you rich.

But if for some reason you do want to market to libraries, you have to realize the time and budget restraints that librarians are under. Book publishing isn’t an ideal world, and there are very good reasons why librarians don’t just stop buying traditionally published books and embrace the self-publishing model.

If libraries had unlimited budgets, unlimited time to explore less popular works, patrons who demanded those works, or if for some reason the Big 5 publishers all went out of business and self-published works were the only ones available, then the market for self-published works in libraries would increase.

Until then, librarians will overlook the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of books published every year, traditionally or self-published, and spend their limited budgets on best selling books they know people want to read, books that are well reviewed, and books requested by patrons. When that changes, libraries will change.

There’s clearly an alternative publishing model that works well for lots of authors, but it’s not one that can work for public libraries. Maybe there will be a change, and maybe librarians and independent authors can work together to make that change, but librarians have no incentive to change a model that still works for them and their patrons.

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Comments

  1. OliviaNOPE says:

    All of this is so true. I love collection development and it is easily the most fun part of the job. However, I have a small budget to spend on things that I want to actually move out of the library. What good is a book if it sits on the shelf for a year or two with no check outs and then gets weeded? We also have to keep in mind that we are spending the public’s money, so of course we have to give them what they want, not what we think they want, or even need.

  2. Michele Brenton (@banana_the_poet) says:

    This makes a lot of sense to me. I am a reader. I fell in love with my local library when I was six or seven and I have read thousands of books since then. Many of them borrowed from various libraries. I am now a poet and writer. I wouldn’t expect a library to stock my books unless readers had requested them. If readers don’t request them then obviously the demand isn’t there. It’s my job to change that if I can, by producing more work and better work and more popular work. If I can’t achieve that then it’s on my own head and nobody else’s.

  3. I worked in libraries to help pay my way through college. One thing was clear: people don’t check out books they’ve never heard of any more than they search the Internet for authors and books they’ve never heard of. They go to libraries to check out books which have buzz surrounding them and so that means lining up to buy Donna Tartt’s latest novel rather than a book of equal quality by an unknown.

    Librarians not only have a limited amount of shelf space but a limited budget. Let’s face it, unknown books that nobody is asking to check out aren’t going to get much of that budget or space. This isn’t a quality issue: it’s the way the book business works because sales, searches, purchases, and checkouts are all based on what readers/buyers have heard of. Authors who self-publish or go with small presses need to realize this from the beginning when they choose how to publish.

    • Dread Pirate Josh says:

      Best comment yet.

    • Moira Katson says:

      “One thing was clear: people don’t check out books they’ve never heard of any more than they search the Internet for authors and books they’ve never heard of.”

      That’s so sad! I have these great memories of going into libraries (or dusty old second-hand bookshops with about $1) and wandering around looking at covers and reading excerpts until I found something to bring home. I wish more people used libraries that way, because it’s an excellent way of discovering new favorites!

    • Nelson says:

      Good point. But what of the ebooks?

  4. David says:

    In addition to being a writer considering self-publishing, myself, I am the son of an acquisitions librarian for academic libraries and a book collector (see the George Marvin Tatum Collection at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to get a sense of his literary tastes). While he has been deceased for over a decade, now, I know a lot about the troubles of libraries and book collecting through him. I know it’s about more than just reading books and picking them willie-nillie for your library collection — it’s making sure a collection fits the needs of the readers, works with the rest of the collection (if your library has a thousand novels, a thousand books of poetry, three thousand books on history, and one book on electronics, no-one is going to go to that particular library to find that one book on electronics) and is readily organized (my father DESPISED Dewey, even though he often had to use it in his job; out household library of some ten thousand books was organized by the Library of Congress system, instead). I also know that public libraries look for different sorts of collections than academic libraries.

    I fully understand that most libraries may not be interested in my books, self-published or not. Some library might be, however — some are interested in local authors regardless of how they are published, some actually encourage self-published writers (my local library system recently purchased an Espresso Book Machine — the first in any of the state’s local libraries — and has been encouraging local writers to self-publish their books through it), and so on.

    In some cases, yes, self-published authors can be obnoxious or get unjustly indignant when libraries refuse to shelve their books. However, sometimes, the only way to know if the library will shelve our booka is to ask… and I’ve detected a little anger among SOME librarians just for asking.

    • Espresso Book Machines are awesome, but I rarely hear them mentioned. We only have a few in the state of Michigan, mostly at college institutions. Our books are available through Espresso, but we don’t often have sales through them in the US as a result. This is the first time I’ve heard of a library with one. Do you mind sharing which library? I’d love to pass this on to our local library…our books are on their shelves, but wouldn’t it be great to have an EBM to offer more self-pub and small press publications AND books from the Big 5??

    • David says:

      Not a problem.

      The local library is the Rust Library in Leesburg, Va (the flagship library of the Loudoun County Public Library system). They’re calling it “The Symington Press powered by the Espresso Book Machine” in order to name it after the donor whose money paid for the lease. It was introduced at the award ceremony for a local short story writing contest, and at the launch (which was only just about a month ago, now) they were heavily encouraging people to go through them to self-publish. See http://library.loudoun.gov/ebm for details.

    • Thank you, David! I will pass this on to my fellow committee members (Partnership for Literacy). Maybe they will give a call to Rust Library to see how the EBM is doing!

    • Kell Brigan says:

      Espresso (book) machines are, like Pubit is to Barnes & Noble, etc., just ways for the library to generate income from naive self-publishers. No one but the selfie and the selfie’s relatives will ever buy their “book.” Get real, people.

  5. JLOakley says:

    This is certainly timely. Last night, my local writing organization had a speaker from the county library talk about getting our books into the library. Many of the things were in your comments above. I’ve fell very fortunate that my local library took my novel in and with the help of my book club got a book club kit created. My novel is in 7 libraries in WA State, including King County, home of Seattle and has been selected as an EVERYBODY READS for 2013. I’ll be going over to the Lewis and Clark Valley and visit 7 libraries. So very honored and excited that my self-pub was exception. I do have professional reviews for it as well as some national awards. It’s been hard work, but in the wild west of publishing, the library and book clubs has always been in my sight. All I did was ask or go in person while visiting a town. I want readers and appreciate everyone of them.

    • Eileen says:

      I think it is exciting to see a library playing a role in fostering and/or curating locally developed content. I think it is a role for libraries to embrace and am glad to hear of your experience.

    • Patti Hall says:

      Good for you! My little writing group is the first ever in our library system, which says a lot about their encouraging writers, as well as readers. Timberland Regional Library has 27 community libraries, 2 cooperative library centers and 4 library kiosks in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston counties in Southwest Washington State. I hope you get your book in this system too.
      Good luck.

  6. SonomaLass says:

    Self-published authors can often donate their books to their local library. In at least one case I know of, a local author did that, along with local book fairs and signings, and became popular enough that the county library system now buys her books. Especially in genre fiction, where readers often want more books of a type, developing a readership may depend on providing some free copies first.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      “Donations” of unvetting junk books waste librarians time and energy, and the presumption that the “book” will be publically shelved is ridiculous.

  7. D says:

    Some librarians appear to rationalize their practice of ignoring self-published books. They argue that with limited funds, they can’t waste a penny on any book for which they have no demand. If that were truly the case, it is easy enough to limit acquisitions to items that are requested by customers. No need to read reviews. These libraries appear to be so poor that they are indifferent to quality. Or potential. Yet, there are many good reasons to buy books that are not guaranteed to be read. The limited funds excuse is a kin to the same, lame argument that limited shelf space drives our weeding decisions. A poverty of funds and shelf space drives their collection development practices.

    In her recent post “Circulating in San Diego,” the AL said: “In a remarkable story about the San Diego Public Library, we find that half of the books in the collection have been checked out just within the past 12 months, and over 80% of them just in the last 4 years. That’s fantastic circulation.”

    It looks like San Diego has plenty of room and money for books that attract no readers. And this result is fantastic. I bet that plenty others do too. This is just an excuse to keep doing what we’ve been doing while ignoring the changing world around us.

    • c says:

      Do me a favor would you? Dont tell me how to do my job, and I won’t tell you how to do yours. If you actually knew anything about how libraries work you would understand that collection development isn’t as simple as that, yes many items no longer circulate, but that doesn’t necessarily dictate all of the reasons for not weeding the item. Many items will not be weeded because the library may not have any other works that are similar to that book, or the item is still considered valuable. We have to take the mission of the library into account here. In addition, most libraries are always willing to take requests, to perhaps host a book talk, or even a book signing. Maybe the reason your self published novel isn’t in the library is because you haven’t done all the work necessary to get it into the library… Like others said donating books, coming in and even perhaps asking to do a book club, and even suggesting the library hold a local authors book club is one way to help your book

    • Michelle says:

      If we limit acquisitions of self-published books to those requested by patrons, that’s not hard to achieve. No one has asked for one yet. We get lots of emails from non-local authors shilling their books, but that’s not the same thing.

      Demand, space, and funding concerns aren’t excuses. They’re reality. We buy books when we can afford them, have room for them, and have a good reason to want to buy them, usually collection enhancement or patron demand. If there’s a convincing reason that my library should buy your book rather than some other book, we will. But only if we’re presented with that reason, most frequently in the form of some reliable source saying it’s a good bet or a patron asking for it. That’s a burden on the self-publisher, and it’s a shame, but it’s easier for you to achieve than asking me to personally review 400,000 books for quality and fit with the collection. Nobody has that kind of time.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      “Changing world” is self-publisher code for “buy my unvetted book even though I have no qualifications of any kind related to writing and even though no one has ever heard of me.”

  8. Moira Katson says:

    This is an interesting look into how library acquisitions work, and a cool follow-up to your previous post! I do think that some things will change and codify. It’s likely that either a service will spring up to review self-published works, or that some of the more successful self-published works will begin to be reviewed by the larger publications. It’s certainly not going to happen immediately, whatever the case!

    I admit that it’s a dream of mine to have my books in a library, but I suppose this is not quite so much of an issue for me because the vast majority of traditionally published books won’t make it into libraries, either. As Michele said above, it’s really on the author’s head to get a devoted-enough fanbase that their books are being requested. I think at the end of the day, I care far less about my books being in libraries, than I care about the concept of libraries themselves. Libraries were where I learned to love reading, and the more people who get hooked on books, the better the world will be!

    • David says:

      Actually, there are services that review self-published works. Publisher’s Weekly has an indie program which does it, for instance. The problem is it is expensive to get — it takes over $400, last I looked, to get PW to look at your book… and that doesn’t guarantee a positive review. Or Kirkus Indie (where you pay, and it DOES guarantee a positive review, which sort of makes the review worthless). Or pay… I think they’re called Awesome Indies, where you pay a fee (I think it’s $105, last I checked) and they check your story to guarantee it meets certain minimal editorial standards. Then there’s IndieBrag (where you need an inside contact to get them to review).

      A lot of indie and self-published authors can’t afford to spend the money to get these reviews, and whether they are of any value is questionable as most bookstores and libraries dismiss them (after all, the author had to pay for them, so how good can they be?) and most readers don’t even know about them.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      David, ANY review that is purchased is by definition unreliable and, especially, of no importance whatsoever. Even if a purchased PW “review” were negative, it still puts an artificial spotlight on some random work that would, rightly, remain invisible if the “author” hadn’t bribed someone to “review” it. A purchased “review” is a contradiction in terms. If you want people to see your book as legitimate, sell it to a professional, reputable publisher. There is no short cut, and you can’t buy respect.

  9. Karin Horst says:

    this is, allthough understandable, thinking ‘the old way’. (and i’m a librarian). I think it should be the task of every local library to check out new published books by local authors, included self-published, because there could be a great writer standing up in your town. In our library (in Amersfoort/Holland) i know all 260 writers (good and bad). we lend them out (special collection, so not integrated) and we sell them too. I also know people who write (good and bad) that haven’t published yet. I a world where the publishers have more and more financial problems to survive and in a world where digital publishing is growing, i think there’s a chance for the libraries. But only if we work together!
    so 1: know your writers 2 tell your college-libraries if you have discovered a talent out there.
    Ps : local writers offer great potentials in working together / offer a program in the library (pr, workshops, classes, broadcasting programs etc)

  10. Matthew Williams says:

    You weren’t wrong about editing. Many self-published works need one badly. The person who self-edits has a fool for an editor.

  11. I agree that a lot of self published writers could use better editing. Among the (good) writers in town (see my comment above) there are a lot who can offer (payed) help. Doing so you build a writing community.
    and what I always tell people who want to publish: read read read!

    • Kell Brigan says:

      Using some estimates from the editors at Clarksworld, here…

      90 percent of submissions to publishers are illiterate. Not bad writing, really, because they’re barely “writing” at all. Some of that 90% of stuff is “written” by people who are mentally ill, and consists of incoherent rambling that can be terribly sad, and sometimes terrifying, to read. (Writing, like religion, is one venue that people with schizophrenic delusions are attracted to.) Most of that 90% is rip-offs of other people’s ideas, or scattered, fragmented notes that don’t even add up to a real paragraph. Of the remaining 10%, all but 0.33% is at best OK. It’s English, and you can actually read it, but it’s amateurish or childish or self-indulgent or overblown, etc. etc. 1 in 350 pieces (at most — in some cases, it’s more like 1 in 10,000, especially for book publishers) might be good enough to put in front of readers.

      Most self publishers don’t need “a little editing.” They need to hit the “delete” button and stop writing altogether.

  12. Non-fiction: I, for one, like to go to the stacks, or storage of older books for information because the authors took the time to find original sources, dig into the history despite not having the media aids we have now. With self published and even “business” publishers, it is far easier to cruise the net for information, gather “Wiki” sites, chapter into a book and try to sell it. The sources are not complete, the information has be skewed over the years, and no one will take on the years of research needed. Notation: My subject Liver Eating Johnston has been noted in print since the 1870s; a movie and several books have been published–sorta–about him. He is listed a mountain man, 6’6″ and regaled by hundreds of tales or stories….Johnston was more of a plainsman getting to Montana Territory in 1862 chasing gold, was just short of 6′, and if you take the time to follow to the source of many of the stories, some were not him at all, and others a compilation of yarning and boasts. I do love libraries.

  13. Randall says:

    Late to the party, but I have a question.

    “Maybe the reason your self published novel isn’t in the library is because you haven’t done all the work necessary to get it into the library…”

    Would publishing a library edition hardcover through Lightning Source and being listed in the Ingrams catalog be a step in the right direction? What if the book was available at cost or slightly more?

    • Kell Brigan says:

      No. You’ve overlooked the fact that the book is overwhelmingly likely to suck big time, regardless of it’s format. If you want people to take it seriously, sell it to a reputable publisher (Small’s fine, so long as they professionally vet and edit their editions, and REJECT crap.) There is no short cut to respectability.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      And, yes, that should be “its” instead of “it’s.” Yet further proof why editors are essential.

  14. Liana Mir says:

    I personally find it surprising that you did not address a point brought up in your last post and in fact, implied that it was untrue:

    Self-published books are ON the bestseller lists. Your post implies that the bestseller list is used as a selector, then promptly states that self-published books need professional REVIEWS to be selected. If you can buy off the bestseller list, then you have NO excuse for rejecting a book purely because it’s self-published. If it’s self-pubbed and not on that list, you have a reason. If it’s on that list, then using the publisher as a factor is sheer bias and nothing better.

    • Liana Mir says:

      And to add some balance to my comment, I’m not suggesting you overhaul your collection process. I’m suggesting that stating “It’s self-published, therefore I won’t even consider it” is problematic at best.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      OK. You volunteer to screen 400,000 selfies for your local library. Have fun.

  15. Marc Cabot says:

    “Just buying reviewed books from the Big 5 publishers that people definitely want is more than enough to break the budgets of most libraries.”

    And therein lies the rub. You are part of a failing system, and you have no apparent interest in separating yourself from it. You can ride it for the years – probably decades – that it will sustain itself on past glory, or you can start figuring out how to keep yourselves relevant in the time that follows. Publishers have no interest in doing so, other than to use Amazon as their slushpile and hope it all works out somehow.

    • Andrew Donald says:

      So true. I love libraries. I am the son of a librarian and consider the love of books to have been my competitive advantage in life.

      Libraries ARE part of a failing system. The way people access information and entertainment HAS bypassed the public library system. It isn’t that libraries have failed. Their upstream catchment systems are in the process of being disintermediated.

      I wonder what libraries know about the demographics of their borrowers? I suspect that the average age of the demographic is increasing almost one for one, each year. How many twenty-somethings use public libraries after they leave the school system?

      The public library system will continue, in an steadily diminishing and ragged state, possibly for decades. But as their demographic dies out and the traditional publishing houses becomes less relevant, there will be fewer and fewer bums on seats and borrowings moving out the door.

      Why is this not obvious to everybody? Or is it obvious, and librarians just want to ignore it?

    • Kell Brigan says:

      If there are all these invisible people just clamoring to read that mass of 400,000 selfies, why aren’t they talking to the library? If these readers actually exist, why aren’t self-published people urging them to call their local libraries? You’re claiming some major, massive audience for unvetted selfies exists — PROVE IT.

  16. Karen Myers says:

    Consider that donated ebooks by local authors take up neither budget nor shelf space nor other resources, other than catalogue entry. I understand that some of the platforms make the incorporation of donated ebooks impossible but, that aside, wouldn’t libraries generally be in favor of non-X-rated local ebook donations? Why would that even be debatable?

    And yet, I have encountered the “one county too far to count as local” exclusion when chatting with libraries in my catchment area, in two different states, over time.

    • Kell Brigan says:

      Dear, the “one county” rule is being cited to avoid telling you the truth. Self-published books suck and no one wants to read them.

  17. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    If you want to get your work into libraries, get it into the Overdrive catalog. The Big Five are working tirelessly to shoot themselves in the foot with eBooks, and small presses and author co-ops have a chance to get a foot in the door via digital collections. Overdrive offers the ability to shop directly from the holds queue, and if I see a Random House title that costs 95.00 that has five holds on it, and a title from Creative Content or Poison Pen Press or whatever that costs 5.99 and also has five holds on it, guess which publishers and authors I’m going to be exploring? Overdrive isn’t the only eBook game in town, but it is by far the one most used by libraries worldwide that are offering digital content, and will be for the near future.

  18. Mary Burns says:

    Thanks for expanding on your original comments. I love libraries. When I have been depressed about the lack of book sales (print books, six; I first published in 1986), I have reminded myself that at least libraries had my books or most of them, and, in Canada, we have a Public Lending Right payment that compensates authors whose books are in a given number of libraries. Now that I have turned to epublishing, I intend not to be discouraged by your remarks. I am just about to start contacting librarians I have dealt with, and hope to mount some kind of awareness campaign. I may not be a typical self-publisher. Yes, I would like to earn more income from my daily work, but it is most important to me that people read the stories I write. 16,000 not a lot? Maybe not in terms of sales, but if just ten people borrowed my book from each of those 16,000 libraries, that would mean 160,000 readers every year. That would do me just fine.

  19. David’s comment from 10/25 rang true for me–”I fully understand that most libraries may not be interested in my books, self-published or not. Some library might be, however — some are interested in local authors regardless of how they are published, some actually encourage self-published writers…”

    I visited our main library in Santa Cruz, California and gifted a copy of my self-published memoir, Stretch Marks for the Book Collector along with a notecard thanking her in advance for considering my book. I was told there was an 8-12 week reading period, which seemed reasonable, but four days later I received a call from the Book Collector who loved my story and appreciated the time and painstaking effort it took me to publish it. It’s taking longer to get it on the shelves, but I it’s already showing up on the catalog and folks have put a hold on it… : )

    • Kell Brigan says:

      Your exploiting this discussion to ADVERTISE YOUR SELFIE is absolutely disgusting. Why would I want to read a book by someone who’s that rude, cynical and manipulative?

  20. Maxine says:

    >>Would publishing a library edition hardcover through Lightning Source and being listed in the Ingrams catalog be a step in the right direction? What if the book was available at cost or slightly >>more?

    No one answered this question. And what if the author of the Lightning Source book was a veteran NY-published and reviewed author with a library audience? Would the library carry a self-published to professional standards hardcover from the author?

  21. Renea says:

    First, let me say that I adore libraries. As an author who was first published through an independent press and now has a large publisher, I specifically targeted libraries as my market. Why? Because my goal is to place my book in the hands of readers. Period. The best place to do that is at your local library. A librarian will always be an author’s best friend, but friendship is a two way street. News flash: pushy authors are not welcome, neither are those who have self-pubbed yet another vampire book, or a fifty shade book, or a book with talking pets.

    The market IS flooded with fledglings who believe their work should be on the shelf of the library. These authors wrongly believe an ISBN number is all that is required and all libraries will snatch up their book. They are wrong.

    Here is a wonderful personal example of the loveliness of librarians. Yesterday I was invited to the home of a 90 year old woman who, each week, calls her local librarian and asks for a book recommendation. The librarian recommended my book when it was first released in 2010. Fast forward to yesterday and this same woman invited me to her birthday party. Only it wasn’t a birthday party, it was a surprise luncheon for me. I sold a armload of books. That is how librarians help authors. It is about PERSONAL relationships. Write a good book, a real good book. Have a READER FOLLOWING, and for the love of humanity, be polite and don’t bother the librarians.

    Surely by now self-published authors realize that they will not get rich selling books. The average printed book sells 250 copies. Period. Authors represented by the BIG 5 know this, authors represented by small presses know this as well. So why, would any self published author want to burden the busiest reader in town, the librarian, by adding their title to the heap?

    Let your readers ask the librarian for your book. As an author it is your job to write the best book possible. This only happens when your manuscript has been edited multiple, MULTIPLE times.

    Again, to all the librarians who have introduced my work to readers, I am in your debt.

    • Liana Mir says:

      Surely by now self-published authors realize that they will not get rich selling books.

      Depends. Many are making a living on it and feeding their families.

      As an author it is your job to write the best book possible. This only happens when your manuscript has been edited multiple, MULTIPLE times.

      Of course, that means Heinlein and Asimov to name just two out of many, many, MANY writers attested in history AND library shelves didn’t write the best book possible.

      I’m sorry, but while I don’t ever bother librarians to carry my books, these two statements are flat not true as blanket statements. Every writer is different and self-publishing has come a long way from what you’re referring to.

  22. Tamara says:

    I’m both a librarian (digital services) and a self-published writer. I stumbled on these articles relatively late, but after reading the comments for this one and the previous (“Self-publishing and Libraries”) I want to say one thing to both “sides.”

    Stop being offended that people don’t understand how difficult your life is.

    Writing is hard. Publishing is hard. Marketing books is hard. Collection development is hard. Getting patrons in the door is hard. Scraping together pitiful circ stats to defend your four-digit monographs budget from the sharpened axe of county/state/university executioners is hard.

    So librarians, stop getting angry that frustrated writers are “telling you how to do your job.” Self-publishers are not all self-entitled money-grubbing fame whores. And self-publishers, stop getting angry that librarians don’t have the time or energy to read and critically evaluate every book in existence. Librarians are not all lazy backwards-thinking slaves to the Big 5. You’re both working very, very hard.

    • Liana Mir says:

      And self-publishers, stop getting angry that librarians don’t have the time or energy to read and critically evaluate every book in existence.

      A good sentiment. One I hear many librarians bringing up concerning authors they’ve met in person, but not an issue I’ve seen crop up much in this discussion.

      A point I have seen made a great deal and that I have made is that the problem isn’t how to get visible to librarians; the problem is there are a lot of librarians here that simply rule out self-published at all. Because it’s self-published. Not because it’s not on the bestseller list or even poorly edited (though some think incorrectly all are), but simply because of who published it.

      There is nothing wrong with setting out these are the factors we evaluate when purchasing books, but there is something wrong with saying that if it meets those criteria, we still won’t consider it. That’s bias and disrespect and that’s what had most self-publishers offended.

  23. Sharon Sala says:

    I am traditionally published for over 22 years. I self-publish because some of my publishers are not open to me writing in other genres. I am not only a writer, I consider myself a storyteller, and I will always have more stories to tell than someone wants to hear. So be it. I hire professional editing, as do a LARGE number of writers I know. I hire a professional artist to create my cover. I do everything that a traditional publisher does except devote the rest of my life to marketing. I pay extra to have my books listed in Ingram’s catalog and I depend on my 22 years of loyal readers to spread the word, AND THEY DO. Beyond that, I am but one storyteller on her journey, telling stories while she can. I wear the self-published sign proudly because it’s me being pro-active in my career, and not waiting for someone to hand me a check that may or may not be enough on which to live. I love libraries. I practically lived in one until I began writing and now I have no time to do much extra reading. that being said, I am thrilled when a library shelves one of my books, but I don’t lose sleep over it when they don’t, either. Between ebook piracy, and sharing books over and over until they fall apart and me with only one sale to show for it, I do what I can to survive. If self-publishing seems to belittle the process to some, then try living in a writer’s shoes on a writer’s salary and then complain.

  24. Library Spinster says:

    Some of us are open to works that our self-published. Heck, we’ve had programs about how to become self-published. I personally lobbied for Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl (yeah, I’ve been around for a long time). But I’m part of a large library system, and I only get so much money to play with, and according to the rules for our discretionary accounts. I can only buy books that are already in our system’s catalog. Librarians can and do advocate for books that our patrons want.

  25. Kell Brigan says:

    To Laura Mir, et al. How do you want librarians (or readers, for that matter) to decide which unvetted, random selfie to read out of the millions of equally random, unvetted books? A lottery? Should they read your stuff because you’re a good person and you happened to send a comment to them on the internet?

    If you have noone, anywhere weeding out the slush, the only thing libraries or readers can do is avoid ALL of it. If selfies want to be taken serious, CREATE YOUR OWN GATEKEEPERS. WEED OUT THE CRAP BEFORE YOU PRESUME TO WASTE OTHER PEOPLE’S TIME AND CASH.

  26. acey says:

    It is so bizarre to me how self-publishing has become essentially A RELIGION to the selfies. In the face of reason they become irate and defensive. I’ll bet 90 percent of the people I know fancy themselves “authors” at this point, and are convinced that they’ll become rich and famous by foisting their dreadful self-published books upon the world. What’s embarrassing is how many of these people lack not just talent, but basic compentence. I do feel sorry for the minority of self-publishers who are both serious and capable (such as experienced professional writers who are using self-publishing to bring their out-of-print titles back to the market). How can anyone even find them in that vast sea of crap?