How Self-Published Authors Can Distribute to Libraries

Image - iStockphoto: StockPhotoastur
Image – iStockphoto: StockPhotoastur

Note from Jane: Today’s guest post from Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) explains the terms of a new program—a partnership between Library Journal and BiblioBoard—to help distribute self-published ebooks into the library market. My own self-published book, Publishing 101is enrolled in the SELF-e program.

The problem self-published authors have run into at libraries has been a lot like the problem they run into at bookshops: no way to break through the barrier of mainstream competition, no way to stand out.

Many librarians are eager to offer self-published material to their patrons, but with some estimates suggesting that as many as 600,000 indie titles are being launched per year in the United States, no one has time to read those ebooks and sort the good from the rest.

SELF-e sealSELF-e can’t help you in the bookshop. But it can put your ebook into libraries.

SELF-e offers the independent author a chance to put his or her ebooks in front of librarians at the state and/or national level. Most importantly, when those librarians get their chances to peruse these ebooks, they’ve been vetted, carefully evaluated and selected by Library Journal.

Library Journal is best known as the national publication for the library community. It not only covers issues in the business but also generates reviews that librarians depend on in making choices for their collections.

I’ve agreed to work with SELF-e as a client of my Porter Anderson Media consultancy, so I can help get the word out to writers for exactly that reason: This is a new, national-class service that promotes independent authors at no cost to them and in a critical discovery forum that previously has been out of reach to indies.

One key criterion for me: This is available not only to US authors but to anyone, anywhere, writing in English.

If this is all news to you, don’t worry, you’re not behind. Only last weekend were attendees at the American Library Association’s annual conference in San Francisco getting demos of how SELF-e works for them on the library side.

Let’s take it step by step. I’ll give you the basic details of how this works, and then will watch the comments below for your questions.

What Is SELF-e About?

From Library Journal's SELF-e

At the Self-e website, be sure to review Is SELF-e Right For Me? This gives you several criteria to consider, including:

  • You must have the e-rights to your book.
  • SELF-e will not pay you a royalty when your ebook is checked out by a library patron. It costs you nothing to get into this arena for discovery but it also will not pay you in royalties.

The way SELF-e works financially is that participating libraries subscribe to its services in order to gain access to its curated collections of independent ebooks. The costs of running the program, then, are borne by the libraries.

On this page, you can see where in the States authors already are active in submitting their ebooks. You can also see where “Statewide Indie Anthologies” are being released or coming soon. Here’s what that means:

  • When you submit your ebook to SELF-e, you can elect to automatically be included in your Statewide Indie Anthology. Everyone, in other words, can have his or her work made available to local libraries, and this is a big help to librarians who for years have had no good channel for submissions from local authors.
  • You also can opt to be considered for the Library Journal SELF-e Select, the collection that is curated and offered to libraries nationwide. And in case you’re wondering, there are more than 9,700 library systems in the United States today.

SELF-e competitionWhen you’re ready, here is the basic submission page.

Side note: You’ll notice you can submit your work as part of a contest currently underway for ebooks submitted to the program. If you’d like to be entered in the four-genre competition, start on this form—watch for the “Winner” badge on the upper left.

The process of submission is quick (15 minutes), and easy to follow.

The way ebooks are displayed by the program to librarians is via the work of BiblioBoard, which specializes in digital resources for libraries. BiblioBoard’s work is utilized by close to 2,700 libraries and reaches some 30 million patrons.

Let me touch on a couple of questions that I’ve heard from authors about SELF-e.

Read More

There’s more: Read the full story at Jane Friedman’s site

By Porter Ander­son

Writing on the Ether:  How Self-Published Authors Can Distribute to Libraries

Originally published at



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