Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking about galleys, where to share them and when. During the journey the subject kept coming up: How can indie authors get their books into the library? Surprisingly, it may be easier to get into the library than it is to get into a local Walmart. By the way, Walmart doesn’t accept indie books due to return policies, and distribution problems.
Before I go on, I need to emphasis that this won’t work unless you have legitimate buzz and impressive sales. While, indie authors have successfully gotten their books into their local libraries, many can’t seem to breakout further than that. That’s because many acquisitions librarians only purchase books based on their budget as well as a book’s popularity.
Another point I need to make is that your book needs it’s own ISBN (For both the ebook and print edition) as well as distribution via Baker & Taylor or Ingram in order for a library to consider your book. These endeavors will cost you some money, but since you asked, I’m telling…
Edelweiss is a catalog used by many librarians across the country, it is also a site used by publishers to get their books in front of the acquisitions librarians. The cost is $500 per year and $30 per title as well as transaction fees that ranges anywhere from .22 to .08₵ per download.
Though technically NetGalley is about posting galleys it’s also got a newsletter you can get into via their marketing program. It’s very popular with librarians looking for a try before you buy scenario.
OverDrive is like the Amazon of digital retail store for libraries in fact, they actually send their customers to Amazon in order to download certain titles. Gotta love the irony, huh?
Many publishers have issues with their relationship with Amazon and librarians have issues with OverDrive’s costs. The site is not for the casual indie meaning, you need to have your own publishing company as well as a website that sells your books. Keep in mind, they will check during their vetting process.
Your book must be priced over $1 and must be commercially priced according to their (SRP) Suggested Retail Prices. Also, you’re not allowed to provide links or metadata within the file that sends customers to a competing site according to their guidelines here. FYI: That one was a deal breaker for me.
There are also other sites like OverDrive such as; 3M, but you must be in the Smashword’s distribution system to get in.
It’s no secret that many libraries are under budget and understaffed. In response, many acquisitions librarians use book reviews as an important part of their vetting process. Some of these reviewing services require a fee like Publisher’s Weekly Select and Kirkus but there are free sites like ForeWord Reviews and Midwest Book Reviews that are free to indies.
ForeWord Reviews offers indie authors a place where they can submit their books for an honest and professional review. It’s consider a place where media professionals go to find the latest and greatest in indie publishing. Did I mention it’s free?
Midwest Book Reviews
The Midwest Book Review services is free for print books but has a $50 fee for ebooks, ARCs and uncorrected proofs.
Publisher’s Weekly Select
In 2010, PW introduced an indie program where they announce books on their website and even offer the possibility of a book review. It’s only a small possibility because according to PW’s own site there’s a 75% rejection rate so the odds aren’t good. This means you’re basically paying for a blurb on a website, which seems more like advertising to me, but I digress…
I haven’t heard of any librarians searching PW’s Select program to look for indie books, because their place of choice is the Publisher’s Weekly Magazine. However, no indies are allowed there unless, you’re advertising, which is something to consider since the librarians are actually there.
But if you’re determined to try PW Select, the price is $149 for both the listing and the 25% chance for a book review. I only recommend PW if you got money to burn and have your book in the other places.
Kirkus is a site used by publishing professionals as well as librarians. Unlike PW, they don’t relegate indie books to the back of the bus. Getting a review here will cost about $425-$575.
Library Journal is a media source for librarians all over the country, sadly, they’re not open to unsolicited books. However, Library Journal does accept photos, guest posts and letters on a variety of topics. Just make sure you get a byline and mention your book in said byline.
The Free Way to Get in the Library
I know what you’re already thinking, “Rachel, why don’t I just donate my book?” and that’s a good way to get your book in a library but if you want a library to buy your book, then you’ll have to get on their radar in other ways.
Telemarket/Spam Your Way into the Library
There are directories that authors can use that list the websites of libraries around the U.S. You can email or call the acquisitions librarian and ask them if they would be interested in your book. Many indies have done it though there are no stats on how successful it is. However in telemarketing, I hear a 2% response is actually considered a good thing.
There is no easy way to get your book into the library. I think many indies are putting the cart before the horse when they approach libraries in the beginning of their book launch. You don’t want to start here, many librarians are on a tight budget and have no room to spend carelessly on unproven books. Also, if you haven’t noticed, it’s expensive to get into the catalogs and online stores that librarians seem to favor. Save it for when you actually start to make a profit. You don’t want to do too much too soon and wind up broke.
Okay, I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn: do you have another way to get a librarian to buy your book? If so, please share your experience with us.