Updated: 1/3/2021

How can indie authors get their books into the library? It’s a question that has many authors stumped. Before I go on, I need to emphasize 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 break out further than that. That’s because 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 its own ISBN (For both the ebook and print edition) as well as distribution via Baker & Taylor or Ingram for a library to consider your book. These endeavors will cost you some money, but since you asked, I’m telling…

Catalogs

Many Librarians are busy and don’t have time to discover the latest and greatest book. They instead rely on catalogs to alert them to new releases and those books with the most buzz. Getting into one of these catalogs is not cheap but if you want to get on a librarian’s radar, you’ll have to pay to play. So here are just some of the catalogs that are popular with librarians:

Edelweiss 

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. 

NetGalley

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.

Getting Your Book Noticed By Librarians Through Book Reviews

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

ForeWord Reviews offers indie authors a place where they can submit their books for an honest and professional review. It’s considered 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 are free for print books but have 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 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…

Kirkus:

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

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.

Getting Your Ebook Into The Library

OverDrive is like the Amazon of digital retail store for libraries.  You can get your ebooks into the OverDrive system through Draft2Digital, Smashwords, and StreetLib. 

There are other distributors just like OverDrive such as: 

  • PublishDrive 
  • IngramSpark 
  • Baker & Taylor

Getting Your Audio Book Into The Library

Findaway Voices is the only audiobook distributor that can get a self-published book to the library as of this date. I’ve heard stories of some indie authors who have gotten their books successfully into OverDrive’s audio distribution through email petition but that’s rare and those indie authors often have a large back catalog.

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. Besides, I’ve heard stories of authors having their book donation rejected by their local library. Ouch!

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 considered a good thing.

In Conclusion

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 at the beginning of their book launch. You don’t want to start here, many libraries 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 start to make a profit. You don’t want to do too much too soon and wind up broke.

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