Self-Publishing: Libraries

Because I let Dragonverse Origins sit for so long while I was reformatting and re-editing the books of the Galactic Alliance series, I've had to go back and re-read what I've written so far. As with almost any story that you let sit long enough, I've come up with a few changes. I've been making these changes as I read through the manuscript and so far I've added over 2,000 words. The word-count (if you're a numbers person) sits at 61,850. I'm about 75% of the way through what I've already written and then I will begin adding new material. I like to have a target of 85,000 words which puts me at about 73%. I have a feeling this book is going to exceed that target but I have no way of knowing until I write "The End".

My recent focus on self-publishing in this blog has paid off. People have noticed and I've been getting questions from other authors (one of them is an award-winning author) about certain aspects of the self-publishing process. It's a great feeling to know that I'm helping out other writers.

I celebrated my 58th birthday yesterday. Although I have no plans on retiring from my current job, the fact that I'm another year older did cause me to wonder if my retirement plans are solid. Using a couple of online calculators, I ran the numbers, inputting values that were very conservative. I really enjoy my job and I will most likely work until I'm 70. The numbers I used though assumed I retire at 65. Even with the conservative estimates, both calculators show I will be fine for many years. I did not include my writing income in these calculations because one never knows what will happen. I could be selling hundreds each month or nothing. So, that part of my retirement income came out of the equation. It's a relief to know that my future is secure. Now I can go back to writing without having to worry about the future.

A friend of my dad and a regular reader of this blog suggested I talk about libraries and how they can be used to support a self-published author. I've been meaning to make contact with our local libraries and this gave me a push to get moving on this. My results have been mixed as you will soon see.

My dad's friend told me about an article that appeared in "American Libraries". I did a quick internet search and found it. If you're interested in reaching out to your local library, you should read this article as a starting point for your research: Solving the Self-Publishing Puzzle.

Libraries have a review process before putting a book into their collection. If you have one or more books you would like to donate to the library, you should learn about their review process and who specifically to send your manuscript to for review. A large number of libraries are building huge collections of ebooks. They don't take up any shelf space and are much easier to deal with than printed books. For many self-published authors, donating an ebook might be the only option.

You will see in the article that Smashwords is mentioned. This company has established relations with several outlets that can be used by libraries to obtain books to add to their collection. This might affect your decision to refrain from using Smashwords so you can be a part of the KDP Select crowd on Amazon. It's not an easy decision to make and, as with all business decisions, should be done after careful consideration.

You can also donate printed books. If you use Createspace to produce your book, you might have a difficult time getting your book into a library if you use the Createspace-supplied ISBN. Purchasing an ISBN is not cheap though. Using another print provider such as Ingram Spark is a good alternative. Read the contract carefully and make sure you will be getting an ISBN that can be used by libraries.

I have not yet been able to find the time to make a physical trip to any of our local libraries. There are quite a large number of them within a short hour's driving distance from my house. One of them is literally around the corner. Two years ago, I did walk into the library and I spoke with one of the clerks about setting up a local author section. She did not think the library would do such a thing but she did take my card and said she would give it to the library's administrator. I never received a call back from them.

I have sent emails out to several local libraries. I received a reply back from one of them. That library is far more involved in the community and they host an event called "Cooks and Books". Local authors can set up at a table provided by the library and sell their books or just talk to people as they come in to sample the food that local bakeries and cooks bring in for the event. The library must keep very good records because I was reminded that I had attended this event years ago when I was just getting into self-publishing. Now that I'm more established, I will be attending this event every year.

That same library is also putting on a self-publishing panel. As part of the email conversation I had with them, I was invited to sit on the panel. This is a very different response than the one I received from the library literally around the corner from my house. That particular library has not responded to my inquiry. I do plan on making a physical attempt once again, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

There are other libraries around and I will be making contact with them as well to see how they support their local authors. I will let you know how this process goes.

Using a library to help get your name out there is a wonderful idea as long as the library is also committed to the process. Some seem to not care and rely on a central library to send them books to put on their shelves. In my opinion, libraries that are part of a bureaucracy might be so bogged down in a process set in stone long ago that they have no ability to do anything other than what a central authority tells them to do. As more and more people jump into self-publishing, I'm hoping this changes.

A good, strong library can help a community discover their local authors. Even though sales through such channels will be low, it's fun and exciting to get involved and interact with your neighbors. If you can find a local library that supports local authors, especially self-published authors, get involved -- make yourself known to them -- learn about what they are doing -- and participate.