Dubbed as Library Journal’s (LJ) most anticipated librarian-only gathering, librarians near and far will flock at the end of this month to New York City for this year’s Day of Dialog. The appeal is obvious: a coveted deep-dive into the best books of the season as revealed in author panels.
Conventional logic suggests that librarians would be starstruck at seeing so many of their favorite authors in one place. But the truth is that featured authors themselves are often honored to be sitting among one another. That sentiment is heightened for writers who start out as small and independent. Case in point: L. Penelope.
After landing her first traditional publishing contract (a four book deal) with St. Martin’s Press this year, the hybrid author of fantasy and science fiction will attend the Day of Dialog as a panelist. For anyone following publishing trends, Penelope’s path to traditional publication serves as a resounding confirmation of the increasing number of high-quality indie books permeating the market and the ability of librarians to help those authors in their journey. At this year’s Day of Dialog event, she will share the stage with fellow science fiction, fantasy and dystopian writers Annalee Newitz, Holly Goddard Jones, S.A. Chakraborty, and Jordanna Max Brodsky.
Maryland Libraries Help Writers
While Penelope’s story is exceptional, it represents a growing paradigm in publishing wherein local authors achieve their writing ambitions and find a wide base of readers — starting right in their own communities. Penelope along with J.K. Ullrich, another SELF-e author, both call Howard County Library System in Maryland their home library. They both submitted their books to the SELF-e program through neighboring Harford County Public Library.
From that start, just as Penelope, Ullrich won Library Journal’s 2015 Self-Published Ebook Award in Science Fiction with her gripping cli-fi Blue Karma. Aside from winning $1,000+ cash and being recognized at the ALA Midwinter Conference, Ullrich’s victory marks the book as an outstanding work for libraries, publishers, authors and readers. Congratulations to both Howard County and Harford County for being part of this new paradigm and succeeding in a big way.
Penelope’s relationship with SELF-e began like any other author’s. She wanted to reach more readers through libraries, so she submitted her novel Song of Blood and Stone: The Earthsinger Chronicles, Volume One. That was in April of 2015. Shortly afterward, Library Journal chose it as a SELF-e Selection — an honor that only about 10% of all books in SELF-e achieve — distinguishing it as being of high quality and making it available to library patrons internationally.
Later that year, she entered her book into the Self-Publishing Ebook Award contest hosted by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). The award, a sister to the well-respected BCALA Literary Award, honors the best self-published adult fiction and poetry from African American authors. In February 2016, she was announced as the winner. Since then, she has also been featured as a panelist at both the first Indie Author Day in 2016 and the first Digital Book World Indie Author Conference in 2017.
Far from covering up her indie roots, L. Penelope continues to embrace self-publishing. Currently, her newest series, Eternal Flame, is in SELF-e, where it is available to library patrons everywhere with a hankering to read New Adult Paranormal Romance.
A New Path Forward
Stigmatized during the advent of digital publishing as wannabe writers flooding the market with bad memoirs, indie authors are at last gaining deserved acclaim from publishers, librarians and readers alike. That’s in no small part due to new channels of recognition like SELF-e, the partnership between Library Journal and BiblioBoard that serves as a library-centered ebook discovery platform for the indie writing community and librarian-driven efforts like the Illinois Author Project, which is set to expand to several other states later this year.
For more information on the SELF-e program or to schedule a live demonstration: