Now includes full Q&A transcript! You asked, we answered. Available free on-demand.
Advances in software and technology have made self-publishing more accessible than ever. With the surge in recent years of the number of self-published books available in the market, librarians face a challenge to satisfy patrons’ appetites to read the best locally-written books and serve their growing local author communities’ needs.
In this webinar, leaders from the SELF-e Team at Bibliolabs, the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project (STBF) and Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) joined forces with Amazon’s past Director of Author and Publisher Relations Jon Fine and the winner of the 2016 STBF contest Geralyn Hesslau Magrady to reveal how library-driven, statewide writing contests are effective, scalable tools to find and celebrate outstanding local authors.
Click to watch the full webinar for free, or read on for our short recap.
Why Use SELF-e?
Before hearing from featured panelists from RAILS, STBF and LFPL, Emilie Hancock of the SELF-e Team at BiblioLabs explains how SELF-e supports — and simplifies — libraries’ efforts to highlight local authors. She notes that Library Journal curates the best local books, and makes them easily available for both librarians and patrons to read any time, anywhere on BiblioBoard’s mobile platform. Additionally, since SELF-e features eBooks, it’s easy for authors to submit their work, and librarians don’t have to find shelf space.
The Library as the Local Focal Point
As self-publishing is a “revolution still in progress,” Gail Borden Public Library District’s Division Chief of Public Relations and Development Denise Raleigh saw an opportunity for libraries to become an integral part of the indie book movement. She and several colleagues began STBF as a way for libraries to create a market for a previously unknown authors, and bring their books to patrons. Because it’s a collaborative effort, the contest brings librarians closer to each other and authors closer to librarians. It also reflects how libraries change the ways they interact with communities as their communities’ needs change.
Veronda Pitchford, Director of Membership at RAILS, notes that as a consortia that serves thousands of libraries across Illinois, supporting STBF is a natural fit. She lists a multitude of reasons that RAILS is proud to provide infrastructure and funding for the contest. Just as we’ve seen a shift towards eating and shopping local, patrons’ literary appetites have been veering towards locally-written books. The contest creates a readymade and efficient system for supporting local authors, and it allows librarians to show off their expertise by connecting readers with great local reads.
The 2016 STBF winner, Geralyn Hesslau Magrady, offers insight into how she used libraries both as a resource for writing and a means to build a readership her award-winning novel Lines. Intrigued by her local family history, much of her initial research was conducted using library archives. When she published Lines, she entered it into the STBF contest, and was announced as the winner several months later. Since then, she has enjoyed connecting with new readers at libraries throughout Illinois via appearances at author fairs, interviews and book clubs. Notably, the success spawned by winning STBF has helped her overcome stigma associated with not having gone through traditional publishing channels.
A Model to Replicate
Inspired in part by STBF, Jim Blanton of Louisville Free Public Library sought a way to help local authors frustrated with barriers to getting their books into libraries. The first of his solutions is ePublish or BUST!, a website for indie authors to locate resources available to them at libraries throughout Kentucky. Because the website provides authors with opportunities to schedule readings, workshops and more, it’s a simple way for local writers to reach new readers, since patrons can peruse the website’s calendar of events with the click of a button. For extra support, ePublish or BUST! relies on the SELF-e program, using it as a tool to curate local author collections.
Blanton also started IndieLou, a local author series that leverages Louisville’s local authors. Working in tandem with ePublish or BUST!, it uses SELF-e to identify the best local authors, and helps them book appearances at participating libraries. In addition to featuring programs on authorship and self-publishing, it also hosts programs in conjunction with international events like Indie Author Day and NaNoWriMo.
Beyond supporting local author initiatives, LFPL depends on another of BiblioBoard’s community engagement services, the Creator tool, to connect patrons with local musical artists. LFPL’s Louisville Mix is an online platform for musical artists that features more than 50 albums. In a spirit similar to ePublish or BUST!, Blanton plans to facilitate live performances at libraries beginning in January 2017.
Louisville is rich in creative talent across all spectrums of the arts, Blanton notes, and, in the future, he hopes to use the same contest model and community engagement tools that power STBF, IndieLou and Louisville Mix to elevate as many local creators as possible.
Sneak Peek at Some Questions We’ve Answered:
- Is there any chance the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project will expand to a national level?
- My novel has been accepted by SELF-e. Now what?
- Is SELF-e just addressing eBooks or print books, as well?
- Does ePublish or BUST! include a contest component for best book? If so, who are the judges?
Full of enlightening information and practical advice, this hour-long webinar, featuring four panelists and moderator Jon Fine, is available on-demand, and now includes a full transcript of the Q&A session. In this transcript, you will find responses to all 20+ questions that were asked by webinar attendees, including those that were not answered during the live Q&A session.
To download the Q&A transcript as a PDF, please click the green Resources button while you are watching the webinar.
If you’re a librarian who would like a scalable solution for supporting local authors, we invite you to watch “Indie State of Mind: Finding and Celebrating the Best Local Authors in Your State or Region.”
For more information on the SELF-e program or to schedule a live demonstration: