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Learn how to support local writers by making your library the center of the indie book movement! Discover how to remedy these five common mistakes when you incorporate self-publishing programs and independent authors in the library.
• Ignoring the Facts about Self-Publishing Trends
• Overcomplicating the Process of Incorporating Self-Publishing in the Library
• Being Too Inclusive or Exclusive of Self-Published Books
• Referring Authors to Third Party Publishing Platforms
• Limiting Self-Published Author Programs to Writing Groups
Making Libraries the Center of the Indie Book Movement
Libraries have been helping their communities find great literature from around the world for centuries. Now, they can easily and efficiently help patrons find quality books from their own locales. SELF-e, a partnership between Library Journal and BiblioBoard, uses developments in literature and librarianship to help libraries’ collections and programs cater to 21st-century patrons. As literature has become increasingly digital and independent in the form of self-published ebooks, Library Journal’s trusted curation process results in a digital showcase of the best ebooks from the United States, the Canadian provinces and even regions around the world.
According to Library Journal Assistant Editor and SELF-e Community Coordinator Kate DiGirolomo:
“Each submitted fiction title is read and evaluated to determine the quality of storytelling, originality and audience appeal. The best of those titles are added to SELF-e Select, which is a well-rounded, genre-based collection that reflects the finest of indie publishing as chosen by Library Journal.”
What’s more, because Library Journal (LJ) and BiblioBoard take care of collecting and curating these ebooks, librarians are allowed more time for hands-on community engagement with indie authors. Read on for five mistakes we recommend librarians avoid in order to maximize their local author involvement.
Ignoring the Facts about Self-Publishing Trends
Self-publishing is on the rise across the world, a fact evident in smaller pockets of literature culture that dot the United States. In her own area, Sadie Bruce of Metropolitan Library System (MLS) noticed a high density of romance writers and local history writers. While MLS has its own publishing house, Park Harvey Press, the trend for indie authors to publish ebooks was enough to convince Bruce to accommodate the digital format in her library. That’s why she adopted Pressbooks Public, an ebook publishing platform as part of SELF-e that allows her writing groups to draft and publish ebooks in-house. From there, they can go directly into a digital collection of indie titles by other Oklahoma authors. Authors who already have ebook files can still participate in SELF-e by simply uploading their ebooks here.
Not only do SELF-e and Pressbooks Public make publishing easier for career writers, they also bring publishing to students. Notably, MLS is using the duo to support a special project in conjunction with a magnet high school, which result in the creation and publication of a book about a community member’s historical experience in the local fashion industry.
Overcomplicating the Process of Incorporating Self-Publishing in the Library
LJ’s Self-Published Book Survey Report from 2016 reveals that one common reason libraries don’t carry self-published ebooks is related to how complicated they anticipate it will be to create a systematic approach to finding, vetting, processing and lending them.
As both a librarian and a SELF-e Select author at King County Library System (KCLS), Debbie Schneider can attest to how SELF-e provides an easy, standard way for local authors to be included in her library’s collections.
Cuyahoga County Public Library’s (CCPL) Writers’ Center Specialist Laurie Kincer notes that SELF-e especially simplifies how she acquires and curates self-published ebooks. Just as she relies on reviews to indicate the quality of traditionally published books, she’s confident that she can point her patrons to LJ’s Select collections, which highlight the very best locally written ebooks.
Beyond providing a way for libraries to carry local indie ebooks, SELF-e also supports programming by helping libraries get in touch with relevant, quality authors to feature in literary events.
Being Too Inclusive or Exclusive of Self-Published Books
SELF-e creates a dual balance of inclusivity and exclusivity for libraries. On one hand, it allows self-published materials to balance out a library’s traditionally published books. Kincer notes that she enjoys complementing author events featuring big names like R. L. Stein and Jodi Picoult with smaller local events — like Indie Author Day — that spotlight local SELF-e Select authors.
On the other hand, SELF-e balances out its broad selection of ebooks by local authors by highlighting SELF-e Select books, which contain only the highest quality literature. In a move that’s reflective of this structure, Kincer notes that she has highlighted her area’s SELF-e Select authors, J. Thorn among them, on a panel to share their experience with other writers.
Referring Authors to Third Party Publishing Platforms
While librarians should certainly educate local authors on their publishing options, they should avoid choosing authors’ publishing platforms for them. Pressbooks Public allows libraries to become their own in-house publishers. Bruce of MLS notes that since her library uses SELF-e and Pressbooks Public, they no longer need a policy that used to require local authors to submit a print copy of their books. The old practice inadvertently encouraged authors to use external publishing platforms that may have been against their best interests. Currently, Bruce can instead point an author with a raw manuscript to Pressbooks Public, which can easily format his or her work into an ebook.
Limiting Self-Published Author Programs to Writing Groups
The best library programming for self-published authors recognizes that writing is only one aspect of publication. There are many others to explore! For example, MLS’s self-published author contest, which was supported by Pressbooks Public, acknowledges that authors want to share their work and build a name for themselves professionally.
KCLS’s program “The Painted Word,” has local authors collaborate with artists to create an art gallery, while their “Playing with Words and Music,” program blends together poetry, music, rhyme, storytelling, puppetry and writing workshops. Additionally, “Everyone’s Talking About It,” focuses on current events and highlights nonfiction authors in the area.
CCPL has a Writers’ Center that lends writing books and laptops, as well as quiet places where authors can write. The center also serves as a space for writing groups like the Romance Writers of America to meet and to facilitate programs like NaNoWriMo. In addition to participating in Indie Author Day, they also have their own Indie Author Conference Showcase, which has featured SELF-e Select author J. Thorn.
Sneak Peek at Some Questions We’ve Answered:
- What does it mean to upload an ebook to SELF-e? Does the ebook go to a local library catalog, a consortium or through an LMS?
- Does SELF-e accept submissions by young writers?
- What is the best way for a local author to propose a visit to his or her local library?
- Can SELF-e take some of the legwork out of establishing a local author support group?
- How does SELF-e address copyright protection?
This webinar is available on-demand, and includes a comprehensive Q&A document with responses to all questions that were asked by webinar attendees — even those that were not answered during the live Q&A session!
To download the Q&A document, click the green Resources button while you are watching the on-demand webinar.
For more information on the SELF-e program or to schedule a live demonstration: