An author contacted me recently for advice on a simple question: “Should I enroll my book in the new SELF-e Select program offered by Library Journal?”
SELF-e Select curates self-published/indie books for libraries so that librarians know which books are worth adding to their lending collections. Here are a few links with more information:
- Library Journal‘s press release announcing the program
- The SELF-e FAQ page explaining that even if your book isn’t selected as one that gets recommended, you can still add it to a statewide database of available self-published books
- A guest blog post by publishing consultant Porter Anderson with specifics on the program, which Anderson is paid to promote
The author who contacted me was debating what to do because authors aren’t paid for self-published books that libraries select through the SELF-e program.
Should you offer your book to libraries for free?
Here’s what I told her.
Because authors aren’t paid for books selected, SELF-e seems like an option for an author with a backlist.
Applying the strategy for e-book giveaways (be sure to read the comments on one of our most popular guest blog posts, “Why you shouldn’t give your book away“), offer your first book free to libraries only after you have four or five published already. Once readers sample your work, they are more likely to buy more of what you write or ask libraries to carry your subsequent books because they’ll know what they’re getting.
With the “no royalty” option limited to your first book and demand for subsequent books you’ve written increasing, libraries are more likely to buy subsequent books through the only channel you’ve made available for those books — the one that pays you a royalty.
Options for selling to libraries
If the no-royalty option isn’t a good fit for your book, you’ve got other ways to get into libraries.
ebooksareforever is a new service that charges libraries the same price that you charge consumers. The site says that libraries will own the e-books they buy and will have easy access to as many copies as they need so more than one patron can borrow a title at the same time.
Three things to note:
- This service is still in beta mode, so rules and procedures could change.
- Once you register on the site as an author, the company “will review your books and back catalog, and promptly approve or deny your application.” (After applying five days ago, I still haven’t heard from them about mine.)
- Authors are paid a 70 percent royalty.
Simply put, just because you want to use this service to get your e-book into libraries doesn’t mean you can.
There’s a do-it-yourself option, too. I’ve taken Elaine Wilke’s e-course that teaches you “How to Get Your Book and E-Books into Libraries” and particularly like that it includes a database of U.S. public libraries, but the insider tips from librarians are really helpful, too. My affiliate link at Udemy will save you $30 on the course fee and get you free access to Elaine’s other course, “Let Siri Save Time, Boost Productivity & Keep You Organized” (regular price $39).
In the end, it all comes down to your goals. Do you need to earn money from the book to help pay off publishing expenses? Do you want to build a fan base for subsequent books? Will getting it to as many readers as possible boost your speaking or consulting career?
Always take your goals — and nobody else’s — into account when making book marketing decisions. Blindly doing what another author is doing without thinking about what’s best for you and your future could take you in the wrong direction.
And that’s what I told the author who contacted me to take into account before she made a decision. Only she knows the answer to the question: “What will help you reach your goals for this book?”
Do you want to get your book into libraries? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in a comment.
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