It’s on many writers’ bucket lists: seeing their book on a library shelf! But for self-published authors, reaching this goal may be a bit harder to accomplish. Most public libraries have limited budgets, so librarians rely on reputable, curated lists when adding titles to their collections—which gives an advantage to traditionally published books.
So what’s a self-published author to do? As more and more authors choose to self-publish, the industry has responded with new options to help break through the traditional publishers’ library monopoly. Platforms such as OverDrive and SELF-e will make electronic copies of your book available to libraries.
But there’s another smart way to get your self-published book into your local library, and it won’t cost you—or the library— a dime: donating print copies of your book.
Here’s Why You Should Donate Copies of Your Self-Published Book To The Local Library
Goodwill. Presumably most writers with access to a public library are already pretty well known to the staff there. Offering them the opportunity to expand their collection without spending money or much staff time might help you build on the goodwill that already exists. But remember to be courteous, professional, and respectful—and always follow your library’s procedure for requesting that a book be acquired.
Brand building. Nowadays the bulk of author brand building happens online, but in-person contacts can provide opportunities to support your virtual efforts. When you drop off the copies of your book, make sure to include promotional materials such as your business card, printed copies of any great book reviews, and your galley letter. Being able to show that your book has good sales numbers will also help get your foot in the door and make your book more appealing to the library staff. And let your online fans know which libraries have your book in their collections!
Networking opportunity. Making the arrangements for adding your book or books to a library’s collection is likely to put you in touch with the decision makers on the staff. Use the opportunity to network and build mutually beneficial relationships. Libraries are often looking for speakers, and you just might land an invitation to share your writing and publishing experiences—and possibly hold a book-signing event!
Word-of-mouth advertising. An online marketing strategy is vital to generating book sales, but word of mouth can be just as effective. And engaging your community by donating copies and giving readings at your library is an excellent way to boost local buzz about your book. Your generosity might even attract the attention of the local newspaper!
Getting your self-published book into circulation at your local library is a great way to get the word out and make you and your book more “discoverable” while also giving something back to your community. And don’t stop there! You might also consider donating copies to less obvious places such as senior centers, hospitals, school libraries (if appropriate), and Little Free Libraries in your area.
Question: What other places do you recommend for donating copies of your self-published books?
You can’t just donate a copy to all libraries. Mine requires you send it in for approval & they almost never approve self published books. Mine declined my book without a reason & would have trashed it had I not pursued getting it returned. Oh, and I’ve had many people who are not my friends tell me it’s good. I even got good marks for it ithe Writer’s Digest self published books contest despite not winning. So, make sure you check your local library’s submission procession. I was able to put a copy in a small town library though, just not the big city library.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Mina.
This is something to keep in mind. Thank you.
It is difficult for you to get into the libraries, but you have to be persistent and contact the right person.
I was able to get my debut book into the Main library and smaller branches. It was a hard fault battle. They reluctantly accepted. Now, they have called and asked if I can donate more and have also accepted my second novel without an issue.