by Porter Anderson, @Porter_Anderson
The American Library Association’s (ALA) 2015 Annual Conference & Exhibition opened yesterday, Thursday (25th June, #alaac15), in San Francisco with something unprecedented being offered at this year’s gathering: Library SELF-e’s first-ever national curated collection is now ready, an array of 200 indie ebooks that librarians can peruse and consider carrying for their patrons to check out and read.
Big thanks to Elizabeth for letting me jump onto her blog today to tell you about it.
As originally endorsed by indie bestsellers Hugh Howey and CJ Lyons, Library SELF-e is one of the breakthroughs many independent authors have hoped to see.
Until now, self-publishers have been generally stymied in trying to get their work into libraries. And that’s not because librarians weren’t interested in self-published work. No, it’s because there’s so much of it. My Bookseller colleagues and I in London recently estimated that the US alone is producing between 450,000 and 600,000+ new indie titles annually. Do you have time to read all those books? Neither do librarians.
What SELF-e does is give interested indie authors a way to cut through that fog of words and offer their books directly to library collections — at no cost to the author. I’ve agreed to work with Library SELF-e to get the word out to writers for exactly that reason: Here is a new, national-class service that promotes authors at no cost to them and in a critical forum formerly out of reach to indies — our libraries. One key criterion for me: This is available not only to US authors but to anyone, anywhere, writing in English.
The big moment being celebrated by SELF-e co-producers Library Journal and BiblioLabs’ BiblioBoard this weekend in San Francisco is the arrival of the first Library Journal SELF-e Select. This is the curated collection of some 200 indie ebooks that the nation’s librarians now can consider adding to their collections for patrons to check out — without limits: no maximum numbers of checkouts.
Cozies, She Wrote
I now can reveal to you that Elizabeth Spann Craig is one of the best-represented authors in the new collection: no fewer than six of her cozies are there — congratulations, Ms. C! (My favorite title in this group: A Body at Book Club.
Very quickly, here is how Library SELF-e works. (There’s much more material at the site, of course, including this excellent page of questions to use in deciding whether SELF-e is right for you.)
(2) You can choose to have it automatically included in your state’s anthology for local librarians to discover and consider offering. That one is guaranteed: everybody gets in, and that anthology is provided free of charge top your local libraries.
(3) If you’re not based in the United States, SELF-e and our US librarians still want to know about your work: you simply submit your ebooks and choose the “Outside of US” option as your “state.” (Yes, we’ve basically created the 51st state in the union and it’s all about books. I have no problem with that, do you?)
(4) The big goal is to be selected by Library Journal’s evaluators for its SELF-e Select collection — this is the best of the best submitted. Libraries will be subscribing for the chance to see just which authors and which books are being put forward this way for their special consideration. That’s how the program is paid for: libraries pay to gain access to these curated collections.
(5) There’s currently a competition on, too, that might be something you want to consider: If you’re writing romance, mystery, science-fiction or fantasy, you can note as you submit that you’d like to be entered for a $1,000 prize in your genre ($4,000 total for the four genres), and the deadline is August 31. Here are complete details.
(Note: If you’ve already submitted to SELF-e and would like to be considered for a prize, let me know and I can get the word over to the SELF-e team.)
Issues and Answers
Obviously quite new on the scene, Library SELF-e is not for every author. That, again, is what its “Is SELF-e right for me?” page is about.
Here, for example, are a few points to bear in mind:
- You must have the electronic rights to an ebook you submit. This can include traditionally published authors who are getting the e-rights for their backlists, of course, as well as self-published writers.
- You will not be paid royalties when books are checked out by library patrons. SELF-e is designed to generate libraries’ discoverability potential for writers, not a revenue stream.
- Let’s say that your self-published work finds a strong readership response and a traditional publisher offers you a contract you’d like to take. You’re not stuck. You can cancel your participation in SELF-e and libraries carrying your work will remove their copies within a specified time frame.
You may find that SELF-e’s biggest asset for you is the help it’s giving libraries that want to interface with their local writers. Instead of having to say an automatic “no” when indie authors ask if they can get their ebooks into the collection, librarians with SELF-e are able to direct authors to the program for submission through the BiblioLabs SELF-e system. The books then come through to the libraries in their state anthologies.
Mitchell Davis, chief business officer with BiblioLabs, told Library Journal’s Meredith Schwartz about the local author-librarian relationship this way:
In the last 15 years…millions of books [were] self-published. Librarians know there are good books in there, but they don’t have the bandwidth to sort through [them]. So it seemed like a perfect marriage for Library Journal to become a readers’ advisory service for self-published books. I think that solves a really huge problem for librarians: it lets them make self-published books available with confidence and without a lot of hassle. It also solves a problem [when] local authors want their book in their local library and libraries have had to turn [them] away. Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) told us they were getting multiple emails a week and would have to say no. SELF-e lets the librarian say yes and engage their writing community more viscerally.
To follow Elizabeth and other authors in using SELF-e to reach library readers, keep an eye on this map. It shows you where submissions are being made (gray), where indie anthologies are already out (blue), and where they’re being put together next (red).
And bear in mind that your own local library does not have to be a SELF-e subscribing library for you to submit. You can certainly be represented in your state anthology, if you’d like, and you can have a chance to be in the ongoing releases of national-level Library Journal SELF-e. If you’d like to be in touch with me about SELF-e, drop me a line at my site or a comment here on today’s post.
Meanwhile, if you’re working in romance, mystery, science-fiction, or fantasy, you can have your submission entered into Library Journal’s 2015 Self-Published eBook Awards. Don’t forget that 31 August deadline and best of luck!
Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He is The Bookseller’s (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He is a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he’s a regular contributor of “Provocations in Publishing” with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various companies and players in publishing, such as Library SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair’s Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.SELF-e gets self-pubbed ebooks into library catalogs (via @Porter_Anderson): Click To Tweet