Now on the shelf in the Peabody Public Library: Irish Firebrands….
Authors: Here are a few things that may help independently published books to get into libraries:
- Meaningful back matter. Even writing fiction requires research. Document it in a bibliography, using a standard format (APA, MLA, Chicago). Non-fiction should be indexed, and appendices can add value.
- Registered copyright. In the United States, this gives the Library of Congress the option of adding the book to their permanent collection. (Books with bibliographies, appendices, and indices may have an advantage, here.) A book that is retained by the Library of Congress will have cataloging information added to its record, which may help simplify a busy local librarian’s work.
- “Extended” or library distribution included when publishing, because libraries are often restricted to purchasing via these channels.*
- The work is relevant. There should be a credible reason for a library to consider adding the work: Local author; state-resident author; “native of” author (even if no longer a resident, if the author spent “formative years” there); alumnus-author (for school libraries); or for a special collection (such as an ethnic or other topical interest).
- Word-of-mouth. The request or recommendation of a library patron can be influential.
*Are your books available to libraries (distribution through Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor for paperbacks, and OverDrive for e-books)? The remuneration system may favor long books (like mine), but I think the exposure to library patrons is worth the small amount a shorter book may garner from a library purchase. But if a library distribution channel wouldn’t pay at all, a copy donated directly to a library is more likely to find a reader (even if the book goes into the Friends of the Library Sale) than the indiscriminate freebie download days promoted by A Major Online Retailer. Downloaders don’t necessarily become readers. And when you come down to it, why do we write? To be read.