How Self-Published Authors Can Build Readership in Local Libraries

self-publiahed authors and Indie author day

Libraries have long been deeply rooted in local communities. By being active in events like Indie Author Day, self-published authors can leverage libraries as a free and community­-centered approach to building readership.

Everyone knows writing a book is hard, but many writers overlook how difficult marketing that book can be once it’s completed. While there are many paid services available to authors who need help promoting their books, self-published authors often forget or don’t realize the powerful, free resource available to them in their own communities: the local library.

Libraries in the Digital Age

Libraries are currently undergoing a multi­faceted transformation (visit the American Library Association‘s website and see for yourself). In addition to print books, eBooks are a standard amenity for 21st century patrons who crave a digital experience. With the number of eBooks read each year on the rise, libraries that don’t include them in their catalogues are in danger of missing an essential constituent among their patrons. Similarly, authors who choose not to make their work available on eReaders risk doing themselves a disservice by limiting the number of readers they reach.

Another element of libraries’ present metamorphosis includes a shift away from being mere book warehouses. While we still enjoy their selection of literature, we can now also take pleasure in their focus on being active community centers. Hosting programs and events that benefit and interest patrons has become a revered objective. Film clubs, lecture series, tutorial sessions, and even yoga classes are as common as book clubs and story times on library event calendars. To tap into their local author communities, many libraries also host monthly writing groups, NaNoWriMo challenges, local book sales, and more.

Increasing awareness and building readerships locally

The SELF-­e program is a revolution in self­ publishing that builds readerships from the ground up, starting with an author’s local community. A partnership between Library Journal and BiblioBoard, SELF-­e allows self-published authors to submit their eBooks for free through their local library. Each book submitted joins a digital collection that contains books from other authors in the same state. Those of exceptional quality receive a Library Journal stamp of approval and become available for library patrons all over the world to read. Because these eBooks are available on the BiblioBoard platform, an unlimited number of patrons can read them on­ demand on iOS and Android devices. What’s more, buy buttons allow library patrons to purchase a print version of an author’s eBook while they read it.

Making connections through libraries

Besides being an avenue to connect to local readers, SELF-­e can also allow authors to explore other wordsmiths in their state. Authors can make new connections with each other, expanding their support networks and encouraging fresh collaboration. Identifying other authors in the same area can also make it easier to approach libraries about hosting instructional and self­-promotional events that support the local writing community and are a powerful way for indie authors to strengthen their relationships with both readers and writers.

Indie Author Day

On October 8, hundreds of libraries will host a landmark event for local authors: the inaugural Indie Author Day. Thousands of indie authors are expected to flock to libraries across North America for local events that run the gamut from book signings and readings to panel discussions, workshops, and more. At 2 p.m. EST, all participating libraries will come together for a digital gathering. This live-streamed Q&A session will feature publishing industry experts Jon Fine and Robin Cutler, Library Journal mover and shaker Jim Blanton, Library Journal Reviews Director Kiera Parrott, and award-­winning self-­published author L. Penelope. In addition to encouraging authors to strengthen their presence in their own communities, Indie Author Day affords self-published authors a unique opportunity to be part of a global network of writers. Find out if a library near you is hosting an event, and join them on this annual day of celebration!

Libraries have long been deeply rooted in local communities. Now more than ever, authors should take advantage of their dedication to serving specific patron needs. By being active in programs like SELF­-e and events like Indie Author Day, self-published authors can leverage libraries as a free and community­-centered approach to building and reinforcing their readership among a fundamental, local demographic.


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  1. It helps if a person can get to know the librarians. I worked as a part time security guard in one, so I got to know the manager, the purchasing agent, and everybody else. I go in there to fax a publishing contract for a book that I had written and the manager was asking me about it. She didn’t really believe that I had written a book until it actually came out and I could show her. Then it was no problem for me to get the purchasing agent to buy ten or twelve copies for distribution throughout the library system of the entire county. In my case the publication was traditionally published. Writing it, dealing with the difficult even harsh editors, was a real job in and of itself, but at the same time a true labor of love on my part. Before I leave this world I would like to know what it feels like to have a best seller, but I never intend to stop writing whether I do or not. When my time comes and I finally die, maybe then I can carry on as a real ghost writer, so I will never stop writing.


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