Is there anything better than leaving the library with a big ol’ stack of reading material? Free books, so magical! As a reader, I love the library. As an author, I was unsure how to get my book into the system. I knew I wanted to make it available to check out, but how?

In July, I attended a presentation at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference that answered this question for me! Different libraries have slightly different ways of doing things, but there are basically two tracks.

1. Print books: First, check your library’s website. Many allow you to request to add a book to the catalog. For instance, I went into the Seattle Public Library system and requested that Moonburner be added. I fessed up that I was the author, and let them know that I thought that family and friends in the area would appreciate being able to access the book through the library system. Voila! They ordered four copies.

Alternately, your library might have a staff-person who handles acquisitions. If this is the case, check on the website or give them a call to see who you should send your request to, and what materials they would like. For instance, I sent the King County Library System a request to add my book, which included the pertinent details (title, publisher, publication date, genre, ISBN, distributor), sell sheet, and links to a few professional reviews. That was all it took for the system to order five copies to add to the collection. Woot!

Moonburner in libraries

Libraries will be much more likely to add your book if you are distributed through one of the main distributors (Ingram or Baker & Taylor) and if you have at least one review from a trade publication like Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, or Publisher’s Weekly. They rely on these reviews to know that your book is worth adding, so if you can snag at least one and include it with your materials, it will make a big difference.

You might think it will just be easier to donate a few copies of your book. Not so! It turns out that these folks don’t really want you to donate your book. Especially if you qualify under the criteria I just mentioned, they want to buy it! It’s much easier for them to process. If you are self-published, reach out to the acquistions folks before you donate to see how to make their life easier. They might want particular format or materials from you.

2.  eBooks: What about eBooks? There are two main systems libraries are using to bring ebooks to their patrons. The first is Overdrive, the second is Self-e. Overdrive is definitely the bigger player. Getting into Overdrive is largely up to your publisher. However, if you self-publish through Smashwords, you may be able to get into this system thanks to a recent partnership. Check out this article for more info.

Some libraries, like the King County Library System here in Seattle, also supply patrons access to a service called Self-e (you may also see it called BiblioBoard on the library website). Self-e has different state collections that allow users in those states to access eBooks. If you upload your book to Self-e (it’s super easy) readers in your state can borrow as many copies of your book as they want. Unlike Overdrive, that gives a library a license for one copy (and if the copy is checked out, everyone else has to wait in the hold line), Self-e allows an unlimited number of readers to borrow your book at the same time. So, if there is a lot of demand, your readers won’t have to wait!

Here are some other great articles detailing how to get your books into libraries:

The Book Designer 

Lindsay Buroker 

While we’re on the subject of libraries, did you know that Saturday, October 8 is Indie Author Day? Libraries all across the country will be hosting author events featuring local indie authors! I will be at the King County Service Center at 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027, from 10-3, along with other awesome local authors! Get all the details here.

Featured image by Thomas Hawk,

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