Category Archives: Self-publishing Tools & Platforms

Topeka-Shawnee Library’s “Community Novel Project:” Seven years of working with local authors and only getting started

If you are an author, have you ever wondered if a library could not only buy your book but provide expert help developing your writing and publishing skills? If you are a librarian, have you ever wondered why your library doesn’t go beyond holding events for local authors and actually publish some books? Lissa Staley and Miranda Ericsson, two librarians at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library have sorted all this out and created a program, now in its seventh year, that organizes local authors, beefs up their writing and publishing skills, and the produces print and ebook edition of a collaborative work. And yes, you read that right. Two librarians have done all this while continuing their other library work. Welcome to the TSCPL Community Novel Project.

In 2003, Lissa Staley was at work at her job as a librarian at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library. She noticed that one of her colleagues had put up a new display, so she stopped to look at it. This was her introduction to NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, an event held every November since 1999. She quickly decided to participate and set to work writing a novel of her own. At the same time, the idea that everyone could be a winner, that every participant in NaNoWriMo could win by completing the first draft of a novel inspired her. Everyone could win. No one had to lose.

The next year, 2004, she began programming for local writers around NaNoWriMo. However, many of them requested help getting published, finding an editor, getting an agent, etc. There were no resources, so she could not help them. The local writers groups focused on cracking the big New York publishers. Self-publishing and the tools to support it had not evolved as far as they have, today. Continue reading Topeka-Shawnee Library’s “Community Novel Project:” Seven years of working with local authors and only getting started

Multnomah County Library is setting a powerful example with the Library Writers Project

What happens when you take a world-class public library system, mix in hundreds of indie authors, power up with Smashwords, and use OverDrive to top it all off? You get Multnomah County Library’s Library Writers Project.

As I have researched the issues and realities of indie authors in libraries, I have found that the intersection of indies and libraries is potentially a much nicer place than I had originally thought. The technology and distribution problems have been solved, and the solutions comes from reliable vendors. No doubt there will be new developments, but existing technology and distribution systems are more than adequate to empower libraries to add indie ebooks to their collections and to promote them to their patrons.

Continue reading Multnomah County Library is setting a powerful example with the Library Writers Project

No better time for teachers and librarians to introduce teenagers to self-publishing than now

We live in an age in which the resources necessary to self-publish are readily available. Many adults self-publish their books and see them distributed to online retailers and libraries. Some libraries are beginning to facilitate this, especially with seniors who are memoirists, but what of students? What of adolescents whose hearts are filled with passion for life and who need to express their thoughts and feelings, to know that their words can find readers, and that their ideas matter to others? Now, thanks to Smashwords with its technology and how-to guides, educators and librarians can help these young people find their voices and speak to the world.

I send a big thanks to Tonya McQuade, poet, teacher and pioneer in both ebook publishing and in educational leadership.  Tonya McQuade began writing poetry as a child. She has won awards for it, published a book of her own writings, and appeared in anthologies. She has taught high school English for over 20 years. But in 2014, she found herself inspired her to go into self-publishing with her students. Continue reading No better time for teachers and librarians to introduce teenagers to self-publishing than now

Smashwords, libraries, and the [new] culture of authorship

Libraries have traditionally promoted a culture of learning and a culture of books. Now they have the opportunity to promote a culture of authorship. — Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

In our time, late in the second decade of the 21st century, libraries have an opportunity to not only continue their traditional mission of providing books and encouraging literacy, but of extending that tradition into a new world of library-based publishing in which the library grows beyond being the locus of literacy in its community and transforms itself into the champion of the creative force of authorship.

As I have been writing these articles on Indies in the Library™, the word “Smashwords” keeps coming up. Especially, as I wrote the last article, about educating indie authors on how to work with libraries, I realized that the Smashwords’ technology and distribution platform solves two of the largest barriers to libraries acquiring indie ebooks: putting the books into library distribution channels and getting them into ebook platforms that patrons are already comfortable with. I wanted to talk with the person who had the vision to create this.

Kat Brooks of IndiesUnlimited knows Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, and was kind enough to make an email introduction. Mark and I then managed to schedule a phone call. He has a very busy schedule speaking, not only at writers’ conferences, but at library conferences and even at individual libraries that are developing their programs to work with indie authors. I was eager to hear his thoughts on indie publishing and on the future of publishing and libraries. Continue reading Smashwords, libraries, and the [new] culture of authorship

Indies Unlimited, a one-stop source of reliable information for indie authors

You’re sitting behind the Reference Desk or maybe trying to slip unnoticed through the stacks on your way to a staff meeting, when an elderly lady or gentleman quietly asks for help.

“I am trying to write my memoir. I’m a retired (doctor, lawyer, construction worker—you know the drill, so fill in the blank) and I want to write the story of my life. But I’m stuck. I thought it would be easy. After all, I lived it. But now I see I don’t know much about writing, much less about getting published. I just spent $4000 with a company that was supposed to help me with the writing and then print the book, but all they did was type up my notes and print them on cheap paper with a shoddy cover that didn’t even show the photo I sent them for it. Now, what do I do?”

In your mind, the question is not only what does your patron do, but what do you do? The patron doesn’t need a referral to a long list of resources that might or not be of help, much of which is appropriate for published indies but not for novices. He or she needs direction to a reliable, trustworthy resource that is written for someone in his situation—the beginning, unpublished author. Continue reading Indies Unlimited, a one-stop source of reliable information for indie authors

Self-publishing platform Pronoun adds Overdrive and Bibliotheca, expanding distribution to libraries for indie authors

Just in:

Pronoun, a self-publishing platform for easy ebook design, distribution, and marketing, now includes library distribution.

NEW YORK — June 7, 2017 — Pronoun today announced the addition of library distributors OverDrive and Bibliotheca to its retail distribution, which includes Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Google Play.

Authors are now able to add OverDrive and Bibliotheca as distributors when publishing on Pronoun, adding their ebook to catalogs from which over 20,000 libraries can purchase for circulation.

Library distribution expands Pronoun’s already easy-to-use self-publishing platform including free ebook conversion, Author Pages, book tracking, data-powered marketing tools, and one-stop distribution across all major ebook retailers.  Authors can set their own price for books distributed in library catalogs and can earn 70% royalties. Continue reading Self-publishing platform Pronoun adds Overdrive and Bibliotheca, expanding distribution to libraries for indie authors

Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

From a Sweek press release:

Sweek, a platform for free reading and writing, has welcomed its 100,000th user last week, since the official launch at the Frankfurt Book Fair seven months ago. Meanwhile, readers and writers from over 100 countries are already using Sweek. Both aspiring and top authors have joined Sweek, and traditional publishers are starting to use Sweek as a talent-scouting platform. Continue reading Dutch startup Sweek—a free reading and writing platform—welcomes 100,000th user

If the only necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader, shouldn’t libraries serve both?

self-publishingThe concept of a public library as self-publishing platform for aspiring writers isn’t new and libraries across North America are steadily warming up to it, increasingly becoming the go-to places for aspiring local writers to produce, publish and share their work in their community and nationally. In recent years there has been an explosion of self-publishing platforms available to writers all over the Internet and several are used in libraries in the United States and Canada. The three that stand out include Biblioboard, Pressbooks, and Self-E (by Library Journal).

Stratford Public Library (SPL), Ontario, Canada, provides access to all three of these resources for its card holders who may use them through the library’s website. Clearly, the library is trying to position itself as the place where local residents don’t just get free books but also create them from scratch for free.

Just underneath the “Self Publishing Resources” heading on SPL’s website, one notices this quote by Guy Kawaski: “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader.” Public libraries such as SPL are certainly making the necessary steps to stand as examples of institutions that serve the needs of their patrons in an age that transcends traditional publishing channels and recognize that emerging digital technologies are democratizing the written word like we’ve never seen before. They are making it possible for writers in their community who would normally not be able to get exposure to share their writing and possibly realize their greatest dreams and ambitions. Continue reading If the only necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader, shouldn’t libraries serve both?