Welcome, local author. Your public library wants you!

As the indie author revolution grows, more and more libraries are providing services to them. Many libraries have extensive information on their websites. Pike’s Peak Library District sets an excellent example at https://ppld.org/local-authors. But, what do you do when an indie author/aspiring writer walks in the door and needs something he or she can carry home with them?

Many indie authors are first-time writers, especially those who write memoirs. They may be of retirement age and somewhat uncomfortable with technology. For instance, they would rather you give them information in printed form than refer them to your website. They may have an ebook edition of their book, but they paid someone to create it for them, and they do not understand library ebook purchasing procedures. They didn’t know your library had services for them, and you need something to give them so they can begin learning about the services.

While the library’s website may have a local author registration form, a detailed collection development policy, etc., many indie authors will lack the background knowledge necessary to understand and use these correctly.

They need a simple, non-technical document that reassures them that the library is interested in them and their book, that directs them to the appropriate part of the library website, and that invites them to join a library-sponsored writers’ group. They also need a little warning about library purchasing procedures. Most of them will never have dealt with government purchasing authorities, so it is only fair to warn them that they cannot expect the library to write them a check on the spot.

What exactly do these authors need to know? Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords (the largest distributor of indie author ebooks in the world), recently wrote an article for Publishers Weekly enumerating five things that self-published authors need to know before they can effectively market to libraries. These include making the ebook purchasable through normal library suppliers and building a relationship with the library.

Author Terah Edun has also written a piece for The Verbs that goes into some detail about ebook distribution to libraries. However, my experience tells me that many indie writer need something more basic, something simple and tangible that will encourage them to work with the library. They need a simple flyer that welcomes them to the library’s services to local authors. And libraries need a flyer to help them educate the indies without tutoring each one.

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Here is an example of what this flyer could look like:

Welcome, Local Author! [Library Name] Wants You! [Library Logo}

[Library Name] Public Library is eager to work with our local authors. If you live in [name of service area] or write about our area, we want to hear from you. We offer events and classes to help you promote your book and to become a better writer.

Here is some basic information to get you started:

  • Our website has a section for local authors. Here is where you can learn more: [URL]. It will connect you with writers’ groups and organizations that can help you.
  • [Library Name] Public Library has specific criteria that books must meet so we can add them to our collection. If your book meets them, then we would like a copy. See our Local Authors page for details.
  • If your book is available through any major library supplier, then we will buy a copy from them. If the ebook is available through the [Library Name] Public Library’s ebook vendor, [Name of Vendor], then we can order a copy through them.
  • If your book is not available through our normal purchasing channels, then you probably need to learn more about the publishing business and how it works, so we and other libraries can buy it.
  • We recommend the volunteer-operated Indies Unlimited as a source of information by and for authors. You may also want to join one of our writers’ groups to get help from authors who are more experienced.

We hope to see you at one of our events, soon.

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By using this simple flyer libraries can help bridge the gap between their services and indie authors who come to them. Here is a link to a downloadable Word file that can be customized and printed for library use. Please use courtesy of No Shelf Required.

Welcome, Local Author!

5 thoughts on “Welcome, local author. Your public library wants you!”

  1. Kat, thank you, though I have to give you the credit for making me aware of this about many of the authors. That’s what sparked the flyer idea. I think it is wonderful that these older people want to write memoirs. They will create a vast treasure of primary source materials in 20th century history, and if they are published digitally, then in theory at least, they should be preserved forever.

  2. Peyton,
    You are spot-on saying that many first-time self-publishers are of retirement age and are technologically challenged. That is a trend we are seeing for certain. Most of the attendees of my self-pubbing workshops are over 60 years old and many of them don’t even have computers – so that flyer is a fabulous idea. I think that would make life easier for everyone involved. Another great article. Thanks.

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