During a recent meeting at the Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Group, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Chapter, one member asked if public libraries accepted self-published books.
To get the answer, I asked Maria Ruiz, facilitator and moderator of the Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Group; Neil B. Goldhar, PVWG member; and Dr. Marion Moss-Hubbard, Ph.D, the senior public information officer for the San Diego Public Library, San Diego, California. All three are self-published authors.
Maria Ruiz: SUBMITTING SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS TO BIBLIOTECA LOS MANGOS (The Mangos Library)
Does the Puerto Vallarta Biblioteca accept self-published books?
Yes, the library does accept books.
How does an author submit a book to Biblioteca for consideration?
There is a case in the front where they keep the new books. Anyone there can accept the books.
Is it possible to add the title to the Biblioteca catalog?
You need to talk with the Biblioteca director to find out how to add the title to their catalog.
Are there other local book outlets?
A Page in the Sun, is a local book store and café, accepts books on consignment. That’s a good place because almost all of their clients are English Speaking. The Bibloteca does not have many English speaking visitors.
Neil Goldhar: HOW DID YOU SUBMIT YOUR BOOK TO BIBLOTECA LOS MANGOS?
It was easy. I asked the library manager if she was interested in adding my book to their library collection. She said ‘yes.’ That was it!
Marion Moss-Hubbard: SUBMITTING BOOKS TO MAJOR PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE U.S.A.
How is the world of self-publishing changing?
Self-publishing is becoming more popular and accepted as the publishing industry changes. Desktop publishing and creating eBooks is becoming easier.
Do major libraries in the U.S. accept self-published books?
Libraries in major cities generally do not take self-published books, although some, particularly smaller libraries, may take them on a case-by-case basis. Even books that are given as gifts to libraries often are not added to the collection, since space is always an issue and it costs staff time to catalog books.
If a book is added to a library collection, it is generally cataloged and available (via the internal delivery system) to all libraries throughout that library system.
Are there any exceptions?
Librarians do review and often add books to their collections that are on the New York Times Best Seller list, regardless of publisher. Having a nationally known book review or receiving a major book award can also boost the chances of acceptance.
Libraries also may have local author programs, like San Diego Public Library’s Local Author Program, that display local submitted books published each year.
How would an author create national interest in a self-published book?
One avenue is to go through a company, like The Jenkins Group [and Smash Words] (see links below), that advertise to Libraries and the Media on a person’s behalf. It is pricey though. Sometimes self-publishers spend more money than the book is worth to promote it. It is important to be strategic in marketing energy and money.
Submit your book for reviews based on your specific market. Start small with local publications and leverage those reviews to larger publications. It is a good idea to do your homework and check the policies about each publication to make sure they accept unsolicited works. You don’t want to waste time sending out a lot of books for review that will never get into the reviewer’s hands.
Social media like Facebook can be an inexpensive way to advertise, if you work it and get a large following.
How does an individual submit a book to a library for consideration?
Almost all libraries have a way to submit requests for books to be included in the collection. Check their websites for submission policies or contact the library to ask about the policy.
There are several levels of self-publishing. However, in general, if the author pays for the publication, it’s self-published.
If your goal is to have your self-published book on the library shelf, the first step is to contact the library and ask.
If the library does not have a policy for including books by self-published authors, consider working with the library to develop a policy.
Bottom line: Regardless the library policy, continue writing!
Lynn Bradshaw, Sailor and Writer
She and her husband are retired and live year-around on their sailboat, LA VITA
Currently in Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico
(Twenty miles north of Puerto Vallarta, MX)