How to get your self-published book into a library

Getting your book into a library is a good marketing tool. It’s the equivalent of giving away free copies in those Kindle programs, except in this case a lone free copy can seen by multiple people for several years. Your book also is on a library catalog system, often available online, that gives people yet another way to stumble across the title.

Unfortunately, some libraries simply won’t even consider your book for inclusion on their shelves should they learn you’re self-published. Others will consider it but only after you’ve jumped through an incredible number of hoops. In fact, one author client of mine said after going through that process he’d have an easier time getting his retired, draft-dodging father into a veteran’s home.

First check with your library to see if they’d like to carry it. You’ll get a good idea right away about their attitude toward self-published authors. Those attitudes do vary. Indeed, the library in my hometown where I both grew up and now live doesn’t have a single copy of my 20-plus books and doesn’t answer my emails about them. The city library in the town where I attended college, however, carries almost every one of my books. And my college’s library? They don’t carry me either, though I suppose my books are exactly academia-styled material.

To get your book into a resistant library, you generally need to do the following:
• Include Cataloging in Publication data – This information, offered by the Library of Congress, goes on your title page. It’s the info libraries use to catalog your book.
• Obtain at least one professional book review – Common book reviews that libraries consider professional include Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, and the New York Times Book Review.

Unfortunately, both of these efforts can cost you money, so the question is if the return on investment from offering free copies in your library is worth it. After all, even if you spend the money for the publication data and for a book review in Kirkus, the library still may turn you down.

I prefer my books to be in a library and always will donate a copy to one if they request it. But if a library isn’t interested, it’s not a big deal. The reality is that a book in a library won’t cover the costs of obtaining publication data or purchasing a book review. Indeed, the majority of readers looking for book buying ideas will go to any of the free online blogs or social media sites (such as Goodreads) that offer reviews of titles in their preferred genres. You’ll spend a lot less time and money targeting those specific readers via social media than you ever will by getting a book in a library. Given this, the only real reason to spend money on the effort is for reasons of pride.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.