If you saw my Jeep downtown, most likely you spotted it in the library parking lot. This is a frequent stop, and has been for just about all of my life. I owe my love of reading and the writer fire it ignited in me to all of the public libraries I’ve had the privilege to use. Without these libraries I would never have been able to read the thousands of books I’ve absorbed. I would not have discovered the beauty of the written word, nor aspired to become the creator of that beauty myself, to study and learn the craft, to challenge myself to write my own books.
I grew up going to the library. As a child, visits to the Campello branch of the Brockton Public Library were, at the least, a weekly thing, and involved hours perusing the shelves for just the right stack of books to bring home, some titles checked out again and again because they were so good and needed to be read one more time. I even loved the school library and looked forward to Library Day. I never knew what I’d find, and, being a naturally curious and open-minded child, this was a wonderful place to explore. When I grew up and left the Campello library and all its rich adventure behind, I made it a point to become acquainted with the public libraries in my new home towns, obtain a precious library card, and avail myself of their unique offerings.
The library has been a haven for me as a reader, and now as an author, where I am fortunate to see the copies of Blue Hydrangeas I’ve donated to my home library and to libraries on Cape Cod (where the book is set) enjoy lots of check-out action. I’ve also been invited to do book readings and signings, teach classes on self-publishing, and organize a local author and illustrator showcase at my home library. Yes, the library and I are great lifelong friends.
So when I learned last week that Blue Hydrangeas was accepted into Library Journal’s curated SELF-e collections, I did a happy dance because now my book will be available to readers all over the United States via 2,500 public libraries subscribed to BiblioBoard Library, a service that brings quality self-published works to the attention of the librarians who stock digital libraries. This will enable me to gain readers in an area – public libraries - that has, until now, been closed to most indie authors.
BiblioBoard provides an easy to use online library browsing system that offers readers a variety of unlimited reading material, including books, articles, and documents, as well as multimedia content such as images, video and audio from traditional publishers, indie-published authors and the library’s own special collections. BiblioBoard also creates new library business models for publishers while helping authors build a brand and reach new audiences. Upon my selection for SELF-e, I received a “badge” for my book, free marketing materials, exposure via Library Journal, and inclusion in a service that will reach millions of potential readers.
This is a boon to indie authors who have historically been denied access to library shelves, primarily because there was little to no system in place to vet the million+ titles out there. With Library Journal (the gold-standard for library reader services) curating submissions to SELF-e, there’s no need for individual libraries to read and screen submissions. They can add to their collections with confidence the materials are suitable for their patrons. And, since the platform allows unlimited checkouts of the same book (most libraries are only allowed to loan out one copy at a time) librarians don’t have to worry that a popular book will cost them more money to keep on hand, or that long waiting times to check out a book will upset patrons.
As an indie author, at this point in my career I’m more interested in gaining readers than royalties. The opportunity to have my book (books) available in public libraries all over the country and throughout New York State (my home state) as a "highlighted selection," will help me build a strong base of readers, some of whom may write a review of my book, post it on Facebook or Goodreads, refer it to a friend, or purchase my next title.
The first Library Journal SELF-e curated collection will be available to libraries in mid-2015.