Patsy Porco

Free (and worth it!) Advice to Self-Published Authors

In Books, libraries, Self-Published Books on July 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Being the genius Being fairly adequate at marketing self-promotion, it occurred to me that if I had self-published a book, I would offer it to my local library, and to every library that responded to my inquiry emails, for free. Most self-published-authors (known as SPAs in my head) all-too-soon discover that, once their relatives and friends buy their books, their selling days are over. In fact, they will probably never sell another copy ever again. That’s what marketing departments are for, and most SPAs don’t have one.

If SPAs gave their books to as many libraries as possible, however, they might at least find readers, albeit cheap ones. Once an SPA has acknowledged that he or she isn’t going to get rich from a book, he or she will settle for readers, of any ilk.

I was on my local library’s website last night, perusing their digital library. The inventory was sparse and consisted mostly of books with lurid covers, i.e., bodice-rippers*. (A lot of SPAs write bodice-rippers. I know this from experience. At one time in my life, I had a website dedicated to self-published books [yes, I called them SPBs; amazingly, the word didn’t catch on] and the majority of the books submitted to me were bodice-rippers, followed by self-help books written mostly by people with no credentials.)

But, last night, I wasn’t in the mood for a bodice-ripper, so my choices were severely limited. But why, I wondered, was my library’s inventory so heavily weighted toward this type of romance novel? And then it hit me. I’ll bet the authors gave the library their self-published books. But then the question was: Why would a library download an unsolicited, and probably unreviewed, book and upload it to its website for borrowing? The answer was obvious: Because, as soon as everyone and his/her brother/sister/friend got a Kindle or the Kindle app, libraries needed to build digital libraries, and do it fast. Library bosses probably came in one morning and told their librarians, “I want a big digital library and I want it yesterday.” (Library bosses are so behind when it comes to the latest expressions.) So, in order to keep their jobs, the librarians probably downloaded every book link that was emailed to them. The next day, they had hundreds of e-books (out of millions of available ones, probably) ready for their patrons to borrow. And, they were mostly bodice-rippers. Because that’s what the librarians had immediate access to.

So, SPAs, get a move on. Send your book to your local library today. And to every library on the planet. Some librarian somewhere is bound to have a boss who is saying right now, “Our digital library is languishing! Get more books uploaded, and do it yesterday.” And whose book will be sitting on the library’s computer, just waiting to be uploaded? Yours. You’re welcome.

 

* books similar to those published by Harlequin

 

 

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  1. Good luck, Mario. Your book is great and deserves an audience. In the meantime, you might want to start a blog and feature your book in the corner, where people can click on it to buy it. In your blog, you can talk about being Italian-American, going back to where you were born, the price of eggplants, or whatever. Each post should have tags. They’re super-important because they’re keywords that people will type in to find a particular subject. So, if you write about a visit to your home town, you should tag it: Italy, Southern Italy, the name of your town, things you did (eating, drinking, Italian wine), etc. Each blog post gets its own tags, based on what the post is about. The longer you blog, the more followers you’ll get (organic growth). Of course, a literary agent and a marketing team will speed up the process.

  2. As a recent SPA, I can attest to the accuracy of nearly all of your statements. I had a flurry of sales the first two weeks (120 +/-), nearly nothing in the subsequent month and now down to nothing, zip, zero three months after SP’ing. I hadn’t thought of free books to libraries so I will start on that but I hope that my books don’t move from “sitting” on my digital shelf to the libraries’ digital shelves 😉 Thanks for the suggestion and FYI, I am in the process of trying to find a Literary Agent who can help market my book beyond my so far minuscule audience. 🙂

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