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How to Get Your Self Published Book Into Libraries

 Trying to get your self published book into libraries? We’re spelling out how you can get your titles into a digital library system or on local library shelves – and, more importantly, why you should.


How to Get Your Self Published Book into Libraries

Walk into a library and what do you see? So. Many. Books. All ready to be checked out! And a lot of these books are big-name bestsellers! But you don’t need to be a household name to get your book into a local library.

Getting copies of your stories into these bookworm hubs isn’t easy, but, with the proper tactics, indie authors can do it.

In this post, we’ll outline how authors can get their eBooks, physical copies or audiobooks into libraries. Use the links below to jump to what’s relevant to you, or take it all in. We’ll start with the digital side.


How to Get Your eBook Into Libraries

How to Get Your Book Into Libraries

How to Get Your Audiobook Into Libraries


How to get your eBook into Libraries

Getting your self-published eBook into the library system is a great way to grow your reader base and earn some royalties to boot. Here’s how to get started.


1. Choose a service

The best way to get your eBook in library systems is to work with a service like PublishDrive. Ingram Spark, Smashwords or Draft to Digital. These companies offer distribution services to stores like Amazon, but also can get your book into library providers like OverDrive that enable readers to borrow online content for free through apps such as Libby.


Even though readers won’t pay to check-out your book, you can still earn royalties from the library.


Different library providers will pay out at different royalty rates, and the company distributing your book will also impact your payout. Talk to a distributor to understand exactly how their royalty system will work.


2. Get the word out

Once your book is distributed to library service providers like Overdrive, it’s time to generate demand.


Overdrive sells books directly to libraries, not readers, so libraries still need to actually provide the book to their readers. The solution? Request the book from your local library, and ask your friends, family, and fans to do the same.

This doesn’t guarantee that libraries will provide your book to readers (library budgets are often tight), but it’s a great way to get their attention and increase your chances.


3. Take advantage of your new reach

The big benefit of getting your book into digital libraries is the wealth of potential new readers for your work. 


Royalties likely won’t be a major source of income, but with new readers in the pipeline, you can start to see more outside purchases as they search for more of your work.


Put some thought into which books you put into libraries, or evaluate every year or so to see how things are going. Should you only put the first book of a series into libraries? All of them? There’s no hard and fast answer, but it certainly warrants some thought.


How to get your book on library shelves

Getting your physical book into a library is a huge thrill, and a big goal for many authors. Here’s what to do.

1. Contact your local library

Over 60% of Americans own library cards. As an indie author, you probably want to learn how to get your book in front of this massive audience. Well, to get started, you’ve got to do your research. 


Before you can do anything, you need to first learn if a library near you accepts self-published books for circulation. We recommend contacting a branch’s acquisitions librarian (or the person who’s in charge of making these types of decisions) and asking them about their self-published book policy. 


This is also a good time to ask the librarian what the most-read or highest demand books are at their library. It will give you an idea of what’s popular and if your book “fits in”.

2. Work with a wholesaler

In order to put your book into a library’s circulation, the book first needs to be available through wholesalers. A wholesaler is someone who supplies books to libraries, book stores, etc. and gets your book library-ready.


You may want to offer a steep discount, sometimes over 50%, to get a wholesaler’s attention, and give them the option of returning your work after 90 days or so.


The list of reputable wholesalers who libraries associate with includes Baker & Taylor (a.k.a. B&T), Ingram, Publishers Group West, and others. You can contact any of these wholesalers for information on how they can represent you.


When doing your research, remember: first call your local acquisitions librarian – then contact wholesalers. Apply for free to have your book listed within their offerings or pay to have a listing in their library catalogs.


3. Get prepared

Once you’ve done your research on local library policy and your book is available through a wholesaler, it’s time to prepare all of your documentation for the library.


Libraries are going to need to know ALL about your book to decide if it’s right for their branch. One easy way to prove your book’s up to snuff? Create a sell sheet


A sell sheet includes the basic information about your book including: 

  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Book cover
  • Formats / ISBNs
  • A brief book description
  • Any awards the book has won
  • Why library patrons will want to read it
  • How it can be ordered. 

Click below to download a free sell-sheet template that you can fill out with your own information. The template is simply a starting point, so feel free to add or remove whatever you think will sell your book the best!

Download Sell Sheet


You can email these sell sheets to your local library or provide them with a one page, hard copy sheet. The important thing is to represent your book with complete honesty here but also feel free to brag a bit. Show librarians why they need it on their shelves.


4. Flaunt what you’ve got!

Seeing as they work on pretty tight budgets, librarians are going to order books sure to appeal to their readers. They also tend to lean towards circulating books with a high number of 4-5 star book reviews. 


Have a ton of awesome reviews? Great, include that in your sell sheet. Still trying to work on your review numbers? You can learn how to up your review count here


Another helpful trick for developing book credibility is to get a review of it published by a journal. Librarians often look for these as a sign of legitimacy. Look into getting a review from one of these options:

If journals like Library Journal and Publishers Weekly or Kirkus accept your book, they will charge you to have their staff read and review it. Other sources of reviews won’t charge, but are often even harder to get a review from. Reviews aren’t cheap, and many indies will choose to not spend on them.


An extra boost that may be beneficial to your cause is hosting a local library event. Children’s book author Ilham Alam wrote about her experience on Jane Friedman’s blog in the article, “6 Steps to Get Your Self-Published Book Into Libraries” and mentions the “win-win” benefit to providing libraries with author events. Not only does this give you exposure, but it creates some buzz around the library.


It also never hurts to have family and friends support your cause. If you go the route of hosting an approved author event, make sure your attendance numbers are through the roof! Grab your neighbor, coworker, significant partner – anyone. Have a full house at your event and show the library the local community excitement that surrounds your book.

How to get your AudioBook into Libraries

Audiobooks are big, and just getting bigger. Here’s how you can get your audiobook into the library system.


1. Decide on a distributor or Apply to OverDrive

There aren’t many options to get audiobooks into libraries at this time. Authors can apply directly to OverDrive, but the chatter is that they rarely accept indie authors unless you have many audiobooks.


On the other hand, Findaway Voices operates like the eBook distributors we mentioned above. If you distribute your audiobook through Findaway, you can select to include their library partners (like Overdrive) and your book will be available in many library systems.


2. Flex your marketing muscle

Same as eBooks, once your book is available on library service providers, you need libraries to provide it to readers. Get your family, friends, and fans to request the audiobook and listen to it.


3. Monitor your royalties

Once again, library readers won’t pay to listen to your audiobook, but you will still get a royalty payout when they do. Currently, Findaway Voices takes 20% of your royalty payout, with a larger share, often around 50% going to the library service provider. 


So yes, the royalties do get chipped away at, but if you get a large volume of checkouts, you can still see a nice check.



Why Getting Your Book into a Library Matters

It builds credibility

So what’s the big deal about having your book in a library? Seems like a lot of hassle, right? Well, it can be, but the reward can also be nice. Having your book on library shelves builds incredible trustworthiness across readers. Also, libraries can mean a lot to authors. It’s where many cultivated a love of reading, and getting a book on library shelves can be extremely rewarding. 


Once you’re in, you’re in

Once one library has accepted you into their collection, you’re more likely to be accepted by other libraries. Again, this plays into the whole credibility idea. Joanna Penn’s article calls this notion “the domino effect”. And if the domino effect works out for you, you’ll soon be getting to see a whole lot of hardcover copies of your book on local shelves!


Ka¢hing, ka¢hing

Public libraries purchase books from publishers or distributors. When they do that, authors then receive royalties from their publisher. The more copies a library buys from a publisher, the more royalties the author will earn! Really, though, the real financial benefit to having your book stocked by libraries is that this boost to credibility will lead to more exposure and ultimately more sales.

The long-term benefit of your books in libraries

Having your book available in libraries offers a lasting impact on your author brand and career trajectory. Unlike fleeting online visibility, your book’s presence in libraries endures over time, reaching readers for years to come.

Libraries serve as community hubs where readers discover new authors and titles, creating a platform for continuous exposure. Each time a reader stumbles upon your book while browsing library shelves or catalogs, it reinforces your credibility and expands your audience.

Furthermore, as your book becomes a familiar presence in libraries, it contributes to a legacy of literary influence, potentially inspiring future generations of readers and writers. Therefore, the effort invested in securing a place for your book in libraries yields enduring rewards for your author journey.


Authors, have you been successful at getting your book stocked in libraries? How did you do it?

Note: This post was updated on 4/26/2024

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19 comments on “How to Get Your Self Published Book Into Libraries
  1. The other distribution company to get audiobooks into libraries is Author’s Republic. They used to pay out a lower royalty rate than Findaway Voices but they now payout the same as FV. They’re definitely a great option to consider.

  2. Indie folks generally use Amazon POD for their paperbacks, which is probably not very friendly to the idea of lowering prices to 50% for libraries, which some folks consider competition. This article would be a lot more helpful if it actually provided resources. A pep talk is nice, but serious folks need resources and opportunities to go along with them. List of wholesalers? List of libraries friendly to indie publishers? Current trends in price for paperbacks? Thanks for listening to my 2 cents’ worth.

    1. Hey Cece! These are totally valid points. Unfortunately, libraries friendly to indie publishers can really come down to a case-by-case basis. I recommend starting with your local libraries to see what their policy is, then branching out from there.

      This is a great link clarifying the differences between distributors and wholesalers; it also gives contact information for both services from some reputable big names in the publishing world. Once you locate a wholesaler you’re happy with, they’ll be able to hook you up with their pricing information.

  3. I have been giving copies of my first book to a local famous Montreal library and are selling quite fast. My second far more extraordinary book will soon be available and it is a comprehensive account of the ultimate nature and of the scientific philosophical origin of the universe based on the Theory of The Theory of Everything.

  4. Months ago, I received an editorial review of my self-published book which said it would be excellent in community and library collections. I looked everywhere for info on how to do that and found nothing. Librarians couldn’t tell me much. Today I tried again and wow! I feel fully informed. Thank you!

  5. Hello to all! First off, great article!! I would like to share a little advice since I have successfully applied to my local library and I have a copy on the shelf for checkout!! So, cut to the chase—1. Publish your book ( I use Amazon Kindle Publishing) in either Audio or Paperback format. 2. Contact your local library and ask how to get your book submitted into the library system. I live in Florida and our system is very friendly to Indie Authors and there is an entire page dedicated to showing you how to get on the shelves. (for example). 3. Get all your friends and family to ORDER COPIES OF YOUR BOOK FROM THE LIBRARY!!! This is so the library will have to buy additional copies of your book and you don’t have to worry about selling your book to your family or friends. 4. Don’t forget to record or have someone voiceover your book for an audiobook (which I am currently working on). Submit your work to GOOD READS AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY to start getting reviews for your book which will help in the long run. I call into the local radio station weekly and advertise my book for on air!!! Great free advertising tool!! When the libraries get back to allowing book signing events I will set that up also to get more exposure!! Hope the info helps!! Any questions hit me up @

    Oh Yeah!! Go check out my book on or go to and type in THE POKEY: A JAILHOUSE MEMOIR by David Roundtree

    1. How do you get someone to do a Audiobook for you? I need names and info, please, I always wanted to do that for my two historical fiction WWII books (w/smaller publishers) based on our family history with front cover blurbs from famous authors)

  6. Great article. I just want to add that’s it’s my understanding that BEFORE you are published, there are steps to take to get in to libraries. You must request a LCCN from the library of Congress. This starts on the PCN page for self-publishers. A step-by-step video is available on YouTube. Next, you can get a CIPblock, often formatted by a hired retired librarian. These steps catalogue your work, and it’s ready for library shelves. I don’t believe you can do it after publishing your work.

    1. How to Get Your LCCN Number
      Next up is the LCCN number (Library of Congress Control Number aka Library of Congress Card Number). This is a number assigned to the Library Of Congress bibliographic record of your book. The LCCN number differs from the ISBN number in that an ISBN is assigned to each edition or format of your book while the Library of Congress number is assigned to the work itself.

      This is a two-step process and can take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete. To start the LCCN application process, go to The Pre-assigned Control Number program assigns the LCCN number. This is a free service, but you must mail a published copy of your book to the Library of Congress. Audio books and eBooks are not eligible for LCCN assignment. The LCCN does not copyright your book.

  7. I would like to chime in on this as a librarian in charge of collection development, meaning I’m the person who buys the books for my library system. Here are a few points that I feel are important for self-published authors to know:

    1. It’s not that we DON’T want your book; it’s that we have a lot of books that we have to add (Patterson, Steel, Grisham, etc.) and often limited budgets.

    2. Donating your book does not help our budget. We still have to process the book: add stickers, covers, catalog information. All of these things cost money and time.

    3. Professional library reviews are your friend. If you have reviews from Kirkus, PW, Library Journal, Booklist, etc. then we’re much more likely to be able to evaluate the quality of your book and decide whether or not to add it and where it should go in the library.

    4. Badgering the library to buy your book only makes us frustrated. Please DO NOT have your friends and family bombard us with “patron” requests for us to purchase the book.

    5. Instead, send us a single email with your name, book title, ISBN (if available), where the book is available for purchase, any professional reviews, and other information that will make your book stand out, such as it’s related to local history or culture, it’s on a unique topic, etc.

    6. Before you write a children’s book, please go and look at the many many many kids books coming out every year. Ask your local librarian what books the kids themselves are asking for and enjoying. We see a lot of self-published picture books that the majority of kids will not want to read because of poor quality art, being too long, poor font choices, too didactic, etc.

    My library system has a lot of self-published works that do very well and we regularly buy from those authors. I never want to say no to an author, but I’m not buying for myself. I’m buying for and with my system’s money and I have to do what is best with the resources I have. If I think a work doesn’t have much chance of circulating, then I’m not going to get it. It’s not personal; it’s my job.

    1. Thanks for all this info. I am Canadian. My book is already in our libraries, but I want to get it in US libraries. I will take all this great info when I begin. What you’ve outlined is pretty much what Canadian libraries ask for. Be well.

  8. Thanks. Any suggestion on how a self published author who uses IS can convince Baker and Taylor to carry their novel?

    1. I believe they’ve been bought out by Ingram in 2019. But if you find the answer, I hope you can share it with me. I’m Canadian and want to get my memoir into US Libraries. Good luck!

  9. So grateful for your article and the responses. I’ll visit my library this week and report back. Mine is a children’s book- all illustrated by hand in gouache- never painted anything outside of pottery and one canvas before taking this on- but now I can’t stop painting- hope to have my second book out before my hardcover hits 9/6. I looked up the sources mentioned by the library rep- those are very helpful- but pricey. I did receive my LCCN and sending in my copy next week to copyright office. The learning curve is large!

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