The Best Ways to Get Your Self-Published Book in Your Local Library

So, you’ve written a cool book. You want to get it out in the hands of your genre. If you’re like me, you’re thinking about how you can get it in your local library, right? As all library systems are different, I’m not totally sure, but small-towners may have a much easier time getting their self-published book into their local library than us city folk.  I’ve heard of self-published authors walking right into their small town library and just asking. Easy enough.  In Utah, there is a huge county library system and lots of red tape to get through in order to get my book on the shelf.  Libraries get bombarded with submission requests. Although I don’t claim to have all the answers, this is what I was told from our local county library system:

Reviews from industry sources will improve the ability of selectors to fully evaluate your book. Review sources for independently published materials include:

Small Press Reviews:

Apparently not accepting submissions at this time. Fine.

Kirkus Indie Book Reviews :

Pay to get reviewed? Kirkus Indie Book Reviews is wanting 350 dollars for a review. Not sure I can afford that!

Independent Publisher:

There submission guidelines are pretty straight forward.  It does sound like they probably choose winners of the IPPY Awards (their awards) or from indie submissions. Cool.

How We Choose Books for Review

IndependentPublisher.com publishes original reviews of noteworthy new titles, chosen by our editorial staff from review submissions and entries into our six awards contests. We also feature books in articles and round-ups throughout the year. We review these books to bring increased recognition to the thousands of great — and often overlooked — independently published titles released each year. This is also why we launched our first book awards contest, the Independent Publisher Book Awards, in 1996.

Winning a book award and getting a good review published are two of the best marketing tools available to the independent publisher today. To be considered for a review, send your book to the address below. If your title is chosen, a member of the editorial staff will contact you with a link to the completed review.

IP, 1129 Woodmere Ave, Suite B, Traverse City MI 49686

Independently published books entered into our awards contests will also be considered for review. See here for more details about each awards program.

Midwest Review:

There guidelines are also pretty straight forward. If you are submitting ebooks, pre-publication manuscripts, galleys, uncorrected proofs, ARCs, or pdf files, expect to pay 50 bucks.  From what I can tell, it’s free to send them a hard copy of your book.

To submit a print book for review, we require the following:

  1. Two copies of the published book.
  2. A cover letter.
  3. A publicity or press release. This (or the cover letter) must include either a physical address or an email address to send the review to.

Send to:

James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

Booklife:

Booklife has a couple of options I believe. You first need to create an account. From there, you can send ebooks or hard copies.  They have a completely free option for a possible review, and if I’m not mistaken, a paid option for a guaranteed review.

In Closing

I was only told about these particular industry review sources.  I can’t say if a review anywhere else would help or not. Don’t let it discourage you from trying!

Remember, even after getting your book reviewed from one of the above industry reviewers, it won’t guarantee you a spot in the library system. It only gives you an “improved chance.”  Make sure your book is available to buy at a book store or somewhere because if you do get a spot in the library, they’ll need to know how they can pick up a copy of your beautiful work.

In the case of children’s books, make sure the copy of your book is going to hold up to the abuse of thousands of tiny hands. Most picture books I check-out are hardbound for this very reason!  “Only materials that are sturdily bound, preferably sewn or glued (without spiral or comb bindings) will be considered. Books with pages designed to be filled in or torn out by the reader will not be purchased.”

In closing, I hope this helps you get your book into your local library!  You can offer some free readings too!  Good luck and keep writing!

-Anders

So you’re like me, huh? Been sending out manuscripts of picture books for some time and you aren’t getting anywhere?  It’s okay. It was only last week when I realized I’ve been doing it wrong this entire time! Say whaaaaat?  No need to fear! Here are some tips that can help you send out a better-looking manuscript.

Keep in mind that poetry and rhyming manuscripts will be formatted slightly different. I’ll break it down into three sections; settings, first page, and continuous pages.

Settings for the document

1″ Margins All Around

Most documents will have this already selected by default, but make sure it’s ticked.

Left-aligned text

What this means is that every time you hit the return on your keyboard, it will start typing on the left side, not the center and definitely not the right.

Jagged lines on the right

This just means you don’t need to have the text fill the entire line.  It will automatically move to the next line when it needs to. The lines of text will appear jagged. You shouldn’t need to do anything, but if you see that your document is spacing out your letters to fill each line, you’ll need to make sure you do left-aligned text.

.5 cm paragraph indents

When you start a paragraph and hit the tab key, it will indent .5cm. Again, it should be selected by default.

Double-space

This gives room for any notes and makes it an easier read.

12 pt. Times New Roman font

Use this font as it is said to be easier on the eyes for someone who reads manuscripts all day. There is no need to use any special font for a manuscript submission. Make it simple, keep it 12pt.

First Page

So the document settings are all set. Let’s dive in.

Create a header. On the left side leave your name, number, email, and website.  Make sure it’s single-spaced, left-aligned. On the other side of the header, leave the word count.  Round up the word count to the nearest 10. Make sure that this header is only for this page.

Go back to the body of the text, and come down from the header a few inches and type and center the title. Don’t make it too large, but feel free to go with 14 or 16 at the most.

Hit enter and put the subtitle here if there is one. Hit enter again and add the author’s name. Select this and make it single-spaced.

Now come down another inch or two and start the story on the same page.

Sequential Pages

Create another header on this page. All pages following the first page will need this same header. The header will contain the author’s “lastname/thebooktitle” on the left side and on the right side of the line, start the page numbers beginning with page ‘2’.  It may do this automatically.

Click out of the header and go to the meat of the page. Continue your story from page one.  When you finish the story, hit return twice and type THE END.

Good luck!

-Anders

 

If you want to download the free .doc template, feel free. I will attach one shortly.

If you found this information useful, consider supporting me by sharing the articles, liking pages, leaving comments, or even getting a copy of Priscilla and the Sandman or The Wondrous Wandering Acrobats Show.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few tricks and tips to making reading more enjoyable for you and most importantly, your child.

Parents have asked me for tips about how to read to  child.  Often, parents think their child may not be interested in books at all or that they just can’t focus.  For many parents, the answers may come easy, but for plenty of others, they do not.

Let’s start with a very basic question – If you were a toddler, how would you want someone to read to you?

How does a reading like this sound?

  • quick read
  • monotone
  • no excitement
  • no engagement
  • forceful reading
  • a parent that thinks it’s too much work

I don’t know about you but for me, this sounds a ton better:

  • soft excitement (soft “oohs”, and “awes”)
  • changing voices with different characters
  • whispers
  • making sound effects (bangs, creaks)
  • being silly
  • role playing afterwards
  • a physical engagement
  • a mental connection from a spoken word to a picture
  • excitement from a parent
  • blind reads from a bed or in the car

Although, I don’t expect to have all the answers, I believe if you started out like I did, we’d have pretty similar results. If you’ve resulted to ipads more than physical books since they were a baby, it may be a different ball game but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy books!  For us, ipad time is a treat and can be done as a reward.  So, how have a read books with my child?

0-4 Months Old

Don’t teach. Talk. And there is no need to speak in long winded sentences.

For being a baby, you only need to give them soft books to enjoy.  Let them chew on them, and feel them. Buy them a good black and white book as the contrast really helps. Get them some soft books with  crinkle paper inside so they can hear it crackle.  Just because your baby is a baby, it doesn’t mean they aren’t learning.

Constantly talk to them. When you hand them a book, tell them a few times that it’s a book.  I used Sign Language by mimicking my hands together as a book by opening and closing them.  With a noise book, when they crinkle it up,  give a gasp or awe,  and say, “Woooow, listen, it’s making a noise.” Everything you do with your child can be verbally connected at the same time. They will understand what a book is before they can even say it.  Just speak verbally about things as you do them.  You don’t need to talk about the past or what you will be doing tomorrow. That would be pointless. They need a connection that meets the physical and verbal.  You can do it with eating too. For example, you’re feeding them an apple.  You tell them it’s an apple.  Then, let them eat the apple, tell them, “Yummmy, apple. Do you like apple?”  Most parents already do this with food, but you can start to do this with books too once they can hold their heads up.

That being said, don’t overstimulate and change it up. You are not “teaching” them. You are just connecting two points to a puzzle, and each time you bring out the same book or a book with the same image, you are reasserting that those two points connect.  Turn the pages, talk about each page and go at a decent pace for the child to enjoy, and not feel overwhelmed. If they are bored, then put it down for a while.

5-8 Months Old

Lap reading, pointing, and adding a few more sentences.

Your child is now able to hold up their heads when you sit them on your lap. They seem to want to look around at every one and everything.  This is a great opportunity to get some board books with simple pictures.  Buy the ones with textures and shiny things or anything that gets the motor senses going.

Sit them down on your lap and pull out a board book.  How would you feel if someone just opened it, read words and closed it? Boring, right? There is so much more to the experience.  But in my opinion, one of the most important things to do is to hold one of their hands in yours, and mold the child’s hand in a pointer position. You can put the middle to the pinky fingers down, leaving the index up pointing with your help.

As you read the word, circle the entire object. Talk about the color, the texture, what the object might do, what it might sound like or smell like.  If they turn the page on their own, let them. The more you sound excited, the more they will wonder why it’s exciting. Again, don’t be overly excited.  Just give a soft, “Awwwwe, look at that! It’s red. Pretty pretty red.”   If they are focused, continue.  Have them point to red on their shirt or something in the house. Make some soft sound effects, but again, there is no need to overstimulate. Sound out a crunching apple, or the wind blowing in the trees. When it’s food, I always pretend to grab some and eat it and let them pretend. If they are eating soft foods, this will make a lot of sense to them. Speak softly, even if you gasp or awe, you can do it in a soft voice.  After all, you aren’t trying to frighten the child, you are just showing enthusiasm for how cool words and objects are.

Later, you’ll be able to ask them about objects in the book, and they may be pointing them out in no time.

8 Months to 1.5 Years

Step it up. Get some fun picture books and bring it down to there level. They can get something new from each time you read it.

By 8 months of reading, your child may be able to enjoy looking at more story driven books.  I like to start off with the story books similar to the worded board books.  Sit the child on your lap and make her a pointer finger.  If they pull away, don’t force them.  Use your own finger, and come back to theirs later. See if they are interested in pointing then.  Talk about it all. Let’s take The Very Hungry Caterpillar for example. We could just read it in a boring monotone quickly, but where’s the fun in that?  How about for the first time,  talk about the caterpillar being small, and hungry. Give it a voice, “I want to eat”, and make some munching sound while putting fingers to your mouth. Let the child eat the apple, and other fruit from the book.  What does it sound like as it crawls, “Pugee, pugee, pugee.” Talk about the sun and it being big, warm and bright.  Talk about it all.

The second reading, probably another day, you can try giving it a read through. Change your voice and give the caterpillar some lines. “Oh, I’m so hungry”, or “I’m full”, or “I have a tummy ache”.  There’s no reason you can’t expand on any of it or take any of it out.

This goes for any book.  You can shorten it and bring it down to their level. If you are on a page, and they want to move forward, move forward.  My child and I looked through  Jumanji at a young age, but I talked about the animals and the game, and probably didn’t read much of what was written.  Just make sure you keep using their pointer finger if they’ll let you.  As the rhinos crash through the wall, make an explosion, “Look out, run! The rhinos are coming!”  You don’t need to get too detailed in long winded sentences.  When reading the snake, you can make your arm into one slithering around.

From 1.5 Years on

Continue at their pace but progress.

From 1.5 years on, continue moving forward at their pace. They may not need you to hold their pointer finger any more but you can always try.  You’ll want to continue to make reading enjoyable by adding noises, changing voices, and talk about the little things in the book.

As the child can speak, start to role play.  Start to memorize books and recite them when something pops up like a toy or stuffed animal.   Make jingles, chants, and sing songs.

Before, I would read it with easier words that my child knew, but as she got older I would bring in the new vocabulary and tell her what it meant.

Just a week ago, she said that her little bear was petrified. It was a word from Mouses Book of Fears, and we hadn’t read it in months.  She was just turning three years old.

What kinds of books do I recommend?

Good books!  Okay, a good book is definitely subjective.  I recommend soft, chewing books for the babies. Then you don’t have to worry about it being destroyed.  Then I recommend nice board books with they get a little older – board books with something fun, interactive, and engaging.  Let them keep those in their room. During the board book time, teach them to respect books. Don’t stand on them and through them, or they’ll break.  My daughter did break her first board book, but after explaining it a few times, she’s learned to really respect her books.  I kept paper books separate from my daughters board books. While reading paper books, I woud use her fingers to turn the pages carefully and tell her, “carefully, and slowly. We don’t want to rip them.”  I would make sure she wouldn’t grab corners forcefully, and if she did, I would hold her arm and turn with her and tell her, “Be careful, it can rip.” I remember a time or two when she wasn’t,  I would stop reading, she’d cry, and I’d explain a little to her about treating books nicely, and we’d go back to reading.

When choosing my books, I tend to look for artwork that captures my eyes, and again, taste in art is subjective.  After that, I’ll open a book and see the artwork inside. If it maintains the quality of the cover, I’ll check out how many words there are. If it seems too long winded, I may put it back right then. If not, I’ll read what the story is about.  If I like the story, then, I’ll probably buy it. If I don’t agree with the message, it’s a coin toss, as it will heavily rely on how much I love the artwork.  I am not a fan of “I’m a princess” messages or “women need to be rescued by a handsome prince.”  That being said, I did buy a Rapunzel with amazing pictures. But I also laughed and told my daughter it was pretty silly, and the reason why it was silly.

I’m not one to let awards or famous authors be my deciding factor.  I do have my favorite authors/illustrators list but I have found some amazing books at thrift stores that I wouldn’t have ever found had I just kept to the famous author list.

BUT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP

The most important tip I can give is just to enjoy reading time with your child.  If you act like reading is going to be a chore, then so will the child.  If you are a parent that feels this way,  you probably need an attitude change and some self-reflection on what it means to be a parent because guess what? Your child is forever changing, and with each age comes struggles but also a ton of enjoyment.  Just think, in a blink of an eye, you could miss out on half a life.

The moment your child is born, they are connected by the umbilical chord.  As soon as that chord is severed, they are forever growing away from you.  As they get older, they’ll want less time with you and more time with friends.  One day, they’ll be moving out.

I’ve loved being a father.  Of course I want more me time, but I also want to be there for my kiddos as much as I can.  Enjoy the struggles and for crying out loud, enjoy reading time.

-Anders Roseberg

 

It’s every author’s dream. Their grand idea of a story, the one they nurture as if it were an only child, is going to make them millions. It’s going to be beloved by all critics and reviewers alike because hey, it’s yours.  The author will be rolling in the dough and wiping their toosh with 20 dollar bills. Well, let’s get our heads out of the La La Land,  and get back to the land of the real, Neo.

I recently just published my first picture book, Priscilla and the Sandman.  After months of research and emailing publishers and agents, I decided to self-publish.  I am by no means an expert on this subject but I will explain and share with you what I learned to you in this short article of why I decided to do self-publish.

Like many authors out there, I thought my book was the most awesome, most unique, most different and beautiful. I thought that everybody will love it once they pick it up. Heck, I still do!  I thought there would be no way agents and publishers would pass it up because it is just too good. So to start, I started looking for agents and publishers.  I researched the agents and publishers that liked similar books and found publishers that had similar books geared towards similar ages. Well, after sending out 50-100 emails to these researched agents and publishers,  I got very few responses. In a nutshell, “No”.

What I’ve learned from this experience is, unless you are a somebody already, it’s very unlikely to even get your foot in the door.  I’m a new author under a pen name, and I have yet to build up any kind of following or audience.  I was, or am still,  a nobody. Had I had a few thousand likes on a fan page or a blog with thousands of followers, it may have turned some heads or at the very least, gotten more responses.  However, the truth of this can’t be confirmed at this point.  When I get a few thousand followers and a new book, I’ll write an update.

At the same time of me wasting my time emailing uninterested parties, I kept doing research on why I should publish vs. self-publish.  I stumbled upon a video on YouTube that really struck some chords with me. The video had a panel of a few authors of different genres. Some were published and some were self-published. In the video, a self-published author mentioned stats which I can’t necessarily confirm or verify validity.

The first chord struck when the woman in the video mentioned that only 10 percent of authors at a publishing house make a whopping 90 percent of the publisher’s profit.  On the flipside, the other 90 percent of authors make only a tiny 10 percent of the house’s profit. So let’s make it more simple. A publishing house has 10 authors. One of those authors is going to make 90 percent of the house’s profit. This same author is going to be the one that you see very visibly on the shelves at bookstores.  They’re going to have their posters on the walls, and book signings lined up.  They are the ones that a publishing house will be pushing out in the consumers’ faces.  Now, those other nine authors making around only 1.2 percent of the profits each are merely a waste of time, a what if, so to speak. A publisher won’t spend money on marketing an author that is going to make such a low percentage of the profits. What does that mean? That means that even a published author will have to market their own book and do a lot of the leg work.  They need to do it if they want any sells at all. Wait a minute, isn’t that what a self-published author has to do anyway?

Back to the YouTube video.  The same author in the video then mentions that the average published author (yes, published) will sell an average of 200 books a year.  I thought to myself, “Seriously, a measly 200 books?”  So not only are you self-promoting your very own book on behalf of the publisher, trying to set up your own book signings (with the permission of the publisher), you also aren’t making any money. Well,  most likely for that first year or two, maybe three. Let me explain. When the author got signed, they got some money up front after signing a contract which is called an “advance”. That advance could probably be anywhere from 2,500 to 7,000 dollars.  There are a few different contracts that publishers use, but the more common one is an “advance” that goes against the publisher’s profits until that advance is paid back.  So, the author isn’t going to make any money until their advance is paid in full. The publisher needs to get back the money on their investment.  So, me being a nobody gets a publisher’s contract deal at, let’s say, 3,000 buckaroos (shooting low).  Let’s make an assumption that I could make 3 bucks off each book (shooting high) after paying off the printing fees,  and the illustrator and house fees. The house would need to move 1,000 books to pay off my advance and after that, I could start making some money again. Now, if you recall, according to the unverified stat from the YouTube vid,  the average author sells the average of 200 books a year. If I could just humble myself enough to call me an average author, we’d be talking about roughly  5 years before I’d see another payment from the house. “Well, at least I got 3,000 bucks and didn’t need to fork out the cash for printing.”  It’s a fair point.  Touche.

I asked myself, one, could I wait for months to years hoping for a yes. What would be the benefit of waiting if, in the end, the responses were all negative?  Would I want to wait that long? Two, I asked myself if I could I sell more than 200 books a year on my own?  If you broke it down into profits per sale, I actually could sell less books to make the exact amount of money that I would be making with a publisher because I wouldn’t have that publisher’s fee.  If I could double my profit being self-published, then I would only need to sell 100 books to be that “average published author”.  If I could triple my profits, even better!

For me, my logical reasoning, the fact that I had some saved up cash, I couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for an agent or publisher to respond, and I was confident enough in my project that I could sell more than 100 books a year, was my reasoning to self-publish. There wasn’t a logical reason for me to be sitting around waiting for a publisher, or biding my time until an agent would give me a chance.  In fact, my first month, with the help of friends and family,  we’ve already moved around 200 books. The downside? Well, a self-published author needs to fork out the cash for printing up front. This can be fairly costly, especially printing in the US. I felt fairly confident that I could break even at the least.  I figured it would take around 300 book sells to make back the money I put into printing.

Another valuable lesson I learned was that no matter how good your book is, or how good you think it is, there are millions of people that feel exactly the same way about their book.  Instead of seeing the future you getting rich quickly, give yourself some smaller goals. My first goal was to sell 200 books. My second goal is to pay off the printing fees. I’m almost there.  Your idea is your baby, no doubt.  Cherish it and love it.  Just remember that babies are undoubtedly the most beautiful to the parents of that baby, and there are millions, if not billions, of babies in the world.

So what are the downsides? Well, a self-published author needs to fork out the cash for printing up front. This can be fairly costly, especially printing in the US. I also felt fairly confident that I could break even (money wise) at the least.  I figured it would take around 300 book sells to make back the money I put into printing.  The other downside is the extent of my reach.  I’m a recluse.  I’ve had to depend on the quality of my product, and the hope that friends and family would be willing to share the book with their friends, word of mouth.  So far, I can’t complain. The question is, when will that reach end?  Or will it?  There is also a lot of work that goes into marketing your own book. I’ve emailed lots of bloggers and bookstores. I’ve put in countless hours of making my publishing dreams come true. I spent lots of dollars and time on the design and artwork.   Lastly, it will take time away from friends and family. So, if you are a social person and need constant company all the time, I’d keep waiting for that contract deal.

So, have I  convinced you that self-publishing is the route you’d like to take? Consider these options. If you don’t have the cash to dump into printing or the storage space to store 32 boxes of books (in my case), you really only have 2 options – one, keep emailing the agents, publishers, and wait for that golden moment in which an agent or publisher sends you a contract, or two,  you can self-publish with online services and stick to POD (Print on Demand) and Ebooks. I plan to do another blog about my experience with POD and Ebooks. POD and Ebooks will limit your upfront cost and still allow you to publish. Fantastic, right?  The thing is if you are self-publishing, and you use these services, it’s as if you had signed a contract with a publisher anyway.  The reason being is you will have to pay these retailers their house fee, and their printing fees.  So, you’ll still be making a buck or so per book.  In fact, you can print off a bunch to take to an event at an authors discounted price which in turn, increases your profit. That’s good. The bad? The quality of your book will suffer with these POD services for the most part. Believe me.

I know, it’s a lot to take in and digest.  I hope that this article has given somebody some insight on publishing.  Even with all this being said, I would love to be published by a traditional publisher. That is, if the numbers worked out right.  I won’t approach another agent again, nor will I waste my time seeking out publishers. Instead, I hope to build my reader audience alone and see where I am in a few years. Publishers or agents may start emailing me as time progresses.  I warmly welcome that.

Please check out my first picture book, Priscilla and the Sandman. It has great reviews on Amazon and from bloggers.

Anders Roseberg