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Attention self-publishers!

Attention self-publishers!
How to get your book into libraries
7 December 2017

To anyone who has written a book: Congratulations! As someone who agonised over every word in this short blog post, I salute those with the inspiration and the commitment to write an entire book.

But now what?

How do you get people to find and read your masterpiece?

What sells a book sells a book, same in traditional or self-publishing. You gotta shake your tail feathers

- Joni Rodgers (author)

Blues Brothers Shake Your Tail Feather

Let me see you shake your tail feather, imgur. https://imgur.com/gallery/NhSpJBo

  • Set up a beautiful website and sell your book online
  • Send copies out to be reviewed
  • Host a fabulous launch party
  • Encourage all of your friends and family to buy a copy (or three!)
  • Contact local bookstores and see if they will take your book on consignment, and maybe host a book signing event. Staff recommendations are always popular, so if they like your book, you’re set!
  • Make industry contacts through author and publisher groups
  • Get involved in local writers groups, workshops and festivals
  • Do your research. As every book and every author are different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to promoting your book. I’ve compiled a short resource list at the end of this blog post to get you started.

…and don’t forget the libraries!

A 2015 Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) research paper estimated that libraries spend over $400 million each year on print and ebook resources. Despite the straitened budgetary conditions that many Australian libraries face, collection development continues. So why not prod it to continue in the direction of your book? 

Every reader his or her book. Every book its reader.

- S.R. Ranganathan (librarian)

One of the key duties of every librarian is to promote reading. If you can successfully demonstrate to a librarian how your book could reach a certain demographic of readers, they may become a champion for your book.

Let's hear it for librarians!

Let's hear it for librarians! A reference desk librarian shouting in an area with a "Quiet Please" sign, 2002. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-158621046

Your book can live longer in a library, as books that are too old for bookshops to stock may remain accessible for current and future library readers.

At the National Library of Australia, we do not 'weed' our collection. This means that we preserve your book as close to forever as possible, so your book, your ideas, and thereby an imprint of your soul may become immortal. 

A library book, I imagine, is a happy book

- Cornelia Funke (author)

Here are my top tips to get your book into Australian libraries:

Before publication

Prepublication Data Service

Cataloguing statement

The National Library of Australia provides a free Prepublication Data Service.

If you’re an Australian publisher or self-publishing author with an upcoming book, fill out our online form with your book’s details. Using this information, we will automatically generate a mini-catalogue record. We share this catalogue record with over 1,000 libraries and library suppliers via Libraries Australia and Trove, the national discovery service, which may lead to more pre-orders for your book.

Contact library suppliers directly

You can also contact some library suppliers individually to let them know when your book is coming out.

After publication

Legal deposit

Legal deposit

Australian publishers and self-published authors are required to send a copy of their works to the National Library and relevant State Library for legal deposit. Legal deposit ensures that a comprehensive collection of published material relating to Australia and its people is preserved for the community and future generations.

But legal deposit also benefits you.

When the legal deposit copy of your book is processed, it receives a full catalogue record, which we upload to Libraries Australia and Trove. Libraries and library suppliers can see that your book has been published, and the general public can see where to borrow or buy it, as Trove ranks highly in Google searches.

Contact your local library

Libraries are our friends

- Neil Gaiman (author)

Librarian, Musgo Dumio Momio
Librarian. https://flic.kr/p/5qA2CS

Local libraries are usually keen to support home-grown authors, and they can provide help both before and after publication.

  • Make an appointment with your friendly local acquisitions librarian
  • Would your local library be a suitable venue to host a book launch?
  • Would they be happy to purchase a copy (or three) of your book?
  • Do they host author talks and author workshops?
  • Would they be interested in a free copy of your book to review, and hopefully recommend?

Public Lending Rights (PLR)

Do you know about Public Lending Rights (PLR)?

Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) are Australian Government programs that compensate Australian creators and publishers in recognition of income lost through free multiple use of their books in public and educational lending libraries. These programs also support the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing.

Lending Rights

Yes, you read that right! If you fit the eligibility criteria, you can receive money from the government for having your book in libraries. Check the Lending Rights website to find out if you qualify for this payment. 

Other resources


The Australian writer’s marketplace. http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/24336562

How to market your book : the business beyond your book!, by Rachael Bermingham (2017).  http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/226577403

How to write your book : a step-by-step guide on how to write your very own book, by Rachael Bermingham (2017).  http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/226577393

Write to launch : a step-by-step guide to self-publishing, by Kylie Dunn (2016). http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/206671575

Your book publishing options : how to make and market ebooks and print books, by Euan Mitchell (2014). http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/186334537


Australian Publishers Association: https://www.publishers.asn.au/

Australian Society of Authors: https://www.asauthors.org/

Self Published Author by Bowker: http://www.selfpublishedauthor.com/home

Small Press Network: http://smallpressnetwork.com.au/

Hi Kristen. This is such a great guide! We have so many readers over on Blog Tyrant that are self publishing their own books, but very little attention is paid to anything other than purely online promotions. I think this is a real shame because so many new connections and opportunities can come from some of the ideas you suggested, like hosting book launches, etc. We have some big guides like this one about how to write more https://www.blogtyrant.com/how-to-write-more/ (feel free to remove the link if it's not okay!) that authors use a lot, and I'd love to include a section about some of the tips bloggers and online authors might be able to use in relation to libraries. Do you have any specific ideas about what might be useful? Thanks so much! Ramsay
Thanks Ramsay, I agree, just because a book is in a particular format, does not mean that authors are locked into promoting it a certain way. Regarding tips for bloggers and online authors, it really depends on the format of their publication, and the collecting capabilities of the libraries that they're aiming for. At the National Library, in addition to ebooks, we can collect other online content, including websites and blogs -- I've asked our Web Archiving team to reply to your comment about this.
Thanks so much for getting back to me about this. I really appreciate it.
Hi Ramsey, PANDORA Archive is a selective collection of online publications and websites relating to Australia and Australians. We are collecting a variety of web publishing including ebooks and ejournals (eg. substantial pieces of creative writing, such as novels and major collections of poetry or short stories on website or blog). Please feel free to use our online nomination form available in PANDORA: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/registration_form.html
Hi Jong and Kristen. Thanks so much for the replies here. I'll definitely be sharing that with some authors that we have around the site. What a great resource. Along the same lines, if you'd ever like to put together a blog post or long-form guide for how library users, authors, students, and even avid readers, etc. can get the most out of blogging and online promotion I'd love to put that together for you, or contribute in some way. We've seen some really amazing author/student blogs turn into career-launching platforms recently so there would definitely be some useful information to put out there! Thanks again. Ramsay
Loved this - thanks for publishing it!
Thanks Jac :)
Hi Kristen, Thanks for linking to ALS Library Services. We appreciate hearing about new, local content and love to hear from authors. Your link however, is an old one. The correct link is: https://www.alslib.com.au/authors/ Simon Woodley Managing Director ALS Library Services
Thanks Simon! I've updated the link in the post.
I have been writing books for over forty yrs and they are listed in the National Library Of Australia. However, I am coming to the end of my life and wish to be assured that they will linger on ...
Hi Theresa, your books will be well cared for in the years to come. You may be interested in reading our Preservation information and policies: http://www.nla.gov.au/preservation