A blog about writing and self publishing

A Librarian’s Top Five Tips For Indie Authors

By L. W. Yang (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joni Di Placido

With library distribution via OverDrive now available to all KWL authors, we want to ensure our authors can take full advantage of Kobo’s partnership with OverDrive. Maria Cipriano is Senior Collections Specialist at the Toronto Public Library and purchases all content for Toronto Public Library’s OverDrive collection, which has an enormous digital content user base. She very kindly agreed to speak to me about the process for selecting books and best practices for reaching library readers.

Engage widely with your readers

Maria explained that the vast majority of content comes from reader suggestions. Library patrons are limited to one recommendation per month and can make suggestions via the “Recommend to Library” function. When a book is recommended by multiple readers, Maria checks out reviews online from Goodreads, bloggers and social media influencers. Use your mailing list, engage with your audience on social media and earn that precious single monthly vote!

The Power of Free

Giving away your first book for free on retail platforms is a huge motivator; Maria often notices multiple readers requesting books two and three in a series because they read the first and were hooked. If you have a large backlist, considering giving one book away, even just for a short time. As Julia Kent once pointed out, it’s like giving free samples at Costco—that one bite might just earn you a reader for life!

Be Competitive with Your Library Prices

Libraries are working with a budget and often have to purchase multiple copies of a title. While most authors do set a slightly higher price for libraries than they do on retail platforms, Maria warns new authors not to price their titles too high. While established and successful indie authors can command higher prices, Toronto Public Library generally doesn’t pay more than $5-$6 per title for a lesser-known authors.

Libraries Judge Books By Their Covers, Too

We tell our authors this all the time: covers matter. Maria really emphasized this when we spoke. She takes pride in Toronto’s library catalogue and simply will not purchase books whose covers look amateurish or unappealing. The cover can make or break your book—this is the place to spend time and money getting it right.

Librarians Are An Incredible Resource

Toronto Public Library makes an effort to stock Canadian titles and support local authors whose stories are relevant to their communities—they’re here for readers. Above all, librarians love books and they want to connect readers with books they will love. Make an effort to engage with your local library; keep an eye on your sales reports to see which libraries are buying your books and consider visiting!

Have you had success distributing your eBooks to libraries? Share your strategies for connecting with librarians and library readers in the comments!

3 Responses to “A Librarian’s Top Five Tips For Indie Authors”

  1. Neves Maria Marques

    Ola, tudo bem?

    Gostaria muito de está envolvida nessa Biblioteca. Mas resido no Brasil, e minhas obras são também escritas em Português brasileiro.

    Neves Maria Marques.

  2. Richard Murray

    One thing is funny, if all books were forced to have a black cover , no title/graphics/author and people had to read them first , what would happen?

  3. Gabriela Casineanu (@ThoughtDesigner)

    Thanks for the tips, it is always good to understand the things from the other’s perspective as well (the library/ librarian in this case). I second Maria’s suggestions to build credibility for the book through reviews, social media, followers… this is how the society works. And to get that social proof takes time and commitment.
    Gabriela Casineanu, Award-winning author of books for Introverts


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