Webinar notes for indie authors: Selling your books to libraries

I recently attended a great webinar (replay available at the link for the next few days) with Daniel Hall and Amy Collins, where I learned all about how to sell my books to libraries. Who knew there was such a lucrative market at the public library?

Not me!

Anyway, I thought I would share the notes I took during this webinar, to give my fellow indie authors some ideas. There’s a link at the end of this post to Daniel and Amy’s Real Fast Library Marketing system, if you’re interested in learning more from them about the library system, and how to sell your books to libraries across the U.S. and internationally. This is NOT an affiliate link; I’m just including it because this does seem like a lot of work, and anything that can help make your job easier seems like a good idea to me.

Sell (And Rent) Your Books To Libraries: Cashing in on the Secret Library Passive Income Opportunity for Indie Authors and Publishers

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Some stats from Digital Book World:

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  • 90% of libraries in the US now lend ebooks
  • 58% of Americans have a library card, and 69% of those say the local library is important to them and their families.
  • Only 5% of people have been in a physical bookstore in the past year, meanwhile libraries are seeing increased traffic!


Libraries can and do buy books and license ebooks from self-published and indie authors/publishers. In fact, there are far more libraries willing to take a chance on self-published authors than bookstores!

More and more people are visiting libraries, and library budgets are larger. The average budget is about $30,000 for a library serving a population under 10,000. For populations over 500,000, budgets are closer to $4,437,000, and can be over $4.5 million a year for places with several million people. (All of this info comes from a Library Journal Materials Survey from 2015, but I didn’t get the link.)


  1. Indie publisher registers book in databases
  2. Book is made available from a wholesaler
  3. Book is presented to librarian
  4. Book is scheduled for purchase during budget calendar (typically set a year in advance)
  5. Librarian purchases book from wholesaler
  6. Wholesaler pays indie author/publisher (i.e. YOU)


  1. Baker & Taylor (Axis 360)
  2. Overdrive
  3. ProQuest
  4. 3M

Every time library patrons borrow your ebook, you get paid!

You’re selling a licensing agreement, NOT a book. It can be renewed or increased, so start at a moderate price and increase with success. The license is only for a limited period of time, and only under certain terms (rather than with a physical book, which is bought once and only once).



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  • Mystery/Suspense 93%
  • General 80%
  • Romance 80%
  • Thrillers 63%
  • Women’s Fiction 37%
  • YA 31%
  • Historical Fiction 30%
  • Christian Fiction 27%
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy 22%
  • Literary Fiction 16%



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  • Bio/Memoir 84%
  • Cooking 55%
  • History 54%
  • Self-Help/Psychology 52%
  • Medicine/Health 43%
  • Current Events/Political 32%
  • Business/Finance 30%
  • Religion/Philosophy22%
  • Travel18%
  • How-To/Home Arts 18%


To sell licenses for your ebooks to libraries, you must become an Approved Library Vender – register your publishing company here: http://ala.multiview.com

And register your book(s) here: http://worldcat.org

BookBaby and Smashwords can license to libraries for you. Smashwords does this for a small fee from each sale, BookBaby does this for a larger upfront fee.


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  • Make sure there are no broken links in your books
  • Be sure to mention that you sell to libraries on your website
  • Smashwords distributes books via Overdrive, so you can set a special library price there
  • You must MARKET your books as being available at the library, just like you do for your books available in online bookstores and retail locations – the more marketing you can do, the more your book will be checked out, and the more money you’ll make from your license


Finally, here’s the link to purchase Daniel and Amy’s Real Fast Library Marketing system, which makes it easier to contact libraries across the U.S. and even internationally: http://www.RealFastLibraryMarketing.com/go