How to Publish A Profitable Book


Getting self-published books into libraries

With new services from Pronoun, it's do-able


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Authors often wonder how to get self-published books into libraries. In fact, two of the most common book distribution questions I receive are:

“How do I get my book into bookstores?” and “How do I get my book into libraries?”

There are a variety of reasons authors want their books to be in bookstores and libraries. More often than not, their rationale comes down to credibility. Authors believe that if their book can be purchased at a traditional bookstore or checked out from a library, it makes the book more “real.” In turn, that makes them a more “real” author.

I wholeheartedly support my clients’ dreams for wherever they want to see their book for sale! There was a time when I woke up extremely excited about the potential to see my book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. So I get it!

How to get self published bookS into libraries

Within this post, I’ll address libraries specifically.

It may come as a large surprise that libraries have welcomed eBooks with open arms.

eBooks in a Library? How is that possible?

When thinking of a library, you probably imagine a building with stacks of books that smell amazing. Seriously. If someone could create a candle with a library scent, I’d buy them out.

But libraries, too, have gone digital. In fact, they represent one of the biggest untapped markets for eBook sales.

94% of U.S. Public Libraries offer eBook collections to patrons. Of those, 75% of the titles are fiction. eBook circulation for the 30,000+ participating libraries in 40+ countries is already in the hundreds of thousands.

Pronoun (which I recommend for eBook distribution through all the major eBook retailers) recently partnered with OverDrive and Bibliotheca, the largest library ebook platforms. This provides indie authors access to library distribution across 20,000+ libraries nationwide.


OverDrive maintains one of the largest digital content catalogs in the world. Major publishers like Random House, HarperCollins, MacMillan and Harlequin use them for library distribution. This allows patrons to borrow eBooks, audiobooks and more from their local public library.


Bibliotecha’s cloud-based library directly services thousands of libraries worldwide.

Think of it this way: Bibliotheca services the libraries themselves, and OverDrive services the libraries’ patrons.

Where’s the Money?

I know you’re likely wondering, “If everyone is simply borrowing my book, how do I make money?”

One, libraries purchase eBooks for patrons to borrow in the same way they purchase print books to stock physical copies on shelves. They almost always purchase print copies from one the major wholesalers (Ingram or Baker & Taylor). Therefore, if you aren’t working with a major wholesaler (such as IngramSpark), it will be difficult to get your book onto library shelves.

Getting physical copies into libraries is time-consuming. Every state has multiple library systems. Dozens of individual libraries exist inside each system.

Also, the number of physical books a library can stock is dictated by the open space on the shelves. There are no such limitations for eBooks, allowing librarians to offer a far wider variety of published titles to their patrons.

Libraries rarely acquire titles from publishers directly. Their annual budgets for acquiring eBooks from wholesalers such as OverDrive (which Pronoun now feeds) grew from 1.2% in 2009 to nearly 10% in 2015. For the record, Smashwords, UnTreed Reads and eBooksAreForever also distribute to OverDrive.

Major publishers often charge libraries upwards of $50 per title for up to 52 borrows before it has to be re-purchased. If you are willing to offer your book for less, you position yourself well and stand to gain thousands of new, dedicated readers in the process.

Two, follow my suggestions for including smart links inside your eBook. Those links will compel readers to visit your website (allowing you to re-target them later) and signup for downloads (adding them to your email list). Once they are on your email list or identified for re-targeting, you can directly market to them long-term with additional books and services.

The Long Game

If any of your books is perma-free, libraries are your best funnel for new readers!

Remember, you are playing a long game as an author. You acquire readers, and you build a relationship with them so they continue to be customers of your books or overall business.

Pronoun’s new partnership allows your books to become available to librarians through their purchasing catalogs—without you having to make phone calls, send samples and mail out confirmed purchase orders.

With KDP Select, patrons borrow your book, and Amazon pays you based on the number of pages read. (The Global KDP Fund currently generates approximately $0.002 per page read.)

Through Pronoun, however, authors can earn royalties of 70% for sales to libraries. By selling only one book to a library, an author can conceivably earn more than having 15 people borrow it via the KDP Select program.

This makes this distribution opportunity far more appealing not just as a check-the-box accomplishment but a profitable one as well.

Simply select OverDrive and Bibliotheca as Pronoun distribution channels. (You CANNOT be enrolled in KDP Select, since that program prohibits you from distributing eBooks another distributor during your enrollment period.) Your eBook immediately becomes available to library patrons.

While you can upload to OverDrive independently, I’m a huge fan of efficiency. If I can get my books into all major eBook distributors, view reports and receive payments from one place (such as Pronoun), I’m in!

More information is available here regarding Pronoun’s partnership with OverDrive and Bibliotheca.


Have you signed up for our FREE What Is Your Why author workshop? It walks you step-by-step to understanding your why.

“This FREE workshop inspired and focused me. I was so overwhelmed, but now I’m excited to jump in and work on the ‘why.’ I now see my book as a whole project, not just an individual product.”

-Karen-Ann Harrison, writer

what is your why for writing a book

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Write Your Damn Book Already!

A Simple 6-Step System for Entrepreneurs

It's Free!
100% privacy guaranteed. Pinky swear.