Library Journal’s SELF-e Program for Self-Published eBooks

Library Journal SELF-e LogoLibrary Journal is arguably one of the most respected catalogs relied upon for book selections by public libraries. Historically, they’ve only listed books by big-name publishers, but in 2015 that all changed when Library Journal and Biblioboard partnered to form the SELF-e program for self-published and small press authors.

Nearly a year ago, our own Melissa Bowersock interviewed Mitchell Davis, one of the founders of BiblioBoard. The interview makes for interesting reading, covering the inspiration and genesis of the program, as well as benefits to both libraries and authors. I want to take time today, however, to talk about submissions, the where and how of it all.

First, a few things to note. While SELF-e doesn’t accept every submission for inclusion in their national library database, they do offer the option of registering for state modules. Not every state is an active participant in SELF-e, at least not yet. But by selecting to have your book included in the state module, you reserve a spot for inclusion once that state becomes an active participant, even if your book wasn’t selected for inclusion in the national database. Active states can be seen here:

Next, keep in mind that it can take months to hear back. I submitted seven books in October. In December, I received a message that one of them had been accepted into the national database. In the beginning of January, I heard that one other had been accepted into the national database, and two had been accepted into state databases. I still haven’t heard back regarding the others.

Finally, it’s important to know that by submitting to SELF-e for inclusion, you realize you’re donating the book for use in libraries. SELF-e does not pay for ebooks. If this is a turnoff and you’re hoping to be paid for inclusion of your eBook in library catalogs, check out Melissa Bowersock’s post on Ebooks Are Forever, another option for self-published and small press authors.

Back to SELF-e. The submission process is quite straightforward and simple. From their home page select either “Authors” or “Small Presses.” For the purposes of this post, I selected “Authors,” which took me here:

Self-e 1Next, you’ll click “Submit Your Book,” (red arrow above), which will take you here:

Self-e 2

It’s always good to read the fine print, but when you’re finished with that, click “Next” (red arrow above).

You’ll be taken to this page, where you check to agree with their terms, assuming you do (red arrow below). Then, if you want your book to be considered for your state’s collection, check that box (green arrow below), and select your state from the dropdown menu (blue arrow below). Then click “Next.”

Self-e 3Fill in the appropriate information for this page (name, email, etc.) and click “Next” (red arrow below).

Self-e 4This is where you’ll upload your manuscript. They only accept a PDF or an epub, so browse to find your file (red arrow below). Next, they want to know if the cover image is included in your file. Mine isn’t, so I checked, “No” (green arrow below). Then click “Next” (blue arrow below).

Self-e 5If your cover wasn’t included in the book file, this is where you’ll upload it (red arrow below). They need GIF, JPEG, or PNG. Once it’s uploaded, click “Next” (green arrow below). If it was included in your book file, click to “Skip” (blue arrow below).

Self-e 6Next, you’ll enter the book’s metadata. It’s the usual:  title, author, BISAC (book category chosen from the dropdown menu), date of publication, publisher, description. One box asks for an ISBN, if you have one. Many self-published and small press eBooks don’t have an ISBN. If yours doesn’t have one, just leave that box blank.

At the very bottom of the screen, they ask if your book is available in print. If it is, click “Yes” (red arrow below). That brings up a box in which to list a link to the paperback (green arrow below). I entered the Amazon link. Once you’re finished, click “Next” (blue arrow below).

Self-e 7This takes you to the final screen, shown below.

Self-e 8From that screen, you can choose to enter another book, if you so desire. SELF-e says they’ll let you know if your book has been selected via your email address, and if it is selected, they hope to provide information regarding reading activity on your book.

And now we wait. For a long, long time.

Author: Melinda Clayton

Melinda Clayton is the author of the Cedar Hollow series, as well as a self-publishing guide. Clayton has published numerous articles and short stories in various print and online magazines. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Lear more about Melinda at her Amazon author page

14 thoughts on “Library Journal’s SELF-e Program for Self-Published eBooks”

  1. Authors should be aware, however, that Amazon considers inclusion in SELF-e to be a violation of Kindle Select. (I asked KDP about it.) So if you wish to be in Kindle Select, you should think twice about SELF-e. My first novel is in SELF-e, in the national romance module. I have had some spontaneous sales in channels other than Amazon that may be because of that, but I don’t know. I am frustrated by my inability to take advantage of Kindle Select, however. If I had to support myself with these books, I would definitely pull it out of the program. I’m leaving it in with some hope that SELF-e will bear fruit for me eventually, and because I’m a big fan of libraries. Bottom line: Authors should not expect overnight success because of it.

  2. Thanks for this comprehensive overview and reminder about this program. I have a perma-free book I’m going to submit. There’s no competition or concern with perma-frees. Plus, as intended, they could lead readers to books that’ll have to be purchased.

    1. That’s my thought, too, Kathy. They accepted the first in my series. I haven’t heard back about the others, but if someone enjoys the first one, they might look up the others.

  3. Thanks for the info. I recall hearing about Self-E in passing, but hadn’t looked into it further. This was a good primer on what it is and what to expect.

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