The other day on Twitter, a couple of librarians and myself were talking about kids and teens self-publishing, especially Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad) at The New York Times. Maureen Johnson responds to this particular phenomena at So I Read A Piece In The New York Times which sums up a lot of my own opinions.
One thought led to another. I thought about the libraries arguing that libraries should be more involved in self-publishing, including for teenagers, and thought about what Johnson said about whether a minor can consent to self publishing and the longer term implications (for example, no longer being eligible for certain debut-only grants and awards.) Some libraries are purchasing self-published ebooks for their collections.
And I began thinking about how ebooks make self published ebooks more easily available to readers, both for purchase at stores or for borrowing from libraries.
And I began to wonder, more so for purchasing than borrowing —
What types of things are libraries doing to assist their patrons in finding the best ebooks — “best” meaning the books patrons want to read or will want to read. Just because the books are “cheap” doesn’t mean that readers’ time is cheap. In my humble opinion, time is very precious. Books aren’t widgets; one cannot say “oh, any fantasy book” will do.
Some things are easy, of course, and patrons don’t need help with it. Authors they like or best seller ebook lists, for example. Actually, speaking of that — where does one find those best seller lists? Is it just looking at Amazon’s list?
Do your patrons understand the different steps in publishing and self-publishing to better create a search strategy for finding self-published books?
How does one discover what authors use editors and copyeditors and proofreaders? Or what authors don’t? (I’ve read blog posts where self-published authors say they don’t use editors because they wouldn’t make the cost back, and others that use several editors, and those in between, so yes, it’s something to discover.)
How does one find good reviews of self-published works? And by this I mean the difference between a review at a respected site such as Dear Author, or a review that may be a sock-puppet.
How can the casual reader tell when a book is self-published from the information online? Does who the author uses give more information to the reader about whether a book is the right one for them?
What else would you add to the list? What can help a patron find the self-published book that is right for them? And what libraries have programs or resources or booklists to help patrons?