A Library with NO Books?!
So What is it You Actually Do?
Yes that is a question that I genuinely get asked and most recently through official channels! There's a lot of confusion about what is within the bounds of the author and what the author of a book actually has control over, as apposed to the purview of the publisher.
A Strange Request
So this blog came to be after as strange request from a library who in the end chose to decline a book signing (with free copies for their use). Honestly, I'm not sure that I would have wanted to agree to the terms even if I had been able to provide what they asked for - but I digress. The request was to promote a digital library service subscribed to by the library in question and many others. The service promotes itself as "expertly curated" with links to many well known publishers such as Bloomsbury, Routledge, Random House - you know the ones. Libraries have an adviser who suggests titles they might like to add to their repertoire and so forth.
This particular library had no interest in copies stating that it kept very little physical literature and almost no YA or Fantasy fiction. Yep, you did read that right! They stocked NOTHING to engage with future readers or in what is generally considered to be the widest genre of fiction ('surprised' didn't quite cover it for me). Instead, they wanted me to confirm that my book Drau: Blood would be made available via this digital system and to promote that system during my visit - No interest in literature, no interest in writing, no interest in securing a wider audience.
What I said...
I did my research. Firstly let's just get one thing clear - of course my book is available as an e-book (which was effectively what this library wanted to rent out). It's available in i-books and in pdf forms that can be read by almost every Kindle, Tablet, and E-book Reader out there! The subscribed system was not out to screw writers over. It permitted libraries to effectively loan a set number of e-books at a time. To clarify, I wouldn't have had a problem.
However, let's take this apart. The two words that gave me alarm were "Expertly Curated". Just in case you had any doubt, what that meant was that a team (in this case two women - yes two) made the decision as to whether a book was worthy of their system. Now, let's take into account the shear volume of fresh literature being expelled into the book market every month. See a problem? There is no way that these two ladies, no matter how fast they might be able to read, could look into any of the vast quantity of new books available in any depth. How could I possibly confirm that I would be included in their lists?
So What Do I Do?
Actually the ability to guarantee inclusion is nothing I have to deal with - a fact I am personally thankful for! You see, as an author I hold the intellectual copyright to all my own work. The words on the page, the phrasing of a sentence, it's all mine. If someone wishes to change that, make an audio of it, or (wishful thinking here) turn it into film or animation, they go through me. However, distribution well that's a different set of rules entirely. As an author I have no say in who stocks my book. Sure, I can influence in the sense I can ask a place if they are able to but I don't deal with supply. That is the job of the publisher. In order for this subscriber service to actually hold copies of my e-book they would need to communicate and agree upon a licence to distribute. Now, I can't see any reason why my publisher would say 'no' but I can tell you no one is going to come to me about it.
What do I do? I am a writer. I create worlds, I bring my imaginary friends to life for the enjoyment of others, I tell stories, and I enjoy doing it. I go out and meet people who live a hundred lives through pages held together by glue and card stock! We share our passions, our loves, our laughs. I am an author.