|Open letter to self-published authors shilling their books to public libraries:
||[Jan. 20th, 2005|01:07 am]
When someone emails us asking if the library can either buy or interlibrary loan a book they want and includes their card number, we take it seriously. When someone emails us pretending to be our patron by saying "I think the library should own (name of self-published book about esoteric subject or first fiction novel published by vanity press)" without a card number, contact information, or name of branch library they frequent where they'd pick up said book (except the "patron" never, ever lives in the county, or often, the state and seems totally unfamuiliar with our library system), we ignore it. Believe me, you are not the first to try it.
I know that this tactic has probably worked for someone, somewhere in the past. Likewise, I'm sure there's been an individual or two in the history of American jurisprudence who has passed the state Bar Exam without ever enrolling in law school. Yet would you recommend future attorneys eschew law school in favor of freelance study, since someone out there didn't need formal schooling to "get" the whole law gestalt? Exactly.
I'm not saying everyone with an agent is a great talent, or that there aren't some promising authors that have never been reviewed anywhere, who are self-published, and who do all their own marketing, but when a librarian sees the unholy trinity of an author shilling his own book (and pretending to be a third party that really, really wants to read the book), a publisher we've never heard of, and absolutely no demand for (or interest in) the topic outside of the world of the author and/or his family, we tend to avoid these titles as if they were a crate of donated Reader's Digest Condensed Books.
Get an agent, or write a book so brilliant that it "sells itself". But don't try to fake grassroots interest in your poetry or memoirs. To someone who purchases a few thousand books a year (on behalf of my library, I mean) it's just insulting that someone thinks we'll be fooled by two emails in the same month indicating a sudden interest in the library owning a copy of "Cooking with Furniture" or "My poorly-recalled childhood in the Midwest".
Good luck with your future literary endeavours-