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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Libraries and Self Published Authors: Part 5-- Connecting Self Published Authors and Libraries

As I proclaimed in my 2016 Reading Resolutions, this year I am going to make an effort to be more informed about self published authors. From that post:
Not only will I make sure I read a few self published titles in a variety of genres, but I will also be blogging about self published books and specifically how we can and should handle them in libraries.
You can read the entire series using this link.

One way for libraries to get involved with self published authors is to make connections with the authors in their communities. The Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project is an award winning program that does exactly this. I am proud to have been a judge for the very first competition. You can see the posts where I chronicled my involvement here.

You can go to their website for all of the details, but real quick here is how it works. Self published authors go to their local library and ask to be sponsored. The library worker does not need to have read the book or judge it worthy of nomination in any way. The library is simply the sponsor, connecting the author with the project. There are judges who use a standardized rubric to score the books themselves.

I love this program because one of its main goals is to connect libraries with the authors in their communities.

The other goal of Soon To Be Famous... is to let libraries flex their collective influence muscles for all to see.  From the about page:
The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author project is the brainchild of library marketing professionals who were inspired after listening to a presentation by brand expert and NYU professor David Vinjamuri, who spoke at the American Library Association’s 2013 annual conference about the importance of libraries in the era of e-books and self-publishing. He challenged libraries to wield their collective influence to lift a self-published author to success to create a measurable indicator of the power of libraries and librarians to affect books and reading. Currently, 32% of bestsellers on Amazon are self-published.
Readers know I love when library workers proclaim how awesome we are to the world. I love it so much I have made a career out of it.

You can see the goals working at their best right now as the third year's finalists were recently announced. From the official press release:


Announcing our 2016 Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project Finalists!

Our judges have read the books and written their reviews, and we’ve tallied up the scores. We are proud to introduce to you our 2016 finalists – then scroll down for your invitation to the big event when the winner will be announced!
Geralyn Hesslau Magrady grew up in Chicago and currently resides in Berwyn, IL. With a B.A. from Dominican University and M.Ed. from Northeastern Illinois University, she has been an English teacher for eighteen years and is currently at Fenwick High School in Oak Park. At her website, G-Lines, Geralyn shares her passion for writing through blog posts, personal essays, and photo-inspired poetry. Her work has been published on several literary websites, and LINES— is her first novel. Geralyn’s favorite authors include: Jack Kerouac, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Edith Wharton, and Toni Morrison. Favorite poets: Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Maya Angelou, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Favorite blessings: two teenage sons. Visit her website at: http://www.ghesslaumagrady.com
James Hosek was born in Chicago but grew up in the near western suburb of Stickney. He spent hours wandering the shelves of the Stickney-Forest View Public Library which helped to foster his love of books. One of his favorite authors was James Herriot.After graduating with B.S.Vet.Sci. and D.V.M. degrees from the University of Illinois, he did an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. During this time that he began writing science fiction stories and accumulating rejection letters. One of the first was from Stanley Schmidt, then Editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Magazine, who, over the years. encouraged Hosek’s writing with brief notes and comments and eventually bought his first sale, a short story titled “Total Loss.” 
Jim currently has a house call practice on the north side of Chicago and is the owner of Merrick Animal Hospital in Brookfield, IL. Four years ago he self-published his first novel, A Really Good Day. His current book, Give a Dog a Bone, is his first mystery and the characters and patients his fictional veterinarian comes across are heavily inspired by his real life experiences. 
He is married and has two sons and two cats, Sonyonia and Hedwig. He is a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a volunteer on the staff of the Nebula Awards Conference which is being held in Chicago this year. Favorite authors include Isaac Asimov, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Peter F. Hamilton, Tom Clancy, Orson Scott Card, and John Grisham. Apart from writing, he enjoys gardening, woodworking, hiking, and Dr. Who.
Amanda Meredith is an author and blogger from Illinois. She was born in Texas in 1985 but grew up in the Midwest. She married her high school sweetheart in 2003 and they settled in Central Illinois to raise their family. They are expecting their third child in August. 
Amanda self-published her first book in 2013 and has since published four more novels. She plans to release her first children’s picture book in 2016. 
From the author: “From an early age, I discovered an insatiable appetite for the written word. My first love was reading and I devoured practically every book I came across, a habit that continues to this day. But as I got older I found that I could create my own stories and soon realized that I LOVE to write. Romance, to be specific. 
I love the happily-ever-after that, I believe, everyone deserves. My stories aren’t the ‘stop and smell the roses’ type romances… while I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily-ever-after that wasn’t found; it was earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 
My other interests include horseback riding, hunting, fishing, playing guitar, being ridiculously goofy with my kids, and supporting a rather distracting addiction to Pinterest. I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, with (mostly) good results. But sometimes I’m not so lucky and our two dogs get to try a home-cooked meal… and they never complain. ;)” 
Congratulations to our three finalists and THANK YOU to all the authors who submitted work for this year’s project.
Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 1 PM –  Join Bob Doyle, ILA Executive Director, Dee Brennan, RAILS Executive Director, and Michael Alan Peck, Master of Ceremonies and 2015 Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Winner, as we announce the 2016 Winner! All are invited to attend and show their support for our three finalists. We expect a little friendly rivalry between the Berwyn Public Library (Geralyn) and Stickney-Forest View Public Library (James) – but will central Illinois (Amanda) steal the spotlight?
If you want more information on how to start an author awards program at your library, you can buy the book that the Soon To Be Famous committee wrote on the topic. There is even a picture of me in there somewhere [from the first year’s winner announcement ceremony].

I do think this brings up a great place to start as libraries begin incorporating self published titles into our collections. Starting local makes sense.

Why not consider putting out a call to your local self published authors, make connections through local writers groups, and/or gather copies of local self published books to start a “Local Self Published Authors” collection at your library.

We have a lot to learn from each other, self published authors and libraries.  It is time we start talking to each other and work together to figure this all out because the self published phenomenon is not going away. Ignoring it is not a helpful strategy for you or your patrons.

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