Centralia Timberland Library

Ergonomic chairs sit around a table at the Centralia Timberland Library in Centralia.

There are two ways to publish a book these days.

The first is through the six prominent publishing companies that are still the recommended route to maximum exposure.

The other is through independent publishing, an approach authors take when they haven’t signed with an agent or a publishing house, but still want their work to be read.

And there was no middle ground until SELF-e became the compromise.

SELF-e is a website that lets libraries distribute the work of independent authors, and offer an array of genres and content for subscribing patrons.

The Timberland Regional Library system has joined thousands of other libraries across the country in providing SELF-e offerings, said Timberland public relations specialist R.J. Burt.

“One of the barriers for writers is being recognized enough to be picked up by a large publishing house,” Burt said. “Libraries have broken down that barrier for writers, so they should certainly use it.”

How it helps local authors

Publishing on SELF-e is not only free but effortless, said Kim Storbeck, a library collections development specialist. After authors upload a book to SELF-e, there is a vetting process that takes roughly a week.

Barring any infractions of its policies — such as plagiarism, libel, or including hate speech — the book will be placed on the “Indie WA” list. This list is featured at participating libraries in Washington.

If a book is attracting an audience, editors from Library Journal will review the work and possibly add it to the national collection. Books added to the national collection, or a SELF-e selection, will circulate through every participating library in the nation.

Olympia author Ned Hayes, 47, published his first novel on SELF-e in 2015. “Coeur d’Alene Waters” went viral and was added to the national collection.

Hayes has now published three novels, and has been endorsed by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and nationally known reviewers.

Hayes said that if books aren’t available in libraries, they are invisible to much of the reading public.

“A huge number of readers go to the library. That’s where they first request the book,” Hayes said. “SELF-e is the easiest, most direct way to get my book in the hands of librarian patrons.”

Hayes used SELF-e to promote his first novel because of the exposure it offers and the control that writers have after publication.

“In this new world of publishing, I think these options give authors more flexibility to move outside genre boundaries and seek new audiences for their writing,” Hayes said in an email to The Olympian. “I appreciate the flexibility of being able to control my own publication rights and my own promotions for this book.”

How it helps readers

Readers can access SELF-e through Biblioboard, a companion site that libraries use as a digital library. Created in 2011, Biblioboard offers public and school library patrons unlimited access to content from publishers, historical databases, academic institutions and local organizations, Biblioboard Chief Business Officer Mitchell Davis said.

“SELF-e is one our most popular aspects of Biblioboard,” said Katie Davis, a Biblioboard library relations manager. “And indie publishing is not dying. It’s growing.”

Public libraries use SELF-e to accommodate the high demand for self-published work, Burt said. People are becoming more unwilling to pay for novels, and this evolution gives libraries the chance to stay relevant and remain a go-to resource for readers.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for libraries to do what they do best,” Burt said. “This gives readers access to books that they normally wouldn’t have.”

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