Friends and family,
Just over a year ago, I placed a copy of my book in a little free library. I did it on a whim. I was lamenting how hard it was to market a book and thought, “that would make a pretty picture.” My daughter was with me. We were both a little bit nervous as we approached the library. We had never really explored a little free library before. I felt stupid putting my own book and taking a photo. But, I did it and posted it and thought, “maybe, just maybe, someone will take it.” Then we went back the next day and the book was gone. Someone had taken it. Which meant I had a new reader… which is all any author wants anyway.
As 2018 progressed, I started to do it a little more. I did a ‘end of summer’ challenge for myself to put on in a different neighborhood in Chicago every day for two weeks. That took me all over the city. I took books with me when I travelled, which showed me new neighborhoods across the Midwest. Then I did an end-of-year challenge where I raffled off a gift card - and much to my surprise, people actually participated. And, over those months, I fell in love with little free libraries in general. How cute they were. How personalized they were. How much they foster reading and community. And, trust me, once you start looking for them, you see them everywhere!
Then, over the Christmas holiday, my sister-in-law suggested that I try and get one in all 50 states. My immediate response was “no one is going to do this.” And her immediate response was, “yes, they absolutely will.”
So, I took a leap of faith. And, it turns out, she was absolutely right. I have been BLOWN AWAY by the outpouring of support for this little project. I officially kicked it off in February with nine states already under my belt and now, less than six months later, we have done it. There is now a book in ALL 50 STATES! And in five other countries, across three continents. My book has been placed in more than 100 little free libraries… and counting!
More importantly, over 75 people have participated in this project by either placing a book themselves, shipping a book to someone they know, working their networks to see who they know in different states, traveling across state lines just to get me one more library, and more… all to help with this goal.
My biggest takeaway from this project is that people are amazing. And kind. And generous with their time, their money, their networks. It’s been a testament to the incredible graciousness of people… from people I know to complete strangers. I will never meet some of the people that have been kind enough to send in photos, but I feel like I am connected to each and every one of them.
My second biggest takeaway from this project is that promoting a book doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be about sales. Or reviews. Or any other traditional metric. There can be joy in it, as long as you find out what’s right for you. Some people would have tracked how this project affected sales. I did not. Some may have wondered if it got them anymore reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. That wasn’t my goal. By the end, my ultimate goal was to look at my book as a gift to the little free library community and to give that gift to as many people as possible - and that we did.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you. For participating. For following along. For asking me about it. For not rolling your eyes when I incessantly talked about it. For encouraging me to do it. It’s really been a huge blessing in my life. And, I am so eternally grateful.
I will also say - feel free to keep it going! Just because we reached this milestone does not mean the fun has to stop. I will forever love and post any little free library challenge photos that come my way.
Please check out the webpage where they are all posted. I scroll through it about 100 times a day. :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
PS… On a final side note - the little free library that got this whole thing started was torn down, almost a year to the day of my first post. When I noticed it was gone I let out an audible gasp. As hokey as this sounds, I want to say thank you to that little free library for being there, right in the exact spot and time I needed you. I’m not sure why you were torn down, but I notice your absence every time I pass the corner you were on, which I do often. Without you, none of this may have happened. And, I’m so grateful that it did.