Little Free Library Book Tour Wrapup!

IMG_3214I’m trying to get people to read my books. There are lots of businesses on the Internet who are willing to take my money in return for advertisements of every description, but in my experience, the only thing that really works is word of mouth.

How do I get my name in more people’s mouths? Aside from doing the best work I can do and not giving up, I don’t really know.

A lot of people suggested doing Goodreads giveaways, which I did. Here’s a post on how that went. Conclusion of that effort: I spent $46.08 to get my book in the hands of 5 people around the globe.

I found that to be a bit unsatisfying. Those people don’t know me from — as my Dad might say — Adam’s house cat. What if I could find a way to give my book away to people who live right here in my beloved Atlanta?

Enter the Little Free Libraries

As much as I want to be David Sedaris, traveling the globe giving readings and wearing khaki pants, that life is currently out of my reach, though I do have the pants. Nearly any book festival will allow me to buy my way in, but the prices are high. As an independent author, I am to some book festivals as a lone male pervert is to a swinger’s party. Others are glad to have me.

In the 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He called it a Little Free Library and filled it with books. People loved it, and the idea spread. By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000, with thousands more being built. More about the LFL’s history here: http://littlefreelibrary.org/ourhistory/

Here’s what one looks like:

PHOTO: Jonathunder

PHOTO: Jonathunder

Of course, an idea as cool as this one is sure to be hated by jerks who wish to stamp out literacy, fun, and probably smiling as well. Here’s a Newsweek article on how “uncultured killjoys” despise the idea of LFLs.

On the Little Free Library site, I found a map of registered libraries right here in my city. So I thought, why not spend the day going around to a couple of them? I could put my book in. Maybe someone will read it. Maybe I’ll find something I want to read.

I pitched it to my girlfriend Sweetie like this. Worst case scenario: we spend Valentine’s Day walking around the city doing book stuff. She loved the idea.

The Little Free Library Book Tour

After a hearty breakfast, Sweetie and I packed the items below into a backpack.

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Sweetie didn’t seem to think we needed three pens, but you just can’t have too many good pens. What if I need to write a lot of things down?

Next, we drove to the nearest train station and bought two one-day passes for MARTA. Cost: 2 x $9 = $18.

The first stop was less than a mile from a station, and contained a lot of great books. I have a habit of saying “do sex.” At a romantic moment in a movie, I will turn to Sweetie and say “He wants to do sex to her.” I picked up that turn of phrase from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon, a truly great book.

And what should we find at our first stop but that very one? Seeing that, I felt immeasurably embiggened.

Here’s how we left the first LFL:
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We walked back to the train station, rode it for a few stops, then hopped a bus to put us within sauntering distance of our second stop. On the way, we spotted this gorgeous Panamera S. I calculated I need to sell 22,922 books to be able to afford one.

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Soon we found the second LFL, which contained some more great books: Mark Twain, Dan Brown, and Harry Potter? Score!

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At our third library, we discovered a trove of Janet Evanovich, not to mention a copy of Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago,” which won a Nobel for Literature in 1958. Hopefully some of that gravitas will rub off on “Dangerous Dan.”

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After stopping in a local bike shop to say hello to some friends, we got a suggestion to stop by the LFL outside Little’s Grocery. So, we did. That book got claimed by our friend Justin in under an hour.

Here you can see the Little’s LFL as we left it Saturday evening, and as our friend Nick found it the next morning. A lot can change in a day with these public libraries.

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Last, we stopped by the LFL outside Dancing Goats coffee in Decatur. As you can see, I left a copy of “Dangerous Dan” to snuggle with a copy of Twilight. I’m immune to YA fiction, though, so I’m not worried about catching anything.

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All in all, it was a fun day. Lots of people tweeted and followed along the hashtag I made up, #LFLBT. I don’t know yet what the far-reaching impact will be, if any, but it was a lot more fun than just firing books off into the mail.

Valentine’s Day Little Free Library Book Tour

I can’t afford an international book tour, but I can afford a one-day rail pass. On Valentine’s Day, Sweetie and I will board a MARTA train, which will whisk us around the city of Atlanta. We will disembark at random locations, then seek out Little Free Libraries and place signed copies of Dangerous Dan within them. We might or might not also remove any interesting books within. I figure we’re pretty much guaranteed to find at least one copy of “A Man in Full.”

This is made possible by the people who build and install Little Free Libraries. Find out more about them and see a map of registered LFLs in Atlanta here.

Here’s the stack of books, ready to be distributed:
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Each one has a sticker in the back with my scrawl in it like so:
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They will also be numbered and dated, so if you should get your mitts on one you’ll know forever where we placed it and when.

I’ll be live tweeting proceedings with the hashtag #LFLBT (little free library book tour) so follow along at @jimhodgson. Happy Valentine’s day!

I Will Appear at MidSouthCon in March!

220-2I wonder if Graceland is on AirBNB? No? Well I’ll just get a hotel room. Lodging aside, I will be making a series of appearances at MidSouthCon 33 in Memphis, TN on March 20-22.

I’m looking forward to being on the following panels:

Fri 3/20 10:00 PM Back To The Future Panelists discuss Time Travel, Teleportation, Portals and Worm Holes in scifi and fantasy.
Sat 3/21 11:00 AM Pro Row I will sign books. Any book. Any name. Without your knowledge or consent.
Sat 3/21 1:00 PM Humor In Writing Join our Toastmaster Guest of Honor Frank Tuttle along with other authors to discuss the humor in Science Fiction/Fantasy writing
Sun 3/22 11:00 AM Why do I need an Editor? What does an editor do anyway? Pitfalls of self-editing.
Sun 3/22 2:00 PM Article, Technical and Other Paid Writing Jobs Panelists discuss how to break into the paid writing field.
Sun 3/22 3:00 PM Dark & Stormy It was a dark and stormy night…Professional guests tell stories from con goers suggestions.

If you’re in Memphis, or near Memphis, or far away from Memphis, come see me. I plan to stop by BB King’s bar and ask if BB King will be stopping by, because I’m sure no one does that and the staff will love it.

The conference organizers stipulate that the above schedule could change, but I’ll update if so.

My Results Using Goodreads Giveaways for Book Promotion

DangerousDanthumbI knew I wanted Dangerous Dan to come out before December, which was a bit of a stretch because I had to finish writing it, get Reid Davis of Tastemaker Communications to edit it for me, get Rich Stevens to make cover art for me, and transform the document into printable book format.

Thanks to the hard work of Rich and Reid, everything came together for me. I was shooting for Dec 15th, but I got the book out on Dec 17th. All that was left was promoting.

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Getting Good Readers

I read up on some advice for maximizing Goodreads on a few blogs. WARNING: The second listed blog is annoying. Not only is it a listicle, it has one of those content-covering popups asking you to join a mailing list.

The consensus seemed to be to run short giveaways, and only give away one book. I powered up the Goodreads giveaways.

I ran a total of 5 giveaways. Some went for only 24 hours, others as much as 48. This variation was due to the Goodreads timing and approval process. If you start a giveaway for tomorrow that runs for 3 days, it probably won’t start tomorrow. A person has to approve it.

Here is the data on my five giveaways.

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As you can see, my book was requested most the first-ever time I posted it, by 502 people. But I also opened the giveaway up to international winners that time. A gentleman in Vietnam won.

Shipping Costs

Rather than manage shipping myself, I just logged right into CreateSpace and had them handle the shipping. Here’s what those costs looked like. I saved a couple of bucks by only shipping to English-speaking nations from the second giveaway on.

Date Shipping Cost Country
Jan 2 $11.68 Viet Nam
Jan 7 $8.58 United Kingdom
Jan 9 $7.61 USA
Jan 13 $7.52 USA
Jan 16 $10.69 CA
  Total $46.08

So, $46.08 to get my book into the hands of five people across the globe. Okay, but what about my goodreads profile? Any movement there? Well, yes.

Anyone who likes reading and frequents used book stores, as I do, has a to-read pile. Goodreads has a digital representation of that pile, called, as you might imagine, “to-read.”

Thanks to my $46.08 of promotion, 417 people have added “Dangerous Dan” to their “to-read” pile. Is that good? Well, I don’t know. I can tell you that I’ve seen no increase in sales, gotten no unaccounted-for reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, and received no tweets, emails, or Facebook messages from readers.

Of course it’s easily possible that they got a taste of my prose and threw the book down in disgust, then probably stomped on as well for good measure.

Conclusion?

As much as I’d like to think my money went somewhere good and I’m progressing toward my goal of becoming a khaki-and-leather-elbow-patch-wearing real-deal respected AUTHOR, I also look over to the corner of my desk and I see my own, actual, real deal to read pile. It looks like this, and it ain’t moving much.

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So, if you’re thinking about doing a Goodreads giveaway, I can say for sure that you will be able to give books to people who claim to want to read it. And a few hundred nameless faceless internauts might add you to a list of people they will maybe read someday.

Conclusion: I do not plan to do any more of these.