Little Free Libraries around University of Denver, Denver, CO. Aren’t they beyond cute??

When I first started researching indie book marketing, I balked at the thought of putting my novel into Little Free Libraries. I mean, give away my hard work and soul to anyone who walks by? For free?? 

Well, almost a year later, reality has sunk in about the challenges an indie author faces. And I now believe Little Free Libraries are a viable way to promote your novel. 

What are Little Free Libraries?

If you don’t know what a free library is, it’s a movement that started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. As a tribute to his mother who loved to read, he built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books, and put it on a post in his front yard.

Several years later Little Free Libraries had popped up all over the world. Today, there are over 150,000 registered book-sharing boxes in 120 countries.

The idea is that anyone can leave a book they no longer want or need, and others can take a book they’d like to read. The motto is “Take a Book; Share a Book.” It’s very similar to community fridges which I also love. (I co-founded one when I lived in New York City.)

More free book boxes in Denver, CO, near University of Denver

How a Free Book Program Can Help an Indie Author

The most obvious reason anyone would put copies of their book into a free library is to help their work get more exposure. I’ve taken it a step further.

I typed a note on shipping labels, printed out multiple sheets, and attached one to the back of each book. I asked the reader to leave a review on a site of their choice if they wanted to show their appreciation for a free book. 

Will it work? Only time will tell. I recently met another indie author here in Santa Fe who’s doing the same thing, and he shared that he’s gotten online reviews from leaving his books with notes in various libraries around the city.

I also happen to have extra bookmarks, so I’m putting them in the boxes also.

Another option is to offer your book through the Little Free Library website. If you have more than fifty books to give away, you can submit a request that the organization will post on their site. 

You can specify what area you’d like them to be distributed in, though they do not accept textbooks, reference books, political, or religious books. You must also pay any shipping costs if you plan to mail them.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Little Free Libraries. Rabbit Road trailhead (left) and Travel Bug bookshop (right)

There is a Cost

This might not be cost effective for everyone because you need to order and pay for author copies to give away. But if you have extra books on hand like I currently do, and you’re planning to update your novel, it’s a great way to use your soon-to-be-outdated books in order to market yourself.

How to Find a Library Near You

If you have any books you no longer want, or you want to drop off a copy of a book you’ve written, you can easily find a box in your area through the Little Free Library Map

They also have a mobile app if you’re looking for multiple libraries.

(l) Denver Women’s Press Club, Denver, CO. (r) I didn’t have any books on me when I stumbled across a library in Vail, CO, but did have some bookmarks that I left behind.


A couple more in Denver, Colorado, near the University of Denver. They’re all so cute. Makes you want to build one of your own….


Diane Hatz is a writer, author, and inner activist. Join her email list to get monthly newsletters that include blog articles from Diane Digs and much more.