Doors-open-to-lowcountry-authors-booksigningWe talk a lot about teaming up as authors to accomplish our goals. Sometimes that’s critiquing each other’s work. Other times it can be pairing up for a book signing or car pooling to a festival. But what if you really harnessed the power of the writing community in your neighborhood?

I was honored to be involved in a recent project that did just that. Held in Charleston, SC, the Lowcountry Initiative of Literary Arts (more fondly referred to as LILA) enlisted the help of no less than 24 traditional and independent authors for a four-hour book fair, complete with book signing and sales, raffle giveaways of signed books by the authors, and a silent auction that included cool items like a two-day writers retreat, Kirkus membership, social media training and lunch with best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe.

Why would top-selling, award-winning authors like Mary Alice, Bernard Cornwell, Micah Nathan, Bret Lott, Elise Blackwell or Andra Watkins come spend their Sunday afternoon at a debut book event? Sure, maybe to sell or sign a few books, but more importantly…

To support a common cause.

With a twist on the typical literacy issue, LILA decided that proceeds from this and additional fundraising efforts would go to fund the build and installation of 10 Little Free Libraries in the community. NOTE: If you haven’t checked out the Little Free Libraries project, I’d encourage you to click on the link and learn more — it’s a tangible, feel good way to promote book reading in your own town, too!

lfl-schoolhouseAnd, thanks to the success of the inaugural fundraiser and the generosity of spirit of the gathered authors and supporters in the community, 8 of the 10 have already been funded, a build has been scheduled and well before this time next year, there will be ten new, registered, “Take a Book, Leave a Book” boxes around town.

Sure, the participating authors will get some attention, and yes, they’ll all sell more books. But deeper than that, the harnessed power of these authors is producing real impact in the community at large. And what better way to demonstrate the value of authors and books today? What far-reaching impact can you have as an author?

You can do it, too!

Or perhaps you already have? And it doesn’t take two dozen authors; it can begin with just a handful. You don’t need to raise thousands; it doesn’t need to be a book box. Just find a way, together as authors, to harness your own power to impact your communities.

Already Harnessing the Power of Local Authors?

We invite you to share with your comments below or  so we can continue to shout about the positive difference authors are making in our cities… and our world.

About the Little Free Library Project

The Little Free Library ( ) promotes literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide. A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange, where anyone may pick up a book or two, or bring a book to share. Each Library itself is a piece of neighborhood art that functions like a mini-town square. As of July 2015, there are over 30,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world.

About LILA

The Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts (LILA) is a 501(c)3 literary outreach organization. Its mission is to nurture and promote the literary arts in South Carolina. A board of directors — authors, poets, editors, teachers, booksellers and local supporters of literature – work to fulfill LILA’s mission.

6 thoughts on “Harnessing the Power of Your Writing Community

  • November 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I feel so lucky to have had the chance to be a part of this great event. Thanks so much to all of the readers and writers in the community who have helped us realize our goal to nurture and promote the literary arts in the Lowcountry. It was such a treat to hear so many wonderful authors share readings with us, and I can’t wait to see each of their titles in LILA’s book boxes.

    • November 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks, Matthew — and for running the reading room – Four hours of herding authors and readers and ensuring each and every author had an audience was nothing short of miraculous = You ran a tight ship and we’ve heard from lots of readers already how much they enjoyed hearing favorite authors and many they hadn’t heard before!

  • November 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Thriller/mystery writer Jenny Milchman started Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (the first Saturday of December each year). The first year there were 80 bookstores that participated. Now over 700 bookstores participate! Here is the link to learn more. Jenny is an amazing advocate for indie bookstores!

    Also, literary novelist Jeff Stayton, went on a very long book tour to promote his first novel and he donated Little Libraries to any “book deserts” he ran across throughout the US…those communities that had lost a local bookstore and had no where to turn except Amazon for their books. As a former bookseller himself, he celebrated the launch of This Side of the River by giving 6 bookstores $250 grants for whatever improvements they needed…a helping hand on a little smaller scale than James Patterson, but doing his part!

    • November 17, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      Julie – WOW!!! Great stories and inspirational to all our authors – thank you so much!

  • November 17, 2015 at 12:51 pm


    It’s amazing how great minds work together. A number of authors and publishing service providers formed a new group in my county where we can share information about the publishing business. We’ve been discussing combining our efforts to have our own book fair or share a booth at a larger existing one.

    I am excited to learn about the Little Free Library Project. Although a few sites in my county have a “take a book, leave a book” receptacle, none are organized and as clever as this. I signed up right away to get more information.

    Thanks again for keeping us the literacy loop.

    • November 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Aw, that’s fantastic, Flora! Yes, we’re going to go ahead and register ours w/ the national – it costs a few bucks, but something any of our authors can share as being a part of as well… Harness that power, sister!

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