I've had enough questions about doing book drives (and other charity work) for the military that I thought this current drive would be a good idea to walk through the steps of how I do it. Note, this is how I do it; not how it should be done or the only way to do it or even the best way to do it.
Let's start where I am right now. I've partnered with a local bookstore for this drive to increase visibility and give people a reliable drop-off point. In preparing for this, I've spent about 200 bucks in printing posters, direct mailings, and other advertising kinds of things to make sure people know about it. Honestly, you don't have to go to all that trouble. I just happen to have enough interested people in the area that it's a justified expense. (I also include a signed copy of one of my books in each box of books that we send out dedicated to the person who made the request for books for the rest of their squad. It's an additional cost and not one that the average person will incur but, well, it's what I like to do.)
Also to increase visibility, I've sent a press release to the major news stations and papers in the area. (An aside: Thank you NWA Star Shopper--I think that's the biggest ad I've ever had donated and I'm very appreciative.) Finally, I've hit up the various publishers and local authors I know to see if they want to help.
Basically, to get read for the book drive itself, I've made sure that I can get the word out that it's happening every way I can think of.
Does that mean it will succeed? Who knows. That part is out of my hands and up to the local people. I can say that, even though the book drive isn't until Saturday, I've already got two boxes of books at my place that have been donated in advance, the bookstore (Hastings in Springdale Arkansas) has told me they already have a stack that people have been bringing in, and Alan Gilbreath at Kerlack publishing has offered to help make up any shortfall I have.
From here, we get boxes ready and wait.
Some people might want to go ahead and get together their requests and adresses that they're going to send books to. I used to but I don't anymore; now I wait until I've got the books. Reason is, I use the fine people at Books For Soldiers (booksforsoldier.com) to provide me with requesters and adresses and I've found that it's easier to match requests and boxes of books up after I know what I have to work with. That's up to you. I know it saves a lot of time if you start filling out customs forms, etc. in advance but I've done this often enough that I feel comfortable waiting.