In every city I’ve ever lived, I’ve been part of a book club. Whether the group stemmed from my professional life or otherwise, my book clubbers often became my best friends. One club I started over seven years ago while living in Texas is still going strong today.
When I became an author, however, book clubs took on new meaning. More than just a social outlet, it’s now part of my book promotion plan. And it should be part of yours, too.
Why? It’s an opportunity to sell books, of course. But more importantly, it gets readers talking about and recommending your book.
In this post, I will give you the steps to get your book into book clubs and then how to make those meetings successful. But first, one very important fact to keep in mind:
Readers love hearing from authors. It will be a TREAT for you to visit a book club. Be confident knowing that book clubs will be absolutely tickled to have an author visit. Also, knowing the author is available and willing to come to their meeting often sways their decision to choose your book.
Here’s how to get your book into book clubs:
Ask the questions.
Include “Discussion Questions” as an appendix to your novel. Book clubs will be more open to choosing books that include questions to guide their discussion. Try to design your questions to get people thinking…and talking!
Did one of your characters make a controversial decision? Did they do something shocking? Could they be forgiven for their flaws? How is your message or theme portrayed? How is the setting significant? Ask what the reader would do in similar situations.
Rethink your outreach.
Post on your website and social media, sure, but most of your book club customers will be from word-of-mouth. Start close to home. Maybe with your own book club! Or your mom’s or sister’s or aunt’s. Remember that old college roomie who moved out to Colorado? She’s probably got a book club going out there or knows of one she could connect you with.
The next time an acquaintance asks about your book or you hear “I didn’t know you were an author!”, follow it up by asking if they are part of a book club. They will be delighted to learn that you would join them as they discuss your book.
Make it a giveaway.
Many best-selling authors charge a fee to visit book clubs. Set yourself apart by offering to visit at no cost. At times, I’ve donated ARCs for library book clubs, asking for reviews in exchange. Don’t think about it as giving your book away, think of it as a marketing expense.
Forget book talks.
Libraries, coffee shops, book stores, and even schools often have affiliated book clubs. Rather than offering to do an author talk at these venues, ask if they have a book club and if they would add your book (and your visit!) to their schedule. Your turnout (and talk) will be all the more successful, having an invested audience.
Catch the contagion.
Book clubbers talk to each other and will recommend you to their friends’ book clubs. Also, they will remember your visit and look forward to your next release, putting you on their schedule for next time. Ready to go viral?
You’ve booked your first book club. What now? Here are some must-do’s to make it a success:
1. Bring a gift for the host/hostess. Whether it be a bottle of wine, a dessert, or my personal favorite—another one of your books (for their next club!), your gift will be much appreciated.
2. Offer to lead the discussion. Might be nerve-wracking, but remember the group is most likely a bit intimidated by the “famous author” in their midst! Start by introducing yourself and then a bit about how you got the idea for the book. Most times, the group will interrupt you with their own questions. Then, smooth sailing. And don’t forget, you already have those “Discussion Questions” at the ready!
3. Have fun. Don’t worry if the conversation goes “off book.” Remember, the group is used to meeting/talking without your fabulous company. Respect the dynamic. Go with the flow and enjoy!
4. Ask for reviews. You are doing a charitable thing, donating your time and energy like this. Don’t be shy about asking for reviews in exchange. Many readers aren’t in the habit of posting reviews and may need a nudge. And book clubbers often write thoughtful and valuable reviews!
5. Follow up. Send a thank you note after. When your next book comes out, ping the host/hostess/venue. Include it as part of your launch plan. Offer to come to a future meeting. Get something on the calendar. They will remember how you dazzled their group and leap at the opportunity!
Who is JD Spero? * Official Bio
Johannah Davies (JD) Spero’s writing career took off when her first release, Catcher’s Keeper, was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. Since then, she’s found similar success with her young adult fantasy Forte series, winning recognition from National Indie Excellence Award (2014, 2016) and Adirondack Literary Award — Best Book of Children’s Literature (2015). Her latest release, Boy on Hold, is a 2020 Book Excellence Award winner and an 2020 IPPY GOLD winner for Best Mystery/Thriller.
With a Masters in Education, Spero leverages her years as a high school English teacher in author presentations across the country, most notably at Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Conference in 2014. A full-time novelist, Spero recently was accepted to an exclusive writing retreat in Scotland. After living in various cities from St. Petersburg (Russia) to Boston, she now lives with her family in the Lake George area, where she was born and raised.