by Shari Stauch
Book clubs can be a defining moment in any author’s career because they often spark significant sales. The success of any book is accelerated if book clubs like it and begin spreading the news. To professional book marketers, publishers, and seasoned authors, they are highly regarded influencers — and it’s why book club listings are a crucial component of WWW’s Winner Circle. Members of book clubs are invested in their choices; they talk about the books they’re reading and include friends and other clubs in the conversations.
Book clubs can make a small book big. Water for Elephants is an excellent example of a title that book clubs helped make huge. Also, book clubs can make an old book newly relevant and in demand. In one case, book clubs began buzzing about a title so much it spurred the publisher to go into reprint; the book had been out of print for ten years!
5 Ways to Get Book Clubs Interested in a Book
- Create Book Club Discussion Questions or a “Readers Guide”
Having a great list of book club discussion questions lets readers dive right into a spirited discussion of your work. It might sound obvious, but remember that your questions need to be carefully formulated and relate specifically to your own book. If you’d like some pointers, check out this article, which can be helpful to both fiction and non-fiction authors How to Write Your Book Club Questions.
- Make Visible Outreach to Book Clubs
Once you’ve written your questions, potential clubbers need to know they exist. Ideally, your book club questions or Reader Discussion Guide should be listed in the back of your book. Then, every author needs to make sure to share their book club information in other vital spots:
- On your author website Have a separate page/tab for your book club questions, so readers visiting your page are immediately given the message that you’re a potential read for their club. Paste them onto your site, but also have a pdf of the questions available for download, (perhaps nicely laid out with a graphic of your book’s cover), that readers can easily print for their next meeting.
- On your social media outlets Consider posting one question per day or once per week to encourage readers to follow your social media more closely — and hopefully join online discussions about your book. You also can video record Q&A content and post to YouTube.
- In your pitches Don’t list all of your book club questions in each pitch but do provide a link to where they can view and download your guide.
- Develop a Well-Thought Out Pitch to Book Clubs
A compelling book club pitch is as important as any query letter. You may have only one chance to convince a busy book club leader to consider your book. A clever pitch will:
- Quickly grab a reader’s attention
- Include a brief bit about the book
- Have a short author bio
- Point out anything extra special
Unique additions can include donating a book to the local library in a target book club’s home town. Some authors also give a percentage of sales to a special cause. What might make you stand out?
- Be Accessible
In your pitch and on your author website, let readers know you’re available for in-person (if local) visits, or are willing to join a book club’s meeting virtually via Skype or Google Hangouts.
Offering up a virtual personal appearance and being accessible to your readers will get you noticed. Some clubs even require authors to be available if they’re going to read your work. Be polite when pitching and interacting with clubs. Book clubbers are involved because they love to read and share. Clubs that have great experiences with your book can encourage others to do the same.
- Know Your Target Readers
Understand who you’re pitching and don’t take up the time of club leaders who aren’t interested in the genre of your book. For example, if you write mystery books, a club interested in cookbooks won’t be a good fit. Understanding your reader market also means being a book club member. There’s no substitute for gaining valuable insights into what clubs like to discuss and what makes a book club read worth sharing with friends.
If you’re not already in a book club and aren’t sure where to find one, three great resources include:
- Your local library (most now have various book discussion groups)
- Your local bookstore
- .com – We’ve yet to find a major city where there wasn’t some book club action.
- Why Book Clubs Matter (free recorded webinar)
- How to Write Your Book Club Questions (article)
- Busting into Book Clubs (video w/ Pulpwood Queen and Meetup Club leader)
- 5 Questions with Pulpwood Queen Founder Kathy Murphy (article)
About Shari Stauch
Creator of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing, and PR for thirty years. She is the principal author of the WWW blog, and works with authors and publishers around the country, helping them to find more readers and sell more books. Where Writers Win’s innovative Winner Circle offers access to vetted book reviewers, live and virtual book clubs, and other curated resources for authors.