Book clubs can be a defining moment in any author's career. The success of any book is accelerated if book clubs get hold of it and begin spreading the news. That's why we call them "influencers" and that's why book club listings are a key component of WWW's Winner Circle.
Book clubs are INVESTED in their reads – They talk about the books they’re reading and share those conversations with other friends and clubs.
Book clubs can make a small book big. Water for Elephants is a great example of a book that book clubs helped make huge. And book clubs can make an old book new. In one case, book clubs began buzzing about a book so much it forced the publisher to go into reprint; the book had been out of print for ten years!
Here are five key elements to cultivating these all-important book influencers.
- Create Book Club Questions or “Readers Guide”
Having a great list of book club questions lets readers dig right into a spirited discussion of your work. But it’s important that your questions be thoughtful and relate specifically to your own book. This article will give you several sites where you can find “starter dough” questions, both for fiction and non-fiction, to help you begin: How to Write Your Book Club Questions.
- Share That You’re a Potential “Book Club Read” Everywhere!
Once you’ve written your questions, potential clubbers need to know they exist. Your book club questions or Reader Discussion Guide should be listed in the back of your book. But whether or not that's possible, there are other key places to share this information as well:
- 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. You might also put up a question a day or one a week over the course of time to create more following and even encourage online discussion of your book. You can also tape Q&A elements on YouTube.
- In your pitches. Don’t list your questions out in each pitch, but do provide a link to where they can view and/or download your guide.
- Create a Well-Thought Out Pitch
A well thought out book club pitch is as important as any query letter. You may have just 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
- Include a brief author bio
- Offer up anything extra special
Special additions can include donating a book to their local library. Some authors donate 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 this personal touch and being accessible to your readers will get you noticed. Some clubs even require this accessibility of authors if they’re going to read your work. Be kind when pitching and interacting with clubs. Book clubbers don’t do this for a living; they do it because they love to read and share. One great club experience can lead to more for you!
- Know Your Market
Know who you’re pitching and don’t waste a club leader’s (or your) time. If you write mystery, the club reading just cookbooks (yes, there are such clubs!) 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 club and aren’t sure where to find one, three great resources include:
- Your local libraries (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.