Book clubs may be small, but they do include your kind of people: People who buy books, and who often like to hear from authors.
The catch is, they're small, widely scattered and not really organized. (Remember the book club on the TV show "Lost"?) You might think getting in front of them would be more work than it would be worth.
Where the Readers Are
But not necessarily. New technology and organizational ideas are bringing a lot of book clubs into range, with strong marketing capabilities for many authors.
A great place to start is Reader's Circle, which is about book clubs and book club networking. Its web page proclaims, “90,000 readers connected annually!”
That's hard to doubt given the vast number of clubs listed in their system. I ran a search for clubs within 30 miles of my small rural community, and Reader's Circle pulled up five.
Finding Book Clubs to "Meetup" With
Another beginning point is Meetup.com, the well-known international listing of gatherings of all sorts. You can search here in a variety of ways, specifying a geographic location and whatever other criteria you choose. Meetup has “literature and writing” as one of its standing options. On the Createspace.com community resources forum, author Maria Murnane suggested, “You can search for appropriate book clubs within a specified radius of where you live, then send the organizer a friendly note about your book and yourself.”
She also advised contacting alumni organizations from any colleges or universities you attended, since many local chapters have a book club, and these often like to hear from alums.
On the high end of book club appearances, you might take a look at Book the Writer, an organization that brings—for a fee—writers to book clubs in the New York area. Dozens of writers have signed up, and many reader groups have paid the fee for them to appear. Because the fee is substantial (the New York Times reports $750 fees being paid), this organization is mainly for well-established writers. But it may become a model for writers and clubs both, operating on more modest levels.
Author Presentations via Skype
These days, connecting with book clubs far from your home is becoming increasingly practical. Reader's Circle highlights author phone chats and offers information needed to make the connection.
Skype is becoming a popular discussion tool too. One author who has used it extensively, and also connects other writers with classes and book clubs, is Kate Messner, who runs a website called Authors Who Skype with Classes and Book Clubs. She explained, “I started it because I’ve found that virtual author visits are a great way to connect authors and readers, and I realize that many schools facing budget troubles don’t have the option of paid author visits. With that in mind, this is a list of authors who offer free 15-20-minute Q and A sessions with classes and book clubs that have finished reading one of their books.”
Is this something authors do regularly?
Novelist Jennifer Miller said in a Huffington Post article that in July 2013, “76 book clubs read my debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly, and I visited all of them. I was attempting to set the Official World Record for the Most Book Clubs Visited by An Author in One Month, which is another way of saying I was attempting to get whatever attention I could for a book I spent seven years writing.”
Some Tips on Etiquette
Her suggestions? Double-check all your contact information; be courteous, especially to people who didn't like the book; limit your alcohol intake, and take pictures of your visit (you can post them online later).
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