Hey Book Lover!
If you want to rock a book club meeting as an author host this blog is for you! I have been writing and visiting book clubs since my first novel release almost twenty years ago! Book clubs are magic and a word-of-mouth resource that has stood the test of time! Here are a few tips that ensure your book club and author have a memorable experience!
Start off with a bang! Authors love passionate readers and feed off book club enthusiasm! FYI – Many of us are introverts and need your energy! An intro e-mail that includes a spirited salutation, book club name and website, geographic locale, prior author visits/book selections, anticipated meeting month/date is helpful. Be sure to request the contact name and info for future follow up as well as any special requests for food and venue.
Choose a Theme and Fabulous Venue!
Authors spend lots of time at home writing! They love to have an excuse to get out and try local restaurants or unique venues. Enhance your meeting with a theme. It sets the tone! For example, I have a Sunday Brunch books series so brunch is a no brainer; but one book club took it to the next level. The book characters are five women lawyers, all with different personality and styles. The book club members dressed in fashion that represented a Sunday Brunch character. My novel Salt and Sky takes place in part on the island of Martha’s Vineyard; so, a beach theme or venue in Galveston, Texas is a way to book club with flair! Sweet Magnolia takes place in New Orleans, so a Mardi Gras theme would be perfect. Treat it as an event with music, food and props that are social media worthy! Why not try an outdoor picnic (bring your own basket), or make it part of a related museum exhibit or include wine tasting? (Reserve time for the discussion without distraction) Make the venue aware of your theme, they may be able to include extra perks and added publicity.
The More the Merrier!
Want to have a bigger budget? Want to ensure a great turn out? Invite a few other area book clubs! Assign tasks to each book club: décor, invites, food to maximize the event. Authors are more inclined to attend affairs that give a great return on their time and investment. An author will appreciate a book club with twelve dedicated readers but jump at the opportunity to connect with a large group. It also gives them the chance to increase additional book sales and added exposure.
Keep it Lively!
Let’s face it. There’s always somebody that won’t read the book. You are probably thinking of that member now! There’s also that book club member that asks more questions than others. But maximum engagement when hosting an author is always a goal! To help kick off the meeting, an icebreaker related to the book is wonderful warm up. Authors are people too! They want to connect and know who is in the room. Is the book selection a romance read? How about asking book club members about a fantasy date or celebrity crush? Hosting a mystery author? Talk about a favorite mystery movie or a “guess the book club member” query with a few hints. Make it relative and inclusive. Avoid going way off the topic or discussing other books or authors. This is about the invited guest! Other ways to keep the conversation going? Use a fish bowl with pre-written questions, reader guides, door prizes for guessing which characters said a memorable line or even act out a scene from the book! Finally, always give the author a chance to share their inspiration or personal thoughts about the book!
We may make it look easy but writing and marketing books are hard! We need as much author love and encouragement as possible! We’re grateful you purchased the book, but a parting gift is always welcome! Another value-added way to thank an author? Book reviews! Encourage members to leave a review on Amazon and Good Reads or other sites, it boosts sales. And sign up for their e-mail lists to keep up! You’re family now.
Appoint a “photographer” to memorialize the event and send the photos as soon as possible after the meeting. Authors love to boast and post about a great book club event! Submit articles to local media, the library or other places of interest. Why because you and the author are rock stars!
Bonus: Maximize technology, do not rule out a cyber meeting and invite the public. I had a book club with a group in China. Assure your time zone is in sync and you can have just as much fun! Those are my suggestions. If you have any other fabulous tips on hosting an author, please include in the comments! And if you’d like to host me at a future book club event or as a speaker e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill reach out through my contact page.