28 Oct

Like Book Clubs? Tips for Starting Your Own!

Nina Guilbeau Head ShotWelcome to Nina Guilbeau, a women’s fiction author on a WOW! Women On Writing blog tour for her new novel, God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same. She is going to discuss creating book clubs; and when she is finished, please read about her novel and enter to win!

Creating Book Clubs

Guest post by Nina Guilbeau

I asked a friend, an avid reader who had moved to a new city, if she would be my BETA or test reader for my upcoming release, God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same. As someone with an extensive book collection, physical copies as well as eBooks, I felt her opinion at that stage of the writing process would be extremely valuable. I also asked if she could recommend anyone else who would be interested in test reading my book and she said something that surprised me.

“I don’t really know anybody who reads.”

I knew that her statement did not mean her many friends and associates were illiterate. She simply meant that she didn’t know anyone who invested much time in pleasure reading.

“You don’t belong to a book club now?” I asked. She and I had been in the same book club before she moved.

“Not any more. I can’t find one. I mean, it seems like no one makes time to read any more.”

That’s when I realized that life had gotten too fast for the casual reader – or so they thought. With limited free time, they are reading fewer books. However, with the popularity of social media and internet entertainment sites, many pleasure readers may not actually be reading less, but reading more. For instance, what starts as a moment on Facebook, can easily turn into a daily, hour long trip down the commenting/browsing rabbit hole. So, the time is still there and with a change in focus, book lovers will no longer feel the need to sacrifice reading because of a busy schedule.

One way to get that focus is by joining a book club, and starting one is even better. Creating a successful book club can be a challenge, but it can also be very rewarding. To get started, here are a few tips to answer the basic Who, What and Where questions.

Who – Find Committed Readers
• Go to your local, independent book stores and ask about starting a book club with them. There are many regular customers that may want to take part and a bonus is that you have your meeting place set.

• Check with the larger retail bookstores to see if you can distribute flyers about your book club. Many have community bulletin boards for this purpose. You can also check with your local library.

• Do neighborhood outreach through your Homeowners Association, neighborhood websites (many developments have one) and word of mouth.

• Check with your group of friends and with co-workers on your job. Who always has a book on their desk or reads at lunch? Many work place book clubs have been successful and are often encouraged by upper management.

• Start a group on the Meet Up website in order to find local readers interested in joining a book club.

What – Be Organized
• With so many subgenres, be specific about your book club genre in order to keep dedicated, focused membership. For instance, rather than inviting readers to a generic romance book club, invite them to the historical romance book club.

• Establish procedures for book club picks to ensure all members have their choices considered. A combination of random selections and voting may work best.

• Be prepared with discussion questions, which are often found on the author’s website or in the back of the book. Also ask each member to share what they liked and disliked about the book to get discussions started.

• Ask authors to join book club discussions. With access to online conferencing, a surprising number of authors, especially indie authors are happy to oblige.

Where – Make it Convenient and Fun
• Have a movie viewing at the theatre if the book club pick makes it to the big screen or at a member’s home if it’s on DVD.

• Meet at bookstores. Many chain retailers encourage this activity

• Make it a social occasion and hold your meetings out at dinner or organize pot luck dinners at members’ home.

• For an intimate group, rotate homes for your meeting place

• Cyberspace book clubs and meetings can work out well, and are preferred by many readers. Keep in mind this may be more work for you as constant contact is required to make sure everyone gets the messages. For example, things that are established in one face-to-face book club meeting, such as book selection, may take several cyber messages with follow up to complete.

GodDoesn'tLoveUsTheSameAbout Nina’s book,  God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same: (from WOW! Women On Writing) God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is the touching story about Janine Harris who never really thought about homeless people. She barely even notices them as she passes them by on her way to work in downtown Washington D.C. All Janine can focus on is the shambles of her own young life, afraid that she will never be able to get past the painful mistakes she has made. However, all of that changes on a snowy evening in December when Janine unexpectedly finds herself alone with Vera, an old, homeless woman who seems to need her help. Now Janine wants to know what could have possibly happened to Vera to leave her so broken and alone.

As Vera shares her life story with Janine, the two women form an unusual bond and begin a journey that changes both of their lives forever. Reluctantly, they each confront their own past and, in the process, discover the true meaning of sacrifice, family and love. Although to truly move forward in their lives, they must fast the most difficult challenge of all – forgiving themselves.

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  • I love this article, Nina! I used to be in a couple book clubs–both were associated with people I worked with. I think I would like to join one through a bookstore or library, where someone else organizes them. :) LOL But I agree with everything you said here, and as a writer, it would be a way to meet new people who like to read!

  • Hi and thank you, Sandwich Lady! Bookstores have been a great place for book clubs and I’ve been able to post my book events on library bulletin boards. Good luck!

So, what do you think?