By Joy Norstrom
Several years ago I belonged to a book club. We enjoyed meals together, wine together, and sometimes we even read and discussed books together. We had the best of intentions and yet our club days were numbered as soon as members stopped consistently reading the assigned books. It wasn’t long before we became a wine drinking club instead.
As a result of my past experiences, book clubs weren’t even a blip on my author radar until I was contacted by several post publications. When I was asked if I could attend discussion meetings, I was honoured and surprised and not at all sure what to expect.
On that first book club visit I was hesitant to leave the safety of my car. Truthfully, I was scared shitless. What if they hated my book? What if they trashed it (and therefore me) for not being literary enough? And dear lord: what if they asked questions I didn’t have a bloody clue how to answer?
After several book club visits, I’m happy to report that every encounter has been pleasant and deeply satisfying as a storyteller. Not everyone will appreciate every aspect of your book, and that’s okay. But I’ve also come to the realization that book clubbers are unlikely to invite you (nor share their wine with you!) if they hate your book. Good news, right?
Here’s what you can expect:
1. Nervousness. Many book club readers have told me I was the first author they’d discussed a book with. You won’t be the only one who is nervous!
2. Questions about your characters, plot twists, how you came up with your ideas.
3. Questions about you. When you started writing and what it was like to hold that first book in your hands.
How to prepare:
- Deodorant! Yes, you’ll sweat a shit tonne if you’re nervous, so please, for the love of all things bookish, don’t forget this ultra-important step.
- Prepare yourself to be social. Ask questions. Smile.
- Don’t forget to THANK the group. They chose your book to invest time and energy into reading. In a market glutted with choice they picked your creation, and that’s pretty darn cool.
Looking to attract book clubs?
- Add a section to your website specifically for book clubs. Invite clubs to contact you with questions. Let them know how far you will travel for an in-person visit or what technology (skype, facetime) you are comfortable using for virtual visits. You might also want to create discussion questions.
- Check out hashtags used by book clubs and start using some in your social media posts.
Visiting a book club might be intimidating, but it does put you in direct contact with readers. Readers who have already bought, borrowed, or stolen (kidding!) your book. All you need to do is relax and talk about a story that is very likely near and dear to your heart. How great is that?
I am a local Calgary author and social worker. My debut Women’s Fiction novel, Out of Play, was published in 2016 by Crooked Cat Books. I’ve had the privilege of attending several book club discussions in the last six months as a guest author.