Have you ever been in a book group? I had an informal one with some friends when I was in grad school — this served as an opportunity for us to read a non-academic book once a month. Later, when I lived overseas in Japan for two years, I found a book club that became my lifeline to adult conversation and, yes, often there was wine involved! Almost 10 years later, some of the books I read in that group are still among my favorites! Beyond the trusted characters from those books, I remember the kindness and fun had with other women I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to interact with outside of book club.
why book clubs?
As a new author, you want to get the message that you’ve worked so hard in crafting into the hands of as many people as possible, right? (Yes, many authors come to us wanting to reach best-seller status). Obviously, you don’t have to create a book club discussion guide to get your book in front of people, BUT it is a nice perk to have on your website. We often advise and assist clients in creating a “lead generation magnet” when trying to promote their book. From pre-order incentives to a chapter download, the usual goal of digital assets is to capture the mighty email address and “list build.” However, a book club guide is a great way to get folks to your site and give them something for free — with no email required.
what should a guide contain?
Any good book club leader has a set of questions s/he will keep in her back pocket, so don’t think about adding all the “obvious” questions to your guide. Instead, what insights can you share as an author? What are your favorite quotes? See our guide for Lisa Kohn that implements some of her favorite quotes with photos (created as social media share memes) and questions that flush out important themes Lisa wants readers to realize with her memoir.
who’s your audience?
Gretchen Rubin provided different versions of her guide for various types of book club groups. If your book could be a business or personal group pick, consider doing the same or at least working on questions relevant to various types of audiences.
what else can I offer?
Food/Drinks: Are there particular foods or drinks that would make sense with your book? If so, share a favorite recipe that goes with your story/theme.
Music: Do you mention specific music in the book? Create a playlist for a book club to play in the background.
Station Ideas: if it makes sense to break a book club meeting into sections or stations, list them out for your readers. Amy Blankson’s book club used tabletop easels to define the spaces and relate the food back to her book’s themes.
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