The marvelous, brilliant, book savvy Midge Raymond is back at Writerhead. This time she’s written a terrific book about how to market your book!
Read, buy, share!
Book clubs are not only fun as a reader, they are an author’s dear friend. Having your book chosen by a book club is an honor, and it creates word of mouth that often keeps building. The big question is: How do you get your book chosen for a book club?
When my story collection, Forgetting English, was published, I was delighted to be invited to several book club meetings in my then-hometown of Seattle. Being a part of book clubs was something I’d wanted to do but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it—especially with a collection of short fiction, a genre that is less popular among book clubs than novels and memoirs.
I was fortunate to have writer friends in book clubs, and they got me started by suggesting my book to their own clubs. And in fact, when I talk to other authors about their experiences with book clubs, they all seem to start in the same way: Someone they know chooses their book and invites them to a meeting, and a club member who enjoys the experience tells someone in another book club—and everything grows from there.
So this leads to my first tip…
1. Tell your friends that you’d love to join their book clubs (either in person, or via phone, FaceTime, or Skype). This is the most important first step of all; from there, you’ll have readers who then tell their own friends about your book and how fun it was to discuss it with you at their meeting (and don’t be afraid to let them know you’d appreciate their sharing their experience—often readers don’t understand how helpful this is to writers, and they are usually so happy to help). Also, bring up your book club availability not only among friends but everyone you meet. So often we’re in a position to reach new readers—whether it’s when we go to a new hair stylist or when we meet people at a party—yet we don’t take advantage when we’re asked, “So what do you do?” You don’t have to shamelessly sell yourself; just mention your book, let people know that you love chatting with book clubs, and invite them to contact you (or visit your website) if they’d like to learn more.
2. Use social media. Facebook is a wonderful way to reach out to book clubs, as this is a national (or worldwide) network of your own friends and family, all of whom have an interest in you and your book and can then share whatever you post (and do encourage people to share links). Twitter and Goodreads are also great for letting readers know about your work with book clubs—remember to use social networks not only to offer your availability but to post photos and comments about past meetings, which will show your enthusiasm and generate interest from other readers and book clubs.
3. Be local. While there are many ways to join a book club long-distance, it’s always most special when you can be there in person—so take advantage of what your hometown has to offer. Visit local bookstores, your local library branches, and other organizations to let them know about your book and your availability for local book clubs. Create a flyer with all the relevant info (your book, your bio, reviews, testimonials from other book clubs, contact information) and ask folks to post it and/or share it with readers.
4. Create a reading guide for book clubs, and be sure this is easy to find on your website. (Note: If book clubs are a big part of your marketing plan, you might even want a special link on your website to a page devoted to book club info.) A reading guide not only provides a starting point for discussion with clubs you’re scheduled to meet with but it also generates interest among those who are considering choosing your book. Think about what is most “book clubby” about your book—i.e., what aspects of it make for good discussions, not only about the book but beyond it? Forgetting English, for example, is interesting for book clubs in part because its ten stories means there’s something for everyone, and among all those stories there are a lot of topics, characters, and settings to discuss. At the same time, its common themes—love, travel, life-work balance—allow for the conversation to expand beyond the book itself. Often the best book club meetings end up being more about the participants’ stories than about the book—but this is part of what makes it fun: seeing people respond to the book in ways that open them up to reflect on their own lives and experiences.
5. Offer incentives. If you can, offer a free copy of your book to book club hosts (if you don’t have a lot of spare copies, you can do this for a limited time or for a limited number of books). And find ways to bring something more than yourself to the meeting—for example, if your book features a chef, offer to bring your character’s signature dish to the meeting.
Most of all, enjoy the process—think of this aspect of marketing not as work but as a privilege. As bestselling author Jenna Blum tells us in Everyday Book Marketing about her first book club meeting for her first novel: “A chance to talk about my baby for three hours with kind strangers and drink all their wine? What writer wouldn’t go?” And remember that the more you reach out, and the more book clubs you meet with, the more readers connect not only with your book but with you as an author—and this can lead not only to new readers but to new friendships as well.
BIO: Midge Raymond is the author of the short story collection Forgetting English, which received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. She is also the author of two books for writers: Everyday Writing and Everyday Book Marketing. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications. Visit her online at www.MidgeRaymond.com.