You already know some of the strategies that self-published authors use to generate interest from book clubs and sell more books. And since you have a great “book me” page on your author website, it’s easy for book club coordinators to invite you to call in and speak to their groups. But once you get your first book group call-in request, what next?
Hopping onto FaceTime or Skype to talk to a group of strangers can be very intimidating. And even if you’re participating in a book group call by phone, you still might find your nerves are buzzing like mad. Don’t panic! Self-Publishing Relief has the tips you need to ace your book club call-ins and gain some word-of-mouth recommendations while you’re at it.
How To Prepare For And Ace A Book Group Call-In Interview
Send your book club info package so it arrives with plenty of time to spare. Creating a book club info package will make it easier for you to virtually host a book club event—and easier for the group’s coordinator to say yes! It’s a great way to tempt book club leaders to nominate your self-published book for a group event. Mail a box full of goodies, promotional items, bookworm-friendly gifts, and maybe even a free copy of your book to give away to a lucky book club member. Just be sure the package arrives on time.
Set clear limits on your time. If you’re not careful, your book club call-in might take up the whole evening and cut into your very precious writing time. Some writers will chitchat with book groups for as little as twenty minutes. Others are willing to stick around for an hour or more. Whatever your choice, let coordinators know about your time-frame limitations. When the group knows ahead of time when you will end the call, they won’t be taken aback when you say goodbye.
Give the coordinator or moderator some guidance. You may discover there’s a particular format that you like for book club call-ins. For example, while you may feel comfortable talking about the origins of your book idea or your writing process, you might not feel comfortable answering questions about a story that is best left open to reader interpretation. Or, you may or may not want to stick around to hear the actual nitty-gritty discussion about your book (which might get contentious).
Spend some time thinking about what you are or are not willing to talk about (or hear) when you schedule a book club call-in. Then offer book club coordinators a bit of friendly guidance about your preferred format.
Smile when you talk. Whether you are chatting by video or old-fashioned telephone, smiling while you’re talking can help transmit vibes of accessibility and friendliness. Although you may find that certain moments of your book club call-in get very serious, allow a little joy and light into the conversation whenever it’s appropriate. Viewers appreciate seeing a warm expression on your face. And listeners can actually hear a smile in your voice. The more likable and relatable you are, the more likely your listeners will be to recommend your books to others.
Helpful hint: As a writer marketing a book in a social-media-driven world, who you are as a person matters. Learn more about the importance of personal branding for authors.
Speak slowly and clearly. Speak slowly, carefully, and articulately. Here’s a tactic that may help: Before you answer a listener’s question, pause briefly by taking a deep, steadying breath. This will help you control the rhythm of the conversation, stem the tide of any anxiety you might feel, give you a minute to compose an answer, and increase the likelihood that you will be able to speak at a moderate, clear pace.
Accept critique with empathy and poise. Once in a while you may be faced with a critical—even accusing or angry—reader. Always tread carefully with irritable book club members. Let them know you hear them by repeating what they said back to them. Choose empathetic phrases like I never thought of it that way before and thank your listener for his or her thoughts. Focus on common ground whenever possible, but also stay true to your beliefs.
Remind listeners of how they can connect with you (and get digital freebies). Letting book club members know that you are always available to chat on Facebook or Twitter is a great first step toward creating profitable, long-lasting relationships. But incentivizing a continued connection is even better! Let readers know that they can download free digital goodies on your author website if they sign up for your mailing list. Here are some great ideas for digital freebies to give away.
Ask for what you need. Listeners may want to help you build your audience and grow your author brand—but they might not know where to start. Give them some direction by clearly stating how grateful you would be if readers and listeners would take a moment to help you. They could:
- Share a Facebook post
- Write a review
- Pass along your book to a friend
- Sign up for your mailing list and encourage others to do the same
Letting people know how they can help you is not pushy: In fact, clear communication creates positive opportunities all around. Readers like supporting the authors they love. So don’t be shy about asking for help!
Request reviews of your call-in. If readers enjoyed your call-in to their book group, they might be willing to give you a quote you can use on your website or other promotional materials. The more people who are gushing and glowing over how wonderful your book club call-in was, the more likely you’ll get additional call-in requests from other book club coordinators.
And Of Course, The Most Important Thing You Should Do After A Book Club Call-In Is…
Say thank you!
Be sure to send the book club coordinator an e-mail expressing your gratitude. And if your letter is interesting, the coordinator might even read it to the group for a little extra outreach. Let the coordinator know that he or she is welcome to pass along your information to any other book groups in the area.
Question: Are you in a book group? What do you think makes a great event when an author calls in?