Writer, one of the best ways to market yourself and your book is through promotions to book clubs and reader groups. If you’re a self-published author with an entrepreneurial spirit, here’s a guide to marketing your book to book clubs in order to help generate book sales and increase your visibility. Check out these tips from the marketing experts at Self-Publishing Relief!
But first—let’s take a look at some of the benefits of marketing your self-published book to a reading group!
Three Reasons Why Smart Writers Jump At Book Club Appearances And Call-Ins
Reaching a single book club organizer can connect you to a bigger group of readers. When you’re marketing to book clubs, you don’t necessarily need to connect with every single reader—you just need to grab the attention of a champion who will promote your book as the club’s next read. Your marketing efforts will reach a larger audience if you can nab book club attention.
Virtual book club talks can be a cheap way to promote without leaving the house. Making a name for yourself on the book club circuit can be a cost-effective way to promote your self-published book and boost sales. Thanks to programs like FaceTime and Skype, making an appearance at a book club all the way across the country can be as easy (and as budget-friendly) as logging on to your computer. And if virtual chatting seems awkward, book club organizers are often willing to host writers via speakerphone.
A book club appearance can generate additional word-of-mouth sales. Many successful writers report that recommendations among friends or social media followers are THE best way to boost sales. People who are active in book groups are readers who love books—and they often love talking about their reading experiences to anyone who will listen. When you make a memorable appearance at a book club, you give people a reason to talk about you and your book even after the group has adjourned: I was at my book group, and this author called in…let me tell you about the story!
10 Tips To Get Book Club Leaders To Choose Your Book For Discussion
Because so many self-published writers want to market their books to book clubs, there’s a fair amount of competition for attention. Plus, many book clubs meet only once per month, which means they are only reading twelve books a year—so you’ve got to give book club members a very good reason to choose YOUR book for a coveted spot in the discussion.
Here’s what you can do to make book clubs more eager to select your book:
Create an effective “book me” page on your author website. The interface that readers see when they visit your author website might be the most important aspect of your ability to generate book club call-ins. A fabulous awareness campaign won’t do much unless readers also discover an exciting, inspiring, and easy way to connect with you. The more seamless the process of scheduling a book group call-in with you, the better!
**Before you do anything else, click here to read the definitive guide to creating an effective “book me” page on your author website. Don’t worry—we’ll still be here when you get back!**
Include a video on your website—so book club organizers can see your face, hear your voice, and get a preview of your insights and perspectives. Book club leaders are often looking for writers who will be entertaining, spark insightful discussion, and contribute to the success of book club night. A video of you on your author website will help them feel more confident about inviting you to participate in their event.
Use your book’s back matter to encourage readers to reach out to you about making a book club appearance. The final pages of your book are the perfect place to let readers know you’re willing to chat with book groups. After all, the person who just finished reading your book is a great candidate for spreading the word about your story. Read more: Maximize The Marketing Potential Of Your Self-Published Book’s Final Pages | Self-Publishing Relief.
Include a reader’s guide in your book’s back matter. Create a list of book club discussion questions that can spur interesting conversations about your self-published book. The more emotionally engaging your questions, the better your chances of getting readers interested in talking about your book in their book club.
Here are a few quickie tips for developing book club questions that will promote interest in your book:
- Ask questions about character motivation: What did you think when the main character did XYZ? Would you have made that choice?
- Ask questions about empathy: Which character did you like the most? Which was most like you? Which character would you want to/not want to sit down to dinner with?
- Ask questions about how the book starts: Did the beginning pages grab you? Why?
- Ask questions about how the story ends: Were you surprised by the ending of the story, or did you see it coming?
- Ask questions that stimulate discussion: The characters’ marriage was troubled by XYZ. Do you feel they handled communicating well? What have you learned in your own relationships that might have been more helpful to them?
- Ask about social issues and pressures: The characters in the book can’t reach their goals because of (social pressure here). How is that pressure evidenced in your life? What did the character do to try to overcome it? What are you doing as well?
- Ask questions about location, setting, and culture: Were you surprised by any cultural difference you read about? Have you been to any of the places mentioned in the story?
- Ask about a quote from the book: “Quote from the book.” Do you agree?
- Ask questions about story structure and plot: Do you like the way the book was put together? Do you wish you could have heard from other characters in their own voices? How might you have told the story differently?
- Ask about the author’s voice: Did you like the author’s narrative style and tone?
Promote your book club availability on social media. Social media is a great way to market your book to book clubs. Remind followers that you are available to chat to increase the likelihood that a book club will reach out to you. And each time you book a discussion group call-in, announce it to your fans. After your book club event, be sure to give the members a post-chat shout-out online. Not only will they love the acknowledgment, but you might also spur other book clubs to reach out!
Offer freebies that make for great conversation. Consider creating a gift box for book clubs who schedule a chat with you. Not only do freebies sweeten the deal for book club members and organizers, but they can also help you promote your other self-published book titles (and make more sales). Here are some examples of items you might want to include in a book club gift box:
- Reader-friendly gifts like bookmarks, bookplates, or small home décor items such as candles or napkin holders
- Snacks and treats
- Goodies that reflect your book’s themes with a note explaining the connection, if necessary
- Goodies that have a personal meaning to you (again, with a note of explanation)
- Promotional items like rack cards or bookmarks that raise awareness of your next book
- Invitations that encourage book club members to sign up for your mailing list (again, with free digital goodies)
- A free book that the coordinator can use to host a contest
Pair your book with a movie. If your book coordinates well with a movie or documentary, consider sending a DVD (or a link to a pre-paid digital download) so that book club members can watch the movie together, then discuss how it relates to your book. Your book club gift box could include some movie night staples: popcorn, candies, napkins, etc.
Offer an incentive especially to the book club organizer who invites you to participate. Be sure to make it clear that you’ll send a special “thank you” gift to the coordinator who reaches out to you. The thank-you can be modest—perhaps a small journal, notepad, or bookplates—but it may inspire book club leaders to reach out to you.
Give an exclusive discount to book club members. Offer book club readers an extra incentive to choose your book by offering a discount to members. You can sell copies to the book club directly or create a discount code to sell through third-party book retailers (if allowed). Earn bonus points for signing the books for members! Read more: Perfect Your Writer Autograph: Author Essentials For Signing Your Books | Self-Publishing Relief.
Offer to host a contest to make your event especially fun. Consider offering to host a fun contest during the discussion; you can give away a free copy of one of your books, or some other tempting prize.
How To Make Your Book Club Appearance Or Call-In A Success
Once you’ve nabbed your first invitation to speak about your self-published book at a book club, here’s how to facilitate a discussion that book group members will enjoy.
- Let the book club organizer know what to expect. Set a strict time limit on how long you are willing to speak, or you could end up chatting for hours.
- Call in or arrive promptly at the right time.
- Be prepared. Plan to talk casually about how you got your idea to write your self-published book, or how you became a writer. Often, organizers like to hear a little bit about your background before the Q & A session.
- Smile when you speak; people can hear it in your voice.
- Include some humor when possible.
- Keep your talk short. Think: Sound bites, not speeches.
- Prepare to hear crickets. Sometimes, even the most well-organized conversations will have some awkward silences. Keep a few anecdotes in your back pocket to fill in gaps and get the conversation going again.
- Be open to critique, argument, and even accusation. Though you may feel the urge to disconnect if a book club member is vocally critical of your writing (or of you), be patient, gracious, and compassionate. Conducting yourself with poise and dignity will serve you well in the long run.
- Upsell gently. Be sure to let your listeners know about other opportunities to connect with you—especially if there are any great freebies they can score. You also may want to talk about the next book you’re working on, or one that is already out and available for purchase.
- Ask listeners for help. Let them know that you appreciate any book recommendations, and that you would love to connect with other book groups and more readers. Sometimes just asking for help is the best way to actually get it!
- Send a thank-you note to the organizer a few days after your book group event.
Here’s Where You Can Find Book Group Listings On The Web
We know you’re eager to start promoting your self-published book to literary clubs and reading groups, so we’re happy to provide this free list of book club marketing resources for self-published authors.
CAVEAT: Be sure to research these companies, organizations, and mailing lists on your own to decide if they are right for you. Some of these organizations were created for book lovers and reading groups—not for authors who are marketing their books to book clubs. Some are free, others give writers opportunities for paid advertising that reaches book groups, and still others are book marketing firms that help connect writers with book clubs.
We’re passing along this list for information purposes only, and Self-Publishing Relief is not endorsing any group or person affiliated with the websites below.
Also, remember that book club organizers are often inundated with requests from authors. Some book groups may not appreciate unsolicited emails; others may welcome them. Query book club leaders with brevity and respect.
ALA Book Club Central
Question: Are you in a book club that has invited an author to speak? What made the discussion successful?