Today’s guest post is by Rob Eagar, author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire.
Book clubs and discussion groups—where millions of readers congregate both in-person and online to discuss their favorite books—offer a powerful marketing opportunity for novelists. Some of the most popular social networks devoted to book readers include GoodReads (12 million members strong), LibraryThing, Red Room, and BookShout. Promoting your book to both physical and digital book clubs can help boost sales by increasing the number of volume orders placed. Below are three ways to get started.
1. Provide spicy discussion questions
Encourage groups to dive into your novels by streamlining the process to get them talking. First, create a list of interesting questions and add them to the back of your book, your author website, your publisher’s book page, etc. Make it easy for people to find and download these questions.
Second, don’t put a book club to sleep by giving them boring questions. Simple “yes” or “no” answers fail to generate curiosity. Likewise, don’t create dull questions, such as “Did the main character seem scared in Chapter 3?” Instead, push your audience to shake things up with deeper questions, such as:
- If you were in the main character’s position at this point, how would you respond?
- Do you feel as if this book changed your views on the primary subject of the story? Why?
- The main character’s adherence to social customs can seem controversial to us today. Pick a scene where you would have acted differently. Why?
- If you could change something about this book, what would it be and why?
2. Turn your book into an event
Provide a context for groups to interact with your book; offer ideas for your book to be used as the basis for a mystery dinner, field trip, supper club, Bible study, service project, etc.
For example, you could provide a list of recipes that pertain to the characters, locations, or events in your novel. Or you could build a playlist of songs that evoke the novel’s themes or offer insight into the characters. If your book deals with difficult social subjects, such as soldiers fighting overseas, children at risk, or abandoned animals, you could invite the group to send letters and care packages to forgotten servicemen, volunteer at an after-school program, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
Look for ways to make book clubs view your novel as an experience they can share, rather than just a book to read. Position your book as the catalyst for a meaningful activity. This is a great way to generate excitement and boost word of mouth.
3. Offer a virtual discussion with the author
Book clubs thrive on debating how a novelist creates and masterfully tells a story. Allow book clubs to meet you privately by scheduling phone calls or online discussions to answer some of their biggest questions. Just hearing your voice can be a major thrill for fans. Consider using services such as Skype, Facebook chat, or Google Hangouts to make virtual appearances with readers around the world. Plus there’s an added benefit of avoiding bookstore signing events where nobody shows up!
Several of my author clients offer free 30-minute phone calls to book clubs, because they like getting to know their readers without having to leave home. These phone calls allow authors to build stronger relationships with fans and understand why readers appreciate their books.
Never underestimate the desire readers have to meet their favorite authors. Promote such opportunities on your website and social media pages. Plus, notify your publisher, literary agent, and publicist about your availability so that they can help spread the word.
To learn more about book marketing strategy, check out Eagar’s new release, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire.