Build Your Book's Fan Base with Book Club Marketing
Are book clubs part of your book marketing plan?
If not, they should be! Devoting time and effort to finding book clubreaders can pay off in more ways than one. Not only can this important book marketing tool help you build your fan base, it will help you sell more books.
Why Book Clubs?
They raise awareness of your books.
Book clubs are a great way for authors to raise awareness of their books.Consider libraries and retail bookstores that host small-group book clubs.Don't let the small number of attendees stop you from approaching thesesubgroups; they can lead to book clubs that are the ideal size - between 20and 50 readers.
They are a powerful marketing opportunity.
Book clubs are a powerful marketing opportunity for indie authors andself-publishers, as they offer the opportunity to engage directly with new readers and fans alike and, ultimately, help you sell more books.
Because one of your goals in writing books is probably selling books, youshould take advantage of every book promotion tool at your disposal. Having 30 people buy your book at the same time isgreat book publicity and helps boost your sales ranking.
They help indie authors in a variety of ways:
- Allowing you to engage directly with readers . Almost every book lover enjoys feeling connected to their favorite authors in some way. Book club meetings help foster the reader/author relationship.
- Building a fan base. If 20 people who regularly read books together love your first book, they're likely to read your next book and the one after that and the one after that...you get the picture!
- Garnering more reviews. Book club readers love to talk about books - and not just during book club meetings. Instead of having one person sharing a review of your book, you'll have 20 people sharing reviews of your book.
- Providing feedback and/or ideas for future books . When you discuss book club questions, you'll learn what readers liked about your book as well as areas that may have been weak. Use that feedback to inform your next book or determine whether a sequel might be well received.
- Building off existing social media sites such as GoodReads and LibraryThing. Use these online sites to post discussion questions and connect with book club members.
Steps to Get Started
1. Make Your Book "Book-Club Friendly"
Include thoughtful discussion questions on your authorwebsite, social media sites like Facebook, or even at the back of your book. Don't use simple yes-or-no questions;that's boring! Instead, ask questions that put readers into your book, forexample:
- Would they respond the same way Sally did after she discovered her husband was cheating?
- Did the book make readers change their mind about an issue covered in the book?
- Is there something they would change about the plot?
Connect the theme or genre of your book to some kind of event. Provide ideas for combining your book with a related activity on yourauthor website, social media profile, or as a handout at book club gatherings. Your whodunit could become thebasis of a mystery dinner, you could include a playlist of music thatenhances the reader experience, your Christian romance could be part of aBible study or singles meetup, or you could share related recipes orprepared dishes.
2. Find Book Clubs
Finding book clubs doesn't have to be scary. Start at local libraries andindie shops. Give a copy of your book - or sample chapters - to the person in charge and ask if they'd be willing to recommend it.They may not want to give out personal information about book club members, so leave your contact and other information with them and ask them to shareit.
Ask friends, colleagues, and family members if they'd be willing to shareyour book with their clubs, but remember - no one likes to feel pressured!Visit coffee shops and other places where booklovers hang out. Some coffeehouses maintain a shelf of books for their customers. Leave a copy of yoursthere with contact information; just don't do it all over town. (Remember,your goal is to sell books - not give them all away.)
There are plenty of online book clubs you can approach as well - book clubs for authors are especiallyamenable to checking out other authors' books. Try Meetups, LibraryThing,onlinebookclub.org, and yes - even the god of online, Google.
3. Craft your pitch
Consider how you want to pitch your book to book clubs in advance. What isyour book about? Why would people want to read it? Will you be offering adiscount? Are you willing to attend the meeting in person, online, or viatelephone? Do you have discussion questions prepared?
Continue to market your book with book clubs even after they meet. Followup with readers, offer signed copies, ask for reviews, solicit newsletter signups, conduct contests or giveaways, and stay in touch. Book clubs can be a powerful component of your booksales and marketing plan - plus, they're fun!