Nora St. Laurent runs two book clubs near the Atlanta area and is the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club Coordinator. She currently writes a Book Club Column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. You can read author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog, located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com, and reviews around the web at The Christian Pulse Mag, Title Trakk, Novel Reviews, and Suspense Zone. Nora and her husband run The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org
Speak At Book Clubs?
Should an author invest time and energy in speaking to book clubs on the phone, in person, or using Skype? As a person who runs two book clubs in the Atlanta area and one online, I say yes!
One of the book clubs I lead, Finding Hope Book Club, has had Denise Hildreth Jones speak to our group in person a couple of times. I’ll never forget the last time she spoke to us about her new book Hurricanes in Paradise. She came early and asked if it was okay to listen in on our group talking about her book. I was amazed at how open and honest my ladies were in discussing this book while the author listened. I struggled, but they jumped in with no problem and shared from the heart!
After the discussion, Denise got up to speak. She had tears in her eyes and had to gather her thoughts before she tried to speak. She told us how moved she was to see how her story moved so many. She was humbled that God would use her to touch people’s lives in a real way.
She told the group how she got the idea for this book and how her life had changed dramatically since she had last spoken to us. Everyone was enthralled by her honesty and enlightened when she shared how she worked through some issues when she wrote this story. This author made a lasting impression on all of us that we’ll never forget.
We had another author talk to us on the phone that left a lasting impression on our souls as well. Unlike Denise’s story about women’s relationships, with their ups and downs, as they prepared for a hurricane to hit their hotel, this author’s book that stirred our hearts was about animals.
Honestly, my ladies thought I had lost my mind when they saw the book cover of the next book club pick. It had a picture of a sweet baby ape on it, which I felt was endearing and quickly captured my attention. But no one wanted to read a book that had a monkey on the cover; they couldn’t imagine that any thrilling story could be inside. Case in point, Angela Hunt’s book Unspoken.
No one in my group had read an Angela Hunt book before and hadn’t a clue about the amazing stories she writes, but I did. I told them to trust me on this one, that it would be well worth their time and would touch them in unexpected ways. I promised them that after reading Angela’s book, they’d never look at an ape the same way!
Both of my book clubs wholeheartedly agree that this book stirred their spirits to the depths of their souls and made them think about passages of Scripture in new ways. But after speaking to Angela Hunt on the phone about this book and why she wrote it, well, Angela became their new favorite author.
One way to connect with book clubs is to join The Book Club Network (TBCN), a network of book clubs gathered together to meet authors and other book clubs. As cofounder of this group, it’s exciting to see how authors have learned from book clubs, and leaders have discovered new authors and their books. I’ve also seen some book clubs inspire other leaders to check out the books the groups have read at their clubs.
It’s a great way to get the word out about your book signings and other book events. TBCN has giveaway events each month, with sponsors such as B & H and Bethany House, along with some special authors.
TBCN just celebrated its one-year birthday party in a big way on June 13. Thanks to B & H and about forty authors, we gave away over forty books, over $200 in gift cards, and a Kindle. What a celebration it was. About 400 people participated, and for a long time we had sixty people participating in a crazy live chat.
It was thrilling that many of the authors who sponsored the event where in attendance for the “live” birthday party, participating in the chat, and responding to comments left on their author pages. It was fun to watch the interaction as people discovered new books and new authors.
So, is talking and mingling with book clubs worth your time? Let me count the ways! You never know who you will touch when you agree to speak to a club, tell your side of the story, and why you felt lead to write your book. You’ll leave a lasting impression on readers you couldn’t get to talk to otherwise. This leads to direct sales of your current book and others that follow.
Many of my members have had the courage to branch out and try authors and genres outside their comfort zones. I’ve also seen them buy the first book in the series for book club and then the others in the series to read on their own. Just saying, I think it’s a win-win for everyone.
Until next time
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