Book Group Tips for New Authors

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been visiting book groups to talk about The Single Feather. Its been an absolute delight as well as a great way to meet readers. I found out things about my novel, even I hadn’t thought about, for example, one group thought The Single Feather had echoes of a film – The Way, and when I watched it, I agreed!
Now, book groups have different set ups. Most work in tandem with the local library. The library comes up with a list of books – one for each month, which the groups then read and discuss. You may think unless you’re on that list you have no chance, but that’s simply not true. What you do need is someone from that group to have read and enjoyed your book, and enjoyed it so much they have asked the library and fellow group members if they could have a guest speaker.
Other book groups have each member suggesting a book, and again you need someone from each group to have read your book in order to suggest your book and then invite you. You could approach a group cold, but I think that’s more of an uphill struggle to get them to agree.

Tips

1) Try to have a chat before you visit the group, so you know the format, and how much time you’ve got.
2) If you’re attending the full group, arrive ten – fifteen minutes early, so if there’s an opportunity – you can chat to members as they arrive
3) Think about where you sit down. Aim to be in the middle of a group rather than at the end of a table – as some members may be hard of hearing.
4) Involve everyone in your discussion, and try to offer personal insights – something they couldn’t find out online or in another format. Remember to use lots of eye contact, and smile!
5) If you’re supplying the books, before you do your bit, give out copies of your book to everyone. While you’re talking and questions are being asked, they will be picking it up, reading the first few lines, reading the back. At the end of your bit, if they’ve enjoyed the discussion and like the look of your book, they won’t want to give it back.
6) If you might have sales, take more books than members. At all the book groups I’ve been to, some members have bought additional copies as gifts.
7) Take plenty of change. If your book is £9.99 don’t assume they won’t want the penny change.
8) At the end of the session, thank the leader of the group, the person who invited you and the group. If the group is based in a library it might be worth thanking the librarians if you can. Have the address of the person who invited you, as it would be thoughtful to send a card to say how much you enjoyed visiting the group.

Do you have any other tips you can pass on?

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11 thoughts on “Book Group Tips for New Authors

  1. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Very helpful tips, Ruth. The only thing i would disagree with is handing out books while doing the talk – just because books that don’t get sold could begin to get a bit dog-eared ( but that is probably just me). One question: what is your view on reading from your book at a book group session? I tend to think the readers want to know more about the author and the story behind the story and tend not to tend fork my books. What do you think?

    1. R.F.Hunt says:

      The first book group I didn’t give the books to the group, and I only sold half the books. The second time I gave the books out, before I did the discussion. They only had them for 15 mins so they couldn’t get the dog-earned in then time and I sold every book! So I do give everyone the book now.
      Yes! I don’t read from my book – I tell them about writing it and how I the idea for the book.

    2. R.F.Hunt says:

      Also, there’s a bit of psychology in there – in that it’s easy to say no I don’t want a copy, but not so easy to give something back to the author, after it’s been in their possession for last 15 minutes…

  2. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    ps: in case i wasn’t clear, I tend not to read from my books either. I get the feeling from book groups they want more background, personal stuff 🙂

    1. R.F.Hunt says:

      I think I remember you saying that when I was asking about what to do in a book group visit earlier in the year. Yes, they do like personal stuff, sometimes, very personal! All good experience.

  3. kendraolson says:

    Great post Ruth! Sorry I am a bit late to this, but I thought you had some great insights which I will definitely keep in mind in case I’m ever invited to speak to a book group! Hope it’s continuing to go well.

    1. R.F.Hunt says:

      Thanks, Kendra -I’m sure you will be invited to book groups. They are a great way of connecting with readers, and I often find I learn new insights about TSF from them!

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