Poet Don Marquis once divided the world into two types of people: those who could tell you they had just bought a package of paper napkins and make you “thrill and vibrate with the intelligence” and those who could share the secrets of the universe and yet “fail to impress you with any sense of the importance of the news.”
Ideally, your writing style places you in the former category. If so, book clubs may be interested in you.
NATIONAL BOOK CLUBS
My writing career began easily. I submitted an idea, based on the curricula I was presenting while adjuncting at UCLA and National University. My query mentioned a second possible book. The publisher sent back two contracts. So auspicious a beginning led me to contacting Newbridge’s Executive Book Club about The Language of Leadership, my very first book. They wrote back saying they would like to offer the book to members and not just offer it, but to name it a Main Selection. It was as easy as that. (Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen says in her blog, “Main Selection” is a very good thing.)
Nine years and many books later, I decided to self-publish Principled Persuasion.
This time, I wrote to the Doubleday Book Club and, once again, my book was selected for inclusion in their promotions, this time as a Director’s Choice.
Consider approaching the Literary Guild of the Doubleday Book Club or any other mail order book club depending on your book’s theme. There is the Black Expressions Book Club; the Book-of-the-Month Club; the Crafter’s Choice Book Club; the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club; the book club for Christians – Crossings Book Club – and any number of others, including the History Book Club.
And – just as there are two types of people in the world, according to Don Marquis – and two types of writers, there are also two types of book clubs. The first is the national, long- and well-established book club, cited above. Being included in their membership mailings can mean the sale of thousands of copies.
LOCAL BOOK CLUBS
The second type of book club may not mean the sale of thousands of copies, but it may very well be a good way to start building your readership base. Every city, town, and village has a library. In addition to libraries, there are probably YMCA’s and senior citizen abodes/centers in your town. All of these are likely to have book clubs.
Paul Birtel, Membership and Active Older Adult Director for the YMCA in Greece, New York says this suburb of Rochester, New York has a very large contingent of older adults. And, Birtel is committed to offering continuing education programs to help members become healthier, both mentally and physically his goal. His desire to increase social opportunities led to his work with Edna Hamlin, who facilitates the long-standing book club for members at the Greece YMCA. Birtel handles the logistics for the book club meetings, which are usually attended by about 20 members. A book lover since childhood, Hamlin encourages members to submit suggestions for titles the group can read and discuss. Once books are chosen or voted upon for the year, Hamlin schedules the books for the monthly reading and discussions, and encourages members to obtain the book in several different ways – audio books, purchase, or library rentals.
Many local libraries, for example, make book club packages available. According to Helen Watts, library assistant for the Pittsford Community Library, the packages include eight copies of a given book, a reading guide, discussion questions, the biography of the author and reviews of book. She often finds discussion questions at www.litlovers.com, which also lists the most popular current books, the newest books, and other book club resources.
What if your book is not “the most popular current book?” Hamlin points out that many local book clubs, including hers, follow the reading lead of the area library. So if the library recommends a local author, the clubs will often be guided by the recommendation. Those authors wanting to be widely read may need to meet with librarians to “pitch” their books. They can do the same with people like Birtel and Hamlin, and schedule events around their books.
If you have authored several books, you might try to start your own book club via the Meet Ups that are popular in most cities. Finally, Barnes and Noble stores have community development managers who have book signings by local authors for books that are not self-published. And, if you are self-published, you can do some marketing in your local media outlets.
LeVar Burton, more than 30 years ago, promised a metaphorical pot of gold at the end of the Reading Rainbow. For those authors willing to persevere in getting their work “out there,” know that it’s not easy but…without the rain, of course, there can be no rainbow.
Dr. Marlene Caroselli is the author of 61 books, the most recent of which is Natural Leadership, to be released in 2016 by HRD Press.
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