The Power of Book Clubs (?)


When I lived in California I was a member of a book group/club for almost ten years and,  once I became a published author, it became apparent that tapping into the interest of book groups like ours was a great way of connecting with readers. Flash forward almost a decade and I’m wondering, in a world where social media is so overwhelming and influential, if book clubs across continue to be a powerful force for ‘word of mouth’ recommendations and publicity for authors (?).

I am currently a member of a book group, but our meeting schedule and commitment to actually reading the books selected is less ‘fixed’ than it used to be. In many ways this reflects the greater craziness of lives that now involve kids, work and a multitude of other interests all competing for our limited attention. Still, I love being part of the group as it  enables me to read books I would never have chosen on my own – and has thus exposed me to countless amazing books I would have otherwise never read. However, even I find myself stretched too thin to make it the group meetings or finish the book on time.

So I have a question for all you readers and writers out there – how important do you feel book groups are these days (in terms of generating interest in books and perhaps helping boost word of mouth recommendations). Are you in a book group at the moment? As an author, are you still making appearances or phoning in for calls to book groups (I spoke at  one in December and I have to say, it was awesome!). For those of you who have a book coming out soon, are you targeting book groups as part of your marketing plan or is social media outlets more important?

I’m hoping that book groups continue to be an amazing force for good – encouraging reading, book discussions, and a general interest in all things literary, but I have to wonder,  are book groups still as meaningful as they used to be (if, indeed, they were!).

My inquiring mind would love your input!

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14 thoughts on “The Power of Book Clubs (?)

  1. I’ve spoken at three book clubs near my home town for my mystery novels. They found me through local libraries and local word of mouth. Their reaction to the story and characters was insightful and enjoyable on all counts. There was food and wine and meaningful conversations. And these readers became interested in my other mysteries. There’s nothing better than connecting with serious readers. Book clubbers love to have an author come to their meetings. And famous authors don’t have the time or interest in small-town clubs with only 5 or 6 members. Sometimes, being in the ‘little pond’ can be a huge advantage.

  2. Everyone in my book group moved. That’s what happens when you move to a new town and start a group with other new people. I miss being in a group so much. But the established groups here are so entrenched that I don’t know where to turn now.

    • Oh no! – hope you can find a new group as it’s such a great way to meet new people in a new town! Do you have a local bookstore or library that hold groups? Our local library does as well as the Barnes & Noble nearby. Maybe give that a try if you have that option.

  3. My book group, CHINDI (www.chindi-authors.co.uk), was formed about three years ago by two local, Chichester authors. They didn’t want a monthly, round the table chat, but a more proactive presence on-line and in the locality. The group has had about forty members, and like the proverbial bus, people get on, people get off, but the bus still keeps going. We have supported several charities over the last three years, the best known of those was Words for the Wounded. This was supported by local, best selling writer, Kate Mosse. But time passes and we are reduced to about fifteen in number, and because of the poorly attended monthly meeting (for news and ideas), we have now decided to become an on-line group only, with a social meeting about once every three months. There is a hard core of about seven or eight, but that’s it. I suppose we’ll always have book clubs, but only for those who like to meet up and chat.

    • It’s interesting how the dynamic changes over time – I think there’s been a move towards more on-line book discussions but I much prefer meeting in person and chatting about books over a few glasses of wine:)

  4. I’ve spoken to several book clubs and through one of those clubs have been invited to speak to a book club made up of our state legislature’s wives. Hopefully, they will return to their home counties and spread the word. 🙂

    But besides that, I love talking to people about my books and being a writer. Most people are totally shocked that I write about murdering people.

    • It’s so much fun talking to book clubs and I think the personal connection to an author makes word of mouth recommendations so much more meaningful. That being said, I have found people a little concerned that I spend my time writing about murder!

  5. I spoke to a book club last month and I have two more talks lined up, one by SKYPE and the other by phone. I think they’re important ways to sell books and the readers’ insights into my books are helpful.

  6. I want to go to a book club. I even tried starting one up here with our Regional guild. The thing is, we are all stretched too thin and don’t have the resources to pull together author’s for talks, mentorship, etc. It is a tough balance. Online, seems to be where I can most of my insights. It is a real struggle because I love having the connections but am unable to attend most events due to children and ministry.

  7. Love speaking to book clubs! They come up with the best questions and they always serve wine. The last one I did was via Skype…a group of great ladies up in Michigan. They had their wine at the ready and insisted I have a glass of my own down here in Florida.

    I wish I could find a club like theirs that I could join. It’s like having a personal trainer…would force me to reader more often and with more consistency. Exercise the brain muscles more…

  8. I absolutely love meeting with book clubs!
    I completely agree with the comments above – always fun and wonderful feedback/exchange. It’s fascinating to hear how the readers experienced the story/characters.

  9. I love meeting with any book clubs, but library book clubs have been some of my favorites.. My first 3 books are pretty intensely supernatural–hardly standard book club fare. But several private groups were misled by the covers and I found myself in a few living rooms talking to women who were a little…shocked. Wine covers lots of awkwardness, lol!

  10. I’d be interested in learning how to organize and start a book club. I want to introduce books and encourage discussion, but I have a preference on reading material. I enjoy, as a theme, light comedy with close relationships. Is it possible to form a group that only focuses on the same types of books, or is the variety something book club readers desire?

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