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Indie Authors Promoting Through Book Clubs

15 April 2019

Whereas, Mrs. PG scheduled a business meeting to discuss her various and sundry books today; and

Whereas, after a refresh of PG’s book-related to do list, we talked about book clubs and how indie authors might gain access to significant numbers of book clubs; and

Whereas, in the part of PG’s brain where spiderwebs are thickest is a memory from a few years ago about someone who was gathering contact information for book clubs for the purpose of helping authors launch books.

Now, Therefore, here are some questions for denizens of TPVWorld:

  1. Have any indie authors tried book launches/promos through book clubs (of which their friends or relatives aren’t members)? If yes, what were the results? Lessons learned? Best practices?
  2. Are there any reliable pipelines to more than a handful of book clubs that are indie friendly? If so, what are the costs?
  3. Is PG correct in his speculation that book clubs still like to deal in trade paperbacks instead of ebooks?

For Good and Valuable Consideration, Receipt of Which is Hereby Acknowledged, feel free to hold forth in the comments.

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16 Comments to “Indie Authors Promoting Through Book Clubs”

  1. Book clubs still look down on ‘Indie’ or self-pubbed works. I did manage to find one several years back for one of my books. They hosted it because the book, while ‘self-pubbed’ had been originally traditionally published, but went out of print (and I republished it).

    This could be a good business model for some eager beaver who has a book club. If anyone hears of one, please let this Indie writer know about it.

  2. The closest version of an indie book club that I know of are the StoryBundles that appear from time to time on storybundle.com. I have no intel to share on getting into them, but hopefully MCA Hogarth sees this post and can provide some clues (I’ve bought a bundle she was in).

    The StoryBundles are predominantly indie. I frequently see them curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch or Kevin J. Anderson, but I’ve also seen romances and mysteries there, along with non-fiction. From a reader’s standpoint, I consider the story bundles to be a kind of anthology (they have a theme), and I’ve always used anthologies to find new writers. I’m just one data point, though.

    • I’ve always been happy with the StoryBundles that I have bought, and found that they widen my horizons.

      I’ll also say that the site is worth browsing just to see what is in the bundles, even if you can’t buy them, since only the most recent bundles are actually for sale. You can look at previous bundles and check out anything that seems interesting on Amazon.

    • *shows up obligingly*

      Each storybundle is assembled by a curator, and curators (as far as I know) volunteer themselves and their bundle ideas to the guy who runs Storybundle (Jason Chen). So if you know someone who’s curating, you can pitch yourself to them (if they don’t already have their line-up secured), but otherwise it’s a pretty opaque process.

      The fiscal rewards run from ‘pretty good’ to ‘great’ depending on how well the bundle as a whole does. The few I’ve participated in have been fun.

  3. A book club member sent me an email last week saying how much her club had enjoyed a Regency novella I have in KU that’s not available in print. They must have downloaded it when I had it up for free in February. Her message arrived on my birthday and was a great birthday present. This was my first contact ever by a book club and I have no idea how to reach out to others. My sister says that shorter books are preferred by clubs, and this one was only 15k. I’d bet the price might have played a role in their choice also.

  4. I’ve looked into book clubs but the difficulty is identifying the appropriate bookclub for your book and how to reach them. Book clubs appear and disappear, and the membership in each club is rather fluid.

    The following two websites have some information on book clubs that might be of interest:

    Book Browse has have a report ‘The Inner Lives of Book Clubs Report’ https://www.bookbrowse.com/wp/index.cfm?. I haven’t read the report but it looks interesting.

    Canadian Book Clubs – It lists various book clubs in Canada by province. http://www.canadianbookclubs.com

    You can find their polices on book reviews here: http://www.canadianbookclubs.com/bkreview.html

  5. In my one experience with a book club, the leader/organizer contacted me. The club was at a local independent living facility (since I write cozy mysteries, this audience is in my demographic) and I don’t remember how he heard of me. It might have been through another local author who had met with them.

    It was great fun because the leader was prepared with appropriate questions and the members very much involved. Before the meeting, they bought several (five?) print copies to share and some bought copies of the sequels afterwards. The leader asked me if I knew of any other local authors who would like to talk about their books to the club, and I shared this information with people I knew.

    I let the ball drop on this one because I always meant to contact him again when I had the next book out but never did.

    Like PG, I have a vague recollection of someone who intended to put together a list of book clubs, but never heard what resulted from that.

  6. Thanks for all the insight and comments and keep them coming.

  7. I’ve read and spoken in front of several local book clubs in the Denver area. They’re always great fun. In some cases, the club read my mysteries in advance and came to discuss. A couple were clubs that wanted to hear me speak and individuals bought books afterwards. Most were arranged through people I know (all women who belonged to the clubs), though a couple came via a friend of a friend. When I release another mystery later this year, I plan to recontact some of these clubs.

  8. I may be about to have my first opportunity to be invited to speak at a book club.

    One of the other residents here (of whom about 20 have read Pride’s Children now) is in a book club. Her book club takes a copy, puts a sticker inside, and passes it around – after someone who liked it proposes it.

    When those who chose to read it (their names are listed on the sticker) have finished, my new fan says she will encourage them to have me come talk at one of their meetings.

    You have to start somewhere. And this city has a LOT of book clubs.

    Now if I could just finish the next volume in the trilogy!

  9. The last two book clubs I belonged to (over the last ten years) all used ebooks. One only read F & SF, the other read women’s fiction and bestsellers. I rarely saw a paper book at a meeting, but nearly everyone had their Kindles or phones.

  10. My own bookclub. We have about 1000 members:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1374562949314367/

  11. I write this–not from experience–but have long been interested and attentive to the idea of selling through book clubs.

    If the question is reframed from « how do I sell my books through book clubs » to « how do I leverage additional sales… as an author who already writes books that sell? »… then I think the answer is:

    By meeting the needs of the volunteer reader/participant to champion your book to his or her group. As, in general, in so many groups, it is the members of the group who ultimately select what the group will read.

    And often that’s a process of advocacy in a semi-democratic and loose association of readers.

    I think there are books and blog posts about how to start a book club. Read some of those. Think about the participants needs and the book selection process.

    Something I observe: Occasionally the big trad publishers will include in the backs of paperbacks, particularly: Resources for Book Clubs. (Likewise for school discussion groups–same sorts of things.) Could be an « interview » with the author. Or a discussion of the historical circumstances of the plot, etc., in the first person voice of the author.

    But what it amounts to is « something of substance, » the presence of which is a reminder to volunteers to « go tell their book clubs:

    « We should all read this book. »

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