How To Liven Up Book Club … By Inviting The Author


If you have a book club, you are probably used to the usual routine … some small talk, snacks and/or drinks and a discussion about what you read for the gathering. One way to change things up is to invite the author of the book you read to attend the meeting.

This week on “Writer to Reader,” novelist Joshilyn Jackson offers her suggestions on both finding an author to invite as well as convincing him or her to come to your book club.

The first thing you have to do is find an author who will likely attend. Jackson says, “They’re sort of like hummingbirds, there’s authors all over Atlanta, you just have to put up the right kind of feeder.”

To begin narrowing things down, it is best to look for lesser-known and mid-list authors. If they live near you, that makes things even easier, Jackson explains. One way to find out who is in your area is through Georgia Center for the Book’s list of authors by county.

If the author of your eye is not nearby, Jackson suggests finding out what authors are coming to Atlanta, as the city tends to be a big tour stop.

To find out who might be visiting soon, Jackson offers two resources. First, if you already have an author in mind, you should check with their publishing house; most publishers list tours on their website. If you have not narrowed it down to a specific author, you can look at schedules of venues that hold book events near you to see who is coming soon.

Finally, Jackson says that finding an author who has an active web presence is usually best: “If they don’t [have a web presence], that is probably a shy woodland creature of an author who is under a mossy rock somewhere taking anti-anxiety medication and is probably not going to come to your book club.”

And once you’ve decided on an author, Jackson has the following five steps to take in order to convince them to attend your book club:

  1. Choose a newer title.
  2. When you contact the author, tell them how many people are in your book club, as some authors like a smaller audience.
  3. Tell the author that your group is going to buy the book.
  4. If you have one member who is already a fan of the author, mention it.
  5. Be open to the idea of a Skype or conference call rather than an in-person appearance.
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