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.
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?