Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Tips for book clubs interested in inviting authors to their meetings

Inviting Authors to Your Book Club

  • Some authors will state on their website that they are happy to chat with book clubs; but even if they don't, if their website provides a way to contact them, it's still worth sending them a note asking if they might be able to meet with your group. Many authors are active on one or more social media platforms, so you may be able to contact them by direct message.

  • Even if the author is local to you, they might prefer to meet virtually (e.g. on Zoom), and if they're not local, then Zoom will likely be the best option (more on this below).

  • In your first communication, tell the author which book you hope to discuss with them, and include some brief information about your group -- e.g. how many members do you have and where you're located. Be respectful of their time. If an author has posted that they're open to meeting with book clubs it's because they genuinely want to do so, but they have many demands on their time, so get in contact well ahead and be flexible. For example, if you plan to invite the author to chat virtually and they can't make your regular meeting day and time, perhaps the group could meet specifically to talk with the author on a different day that works for everyone.

    If you organize a public book club, such as in a library or bookstore, and want to publicize the event, you'll likely want to plan well ahead. For example, Terye Balogh of the Milpitas Library in California sometimes books authors a full year in advance, and always for the night when the group regularly meets, so she can count on members of the group to be available on that date to form the core of the audience. Terye shared her extensive experience in an interview with BookBrowse.

  • Agree the details, taking your lead from the author. Make sure that both parties are clear on the day and time (if chatting virtually, check your time zones), which book you want to talk about and how long the author is available for. If meeting virtually, agree the platform (e.g. Zoom) and make sure to send the link at least a few days ahead, with a reminder on the day.

  • Discuss the book first before meeting with the author. For example, ask the author to join you for the second half of your meeting and use the first half to discuss the book; or discuss it at one meeting and then invite the author to the next.

  • Irrespective of whether you discuss the book and meet with the author at the same meeting or a different time, invite the author to join your group at least 10 minutes after the meeting has started, so that late comers have time to arrive at an in-person meeting, or get logged in if meeting on Zoom and sort out any technical issues before the author arrives.

  • Think of some questions you'd like to ask the author; but first have a look around the web for easily available information. For example, if the author has a Q&A on their website, have all members of the group read it ahead of time so that you're not asking exactly the same questions that have already been answered.

  • Obviously, you'll want to thank the author for their time; but in many ways the best way you can give back is to tell others about their book. So, anything you can do to share your enthusiasm will be much appreciated. For example, tell your book-loving friends about the book and author, post a review and/or recommendation on social media etc.


Insights from an Author

Alan Brennert, author of Moloka'i, Honolulu, and Palisades Park, shares his thoughts from an author's perspective:

I've spoken to hundreds of book clubs in the past ten years, and the process has generally been a smooth and rewarding one. Logistically, most have contacted me early on in their research and reading—on average a month in advance of the discussion—giving me time to arrange my schedule around it. A few have contacted me at short notice—anywhere from a few days to the very day of the discussion—and although I tried to accommodate these when possible, I would advise book clubs to give an author at least a few weeks' notice to fit a book club discussion into their schedule.

As for the talks themselves, the book club members have almost always been respectful and insightful, oftentimes asking questions I would never have thought of or pointing out metaphors and hidden meanings in the text that I wasn't consciously aware of; in these latter instances all I could do was shrug and say, "Sounds good to me."

Back in the pre-Internet days, writing a book was like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it out to sea; every once in a while you might get a letter back saying, "Hey, enjoyed your book." Today, the direct interaction an author can have with book clubs can be occasionally overwhelming (as in those weeks when I was juggling four or five different discussions; once I even lost track of which book we were talking about, and the group leader gently pointed out, "Um, Alan, we're discussing Honolulu, not Moloka'i") but more often it's rewarding and fun. An author gets a good idea what works and what doesn't with a wide variety of readers, and I think that makes me, at least, a better novelist. I've had to take a sabbatical from speaking with book clubs while working on some screenwriting projects, but when I publish my next novel, you can be sure I'll be inviting book clubs to chat with me about that one.

I think it's a good idea for the group members to talk among themselves first to organize their thoughts. A few group leaders actually sprang me as a surprise to their group ("And guess who's on the phone? The author of the book!") but I advise against it, it just leads to a lot of flustered readers scrambling to figure out what to ask.

As for length of discussion – 15 minutes is a short chat for me. Average is maybe 30, 40 minutes, with a few running as long as an hour. Most of the groups I've spoken to have been very smart and congenial and I've had no problem talking at length with them. As long as they ask good questions, I'm happy to answer them!

— Alan Brennert
    alanbrennert.com

 

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Time
    Big Time
    by Ben H. Winters
    Big Time, the latest offering from prolific novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters, is as ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine Capó Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.