As an author, I’ve met with two very different book clubs. One had 6-8 female readers located in the tiny town of Ash Grove. The other book club was large–about 30-35 members, half of whom were men, not exactly my target market for romantic women’s fiction! Both groups were lively and contained avid readers who were full of questions. Here’s a recap of my experience.
Both book clubs chose to read my award-winning debut, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. My most recent visit was at the Ash Grove Library, the oldest library in Greene County. My good friend since first grade, Teresa Cunningham, read my novel and suggested I speak to her group. It was a bonus to get to see her and two of her sisters! We sat around a large conference table and introduced ourselves. I told them a bit about my writing experience and then let the readers dive in with questions.
- What genres I enjoy reading.
- How often and where I write.
- After learning I was a pantser, they wanted an explanation of pantsers and plotters.
- They inquired about several of my characters—the hippies, “dark” cop, pretentious Mrs. Biltmore, and of course, Suzy, Alex, and Hope. They said Alex was their favorite but I wonder if that’s because I said she’s most like me or I’m like her!
- They asked if I had a traditional publisher or if I was self-pubbed.
- Questions were asked about how I obtained my publishing contracts. I explained the pitching process, queries, and told them about going to a conference and breaking out in hives before pitching to an agent.
- I enthralled them with some of my crazy coffee shop stories. 🙂
- Readers asked where I got my inspiration, so we had a lively discussion about eavesdropping! I also told them I always get ideas in the shower or right before bed.
- The book club asked if I ever get writer’s block. (No.)
- They asked how long it takes to finish a novel and how the editing process works.
- Readers also asked about my children’s books and six-word memoir contributions. I gave the backstory for both genres.
- They wanted to know more about my newest release, SLEEPING WITH ELVIS, and asked if there would be a sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. I told them this will be a four or five-book series. The readers were happy to hear they could read more about my characters, which thrilled me.
The librarian, Linda Brunner, had two pages of copious, handwritten notes she had written while reading my novel! She said in particular she liked my humor, character development, how smoothly it was written, the fact it was well edited, and said she enjoyed the cliff hangers. She also liked the girlfriend angle and told me she thought it would make a great movie. Every author loves hearing that, right?!
By the way, I signed and donated both novels, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS and SLEEPING WITH ELVIS, plus two of my children’s books, SOUR POWER and WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?, to the library. I also took swag and bookmarks for the readers.
In contrast, the second, larger book club meets monthly in a member’s home and involves food and wine. Many of the same questions were asked, and one reader noticed a few clues that many readers haven’t! Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the larger group, but it was comprised of a pet company entrepreneur, Amanda Brown; a television producer, a nurse, a couple who plans to open a Bed & Breakfast, a male college student, and several retirees.
Both book clubs were fun, if not a tiny bit nerve wracking. Once I got warmed up and they got to know me, the questions and answers flowed easily. I actually created a list of book club questions, which I just discovered on my computer, naturally. That would have been helpful to take with me if the conversation had stalled.
I hope you get a chance to speak to a book club. It’s thrilling to meet with people who have read your work. Often, we don’t have any idea who our readers are, so it’s exciting to actually see their faces.