Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Julie Cantrell-- How to Connect with Bookclubs

My debut novel, Into the Free, was released in February. Since then, I have met with school groups, libraries, writers’ groups, and church groups. I enjoy all of these events, as well as traditional book signings, readings, and interviews, but I admit I have a favorite – bookclubs!

Maybe it’s because I have always looked forward to my own bookclub. We’re a group of busy moms who rarely (actually NEVER) take time for ourselves, so that once a month Girls Night Out is a treat. Add to it the fact that I’m sharing it with brilliant, funny, fabulous friends who share a love of literature, and I become quite upset when I miss.

Naturally, when I wrote Into the Free, I imagined my own bookclub discussing the book. I thought other readers might enjoy discussing this novel, so before Into the Free ever hit shelves, three bookclubs previewed the book. We called it a Book Premiere and captured two of the three gatherings on video. Since then, I’ve called or SKYPED with many bookclubs, and I’ve met with local clubs personally.

If you haven’t ever been a part of a bookclub, I encourage you to do so. It is always FUN! The groups range from genius academics to hip, young moms, and rambunctious retirees, to conservative church groups. Each group has its own vibe. Some are large, with more than 20 members. Others are small, with only a few friends.  Some are talkers, fighting to get a word in. Others are more reserved, choosing to let me do most of the talking. Either way, I enjoy all of these meetings and always walk away with a better appreciation for the reader. 

It’s been absolutely joyful for me to hear people discuss my characters as if they really exist. To see people laugh at scenes, cry at others, and worry about these characters (who lived solely in my head for years) has power beyond description. 

Connect with bookclubs and celebrate reader reactions to your stories:

  • Encourage bookstores and libraries to suggest the book as a bookclub read.
  • Invite church groups, civic groups, school groups, and online bookclubs to consider your book.
  • Make yourself available to call, visit, or SKYPE into bookclub meetings.
  • Provide discussion questions in the back of your book or on your website.
  • Consider filming a Book Premiere or posting bookclub comments on your website.
  • For larger groups, prepare a trivia game with questions from your book and offer themed prizes.
  • If visiting the group in person, let them know ahead of time that you’ll be happy to sign books at the meeting.
  • Be sure to thank them and consider donating a free copy of your book to the library, school, church, or other organization if appropriate. 

New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling author Julie Cantrell has contributed to more than a dozen books. Her first novel, Into the Free, hit shelves February 1, 2012 (David C Cook). The sequel is scheduled to release Spring 2013. To invite Julie to speak to your group, email:

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Wendy Paine Miller said...

Julie, I'm with you, this is something I'm most looking forward to for many of the same reasons you listed.

Also, I enjoyed reading more about you at the back of Into the Free. It blew my mind how much we have in common (favorite movies, authors, books, & such).

~ Wendy

Unknown said...

(Hanging my head). I have never been part of a book club. I love the things you've suggested, though. And the idea of joining one intrigues me. :) It would be fun to meet people from lots of different walks of life. Thank you for sharing them.

I have your book on my Kindle. I look forward to reading it! :)

Krista Phillips said...

I <3 bookclubs... am not a part of one at the moment mostly because it's impossible to find a babysitter for 4 kids including Annabelle, HA!

LOVE these suggestions though... super super valuable for this nervous debut author!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the info on how to connect with book clubs, Julie. I'm eager to do so and gobbled up this info.

Lindsay Harrel said...

I would love to be part of a book club someday. I'm just so busy with working full time and writing and everything else.

I've got your book in my TBR pile, Julie. Can't wait to read it. :)

BCU 101 Admin said...
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TaNisha Webb Book Club 101 Magazine said...

I think the most important thing for authors to do when connecting with book clubs is to actually develop a relationship with them so that they become fans of the author and will always support them, including pre-ordering future books. Book clubs can be very valuable with spreading the word about an author's book, especially if they have a website because they will generally post their book of the month selections. Also, when a book club LOVE a book they will definitely spread the word, which will generate sells. I know my book club have several hits on our website and people tend to want know what we're reading all the time. I also meet people all the time that tell me that they have been watching my book club's website for years and tend to read a lot of the books that we've chosen.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thank you for this info, Julie. I belong to a few book clubs but don't always participate in the discussions. This is the first I've read from an author's pov, however. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great post. Thanks for the tips!