Author Judith Stanton, in part two, tells us the other side of the story
Have you ever been a featured author at a book club? I have, not nearly often enough, and I’m afraid the opportunities to do it may be dwindling. As we shift our advertising focus to blogs, Facebook, tweets and Pinterest, it may feel like a poor investment of your time to take an evening off to talk to half-dozen to a dozen readers who just read your book. Too much time for too few sales.
But if you want a rejuvenating fix there’s nothing quite like it. So here’s how, and why, to do it.
The how. If you haven’t yet made the best seller lists are won the National Book Award, you’ll have to reach out to find some clubs. Ask people you know, and ask at local book stores—chain or independent—what reading groups are near you. Don’t forget used book stores. Some owners have a good line on their local clubs. If you feel funny making a cold call or email to introduce yourself and your book, perhaps a mutual acquaintance can recommend you, perhaps even that bookstore person.
Be willing to travel, maybe an hour or two there and back, but start as near home as you can. You’re not in this for profits, but overnighting in a B&B isn’t worth it unless you and your spouse are celebrating your twentieth, thirtieth, whatever, anyway.
And keep an ear out. With my novel I met a lot of people doing field research. When I’d mention I was writing my novel, they’d mention their book clubs. I kept a little list. Some of them live farther away than I would normally go, but live close to a horse competition I need to research. Two birds, one stone.
With my first couple of novels, I visited a few book clubs. Had a grand time, and learned a lot. To my surprise, some of the most hard core readers have never met an author, and certainly not in their own home. They made me feel like a star. I started off talking about how I came to be a novelist and came up with the story they’d read, but really all I needed to do was open the floor for questions and let ‘em rip! Which character did they like best and why? What surprised them about the story? Is this the kind of book they usually read, and how did they like it?
Bottom line, with any readers, and certainly book clubbers, I make sure I say early and often, as writers we LOVE our readers. We write for YOU. We don’t EXIST without you. You bring the books of our hearts and our imagination to life.
Believe me, they will never have thought of how critical they are to the entire creative enterprise. It’s a conversation, it’s symbiotic.
And that’s an amazing bond. After that, they love to hear about nitty gritty research problems, which characters surprised you, who got away from you, who wouldn’t come to heel and so was interesting. Field trips, surprise library finds, how the Internet has transformed research. In the end, they relish our journeys, just as much as we relish theirs as they take our books in their hands or our books in their Nooks or Kindles. They take us on vacation. They take us to their doctor’s waiting room, sit by their loved ones in ICUs and read our stories. They take us to bed. They fall asleep with our books on their chests, and wake, and pick us up again, escaping to worlds we create for them.
I love my readers. Visit a book club, and love yours too, face to face, handshake to handshake, and sometimes hugs. AND SIGN ALL THEIR BOOKS. Be sure to ask how to spell their names.
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Judith Stanton - Horse Woman, Author, Editor, and Lecturer
—Qualifying for the Olympics can be deadly for woman and horse.