Why local book clubs are the single, best way to sell more books online

Drum roll, please.
What is the one thing that all members of our writing/publishing industry—writers, publishers, legacy and indie—agree sells by far more books than any other method?
Word of mouth.
Ahhhh. You knew it wasn’t going to be something you could click on and just get.
No, word of mouth, like all things worthwhile, is not easy to create or obtain.
Marcella Smith, of Marcella Smith Associates, and a former Barnes & Noble executive has been quoted as saying that when it comes to selling books: “Nothing beats word of mouth. Nothing. These days, there is so much more book news in all kinds of media. I think it comes down to, ‘Who do you trust?’”
And we all trust our friends, right? I don’t even bother “sampling” a book if someone I know has already gushed all over it.
The question is: How to you make word of mouth happen? For your book?
I’m going to go with “book clubs.”
Nothing builds a writer’s brand better and faster than talking about her book to a group of people who are interested in hearing about it. All you have to do to make it happen is contact some book clubs in your area and suggest to them that if they read one of your books as a group, you will be happy to speak to the members about the book.
The reasons why a book club might agree are:
1. They are readers and most readers are keen to ask questions of the authors of books they’ve read
2. Everyone likes to be entertained or presented to
3. Most people like feeling proprietary about the books they read and the authors they discover
The benefits to you as an author are:
1. Once an author meets his readers he increases his “buy in” with them and increases the chances that they will talk about the book to their friends
2. It’s been shown that not only does the book club read and buy the book from the author but they tend to read everything that author puts out in the future!
3. Speaking at book clubs keeps books alive. Many books have been resurrected with a new generation or demographic of reader as the result of a book club embracing it.
4. Meeting with your readers opens opportunities for other avenues, related to your book or future books. In the November issue of IBPA Independent, columnist Linda Carlson told about an author who spoke at a club, met an attendee who was a writer for a magazine and ended up doing several keynote speeches and selling many, many more books.
5. Asking your new group of enthusiastic fans to post reviews of your book on Amazon.com, Goodreads and so forth will help boost your sales online.
If you go down this road, here are some things to keep in mind as you add book club presentations to your promotions tasks:

1. Be friendly and focus on connecting with your readers
2. Hand out bookmarks with new-book information
3. Always bring paperback or hardback copies of your book; if members bought it as an e-book, they may want a signed “real” book now that they’ve met you.
4. Bring a signup sheet to capture emails so your new friends will be some of the first to get information on upcoming releases

There is a strong belief in publishing circles today that one of the main things that can save publishing is book clubs.
They can do a lot for the author too, especially if they’re willing to “put themselves out there.”
Nobody said it was easy.
At least now you know what you need to do.

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11 responses to “Why local book clubs are the single, best way to sell more books online

  1. I am absolutely willing to visit book clubs! I would be honored! My question is, how do I find them?

  2. What I do, Selene, is Google for them locally and also watch for typical places they might advertise: library and church bulletin boards, freebee community magazines, and Newcomer groups. The good thing is, once you get going, they’ll pass you on to friends’ groups!

  3. If I might chime in, two ways to find book clubs are the local newspaper and meetup.com. Most local newspapers run reader-submitted photographs. In the caption you will find the name of the club and, most-likely one of those featured in the photograph will be the president of the club.
    Meetup.com (which is not a dating service) posts meetings in your local area. After registering, enter your zip code and the genre. The computer does the rest. All of this and more is covered in my book Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author (which is number 23 in the paid Kindle store and FREE to Amazon Prime Members. Please feel free to subscribe to my blog at http://adviceforauthors.wordpress.com to learn more tips that really do work. Thanks, Renea Winchester

  4. Very clever plan of attack!

  5. Thank you for sharing this great idea.

    ~Anne

  6. Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m
    planning to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something
    unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic
    but I had to ask!

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