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Dwelling in Probabilities - C. Lundoff's Journal

Talking to book clubs

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Anne Bonny
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Dwelling in Probabilities - C. Lundoff's Journal
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Talking to book clubs

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Anne Bonny
Despite the headline, I'm not an expert. I have spoken with three book clubs so far in my writing career, and am scheduled for a fourth one later on this month. I don't know how many talks will make me an "expert" either, so there's no point on pinning me down on the topic.

But here's what I have learned so far. Book club talks are very different from readings or panels or signings. The main difference lies in the degree of investment that the attendees have made in your work as an author. As a reader ,you might go to an author reading or a signing or a panel because you know an author or because the topic interests you or because your friends are going. In theory, at least, you go to a book club which is hosting an author because you have read or are reading their book.
This translates to reader time, money and thought, all of which are invaluable to you, the author.

The following things have happened to me at book club appearances and will undoubtedly happen again, both to me and to other authors:
  • You will be called on perceived inconsistencies in your book (my advice is to own them or at least say that you'll take a look at them again. Nothing's perfect and you look silly/wrong if you claim otherwise)
  • Someone will have read your book and not liked it much, but feels duty-bound to say something reasonably nice. My advice: take this in the spirit that it is offered. If you're polite and accepting about the response, the reader may well give one of your other books a chance because you're not an ass.
  • Someone in the group will have read your book, liked it, and  have a completely different interpretation of it than you do. My advice: be happy! You inspired someone to really think about your work.
  • Everyone will want to know what you're doing next so come prepared to talk about upcoming projects.
  • Someone will ask why you made the choices you made in Chapter 12 or equivalent. My advice, especially if it's been awhile since you looked at the book, look it over in some detail beforehand. It cuts down on author flailing and "I did what?" type of discussions.
  • Conversations wander. It won't be all about YOU. Roll with it and participate if you can.
  • Be courteous and friendly to the best of your ability. Offer to sign books, hang out afterwards, etc.
Remember that the point is to get readers engaged with you and your work. Being invited to appear at a book club is a huge compliment to any author. Take it as such.

That said, I've had a fabulous time at the book clubs I've been invited to thus far, and would be happy to participate in more. Just saying. :-
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