Leading An Online Book Club for Today’s Socially Networked Readers
We read on the go. Ereaders, smart phone apps, tablet apps…anyone can look completely productive while reading the latest Melissa
Foster novel and not last month’s TPS reports. Maybe the methods of reading have changed, but the reader’s condition has not: we want to talk about our books!
With everyone so busy, who has time to meet at a local library or coffee shop once a week? Enter the world of online book clubs. Readers from all over the world meet virtually on their own schedules to share thoughts on a common read. Goodreads and Facebook are both popular places to
start “groups,” a public or private forum to discuss a chosen book. For a book club leader, starting an online book club isn’t the problem. It’s
keeping the online book club going.
Connect With Other Members in as Many Places as Possible
Even if you have a group on Goodreads, encourage members to meet up in more instant interaction venues. Trade Twitter handles. Use a common free email system with chat and throw a lunch time gab and grub. Short, quality interactions build a group’s cohesion, making a successful dissection of the chosen book more likely. Don’t forget a custom Twitter hashtag like #womensnestBC or #cookiesBC. By running constant tweets with the same hashtag, you’ll attract new members and interest into what your online book club is discussing.
Keep the Conversation Interesting
We’re not in 9th grade English class anymore. If you’re going to pose a question to the group, make the readers take a stand. Be a little controversial, you might go viral! Forum topics die a slow and painful death when everyone “agrees.” There’s a reason why the troublemaker
on every reality TV show makes it almost to the end. It drives viewership!
Just make sure you’re being controversial about the literary discussion, not resorting to name-calling or degrading other members. Don’t
allow your online book club members to either. But nothing says we can’t discuss if Dewey Dell was effectively sexually assaulted by the fake doctor at the end of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.
Give Out Quirky Assignments
Hold a contest for members to upload pictures they’ve taken that remind them of places or themes in the book. Make a forum just for members
to hold conversations in character. Celebrate a three-day weekend with a Most Pages Read contest. Ask members to write a scene for the Lifetime Original Movie that the book will inspire. With casting decisions! By making the group fun, not stuffy, your online book club will be a place readers want to visit even if they aren’t participating!
Finally, don’t abuse the polling option. Nothing is worse than indecision for an online book club. Here’s a secret: most people are waiting to be told what to do. Figure out the group’s strong personalities and work with them to guide the group. If you really want to delegate the book
selection process, have a time each year where members work in partners or triads and present the book to the group after they’ve read and discussed it. Don’t forget video chat capabilities like Skype and Google Plus Hangouts. Enjoy that face-to-face time to hold up one last staple from the analog book clubs of yesterday. A cup of coffee!
~ Elizabeth Ann West is a Jane-of-all-trade, mistress to none.
She has just released her debut novel, CANCELLED, a modern romantic story with
a chick-lit flavor, all from a male POV.
My site: http://www.eawestwriting.com
Join Elizabeth and 35 other authors for the 99 Cent Book Event, in celebration of the release of award winning, bestselling author Melissa Foster’s COME BACK TO ME, Tues., Nov. 1 – Thurs., Nov 3. ALL BOOKS 99 CENTS, ebook giveaways, and more! www.womensliterarycafe.com