Three years ago, I started a book club.
Not just any book club. In my opinion, it’s the greatest book club ever, and I have 30+ members (past and present) who can attest to that.
But successful book clubs don’t happen overnight. Ours sure didn’t.
I know some of our readers want to start their own book clubs, or are just curious as to how we began/maintained ours, so I’ll to tell you how to do it… or at least how I did it.
Step 1 – The idea
So you probably have an idea of what you want to get out of a book club. Maybe you want to bring friends together, meet new people, learn new things… whatever. For me, I really wanted to discuss what I was reading with my peers. It’s a good idea to think about WHY you’re starting a book club before you even begin. What’s your vision? What will your book club look like?
Step 2 – The people
You could have a book club for one… but that wouldn’t make much sense, so you need people. Warm bodies. Even if it starts with just one other person, that’s fine (although I’d recommend a minimum of three for discussion purposes).
Erin mentioned that having diverse members (from different backgrounds, careers, places, beliefs) is more interesting, and I’d have to agree. For example, in our book club we have an eclectic mix of pharmacists, journalists, teachers, lawyers, students, yoga instructors and more. And we’re from all across the country. It’s awesome (although obviously not required).
Think about who you’d want in your book club, and where you’d find them. Are they your friends? Family? Coworkers? Classmates? A combination of all of the above? How many people do you want?
Step 3 – The pitch
Before the book club is actually created, you need to pitch the idea to the prospective members.
I did this in two parts: first, I spoke to a couple friends in person and asked them if they’d be interested in joining a book club. Most of them said yes, so I was encouraged to move forward with the second part – Facebook. I created a Facebook group for our book club (Julia’s “Unputdownable” Book Club) and invited my friends (and encouraged them to invite others). That’s where I outlined my idea, explained some details and painted a general picture of what the book club would be like. This gave the girls everything they needed to decide if they wanted to join.
A book club Facebook group (or any collaborative online tool) is also a key factor in your book club’s continued success, but I’ll get to that in a later post.
Step 4 – The first meeting
If you’re starting a book club, you need to have a venue (unless it’s a virtual book club, in which case you’re off the hook). Where are the meetings going to take place? In a public space (café, library, pub) or at someone’s home? How often will you meet? When will you meet?
I recommend hosting the first meeting at your house, since the book club was your idea (if you can). In our book club, we meet on the first Sunday of every month and the hosting rotates through the members. This seems to work well, as the meetings aren’t always in one area of the city and keeps things relatively low-cost (i.e. we’re not shelling out $30 at a restaurant every month). Also, the girls really like having everyone over and it’s neat to see where other members live.
You’re probably wondering how to run meetings too. I’ll cover that in my next post, but bear in mind the first meeting will be different from the rest. I recommend asking every member to bring a book to pitch as the first book. Give everyone a chance to talk about what they chose, and then vote on the first book. Afterwards, add everyone’s name to hat and draw the next six or so book pickers (one per month). That way people can plan ahead.
Now that you have your first meeting planned, you’re in great shape! Send out the official invite (I use Facebook events) and count down the days. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be bouncing off the walls in excitement.
In my next post, I’ll talk about how to run a book club meeting. Stay tuned for that one!
Any questions about how to start a book club? Leave us a comment below!