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How to Start a Book Club – 6 Steps to Success

by Annie St. Francis

Start a Book Club
Image courtesy of WorldLitToday

1. Choose a Subject or Theme
Want to start a book club? Many book clubs focus in on fiction, but there are other possibilities too! Others focus primarily on a particular book genre or author of interest to the group. There are also organized groups that gather to share in a common interest like gardening, photography, knitting, or writing. From within these groups, books clubs may also form around members interested in developing a depth of knowledge through reading, and in sharing that with others.

2. Decide on How and Where You’ll Meet
While some book club meetings are held at the homes of members, others gather in a public setting like a library, community center, coffee house, eatery or cafe. You may also want to create a meeting option that includes video conferencing, or conversational posting to an online group. It may even be possible to mix-and-match your gathering strategies with the goal of keeping time commitments reasonable. Your goal as a group should be to make the book club experience fun, enjoyable, convenient, and sustainable.

3. Make Spaces and Places for Broad Participation
Without overwhelming your members with too many commitments, make participation possible for those who have the time, energy, and inclination to volunteer. Find ways as well to include those whose time may be more limited. There should be appropriate participation opportunities for everyone whether participation includes group management, book selection, or even just casual participation.

4. Consider How You’ll Get the Word Out
In a world filled with communications, getting the word out should be “easy”, and yet, this can present tremendous challenges. People communicate in different ways, and have individual preferences about how to send and receive news, updates, and even personal calls. How you decide as a book club coordinator, or as a group, to manage this will depend on the needs of your members and the resources (including time) of the organizers.

5. Keep Your Finger on the Group Pulse
Remain aware of the level of interest and enthusiasm among your group members, consider feedback and constructive suggestions for any adjustments, and be responsive and communicative with your membership. Anticipate that participation will wax and wane with everything from changes in the seasons of life, and the seasons of the year.

6. Have Fun and Enjoy the Book Club Adventure
Whether you’re organizing a group of serious literary critics, afficionados dedicated to a particular genre, students of a particular hobby or academic discipline, or the fans of a particular author or author group, plan to have fun and to enjoy the adventure.

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