You probably heard some positive feedback about book clubs around the world or even in your own neighborhood, so why not start your own? The spark to bring book lovers together certainly came from somewhere, and it’s just a matter of time to figure out the logistics. You half succeed if you have determination, but to bring a brand new book club to life takes thorough consideration and organizational skills. Here are our 15 tips on how to start a book club and ensure it’s popular and engaging.
15 Tips on Opening Up Your Own Book Club
Bring forward the agenda
Think of what gave you the impulse to start a book club in the first place. Was it your love of sci-fi or specifically French literature? Do you want to stick to one direction or accommodate many? What are you going to discuss and how will you arrange the discussion itself? These are the questions to answer in order to draft the agenda of your club. It should be clear-cut and understandable for future member as well.
Appoint a steering committee
Depending on your expectations, you may want to grow your club into hundreds of book fans, not necessarily in your location only. To ensure you start a truly scalable club, consider inviting someone to provide you a helpful hand. This can be your friends that could come together into one steering committee to help you run the club now and in the future.
Introduce a policy
One of the major questions to consider when you think of how to start a book club is drafting a policy. You will deal with lots of people, and some regulations should be in place to ensure everyone’s comfortable. This can deal with such points as banning certain behavior, pets and children and the issues of membership fees, if any.
Define the group size
It’s all about your ambitions and capabilities really. If your primary concern is books not socializing, a small group of literary devotees will do. But if you are interested in growing a large-scale community, you should consider possible implications of this upfront in order to avoid scalability issues. Also, limiting the group size to up to 15 people is ideal as it will give everyone the opportunity to speak up.
Think of the frequency
This rather depends on your availability, as you are likely to become a chief host of book club meetings. On the other hand, if you have some reliable people to delegate your responsibilities to, you could arrange meetings in your absence as well, if this doesn’t hurt. Just bear in mind that doing the meeting more than once a week is likely to limit members’ time for actually reading and preparing.
Negotiate a good venue
You wouldn’t want even a dozen people hanging out in your living room, especially if it can potentially affect your family members. Luckily, there are many options to negotiate a low-cost venue rent at local schools, churches, community centers or even bars during their non-working hours. Just check if they have all the facilities like chairs, kettles, coffee machines, etc. that you may need.
When learning how to start a book club, it’s always good to rely on your friends and the friends of your friends to spread the word and ensure that a satisfying number of people will show up at the first meeting. Word-of-mouth can work as well on the internet as offline, so consider sharing announcements on your social pages as well.
Put on some advertising
Apart from word-of-mouth, another marketing approach is to put on some ads. They shouldn’t be expensive pay-per-click Facebook ads or billboards. A catchy leaflet on your local community clipboard or a flyer in your nearest bookstore can be perfect vehicles to advertise the upcoming book club meeting.
Choose your mode of operation
It’s important and legally binding to decide on your mode of operation. Will you be non-profit or commercial? Of course, the majority of small-scale book clubs are completely free, but what if you want to raise some funds and donate them to charity, for example? In this case, consult your local legislative authorities and stick to the law, including that on taxes to avoid any problems.
Introduce the participants
Even if you don’t know all the people yourself, it’s a good practice to let them introduce each other. Make it a pleasant routine in the beginning of each meeting to allow new members speak on themselves for a few minutes. This will be a great and relaxing start, as well as provide some ground for post-discussion socializing.
Keep attendees’ records
Right from the start, it’s a requirement for you to record your attendees’ names and contact information. When you move on to next meetings, you would want to contact your book club fellows to keep them up to date or notify about some changes in the schedule or policies. It also provides good statistics in case you would like to analyze attendance and adjust your activities accordingly.
Build an online community
Outside of your book club, its members will definitely want to communicate, share their thoughts on the books they read, and recommend more. Out of this, you could grow a close, neat community of like-minded people, and you shouldn’t overlook this opportunity. Starting up an online community on Facebook is an easy and probable option. Also, it’s completely free!
Send out follow-up emails or newsletters
As an exemplary host, you should keep up with your little community of book clubbers and keep them entertained in-between your meetings. For this you are encouraged to use the worldly goods of electronic media and send out follow-up emails or fancy newsletters with some links to major newsbreaks from the world of literature. This will also contribute to making your community even tighter.
Allow time for socializing
When wondering how to start a book club, you should understand that it’s not about books only. People coming together for a common purpose would love to learn more about each other, so allowing them some time for free communication on unrelated topics is a rewarding step that probably brings up many long-term friendships.
Consider informal meet-ups
Continuing with this topic of socializing and friend-making, consider the opportunity for your book club group to meet up informally in the city or even go on a trip together. As you already share so many things and are driven to communicate, this could result in tighter connections and just more fun. Isn’t it all about fun after all?