If you love to read and talk about what you’ve read, you may want to start a book club. Here are some steps to help you get started!
1. Put Together a Sign-Up Sheet
Create a sign up sheet for the next six to nine months, with monthly meetings. The sign-up sheet may include a host (the person whose house the club is held at that month), treats (we all love treats), the next book introduction (the person who chooses the book for the next month and introduces it), and discussion leader (the person who comes prepared with questions on the book they chose and leads the discussion). This way, no single person is in charge of picking a book or leading the discussion or hosting the club—that kind of pressure often kills book clubs—and everyone gets a chance to participate.
Just put the month into the schedule, not the day or time, since you’ll decide on that in your first book club meeting.
2. Invite Members
Invite friends and neighbors to your book club. A great way to reach people is to post on social media or ask your immediate neighbors to join. Be sure to ask them to also invite people they know. You want to have around 8 to 16 active members, but keep in mind that not everyone will come every time.
3. Have a Set-up Meeting
Invite those who have expressed interest in starting a book club to your house for a set-up meeting. In this meeting, you’ll decide on a few things:
- Rules: put together a list of rules that you’ll all abide by. Are certain genres a no for many of the members? Maybe you’ll want to set a page limit. You could say that the genre needs to be different every month. Whatever the group decides, it’s best that you do it together so everyone agrees and is excited to participate.
- Price: Set a price limit for the books you will be reading. Ideally, the books are free, but you’ll likely need to buy some ebooks here and there. You could say less than $5.00, or, if your group is more frugal, $2.99 or less (a popular price point for ebooks).
- A Chat Client: Decide on a way for everyone to keep in contact. A chat client works better than email or text because it’s easy for new members to join the conversation (everyone can add members to the chat), and everyone can look back at past messages to check reminders. Facebook is a popular option, but you could also use Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype, or Slack.
- The Day: Decide what day and time works best for the group. It’s best if you meet on the same day at the same time every month so it’s easier for everyone to plan for coming to book club.
- Schedule: Now you need to put together a schedule. Pull out your sign up sheet and pass it around. Let the members know that the person who chooses the next book (who does the book introduction that month) also must be the discussion leader the next month (since they chose the book).
- The First Book: You can choose the first book as a group, since this is your first meeting. A great way to do this is to search for lists of popular books on the Internet. Make sure that the book your group chooses is either free or cheap to get. You may want to come prepared with some book ideas to share.
4. Provide Resources for Obtaining Books
As previously mentioned, free or very cheap is the ideal price point. Provide your group with a list of resources that they should books from:
- The Library: many libraries have book club copies that you can check out. Depending on the library and availability, you can get anywhere from 5 to 20 copies of the same book. The person choosing the book can reserve these copies from the library in advance, or your group can designate someone as the book reserver (since not everyone may have a library card).
- Cheap Ebooks: Let book club members know that they can find cheap ebooks on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords. You can even sort by price when you’re looking for books.
- Book Cave: Sites like Book Cave send out free and discounted ebooks daily. If you sign up for our daily deals email, you’ll receive books daily that you can read in your book club (and you know what the content rating is too!). Just make sure everyone buys the book before it goes back to full price!
5. Send Out the Meeting Schedule and Rules
After your set-up meeting, type up the schedule, filling out the day and times as well, and send it and the rules in a group chat. That way, everyone can refer to the schedule when needed and anyone who wasn’t at the first meeting, or who joins later, can see the rules.
6. Send Out Monthly Reminders
A few days before you’re scheduled to meet, send out a reminder with the time, the book, and the assignments for the month. It’s easy for members to lose track of time and forget they’re supposed to meet for book club.
7. Have Fun with Your Book Club!
If you're just starting a book club, let us know how it goes in the comments below! If you are already in a book club, what have you found works and doesn't work?