Welcome to my Bloggiesta Challenge: How to Host (& Participate in!!!) a Digital Book Club like a Pro & a Giveaway!
First, let me explain quickly what Bloggiesta is. Bloggiesta is an event that is dedicated to you working on your blog. You make up your own goals and try to complete them. There are also many challenges you can tackle, but it’s totally up to you. This is one of those challenges.
How To Host a Digital Book Club Like a Pro
The information is comprehensive, but I’ve split it up into categories to try to keep it easy to read. It’s worth the read, I promise!!!!
If you’re not interested in hosting but want to participate in a digital book club, scroll down. I have some tips for you, too!
- Goal/Format: Do you want many participants in your book club and/or fabulous discussion? I prefer fabulous discussion, and if it means only a few readers, I’m okay with that. My format for book club reflects that goal. There are many forms of online book clubs out there, and I checked out a few myself before starting one with Allison @ The Book Wheel. I prefer an easy-going format: One post announcing the book, a second post (or even included in the first) with the book page “assignments,” and then one more post for each assigned chunk of time. Check out the Book Club page, plus a sample of what I’ve posted in the past to get a better understanding. Feel free to copy my format if you like it!
- Choosing a Book: You can pick whatever book you want to pick, but just be aware: if you choose a new, popular book, you’ll have less participants (unless you provide copies of the book, of course!). Not everyone wants to purchase books monthly to participate in your book club, or can afford to. It seems that books that have been published at least 6 months previously can be good picks. Last November, I picked Gone Girl because “everyone” had read it, and I felt like one of the last who hadn’t. Turns out, I wasn’t alone and had a good number of participants. The book had been out long enough for people to grab a library copy, but was still a popular choice. A classic like To Kill a Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies are also good choices because they’re easy to get a copy of! Another thing to think about is length: Keeping the book around 300 pages or less will keep the book from being intimidating to book clubbers.
- How Much to Read: Keep in mind that not everyone is a speed reader or book blogger. You might be able to read the book in 2 days, but sticking with a 50-75 page limit for the week is a good number.
- Scheduling the Posts: I’m a fan of dividing the book up in 4ths and posting once a week. However, I’m participating in The Book Thief read-a-long that has a different format. These posts are due every 10 days: Sept 10, Sept 20, Sept 30. I like that concept, too.
- Premade Questions or Freestyle: Many book clubs have questions. I think that is necessary for in-person book clubs where people can easily get off topic. But digitally, it’s usually not necessary. I find that when a book club posts questions, I end up feeling like it’s an assignment more than a discussion. One or two questions to start the convo is fine, though. For my book clubs with Allison, we let the conversation go any way it wants to. The readers participating end up posing their own questions most of the time. If the conversation lags, Allison & I have an agreement where we will pose questions (1 or 2 only) at that time. Many digital book clubs disagree with me and post questions. I’m not a fan because the conversation seems to flow just fine without it, but it’s up to you.
- Rules for the Club: Some book clubs have rules, but I don’t enjoy them. I want people to openly discuss and to come visit when they have the time. I think some of the book club’s rules hinder that. The big rules for our book club: No spoilers that take place in the rest of the book, and only post after you’ve read the section (which helps prevent you from being “spoiled”). We do allow spoilers for each section, though. For instance, if this week’s reading was on Ch 1-3, you can talk all about everything in Ch 1-3, spoilers and all, but do not share anything from Ch 4+. Keeping rules simple will encourage more participants.
- Co-hosting: You don’t have to co-host, but I highly recommend it if you have a good blog friend connection. Allison @ The Book Wheel and I co-host our book club. We have book club every other month, and we switch blogs. That way, I am actually only hosting every other every other month. For instance, July’s book club was on my blog and then September’s book club on Allison’s. Disclaimer on co-hosting: Be clear with what you expect from the other person. Allison & I had a month where we ended up not happy with each other based on how the book club was going. We brought it up, explained our sides, and it turned out to be a simple communication error. If you’re interested in co-hosting and want to chat about how to co-host effectively, I’m here!
- How Often are you Clubbing? Are you going to be a monthly book club? Every other month? Every 3 months? Whatever schedule you want works, but don’t expect all of your participants to participate each month. People are busy. Allison & I have our “regulars,” but then we have other readers who fluctuate in and out, depending on their schedules and the book chosen for that month. Also, it might be a lot for you to take on by yourself on a monthly basis, so it might be better to host less often. You can always increase! I love how Allison and I host: every other month, with one of us taking the lead for that month and the other being more of a support. It’s a great schedule that works for us.
- Promoting: Where are you promoting? Allison and I each promote our book club on our Facebook pages, Pinterest, Twitter. . . everywhere that we normally promote a blog post. If you’re co-hosting, you both can promote. Check out the author’s Facebook page or publisher’s Facebook page and promote there, too. You never know where you’ll find a new participant.
- Including non-bloggers: Are non-bloggers going to participate? Just make sure to think about them when you host a book club. I love it when my mom or a friend’s mom joins in with the book club, and that they don’t feel intimidated to do so when they might be the only ones that are blog-less.
- Help! If you are starting a book club online and need any help, please feel free to contact me. Even if it’s just to bounce off a new idea, I’m here!
Digital Book Club Challenge:
If you’re interested in hosting a digital book club, create an outline of what you want the book club to be like. It can be simple, something like “This is the book I want to use, I think I’ll start in Jan 2014, etc.” Or it can be more complicated, a detailed outline. This way you have a starter plan for when you are ready to host.
Already host a book club? Your challenge is to write a reflection. How is it working? Is it effective? Anything you should add, change, or keep the same? And so on. . .
Link it up below or stick your info in the comments!
How To Participate in a Digital Book Club Like a Pro
This is pretty simple, so I’ll just stick with a couple of pointers.
- Read the book and comment during the allotted time. Can’t get to the book on time? That’s okay! Check the rules to see if you have to do something. In the book club I run with Allison, we don’t have strict rules. Our goal is to chat about the book, so all we want to know are your book-related thoughts. Skip telling us about how you were too busy to read. If you don’t post, we’ll know why. Unrelated comments like “I didn’t have time to read” only take away from the conversation.
- Go back and comment on other people’s responses. The purpose is discussion, so don’t stop by once, stop by a few times.
- Down with spoilers! Unless of course, you’re allowed to spoil certain sections. Don’t talk about anything AFTER what the assigned section is.
- Reviewing the book on your blog? Give a shoutout to the host(s) of the book club. Without them, you might not be reading the book. No blog? It doesn’t matter. Participate anyway.
- If you read ahead, it’s okay! Just stop at the assigned points and jot down some notes (before continuing to read!). That way, you can comment along with everyone else without giving spoilers by accident.
- Have fun with it. It’s a book club, not an assignment. If it feels like your English teacher told you to do it, it’s okay to not continue. Participate how you want to, and if that one book club doesn’t work for you, it’s totally okay! You’ll find one that does work.
Not everyone wants to host a book club. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to, but you still may want to participate.
Your challenge: Come up with a fiction and a nonfiction book that you think would be good for a book club, book choices that you would want to read if someone else was hosting. Bonus points for actually sending an email to a host you know to tell them the choices!
Link it up to the InLinkz below or stick it in the comments!
Disclaimer: These are just my tips and tricks. A book club done your way might be just right for you. You might even have some better ideas! And if you do, feel free to pass them along! I can still learn a thing or two. 🙂
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