Bloggiesta Challenge: How to Host (& participate in) a Digital Book Club & Giveaway!

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.

Participation Challenge: 

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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52 thoughts on “Bloggiesta Challenge: How to Host (& participate in) a Digital Book Club & Giveaway!

  1. These are great tips Rebecca! I think maybe in future I might consider hosting a book club, but not anytime soon. I really do like the format you use for book club and you are totally right about book clubs that specifies the questions that you have to answer, it does feel like an assignment and usually puts me off participating. This is a great challenge!


    • Thanks, Mel! I tried to explain what to do without being too overwhelming, and if you ever do want to start a book club, I’m here (and so is Allison) if you have any questions.

      I also tried to add in the information about being a good participant since they go hand in hand and that can apply to many more people.

      Glad you think I provided some good info! I was hoping it wouldn’t be too overwhelming for people. 😀


  2. What a great challenge! I’ve never participated in a book club. I was planning on joining The Book Thief readalong, but I still haven’t received my copy, so I can’t read. If there’s gonna be another readalong for that book I’ll definitely participate. About non-fiction: I would certainly recommend the book I’m reading right now: Is that a fish in your ear? The amazing adventure of translation by David Bellos. I think this will be a huge eye opener for a lot of readers. 😉


    • Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look into it. I think I’ve actually heard of it at some point. . . It sounds familiar.

      I think book clubs can be great, and it’s all about the format of the book club working for you. Maybe there will be another book club that chooses a book that will pique (did I spell that correctly?) your interest! Maybe it will even be mine and Allison’s! 🙂


    • Thanks! I think it’s good to know what you’re getting into if you decide to participate, so you know what to look for in a book club based on your preferences.

      I’m glad you found some value in it, and thanks for stopping by!!!


  3. I’ve never hosted a read-along because the thought of organizing it seemed intimidating, but you offer some great tips! I’ve participated in one read-along, which was fantastic because it got me to read Bleak House, and I’ve read books with other bloggers — The Handmaid’s Tale with you and Cloud Atlas with Elena of Books and Reviews — which was fun and rewarding. It’s so nice to be able to discuss books with people as you read! I always get so much more out of books when I do that.


    • I agree, Leah. I think that hosting a book club can be intimidating and it’s so easy to make mistakes. My post was really long, but the first book club I hosted, for Lord of the Flies. . . oh my gosh, I made so many mistakes. But I realized, okay, THIS is why other bloggers do X, this is why they do Y, etc. Luckily I did LOTF as kind of a beta test, with only a few trusted friends to give me tips, since it wasn’t very effective as a book club. You life, you learn!


    • Thanks, Kristen! I noticed that more and more digital book clubs were popping up and that some bloggers were trying to figure out if they should host one, so I thought this challenge lends itself to that! 🙂

      Plus, I have the giveaway for all of those people this totally doesn’t apply to!


  4. Great post, Rebecca!
    Traveling With T has it’s own online book club (and Jen partners with me on Bookalicious Mama)- we don’t have a lot of set rules- we discuss book choices, but ultimately, each month’s selection is host choice.

    As far as discussion, I do write questions for us to discuss- but I understand your point that for some it’s like school. I find myself, without having questions, that we’re not discussing as much (although I do encourage the others to ask questions).

    Your post has me thinking about some new ways to take my book club in-TY!


    • Tamara,

      I think that questions can be needed, it totally depends on the book. Have you tried posting without questions? I’m not saying you have to, but you might be surprised at the conversation and how it might flow just as well without them. Of course if you have a few you want to throw in here and there, you can do that, too. It’s really about what works for you and your readers. If they aren’t discussing on their own, they 100% need questions. Allison and I let the convo flow and we will throw questions into the discussion if we need them.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂


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  7. I attempted once and well, failed. Many reasons. However, I love your list and will definitely consider it again. I love the idea of discussions throughout a longer book and really miss my in person book club. Definitely could use these guidelines to get one of those going. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!


    • Dalene, my first attempt was a failure, too! I hosted a “beta test” of a book club on Lord of the Flies with a few friends and one friend-blogger, and oh my gosh, I realized it was not going to work. The things I did were just not the right things. I was like, oooooooh that’s why blogger X does that thing! Learning process for sure!

      So if it’s something you want to do, think about it more, and give it a try. It can’t hurt too much!


  8. I have been hosting two digital books clubs for about 7 years now. It’s not easy. Lately I have been thinking about dropping one of them but then again I have put a lot of work into them. I think when you give questions for a book you are just trying to get people to engage more in the discussions. Sometimes you can ask a question that can really get people going! It just depends on the book club. Great topic!!


    • Thank you! It can be very time consuming but worthwhile if you can figure out how to do it well. I hope that some of the tips are ones that bloggers can use if they decide to host, or participate in. And you know, Rachael, sometimes I sign up for book clubs online, too, and end up not being able to keep up. But like I said in the post, it’s not an assignment, you can stop if it doesn’t work for you. 🙂


  9. Great post! If I had time to host a book club I would know what to do now. I am definitely inspired to participate in one. What are you reading for October? Also, any tips for finding blogs that host book clubs?


    • Mary, we host every other month, so we won’t be reading another book until November (this month we are reading Lean In, and it’s almost over). Allison and I haven’t picked November’s book yet, but we will announce it mid-October for sure.

      Good question about finding blogs that host book clubs. I have a few ideas. . .

      -Follow blogs that review books you like and/or ask if they host book clubs at any time. Most of the book clubs I participate in I have found because I usually read that blog anyway and they are hosting or they are promoting someone else’s
      -Traveling With T is a blogger who has round-up type posts on the internet and usually will list book clubs in those
      -Follow my blog and/or Allison @ The Book Wheel since we have ours

      Hopefully that helps!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  10. These are great tips! At the library I work at, we’ve been trying to get an online component of the face-to-face book clubs going on two book club blogs, but so far there hasn’t been much participation. Maybe because the books tend to be older ones, because we have to be able to get enough actual copies in at the library for members of the book club to borrow, or maybe there’s some other reason. I’ve been thinking about how to publicize them better as online readalongs so they might be noticed by people outside of our small library community, but it hasn’t made it to the top of the priority list yet!


    • Laurie,

      I think a good way to publicize it is to reach out to other bloggers. Once you have a plan in place, contact bloggers who read similar books (or who even have read the book you’re talking about) and see if they will help promote your book club. It can’t hurt! I know that I would help promote a digital book club if I was asked like that and if the book was something that was kind of “me” like a classic or a modern fiction or memoir.

      There are probably many ways to advertise it. I went to a blog conference yesterday in Orlando and one of the things they recommended when we had a question was to ask our readers. You could always make a post with the things you want to know (suggestions on where to advertise, would people be interested in XYZ, etc).

      Good luck with it! It takes time for sure, but once you get it started, it’ll just expand like crazy, I’m sure!


  11. Hosting a bookclub seems like it would be such a challenge, but also something that could be lots of fun! I’m bookmarking this, in case I decide to try it 🙂
    As for the challenge, if I had to choose a book, for the non-fiction I would go with The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (I haven’t read it but really want to), and for fiction I would love to read Vampire Academy (I hear it’s good!).


  12. Online book clubs always look like a ton of fun, and they’re something that I constantly think about joining in with, but never bring myself round to doing. I like the idea of a casual kind of book club where you can just drop in and out as necessary, it feels a like a lot less pressure than those clubs where you need to be present all the time! I would love to read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness with a club, as I’ve heard the book is nothing short of amazing, and it looks like it would be a fantastic conversation piece. For my non-fiction pick, I’d have to choose Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, as I’m sure it would be hilarious!


    • I agree with you the casual book clubs are perfect. When Allison and I have ours, we try to keep it as casual as possible while still encouraging conversation. Online book clubs are great for the casual part because you can stop by when you want to.

      Thank you for stopping by!


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  14. I used to help run an online book club so I know a bit about the challenges of running one!
    For non-fiction, I’d recommend The Black Count by Tom Weiss (so good) and fiction Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, because everyone needs to read it.


  15. Great post! I had started an online book club (last year or the year before) and had to abandon it for a variety of reasons, many of them personal at the time. I’ve been considering organizing another to kick off in 2014. This gives me a lot to ponder! Thank you!!


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  17. I completely missed Bloggiesta but do like your tips on hosting an online book club. I host an in person book club and we’ve had a bit of a slump in participation. People get so busy and even though they have time to read, sometimes it’s hard for everyone to make the meetings. Still, it’s a girls night out and I enjoy it, even if just my best friend shows up. 🙂 I would love to host an online book club too on my blog and need to be better about participating in yours and Allison’s. I really enjoy the discussion with you and other participants but I couldn’t get the books in time from the library for the last couple selections and I can’t buy books at this time. Hopefully I can participate next time!


    • Tanya,

      There probably are ways to get people to be more active in physical book clubs, but those are tips I don’t know. 🙂

      And with my book club with Allison, that’s exactly why we choose books that aren’t brand new: because people can get them from the library. It’s also why we announce the books two weeks before it starts. But sometimes it is tough to get a copy of a book, I totally get it! I haven’t purchased any of the books, either, I rely on the library, too!


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  19. You’re so awesome! I don’t think I’ve read through a single thing like this before.
    So nice to find another person with some genuine thoughts on this
    subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting
    this up. This site is something that is
    needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


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