Although there are many online book clubs on the Internet, you can start your own online book club. The best thing about starting your own is that you can design it to reflect your particular reading interests and your own style. It is a very satisfying experience, but you must be prepared to spend a lot of time on your endeavor. You will not only be a participant, you will be the place for others to join your reading community and contribute to the discussion of books. The steps below describe how you can get started with your own online book club.
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- Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Before you even think about the first book you want to offer for discussion, take some time to review existing online book clubs and see what kind of software they use. You do not need to be a software engineer to create a website.
- Think about how you want the discussions to flow. You may want to use a message board, email system, or blog. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and your choice should reflect the time you have to spend on interaction. Again, look at a variety of web sites for book clubs and think about the type of discussion forum that appeals to you.
- Make your website inviting. Like it or not, first impressions are still counted. People see the graphics before they start reading the content. Experiment with colors and different fonts. Ask your family and close friends to look at your site and ask them to navigate through it before it goes live. Listen to the feedback and work on making your online book group page an enticing stop for book lovers.
- Start with what you know. Make your first book selection that you are passionate about. Be prepared to continue the discussion. If you can't think of a list of questions, you can read some reading group guides on the Internet. Here are some common discussion questions you may want to use:
- What do you think of the book's title? How deep into the book did you get before you understood the meaning of the title? Did the title reflect the main theme of the book?
- Who is the main character of the main character? How did the protagonist's personality and life experience shape the direction of the novel?
- Did the action of the novel coincide with important events in history?
- Did reading the book evoke any strong feeling in you? Did you cry? Did you laugh? Why? Was it an event in the novel that resonated deeply with you?
- Offer more to your readers than a book discussion. Do some research on the author or setting in the book. Add links to book reviews, positive and negative, and ask your members to comment on these reviews.
- Keep it fresh. It takes time to build a membership and your members will grow if you keep the content fresh and interesting. Keep all discussions active. Ideally, you want to check in with your website several times each day. Always provide new information so that your website does not seem stagnant.
- Select your new online group. Ask your family and friends to come in and participate in the discussion. Invite all your Facebook friends and all your email contacts. Print your own business cards with the name of your website; Ask your local bookstores, cafes and libraries if you can leave your cards there.
- Make people feel welcome. You can do this by following up on all the comments so that your visitors do not feel ignored. It's up to you to keep the conversation flowing.
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[ Edit ]  Tips
- Find the site for a book publisher; where you will find information about the author, and often the publisher will read guides for some of his books.
- Potential members of your online book club may be more inclined to join if you offer a free monthly newsletter via email. The newsletter doesn't have to be long, but it should be provocative enough to attract members to visit the site. Enter a link to your website in the email address to make it even easier for them to re-connect to the site and participate in discussions.
- Write to authors and invite them to participate in a discussion about their book. The first time writers can be particularly receptive to the idea, it is a way for them to connect with their readers.
[ Edit ] Warnings
- It is important for you to gather certain demographic information, including your members' email addresses, to make it easy for them. Make joining your online club a simple and painless process.
- Make sure your site is secure and let potential members know why the site is secure.
[ Edit ] References
- How to promote your website
- 30 resouces to start an online book club