We’re thrilled to have this guest post from Joshilyn Jackson, on the occasion of her new book, Someone Else’s Love Story, which is on sale today!
A behind-the-scenes peek at your chosen book via an author visit can be just the thing to spice up your book club. Arranging one when it’s your turn to choose can make you the club’s most popular host.
It’s great for authors, too. For me, it feels like a delicious gossip session with smart, literate folks who have met my imaginary friends. It’s an illicit pleasure, because reading is a conversation between the book itself and the reader. The reader brings at least half of that conversation, and it’s so personal that the writer doesn’t have a place in it. A book club visit offers me the chance to eavesdrop.
I’m already scheduling some book club visits for Someone Else’s Love Story, genuinely excited to find out what readers think of Shandi, my young mother who claims she has experienced a Virgin Birth, and William, my brilliant atheist who lost everything that ever mattered to him a year ago in what he calls “an act of physics.” It will be both surreal and thrilling to hear reactions from people who have watched Shandi fall in love with William the second he steps between her little son and an armed robber in a hold-up gone bad.
These events used to exist only in my imagination, but the book makes very different versions of itself real in other people’s imaginations as well. I will meet folks with very different opinions about every single piece of it. One person will love the acerbic, intensely loyal character of Paula, while the next will ask why on earth I didn’t send bears to eat Paula up after her first scene.
If you want an author to visit your club, here are a few things you can do to make sure we pull your invite out of the pile and say yes:
1) Choose the author’s most recent book. I love my older books, but I’ve had many, many conversations about them. I feel fond and nostalgic, as if they were ex-lovers. Meanwhile, I’m immersed in a fresh, hot, grueling, passionate, sometimes violent relationship with Someone Else’s Love Story. I have so many questions I want to ask you about it. For example, the story is full of huge, fake miracles that are explained by science and common sense, but there are also two real miracles in the book. These are small and frail and human---they might be easy to miss. I am so eager to know how many readers will spot them and see all the ways the change the story that I started accepting book club invites before the book even released!
2) Buy the book. More than that, make sure the author knows you plan to buy the book. When I have two invites, I will take the six person club who assures me they buy the book over the thirty person club who doesn’t mention it. There is nothing so disheartening as taking an evening to drive across town, nervous and hopeful, only to find the club has passed around two copies they got at a used bookstore. As a bonus, you’ll get more great author visits out of it. Writers talk, and if your club brings its copies to be signed, you can bet the author will be telling their writer friends to say yes to your invitations.
3) Think Larger than Local. You aren’t limited to the authors who happen to live a few miles from you. Many, many authors tour and travel to promote their books, and are often happy to meet up with a book club for coffee or a drink before or after an event. Check out your favorite writer’s websites to see if there is an up to date touring schedule. If the author doesn’t offer that, or if you don’t want to keep checking back, many publishing houses have an AuthorTracking service that will do the work for you. Just visit the publisher’s website, find the book you want, and the sign up will be right there on the page. If your favorite never seems to come your way, many authors will schedule a Skype visit or a conference call. Technology has made the world so much smaller, and writers love events where they can wear pajama bottoms and only have to look human from the shoulders up!
Happy author hunting!
Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including Gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.
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