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Book clubs have always been a popular way to draw people together who have a common love for books. However, times have changed, and people are busier than ever. Finding the time for readers to congregate at the library or bookstore is not an easy job. However, that desire for readers to discuss their favorite characters or a major plot twist hasn’t disappeared. Have book clubs died? No, not at all. They just need some renovation. 

Recently, I was given an idea by a fellow author. She created a “reading marathon” for her three book series. The whole thing was set up on Facebook and readers started the series together and finished it together. Because the idea was such a success, I was asked to marathon my own series afterward. Well, I took the idea one step further. I created a group called Awesome Reading Marathoners. I invited authors to join the schedule, and the group took off. Readers loved that from the comfort of their home they could discuss their favorite and not so favorite parts of books. Now, these readers, I know from asking them, still go into bookstores and libraries to pick up their books, but they do that on their own schedule. Then they jump online, follow the reading schedule for the current book series that we’re reading and interact. There are daily prizes, games, discussions and best of all a community of readers who love interacting with authors. It’s been a huge success because unlike the periodic meetings of book clubs, the group has a chance to unload ideas and opinions when they happen. And it’s perfect for the shy bookworm who usually has an insightful opinion on a book, but is too nervous to share it in person.

So how can this model help bookstores and libraries? Well, I teach college classes, and more and more we are seeing hybrid models. The students and instructor meet once at the beginning of the class, then the middle portion is taught online, and the final class is in person. That could be a wonderful option for brick and mortars. Or just creating an online forum and posting events in stores could give readers a place to find friends. “This month we’re marathoning the Blank series. Indie Author Blank will be holding discussions daily and offering awesome prizes and special inside secrets. Join the group here and grab the book.” 

These groups can be hosted on Facebook, Goodreads or a website. And the options for creating the marathon are limitless. Mine, which is going on right now, takes over my life because I’m constantly online answering hundreds of readers a day. It’s a bit daunting, but there isn’t a more rewarding experience for an author. This model encourages interaction and readership, which at the end of the day is the goal. If you’re interested in checking out the marathon group I run, find the links below. The group has grown quickly since it began in the summer. And the schedule of authors set to marathon their series is booked out through 2018. It’s a model that readers and authors love. Also, if you have specific questions then feel free to email me. I have manuals and guidelines that help with the construction of the group, and I’ve assisted many authors and readers set up virtual book clubs.  

by Sarah Noffke  (www.SarahNoffke.com)

Author of the Lucidites, Reverians, Vagabond Circus, and Ren Series

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