Mini Q&A with author Janna Cawrse Esarey

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: On Book Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing, The Writing Life

This is an excerpt of Janna Cawrse Esarey’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about book clubs. For more book promo information, and to read Janna’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.

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Janna Cawrse Esarey is the author of The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers & a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife (Simon & Schuster). A Publisher’s Weekly Summer Fave, Today Show rec, and Parade Pick, it’s the true story of a woman who sails across the Pacific on her honeymoon, only to find her relationship heading for the rocks. Watch Janna’s book trailer at www.byjanna.com.

Q: How did you get your first book club gig, and what can a writer do to get on the radar of book clubs?


A: My very first gig was actually before The Motion of the Ocean came out. A local college class was assigned to create promotional materials for several new books, mine included. (Pays to have friends who teach!) These amazing students convinced the campus bookstore’s book club to read ARCs (advance reader copies) and recorded the group’s discussion. They also made a book trailer—a short video—to promote my book. (I know, lucky! You might see if students in your area could do the same.)

My next gig, also pre-publication, was with Simon & Schuster’s in-house book club—a huge honor—but it made me understand why my editor had gone to bat for photos, a map, and a book club kit in the back (discussion questions, activities, and an interview). We had to fight hard for all these extras. With no budget for a map, I drew it myself, and I also helped write the discussion questions since I knew I didn’t want any dry, English-teachery reading comprehension questions. (Hint: Questions that make readers interpret the text or reflect on their own lives work best.) These extras— whether in traditional publishing or self-publishing—can be a lot of work, but they definitely attract book clubs.

To prepare for other book group gigs, I set up a section for readers on my website that included an expanded version of the book club kit as well as recipes, my personal backstory, and, of course, the book trailer. You could also include a blog, inspirational quotes, behind-the-scenes info, or photos of where you write. Visit your favorite authors’ websites to get ideas. I also ran a promotion: Choose MOTO for your book group and receive one free, signed copy. My publisher gave me a box of books to give away in this manner—very effective!

Speaking of social media, Facebook is an author’s best friend. Why? Because you can reach out to your number-one fans—your friends! Set up both a personal Facebook profile and an author or book page. Here you can post author events, links related to your book topic, the inside scoop about writing and publishing, tidbits from your personal life, and, of course, photos and anecdotes from your book club chats. Connecting with one book club via Facebook—and posting about it—will often lead to connecting with another book club. You can also try a Facebook ad that will post only to your friends’ friends, or friends of those who have already “liked” your book page. You can set your budget and your bid so it doesn’t break the bank.

Twitter also provides a quick, easy way to mention upcoming book club chats, post group photos, or share possible discussion questions. Reflect afterwards with favorite quotes or questions from the evening. Use a hashtag (#bookclub) to get as many views as possible, and create a hashtag for your own book, too (#MOTO).

For more of Janna’s book club advice, and to read her complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And visit Janna online at http://www.byjanna.com.

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