Prepare ahead of time for the author’s visit. Often a preliminary meeting to discuss the book is helpful, and lets you save questions and discussion that can only take place with the author for during their visit.
Read the book! Even if you generally might allow members to attend without having finished the book, when the author is there it’s respectful for everyone in attendance to have read the book.
Give the author the option to share in any refreshments you offer, but don’t assume that they will want to share a meal with you. They may, but they may prefer not to. Let them decide.
Offer an honorarium. You want to make sure and cover their travel expenses at the very least. If you’re meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop, pay for their meal or drinks (if they have anything).
Be flexible for meeting times and dates. Even if you usually meet at a particular time or day of the week, being willing to adjust your meeting time may allow the author to attend more easily.
Be open to alternatives to in-person visits. Live chats via Skype or Google Hangouts can work well, or a call via speakerphone.
Ensure you have a facilitator who is prepared to lead the discussion and keep things focused. (Whether or not you actually call the person a facilitator, make sure someone is ready to speak up!)
Treat it as a special meeting, and don’t conduct regular book club business while the author is there – save that for other times.
Give extra promotion to this meeting – you want to try and get as many of your members to attend as possible.
Go beyond basic questions – ask things you can only discover from the author (take advantage of them being there!)
Watch the clock – don’t go over the end time you told the author.
How to Find Authors to Visit Your Book Club
Checking for local writers’ associations is also a good way to discover authors who will visit your book club – here’s an example for New Hampshire. You may find these linked from your state library, or Google around using various search options, as they go by different names in different states.
Finally, keep an eye on your nearby libraries, as they may host local authors who might also be willing to come talk to your book club.
This is part of the Booked: Reading Together series. Throughout October, I’m writing all about book clubs.
Check out the archives in case you missed a post.
Previously on The Deliberate Reader
One year ago: Fall of a Philanderer
Two years ago: 31 Days of More Great Nonfiction: Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched
Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Two for the Road