Reading is fun and getting people of like minds to share views and opinions on books is an exhilarating experience. So, you have a passion for reading and want to join a book club but there is none close to you, why don’t you start one? Believe me, when I say it is worthwhile. First off, two things you will need are patience and ability to sacrifice be it your money or time.
You will need patience because the turnout may not be what you expect. 40 people signaled their interest in the book club when I started but only 11 turned up on the D-day and even till now, our attendance is always between 10-15 people. But I am not bothered because of these people, there are five who do not miss the meeting for anything. And for these ones, I will keep at it. Also the testimonies coming from members since joining the club is encouragement enough.
You will need to sacrifice your time and money when there is a call for it. I use my money to send text messages to members, made snacks for our meetings, I have had to give transport fare to a member and spend my time co-coordinating it. But you know what, I will do it again, if necessary.
- Look for a bookshop to partner with. I use the lunch room of Oasis Bookshop as the meeting venue of my book club (BookLovers Club) and also made a deal with them to give members 10% discount on any book they buy from them. It’s a win -win situation. They get patronage from us and we use their bookshop.
- Get your membership and rules and regulation forms ready before you hold your first meeting. You will thank me for this tip later. This is because people are bound to misbehave especially hoarding discussion time and you will need to caution them without sounding bossy. They need to agree to obey the rules and that’s why you need the rules and regulation form to sign. I call mine the Code of Conduct form.
- Choose a book for each meeting and have members read it ahead of time to enable full participation in the literary discourse. Make it a book that has a general theme that everyone can relate to. Allow members to lead the discussion from time to time. I drew up a schedule of which member will lead for each month, though I prepare to stand in for anyone who can’t make it.
- Start advertising majorly by word of mouth in your local assembly, church, school e.t.c. I talked about sacrifice earlier on, this is one area you will need to sacrifice your money to make flyers to pass around. You can make a banner to put at the bookshop premises (ask if it is okay). You can also tell them to advertise for you as well. it is to their benefit too: more patronage.
- Organize fun events!For one of our meetings, we visited an orphanage. The Coordinator was so impressed she promised to join us. Next thing I am planning is to have a prominent writer attend our meeting.
- People like to eat and party so I ask members to bring in snacks and drinks(though not compulsory) which we share during our “love feast” and that is the time immediately after the literary discourse. This helped my members and I to build a wonderful rapport.
- Be friendly, nice and genuinely interested in people. It will go a long way to make your members feel at ease with you and in the meeting.