Book Clubs: Invite Me! I'll Come!
Oct. 9, 2006 issue - John Shors has attended more than 100 book clubs in the past three months and each time he's discussed the same book. His book. Shors wrote "Beneath a Marble Sky," his first novel, two years ago and it got great reviews—but sold few copies. When Penguin started selling the paperback in June, Shors added a letter to readers in the back, giving his e-mail address and offering to attend any book club that chose his novel. If it was in the Boulder, Colo., area (where he's from), he'd try to attend in person; otherwise he'd call in.
Since then, he's been doing at least one club each night—and he's booked new ones as far off as November '07. That's a big-time commitment for a guy who's married with two young kids (each call lasts about a half hour). But he claims to not be bored with the project yet. "I haven't hit that point," he says. "I actually really enjoy it." He's not just saying that. He plans on doing 1,000 book clubs over the next two years.
A lot of authors offer this. Anita Diamant did it with The Red Tent for years. I've advertised my availability to speak with book groups on my Web site for at least three years. Google "speak to book groups speakerphone" and you'll get 166,000 hits. And it doesn't sound like he has an outside job, so a half hour on the phone each night isn't too onerous.
I guess what makes him unique is that he (or someone at Penguin) pitched Newsweek. And they fell for it. The only down side for him is tht the photo is of him, not of the book.