Despite the fact that our world is more interconnected than ever, authors are finding it more challenging to successfully capture the attention of a new audience.
According to Grace Hong, the founder and principal of GHX Consulting, reports that the average American spends just 8 minutes a day reading. The rest of their time is spent on other types of media, from streaming services to social media platforms to mobile apps, as well as viewing content that’s recommended by their friends, email subscriptions, and influencers they admire.
In other words, more and more people are vying for a shrinking amount of attention.
The technological age can appear to be overwhelmingly distracting, but there is an emerging marketing strategy where authors can leverage digital tools to their advantage: virtual book clubs. With the right approach, authors can utilize virtual book clubs to form genuine connections with readers who want to learn more, ask questions, and apply the book’s lessons to their own lives.
Here’s how these book clubs work:
What are Virtual Book Clubs?
Traditional book clubs tend to be independent of authors or publishers. These small groups and communities would come together on their own to discuss their favorite works, discuss the latest chapters they read, and connect with one another over a shared passion. However, these book clubs aren’t necessarily beneficial to the author. That’s where our virtual book clubs differ.
The goal of hiitide is to reintroduce book clubs for the modern age by turning them into profitable opportunities for authors and life-changing experiences for readers. With carefully-crafted courses, community discussion forums, and live author Q&A sessions, hiitide book club members gain access to an easy-to-follow curriculum and a positive community that will challenge them to grow throughout the entire process.
Meanwhile, authors can be full-time authors; they’ll develop a new source of income from book club memberships while capturing a nice boost in book sales.
hiitide’s goal is to extend the reach of the virtual book club format, helping authors earn more as their audiences learn more.
Just imagine the next time someone purchases your book on Amazon they see a pop-up on their screen: “Do you want to join the book club?”
Essential Pillars of Great Book Clubs
Although the convenience and community of an online book club is highly appealing to busy readers, not all book clubs are created equal. The most effective and engaging book clubs should be dedicated to delivering real value to readers by providing:
- An original curriculum.
- Precise, Microdose lessons.
- Access to relevant influencer hosts.
- Immediate reader feedback.
- Virtual book tours.
- Real, personal connections.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these elements…
1. An original curriculum.
A book club is not just a tool, it’s a product.
In some respects, you should view it as a product that owns the land between your books and higher ticket offerings like courses, coaching, or workshops. In order for a book club to be a valuable product, readers must have access to additional materials that encourage deeper engagement without distracting them from the contents of the book itself.
The perfect curriculum should offer readers a balance of applied exercises that put the book’s principles into action and an efficient mechanism to share their learnings with the community.
The point is not about throwing together another resource to sell alongside your book. The goal is to create an opportunity for readers to acquire skills that have meaning and utility to them in an accessible and supportive format.
- The original curriculum is not regurgitating the content of the book, it’s providing new stories and tools that help readers turn a book into action for good.
- The curriculum should emphasize concise application, it’s not about stacking on more homework, it’s about getting more value out of the lessons that already exist.
2. Microdose lessons.
You are not just competing with other authors when it comes to readers’ attention.
You’re competing with podcasts, Netflix, date nights, crying babies, to-do lists, and all kinds of other distractions. If a reader only has 15 minutes to fit some reading into their daily schedule, they’ll make that decision based on how relevant, concise, and engaging your material is.
When you have something to say, simply say it. Stop talking (or writing) about content that won’t bring immediate value to your audience.
Through “microdose lessons,” we work really hard to extract key messages, which are delivered in short, easy-to-complete exercises, journals, and group discussions.
The 14-minute (1% of your day) microdose lesson format is designed to cut through all the extra noise by giving the reader what they need without irrelevant details.
3. Influencer hosts.
Let’s face it, social media influencers (i.e. community leaders) can be incredibly valuable for any author looking to expand their marketing opportunities. That’s why pairing authors and influencers into a powerful team is an important part of our marketing strategy.
Authors can gain exposure to an entirely new audience, and our expertly-crafted curriculum provides the right tools and technologies to convert curious individuals into part of the author’s loyal fan base.
The community leader benefits by offering a valuable social learning experience for her/his community members, and shares in the membership revenue.
Collaborations aren’t always worth the squeeze but when you can create one with significant mutually aligned incentives, good things can happen.
4. Instant feedback from readers.
The key difference separating an average author from a #1 best-selling author is their ability to listen and respond to their audience.
After an author publishes a book, their second most important job begins: engaging with and hearing feedback from readers. The most successful authors are open-minded to the reviews and comments from readers, and they frequently take their audience’s advice to heart.
Authors, just like any other professional, should always be striving to improve the quality of their work, and hiitide gives authors the priceless opportunity to oversee the process their audience goes through as they read the book. Seeing engagement data and using Zoom, authors will have the opportunity to connect with book club members in exclusive Q&A sessions to respond to the most pressing questions.
Your readers will tell you what they want from future work, you just need the right tools and time to listen.
5. Virtual book tours.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, authors were beginning to recognize how inefficient the traditional book tour process can be.
Although the personal experience of meeting fans in small, local bookstores is hard to replace through digital means, authors can experience a range of benefits by forgoing a traditional book tour in favor of a digital one instead.
For example, an in-person book tour requires significant funds for travel, as well as several weeks of an author’s time. Now authors can gain more exposure for their work without having to leave the comfort of their living rooms. Utilizing the full range of online technologies, authors can curate virtual book tours comprised of:
- Virtual chapter readings or stories behind the book using Zoom, Instagram Live, or Facebook Live.
- Host a masterclass series by collaborating with a number of subject-matter-experts to deliver a weekly workshop series solving a specific problem your readers have. This enables all of the collaborating experts to share each other’s expertise, platforms, and reach new prospective readers.
- Create new resources that can operate as a preview or tool for your book (ex. Chapter summaries, workbooks, journal prompts, etc.). Find community-leaders who could benefit from providing these resources to their communities. Download examples here.
- Of course, guest appearances on relevant podcasts or YouTube channels.
6. Personal connections.
I want to take a moment to describe a personal experience I had while reading The Book by Alan Watts. A small group of my friends would meet up every week at this little Asian restaurant where we would discuss the latest chapters for hours and hold each other accountable for applying the lessons to our own lives.
These thought-provoking and inspiring weekly conversations changed the trajectory of my life.
Soon after, I recognized how lucky I was for having such an amazing community to inspire and support me. So many people don’t have such positive influences in their own lives, and I wanted to do something to change that.
Through hiitide, we’ve created a space where people can feel free to express themselves and experience the encouragement they may not otherwise receive in their own growth and development.
Benefits for Authors
While virtual book clubs are tailored to specifically benefit the members within each group, every author can expect serious results when they partner with hiitide to produce their book club.
- Grow your audience & email list
- Sell more books: authors keep 100% of book sales
- Share in a new source of income
- Launch the book club 4-6 times a year
What’s nice, hiitide does the heavy lifting; they’ll create detailed lesson plans and supplemental materials for the book club, take care of logistics of your live Q&A sessions and encourage members to participate in discussions about the book.
The entire process is essentially done for you!
Furthermore, hiitide guarantees that authors will sell more copies of their books, eBooks, and audiobooks when they choose hiitide as their virtual book club platform.
Some authors can generate up to a 6-figure income by taking advantage of this new approach of connecting with modern audiences. Just a few authors who have benefitted from virtual book clubs include:
- Dr. Ian K. Smith. Three-time New York Times bestselling author Dr. Smith is the acclaimed author of several health and diet books, including The Clean 20, Shred: The Revolutionary Diet, and Super Shred: The Big Results Diet. “For years I’ve been looking for a platform to help me grow my audience, build my brand, keep me relevant and bring me new readers,” said Dr. Smith. “Hiitide’s virtual book club is exactly what I’ve been looking for; they take my book and create a curriculum, breaking it down spending hours and hours making sure that people who are a part of the book club are getting something valuable.”
- Colin Egglesfield. Actor, motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur Colin Egglesfield raved about hiitide’s impact on his audience: “It provided a way to grow awareness of my book, interact with fans to cultivate more of a loyal following and provide a lot of people with inspiration, motivation, insight, self-awareness and connection with a worldwide community,” Egglesfield said. “Many of the people who met still interact today.”
- Mark Groves. Founder of Create The Love and Human Connection Specialist Mark Groves understands how valuable book clubs can be for anyone who wants to grow, challenge themselves, and be part of a positive community. “Working with the hiitide team and Evan has been nothing short of spectacular,” Groves remarked. “They are not only a great support system with brilliant strategy ideas, but also incredible at implementing and executing ideas faster [than] I can even think of new ones. My expectations have been far exceeded and I’m pumped to continue to see what we can build together!”
Drawbacks of Virtual Book Clubs
The most obvious sign of an ineffective book club is that nothing is changing: book sales remain stagnant, your email list doesn’t increase, and you don’t feel as if your book is gaining the attention it truly deserves.
With solo marketing endeavors, such as creating a private Facebook group for your audience, these methods can often fall flat because you’re not actually reaching any new readers!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned author or brand-new to the world of book marketing; it’s never too soon to begin deepening and expanding your reach.
With most traditional book club formats, whether they’re online or in-person, the author is rarely personally engaged throughout the readers’ experiences.
The book club members may have insightful discussions and debates about the book, but the author will miss out on the participants’ questions and honest reactions to the book.
This is why having the author actively engaged in the book club experience is such a crucial component of the hiitide curriculum. The audience gets the special opportunity to learn directly from the subject expert, and the author will be able to learn directly from their most engaged audience.
How to Get Started
We get it; it can feel overwhelming to know which path to take when it comes to promoting your content. It’s difficult to get your book in front of the right audience when there are so many channels and platforms to choose from. As Grace Hong explains, trying to fully understand who your audience is and how to reach them requires you to be “an anthropologist, analyst, designer, and strategist.” That’s a pretty intense job description!
But when you partner with hiitide, you don’t have to try to navigate the complex digital landscape on your own.
We have the expertise, tools, and flexibility to curate a book club that is capable of attracting new readers and transforming them into loyal fans of your work.
If you’re ready to take your platform building seriously while making positive differences in the lives of your readers, click here to learn how to get started with hiitide, read more author testimonials, or get your questions answered. We hope to hear from you soon!
About the Author: Evan Shy
As a published author, scientist, and the founder and CEO of hiitide, Evan has earned experience building teams and technology that help people live positively, better. Growing up in a family of professional athletes and entrepreneurs, Evan started his first business before leaving high school and would go on to found a number of wellness businesses while conducting research and teaching at the University of Illinois at Champaign. His research has been published across scientific journals, college textbooks, and our own titles.
Today, Evan’s team at hiitide, a virtual learning platform helps authors and readers form more meaningful connections. hiitide creates 30-day virtual book clubs, courses, and workshops that draw out key lessons from books, delivered in short, easy-to-complete daily exercises, journals, and group discussions with the Author.
hiitide works primarily with authors equally committed to innovating new methods and stories that transform how we approach ourselves and one another.