Bring together like-minded readers by building a community where you can share your collective love of books. While reading might seem like an independent experience, it doesn’t have to be. Discussing books, sharing book reviews, and engaging with others who love to read turn this independent experience into a social one. Avid readers can connect through in-person or online reader communities, and authors can build their profile and broaden their audience through these same communities.
Follow these tips to build a reader community that resonates with you, whether you’re an author or simply someone who loves to read.
1. Create a Local Book Club
Book clubs are an effective way to engage readers and build a community. Whether you’re getting together with a group of close friends or forming a community-based book club, this group encourages reading and gives interested readers an outlet to share and learn. If you create a book club outside of your social circle, you can use it as an opportunity to engage members from different areas of your community and perhaps even make new friends.
Facilitating a book club isn’t challenging, even if you haven’t been in one before. Advertise your club to find members, choose a monthly book to read, and get together to discuss the book and share your insights. When you do, your reader community will begin to develop.
2. Connect With Readers Online
If in-person book clubs aren’t feasible, then consider online communities to extend your reach. Book club members don’t all have to live in the same city for your group to thrive. You can facilitate discussions on private social media pages or websites or log on for a video chat with your group once a month. The advantage of having an online presence is that your group can grow without being bound to space concerns or geographic boundaries. You can find engaged readers from around the country, if not around the world, to participate, offering even more perspectives.
3. Use Different Mediums to Connect
Whether you’re an avid reader or a budding author, you can build your reader community virtually to engage with others. Participate in online discussions about recent reads, or write online book reviews to share your thoughts with others. If you’re an avid reader or an author, consider launching a literary podcast that focuses on your preferred genre, discusses favorite books, and interviews other readers or authors. Expanding your reading community out of your locale gives it a wide reach.
4. Engage Young Readers
Instill a love of reading in children early so that these young readers someday join and build reading communities of their own. Early and frequent reading teaches children how to make reading a part of their everyday lives. Trips to the library or bookstore allow kids to choose books that engage their mind and interests. In today’s technological age, children can even read on digital devices, allowing them to learn in new and interesting ways. Virtual libraries like Epic allow kids to explore thousands of titles from the comfort of their home, giving them even more opportunities to build their love of reading.
Reach out to local schools to find out how you can further engage readers in the classroom. Some schools welcome parents and community leaders into the classroom as guest readers for class storytime. A donation of books can support the school library and ensure all children have access to engaging materials that can help them become a community of readers even before they leave school.
5. Host Community Events
By reaching out directly to local residents, you can extend your reach and build a community of readers through engaging events. Reading-focused events can bring together individuals who love to read and want to share that love of reading with others. Consider hosting a used book fair where individuals can sell their well-read books to pass them on to others. Participants can even exchange books in lieu of paying for them.
Reach out to well-known local authors to host a forum where fans can learn more about the author’s experience and inspiration. A question-and-answer session allows fans to ask questions and perhaps even inspire their own journeys as writers.
Extend this idea even further by hosting a day-long or weekend-long book festival that brings together authors and readers. Book signings, question-and-answer sessions, and workshops can inspire your reader community and find some new members, too.
Developing a reader community, whether virtually or in person, calls for creative, interesting ways to bring like-minded individuals together to read, share, and discuss. Use these five ideas to enhance your community and build your support.
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash