How to Start Your Book Club

How to Start

Your Book Club

A beginners guide to starting your book club on Geneva

A beginners guide to starting your book club on Geneva

Reading can sometimes be somewhat of a solo activity — but it doesn’t have to be!

Over the past few months, we’ve been so happy to see a ton of book clubs popping up on Geneva. Some like Sapph-Lit and Sexy Book Club are big and open, made up of thousands of members all talking about a bunch of different books at once, while others like the Joy Lit Club keep things a bit smaller and more intimate. Whatever kind of collective reading experience you’re looking to create, you can make a home for it here 😊

In this post, we’ll share a step-by-step guide with some ideas & inspo on how to create a thriving book club on Geneva! 📚

Pick a niche and create your group

On or off Geneva, the best book clubs tend to focus on a specific niche, identity, or genre of book — “Sexy Book Club” is all about romance, “Sapph-Lit” focuses on work by LGBTQIA+ authors, and Sophie Wood’s “Book Bimbos” has a strong fashion through-line running through it. So the first thing to do is get a clear sense of what you want your club’s focus to be. Come up with a fun name, maybe sketch up a little logo, and then make a home for your group on Geneva!

If you’ve never used Geneva before, you can think about a “home” as like a big private digital space that’s just for you and your people — almost like a more organized Facebook group or a more fun Slack workspace.

If you’re planning to have a big group that you’ll share publicly on social channels, we recommend turning on ‘Require Approval’ (so you keep full control over who gets in) and adding a Question Gate to learn more about potential members.

Set up your group's rooms

While we’ve seen all sorts of book clubs flourishing on Geneva, they generally fall into two main buckets.

The first is more of a traditional local book club, with 10-15 people who all read the same book and meet up irl. Homes for these kinds of clubs tend to be much more straightforward, with just a couple of rooms (e.g. a forum roomfor "Announcements", a chat room for “Book Talk”, a video room for hangouts in between the irl meetups, and maybe another chat room for other “Random” stuff)

The second type, let’s call it a digital native book club, tends to be much bigger and a little bit more freeform, often started by a creator with an existing audience or focus. Most of these are book clubs on the surface, but also generally use books & reading as a starting point to bring people together around a shared interest or identity.

While the shape & setup of these kinds of book-club communities varies pretty widely (that’s what makes it fun, right?!), here are a few common rooms that you might want to consider if you're starting your own home:

  • Intros 👋 - A chat room where new members of the group can introduce themselves. Freeform works, but it’s often a good idea to prompt people with a bit of structure (and give each person a warm welcome when they join!)
  • Announcements 📣 - A post/forum room where you can share important updates with and about the group. You can even make this room “read only” for most members so that only you can post there
  • General Chat 💬 - A chat room for everyday conversation and random stuff
  • Book of the Month 📗 - a forum room where you can share (and pin to top!) each month’s book!
  • Spoilers 👀 - A chat room where people can talk about stuff without ruining the ending for others!
  • Book Recs ❤️ - A chat room where people can share books they’re reading & loving, outside of the book of the month
  • Book Swap 📦 - A chat or forum room where people can post books they’re willing to part with and find new gems. Some homes have a separate dedicated room for “Book Deals” or “Resources” where people share info about discount online book shops, big sales, library card resources, and more…
  • Meetups 👋 - A chat room where you and/or members can plan irl meetups! (for bigger communities, you might want to have dedicated rooms for different cities)
  • Hangout 🛋️ - A broadcast room you can use for events like your monthly discussions, author Q&As, etc. Many homes also choose to have a separate audio or video room that’s more casual and spontaneous, where people can just pop in, hang out, and talk about what they’re reading
  • Ideas & Suggestions 🗳️ - A chat room where people can share ideas on how to evolve or improve the community

While there’s no “right” number of rooms in a home, we’ve found that somewhere between 7-10 rooms is usually a good place to start. The goal is to have enough spaces that people feel inspired to contribute in different ways, but not too many that the conversations get spread too thin. One other tip: you can reorder the rooms so the most important stuff is at the top and organize the rooms into categories so everything’s really easy to find.

Then, as your community grows, you might also want to consider adding a few “Opt-In” rooms for specific interests (foodies! pets! pop culture!), age groups, or cities so people can plan irl meetups. Making an open room “Opt-In” means that not everyone in the home is automatically put into it, but anyone can find it by pressing the “Join more rooms” button at the bottom of their room’s list.

As you’re setting things up, remember: nothing’s set in stone and it’s almost certain that you’re going to want to add and/or change things later — so have fun with it and make it your own!

Invite your people

You know how when you have a party irl, your best friends come over like an hour before it officially starts to help put out the chips and get the vibes going? The same kind of thing works when starting an online community or big digital book club.

Once you’ve set up your home on Geneva, consider starting with a ‘soft launch’ by sending personal invites to a few close friends or most engaged followers (10-20 people is usually good to start a book club) and taking a little bit of time to experiment & get things going.

When it’s time to open the doors and “launch” the group for real, there are all sorts of ways to spread the word. One approach that we’ve seen work really well is adding your home invite link to your social bio(s) and creating a tiktok (and/or IG post, tweet, or whatever social channels you use most) explaining what the group is and how to join it. This one by Megan of “Sexy Book Club” and this one and this one by Shelby of “Bookgasm” are great inspo!

Pick your first book and plan a hang out

The simplest and most common way to run your book club is to pick a handful of potential options for the official "book of the month", put it to a community vote, and go with the winner! Then schedule a time ~1 month out to come together (polls are handy here too) — virtually, or in a series of irl local meetups — and talk about it!

But different book clubs have all different speeds and styles. Some, like Sapph-Lit, choose 2 ‘official’ books each month (one fiction and one non-fiction) to give a little more variety. Others opt to not even have an ‘official’ book, but instead, create space for people to share recommendations and reactions to whatever they’re currently reading. If you do go this route though, it’s still a good idea to try to develop some ‘rituals’ that people get excited about & look forward to (e.g. a Friday happy hour hangout)

There’s no ‘right’ way to do it — so experiment a bit, find a rhythm that works for you and your community, and run with it 😊

Keep members engaged

Once things are up and running, it’s time to ride the wave and have fun with it! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Get feedback early and often — As much as you can, build your home and community with the members, not just for them. Running quick polls, asking questions, and checking in with folks individually are all great ways to do this. Hopefully people will be proactively sharing thoughts in your “Ideas & Suggestions 🗳️” room too!
  • Turn your members into leaders — You don’t have to run everything on your own! Try to figure out who in your community is active and committed and give them more ownership and responsibility. This could be anything from asking them to plan a local meetup, to being part of a ‘welcome’ committee for new members, to putting them in charge of the process of choosing future books.
  • Experiment with different ways to participate — Once the basics are working, you can start to add in more activities. The Joy Lit Book Club, for example, started a “Monthly Challenge” mini-game where members get points for achieving different reading milestones and created a dedicated room for “Buddy Reads” where anyone can post a book they’re interested in reading (even if it’s not the ‘official’ book of the month) and find a buddy to read along with. Sexy Book Club started making community merch and is planning a trip to Forks (where Twilight was written about!). Other communities have started dedicated rooms and entire sub-communities just for writers or sharing poetry. The possibilities are endless!
  • Celebrate the special moments! — Take the time to celebrate what the community has built, and if you’re looking to grow, consider sharing sweet moments from inside the home externally to get other people excited to join.
  • Be patient & stick with it — Great communities always take a little bit of time to build so if it’s a little quiet at first, ask some questions, try some new rooms, and just be down to experiment.

So that’s it! If you have any questions or just want to chat about your group, feel free to join the Geneva “Homeowners Home”, DM us on TikTok, IG, or twitter, or email!



May 10, 2023

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