Subsidiary Considerations: Book Club Rights - article

There was a time when book clubs ruled the world and having your book selected by the Book of the Month Club or the Literary Guild made a huge difference. It was the sort of thing your publisher would feature prominently in ads for your book, and you’d be invited to a fancy dinner in New York with your book club—it was a major achievement.

That’s no longer the case. Nowadays, we mostly think of a book club as getting together with a group of friends every once in a while to talk about a book, trade recipes, and have a good time. But book clubs can still be important. The large clubs like the Book of the Month Club or the Literary Guild don’t have the same clout they once did, but they still reach audiences. If one of them chooses your book, its members will trust that it’s something they should read. Of course, the most influential book club today is Oprah’s book club. Unfortunately, only a few books are chosen for Oprah’s book club, but it’s a wonderful thing if it happens.

There was a time when book clubs resulted in a lot of money for authors as well. You could wind up with a nice little option that could give you tens of thousands of dollars, and even six figures wasn’t unheard of. But that was when the Book of the Month Book Clubs and the Doubleday Book Clubs, two giant corporations, existed separately. They merged, and now there just isn’t enough competition to generate those kinds of pay outs. It’s still satisfying to have a book club wanting your book and putting their imprimatur on it, but the cash amounts won’t be as big.

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