Bringing Book Clubs Online with Sophie Hart

Recently my debut novel, The Naughty Girls Book Club, was published. It follows a group of women (and one man!) who join a book club where the reading list is all erotica, covering everything from Jilly Cooper to the Marquis de Sade. We see the impact this has on the characters’ lives, as they gain the confidence to go for what they want, both in life and in the bedroom! It’s a fun, naughty read about friendships and sex, without being too graphic – ‘chick-lit with a saucy twist’ sums it up perfectly!

the-naughty-girls-book-club[1]The Naughty Girls Book Club was undoubtedly influenced by the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. Fifty Shades was such a huge bestseller, and no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of women have chatted with their girlfriends about the issues it raises, confessing their naughtiest fantasies over a glass of wine or two. It was these kinds of discussions that I wanted to try and recreate in The Naughty Girls Book Club.

My publishers, Avon, were very keen for me to be on Twitter. The publishing world is changing, and it’s hugely important for authors to help spread the word about their own books – sometimes, social media can be far more effective than traditional advertising. One of the ideas suggested to me was that I should run an online naughty book club, similar to the book club in my novel.

I was dubious at first. What if no one was interested? What if no one ‘turned up’ (virtually, of course), and I was left sitting alone in cyberspace, crying into my keyboard? To be fair, the first ever meeting was a little bit like that. Although there were flickers of interest, people seemed too shy to join in, messaging me with their thoughts once the meeting was over and promising to join in next time.

So I persevered. The next book I picked was Bared To You by Sylvia Day. It was a shamelessly populist choice – I figured that as tons of people had already read it, some of them might want to join in and share their views. This time, there was much more interest. Sylvia Day herself actually re-tweeted some of my tweets about the book club, which was an incredible boost! Cue an influx of Sylvia Day fans to my Twitter account, all eager to chat about their favourite erotica series, and this time the meeting was a success!

The online book club has really grown from there. People from as far afield as the US and New Zealand have joined in (yes, the time difference means that it’s 6.30am in New Zealand when we start at 7.30pm in the UK – that’s dedication!) And if you’re wondering how it all works, it’s very simple – I ask the questions, then re-tweet everyone’s answers. Little pockets of conversation spring up, the discussion gets going, and people can dip in and out as they like.

At the end of each session, I ask for suggestions for the next read, and I’ve discovered some great new books that way: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire; The Siren by Tiffany Reisz; On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. All of the featured authors have been wonderfully supportive – whether simply re-tweeting my messages about the book club, or (as Tiffany Reisz did) actually joining in with the meeting! It was fascinating to get the author’s perspective on the characters, and she also gave us tantalising teasers for the next books in the Original Sinners series.

What’s really nice is that I’ve noticed some of the book club members becoming friends in ‘real life’. They tweet each other in between meetings, whether about what they’re reading, or just everyday chat. It’s like my novel has come to life! Running the online naughty girls book club has been a brilliant experience, and I’ve discovered some fabulous books and met some lovely people. If you fancy joining in, check me out on Twitter @Cafe_Crumb, where you can get details of the latest read. We’d love to have you!

Sophie Hart lives in London with her boyfriend and her collection of naughty books. She likes to spend her time going on nice holidays, making half-hearted attempts to exercise, and lusting after Daniel Craig. The Naughty Girls Book Club has been described as ‘chick lit with a saucy twist’ and hit Number One on The Bookseller’s Heatseeker chart.  You can find Sophie hanging around on Twitter and Facebook.

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