Whine club?

I stumbled upon a Tweet thread on Twitter this week that caused me to have a flashback. 

A newish author shared that she was invited to talk about her book at a book club meeting. Turns out she had a very similar experience to one I had. Spoiler: No one was the least bit interested in talking about the book. To be clear, they had invited the author, presumably to give background on the book and answer questions.

No one asked a single question about the book of the Twitter author—or of me. Further, she had the distinct impression that no one had actually even read the book. I was a bit luckier. There was one member of the group that I actually knew outside of book club and I knew she had read the book. So, there was that.

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It’s not that hard to pretend you’ve read a book, if you’ve read the back cover copy and the first chapter, you can come up with something intelligent to say. (Many of you have probably been there done that as I have when I’ve learned on short notice I was going to meet an author whose book was on my TBR pile.) Neither the newish author or I had such luck with our respective book clubs. I had the added annoyance that one of the members actually came in and announced that she hadn’t had time to read the book yet. She looked straight at me and admonished: “So, no spoilers.”

I was speechless, and her fellow members were struck dumb as well. Early in the meeting, just after introductions, I was still operating under the delusion that some of them were going to make a comment or ask a question about the book. I assumed her friends would push back on the no spoiler thing, but they did not. A couple of minutes later I discovered the real purpose of the meeting. We walked into the nicely appointed kitchen, where there were some snacks — and a few bottles of wine. The host’s husband uncorked the wine selections, poured generous servings into wine glasses and disappeared into the den, presumably to watch sports on TV.

We settled into a comfortable seating area. They politely asked where I was “from,” and remarked, “I knew you weren’t from around her judging from that accent.” And they congratulated me on being published. They never inquired about the book, but I learned quite a bit about their bosses, husbands, and mothers-in-law. I nursed my drink and wondered how soon I could make my escape, um, I mean my excuses, without seeming rude. 

The ”no spoilers” lady clearly had come for the wine. And she definitely overshared after a few glasses. I envied the guy watching TV in the back room, but decided it might look inappropriate to hang out with the host’s husband. 

It didn’t take me long to figure out I had really been invited to a WINE club, where the ladies gathered to drink and commiserate about jobs and family and such. Calling it a book club provided cover, I suppose.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain. The wine was excellent. And all the members did BUY my book! 

As an author, if you get invited to speak at a book club meeting, especially in someone’s home, temper your expectations. And be careful how much wine you drink, especially if you get loose lips after a couple of glasses. 

Note: If you are invited to speak to a book club that meets at a library, they are likely to actually ask questions about the book. So, prepare accordingly.

Have you ever been invited to an event that turned out to be NOT AT ALL what you had expected?

45 thoughts on “Whine club?

  1. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. The one thing I do when I go to a convention is if I don’t see anyone on the author’s line, I go up to the author, even if I never read their book, and congratulate them on being published. Usually the book signings I go to are at bookstore or library.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. The only book signings that I have been too have been at the library. I was supposed to go see Lucy Burdette at an independent book store but I was too sick to attend. I am still bummed out about it. I saw Stephen King and his son Owen at a Library and they were quite fun together. I went to get a signed book for my sister as a surprise for her birthday as she is a huge fan of his. I made my husband go too so I could get one for me too.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m the type who tries to read a book for those events. If I didn’t get a chance to read it, or heaven help me, I didn’t like the book, I make sure I have a few questions that will open up the conversation channels.
    If we aren’t there to talk about the book itself, or how the book was “created” in the author’s mind, what’s the f’ing point of the meeting?

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m so sorry, Vickie. What a bummer. I was invited to a book club one time. Those in attendance had read my book, so that was a big plus. The thing was, about five minutes into the Q and A, the host got a call from her daughter in Chicago that she was in labor.
    That made for a quick end to the meeting! All went fine with the delivery, so my story has a happy, if unexpected, ending!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Ive done a few book clubs and most were great. But one that I remember with less fondness was hosted by a group of seniors well into their 70s and 80s. There was no wine, though there was herbal tea and store-bought shortbread. Most had read my book — one lady was honest enough to say she didn’t care for (insert eye roll) genre fiction but had persevered. Another told me about the book she had written in her cat’s voice. And another started talking about Frank Mahovlich, an NHL player from the 70s (no idea why). The good news? That entire scene is going to be in my next book — it’s just too good not to include!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha, Judy, a very similar scenario led to my Ladies Smythe & Westin mystery Permanently Booked. The retirement community’s librarian was murdered, so my sleuths carried on with the book club. Worst one ever, ha.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Vickie, I entirely sympathize with your experience. One of my books was chosen (by our very supportive librarian) for our library’s mystery book club (of which I was a member). I went in to the meeting very nervously, but it turned out no one had read my book–except the librarian. To be fair, my book followed Rebecca (they didn’t care for it) and Tana French. My cover featured a pink handbag and was just a tad more on the lighter side.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve been lucky in that my book club experiences have been pretty on the mark. I’ve only done a couple in person. I know I’ve had an experience where something was nothing at all like I expected because I had a foggy memory when I read your question. But I think that fog comes from me being the one who was wine-ing!

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Thanks for your post, Vickie.

    I should be so lucky to be invited to a book club. It would mean that someone around here actually knows I’m alive and writing novels.
    Your post reminds me of an incident when I was in the high school band. We got tabbed to play for a dinner that was being held in the school gym – I don’t remember for donors, alumni or what. Before the event, our band director thought to warn us: “You’re the entertainment. Don’t be surprised if no one applauds or even looks at you. They’ll probably just keep eating and talking while you play. As a matter of fact, it might be a bad thing if somebody does notice you – it means you’ve screwed up somehow.”
    It was just as he said. We played for an hour or more and never got even a nod of recognition. And we sure didn’t get any wine. We were just there for the background. Gives you a sense of your place in life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw, Tom, musicians don’t always get the recognition they deserve! But, you’ve paid your dues. You added to those diners enjoyment, even if they didn’t acknowledge it at the time!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I get the “book” club that is just a group of people coming together to hang out. But why invite an author if you aren’t planning to include them in the discussion? That makes no sense to me.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I’ve attended mostly wonderful book clubs in person and online. The one hiccup was a virtual one, where a member kept complaining about my audiobook narrator’s voice–sorry, I guess?

    Though I did have a book event where no one really came & the bookseller was the only one who bought my book (probably out of pity)…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jen, can you mute individuals on Zoom? LOL
      That bookseller ensured you’ll come back to her store for signings after you’re really famous! John Grisham does all his signings in Memphis at the very small bookstore that graciously hosted him before he was a bestseller!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I was once invited to speak at a book club, which (I learned after the fact) generally read non-fiction and “literary” fiction. So most of the questions they asked bordered on “so why did you end up writing GENRE fiction?” and the like. Not only that, but the refreshments provided by the host consisted of 4 cookies for 8 people (he cut them in half), and about a half a glass of wine per person. I’d have rather gone to a proper wine club (or cookie) meeting….

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That’s crazy, Vickie! I’ve never been on the receiving end of that, but in my wine, er, book club, if it’s your month to host, you choose the book and put out the refreshments. My book club likes that I’m an author because it brings a different perspective to the discussions, so I thought they’d like to read and discuss a book with one of my author friends who drove clear across Denver in a huge storm to appear. Not one of them read the book and they ALL got a case of “the shys” so it was up to me and the author to have a discussion that they listened in on. So annoying! But she and I had a good time, and plenty of wine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re a good host and a good friend, Becky! My very first signing at a bookstore coincided with a deluge in Memphis. I worried that no one but my mother would show up (and I had some doubts about her. She hates getting her hair wet.) But, friends, cousins, neighbors all braved the weather. We actually sold out. More than 70 books.

      Liked by 3 people

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