Book the Writer service brings authors to book clubs – for a fee

While authors have appeared in person, via Skype or via telephone at book clubs before, Book the Writer has the clubs pay for the author's appearance.

Ann Hermes
Book club members participate in a discussion at The Book Cellar, an independent bookstore in Chicago.

It’s one thing to imagine during a book club discussion what an author was thinking when penning a particular phrase.

It’s another for the writer to be able to tell you.

While authors visiting book clubs or participating via phone or Skype has happened before, the New York City service titled Book the Writer, recently created by author Jean Hanff Korelitz, is more unusual in that it has book clubs pay the writer for appearing. Authors including Michael Cunningham and Zoë Heller have participated so far and many others are available.

Writer Alexandra Styron, who attended a New York book club as part of Book the Writer, remembered traveling to book clubs in the past without compensation.

“You’re operating at a loss, and that’s okay once in a while,” she told the New York Times. But it becoming a frequent occurrence can be difficult.

Book the Writer doesn’t come cheap – the cost for an author to appear is $750, with $350 going to the service and $400 to the writer. But Korelitz says she hopes to support writers through the service.

“There were so many writers I know and admire who I also knew would appreciate any income at all,” she told the NYT. “Most of us, whether or not we are ‘successful,’ really struggle financially in this city. Also, we’ve reached this point at which we’ve come to assume art should be free, and copyright is under assault, etc., and the bald fact is that the artist has to live, too. So I really liked the idea of creating (or at least extending) a new income source for writers.”

Book the Writer is currently only available for book clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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