corporate book club

How To Run A Company Book Club (And Why Every Company Should Have One)

You saw the book on the shelf at the bookstore, or maybe you bought it online late one night, and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

It finally gets to your house and you read the first and second page. Maybe you even get through the first chapter.

But then you get busy with work. The book becomes a coaster for your third coffee.

The topic you’d been so excited about is soon forgotten as the book collects coffee stains and becomes more clutter on your desk.

What if we told you there was a way to grow your work culture and read a book at the same time?

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.

how to run a company book club

Books create history, and history creates culture. When it comes to work culture, it’s easy to bypass the importance of books. However, here at Self-Publishing School, we believe in the power of writing books and reading books. 

Sitting down to read a book can seem a little intimidating to some people. But with a little guidance, purposeful reading can bring you and your company great results.

Starting a book club is the first step in this process.

There are four core steps to creating a successful book club:

  1. What Are The Benefits Of A Company Book Club?
  2. How To Choose The Right Book
  3. How To Run The Book Club Itself
  4. Book Club Ground Rules

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

How to Run a Company Book Club Successfully

Not only will reading a book help you learn about new topics, but it will also widen your interaction with coworkers and deepen your relationships.

That’s why we want to share not only why every company should have a book club, but the practicalities that will make a book club possible for you.

#1 – What are the benefits of a book club?

Not only are book clubs a key part of building culture, but depending on the book list you choose from, conversations will result around topics that are meaningful to you and those you work with.

At Self-Publishing School, we usually host a book club once a month or every other month. This results in roughly 6-12 clubs throughout the year and has greatly impacted our company culture.

The purpose of a company book club is to develop and train employees to be better employees, leaders, and people. Let’s break that down.

Better Employees:

When employees are spread out over different tasks and each person has a different job scorecard, it’s easy for a team to feel disjointed.

But the definition of a team is one of unity and collaboration.

When a team comes together to read a book, the result is a central focus on the same topic. No matter what part of the company individual team members work in, their mindset shifts to the same general theme. This ups team morale and ultimately, team productivity.

The benefits of having every member of a team focused on the same topic is transformational, and something we’ve seen at Self-Publishing School.

Better Leaders:

It’s said that influential people read quite a bit, and this statement has been proven true through the success stories of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders.

The same can be true for your company.

The more widely read your team, the more likely they are to step up in leadership. Regardless of whether you choose a book on leadership, personalities, or another topic timely to your team’s needs, the result will be the same: the more educated your team is, the more they will step up in different situations of leadership.

Every business desires leaders, and the secret is, every business can grow leaders. Maybe your business is a startup or a younger company. That’s ok. It doesn’t always take leadership seminars to grow leaders.

Simply gathering your team around a book with a needed theme can grow your employees from followers to leaders.

When leaders are in the details of a company, the company flourishes.

Self-Publishing School Virtual Company Book Club

Better People:

In today’s world of social media, self-care, and me-time culture, it’s easy to become self-obsessed without trying.

Reading about other people and other topics, universal themes, and the thoughts of leaders around the globe greatly impacts the actions of individuals.

The world is so much bigger than the company you or I work at, or even the company we may run. There are people outside the walls of our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces that can bring meaning into our lives.

You don’t need to fly your team overseas to learn from world-renowned leaders.

Simply purchase several copies of a book they’ve written. Some white pages with black ink can go a long way in influencing company culture.

When we read we open our minds. When our mind is open we become more aware of others. And when we are aware of those around us we become better people.

Alright…

We’ve talked about three results of a book club, but how do you actually choose a book? If you’re going to devote company time and the time of your team into the reading and discussion of a book, it’s important to choose the right one.

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#2 – How To Choose The Right Book

Here at Self-Publishing School, we usually spend about an hour a week on our book clubs (not counting reading time). At the end of the year, combining reading, meeting time, and time spent scheduling it all out, that’s a good chunk of time.

Some might say, “That time could be spent investing in the company.”

True. But from experience we would argue investing time in a book club is investing time in your company.

Good companies are run by good employees, good leaders, and good people. All these factors result from well-run book clubs.

So back to our original question – how do you pick a book?

Not every team will benefit the same from every book. Choosing a book to fit your company’s current needs is key to making the most out of your book club training time.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself when choosing a book for book club:

  • What’s the key message I want my team to understand?
  • What area do we most need help with as an organization?
  • What’s a must-read for your team and team goals?
  • What’s an area your team has been struggling in?
  • What particular interests does your team have?
  • How can you encourage your team/how might you be encouraged through a particular book?
  • Do you know of any authors who can do a Q&A at the end of book club like we do for

Once you pinpoint an area of improvement/focus for the team, search for some book club picks or reading lists online.

A simple way to do this to pick the top three most relevant books from a book club recommendation list or reading list. Determine the most relevant book for your team, then use it as the material for your current book club.

We’ve read topics from leadership books to sales and marketing books.

Currently, we’re working through The Five Love Languages. This has not only helped our company grow in teaching us how we can best work together, but also brought the focus back to the spouses of our team members.

company book club book

This has grown team relationships as well as their relationships with their spouses, which all contributes to a better team member.

As a company, we love growing our team, but when we can also help our teammates’ personal lives, it’s a win-win.

You know why to have a book club and how to choose a book…

#3 – How To Run The Company Book Club Itself

While we may not read as much as previous generations, reading is still very important, not to mention it comes with the benefits mentioned earlier.

When running a book club, using shorter books help.

What you don’t want are stressed out team members trying to complete a marathon read before the deadline.

What you do want it as low pressure a schedule as possible.

When it comes to the meeting itself, it’s helpful to lay ground rules and then break the meeting down into three parts.

#4 – Book Club Ground Rules

Be sure to create a reading schedule and meeting dates. You can do this in batches where you create all the due dates at one time. You can schedule book club meetings over the course of a calendar month, and meet weekly for 45-60 minutes.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we use Asana to structure not only our company book club meetings, but all our meetings.

You’ll see tips for the following book club meeting structure:

company book club schedule

Ask team members to prepare ahead of time by thoroughly reading the chapters and taking notes for reference during the meeting.

To cut down on spoilers, ask book club members not to read ahead of the assigned readings.

As far as running the meetings smoothly, assign a meeting leader for each meeting. Be clear that the purpose of the leader is to facilitate discussion by asking questions, keeping everyone on time, and guiding the conversation. Allow the meeting leader to rotate each week.

If you’re wondering how to effectively choose the next team leader, simply ask the current team leader at the end of the meeting to pick the leader for the next week.

This can be done in “popcorn” fashion.

If necessary, divide book club participants into groups. Try to mix groups with people from different departments and people who don’t often communicate with each other.

This will not only bring the company together but also potentially forge new working relationships and potentially even friendships.

Now that the ground rules are laid, let’s talk about the three aspects of an effective book club meeting.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 1: Stories From Out in the Wild – 10 minutes

We like to call this part “stories from out in the wild.”

This is a time designated for team members to share how their real-life reminded them of what they’re learning from the book. Be sure the meeting is open flow and open dialogue. You want this to feel different from other team meetings, more relaxed, and very open for discussion.

The examples/stories should consist of how you’ve seen what you’re learning play out in your work and life over the last week. They are intended to be conversation starters.

During the week feel free to jot down any funny or impactful stories or application of the book playing out in your life.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 2: Lessons Learned/Topics For Discussion – 30 minutes

This part can be defined as simply asking what stood out to the team as individuals.

Here are some questions to prompt the book club discussion:

  • What paragraphs did they connect with?
  • What resonated?
  • What point/points stuck out to them?
  • What were the biggest takeaways?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you like to talk about with the team?

Again, keep this open for discussion and input from all team members. Remember that this doesn’t have to be done in order or turn-by-turn, either.

If someone has something to add, just speak up!

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 3: Takeaway/Application – 15 minutes

Ask the team based on the week’s reading, what their next steps are.

This doesn’t need to be too stringent, as you don’t want this to become another task to check off the to-do list! Include only one or two things you plan to personally put into action from your learning in the book/the meeting itself.

Bonus Step:

As a bonus, we’ve brought in different authors to do a short, thirty-minute Q&A. This helps our team connect on multiple levels because they’re already excited about the topic.

Experiencing a live Q&A with the author brings that excitement full circle.

You can check out another one of these we did here:

book club q&a

Book Club Meeting Agenda Final Checks

Here is a reminder of the few points to keep in mind when launching your first book club:

  • Choose the right book for the book club based on your team’s needs
  • Schedule all meetings in advance (this can be done in “batches”)
  • Pick first meeting leader in advance
  • Open discussion with real-life examples from team members

Remember that book you bought online late one night (or thought about buying) but never actually read?  

You just purchased several copies of that book.

Together you and your work team read through the first and second page. During your first meeting, you even have a discussion about the entire first chapter.

Work gets busy but the book your team is reading becomes a central, unifying theme for the company’s busy season.

The topic you’d been so excited about begins to influence your work culture. You even met someone who works in a completely different department and you have plans for next Friday. This coworker will likely become a friend.  

Your company’s work culture is growing, and so are you.  

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.


5 Simple Steps to Snag Book Endorsements from a Marketing MBA

Growing you book sales isn’t easy. In fact, you’re probably doing it incorrectly already.

This post will show you how to market your book for growth.

But if you want to know all the ins-and-outs of self-publishing a book, including how to write, market, and publish your book within 90 days…we highly recommend watching your free training first.

book endorsements

Here’s how to get book endorsements:

  1. Find the right influencers
  2. Deliver value first
  3. Prepare to ask
  4. Ask for the book endorsement!
  5. Follow up

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here! <https://self-publishingschool.com/programs>

How to get book endorsements

Endorsements are a very powerful form of social proof and trust-builder for potential readers of your book.

Endorsements alone might not make your book a bestseller, but they’ll give you an advantage over other books that don’t have them.

I was able to leverage my endorsement by a top influencer to promote my book on social media, on my website, and even on webinars and speaking engagements.

You could place endorsements or “blurbs” on the back cover of your book, the praise sheet, or even the front cover, as you can see from my endorsement example below.

book endorsment example

But, how do you get top influencers to support your book? Here are five simple steps to get endorsements for your book.

#1 – Find the right influencers

The most powerful endorsements are those given by people who are well-known in your field.

To select the right influencers, find out who your ideal readers admire. Post the question on targeted social media groups or ask them directly.

Also, ask yourself what top influencers you follow and respect. Add their names to the list.

Focus on quality over quantity, but if you don’t have enough names, search for bestselling books similar to yours and check out who endorsed them.

It’s important that the influencers have a style and values similar to yours. That way, your ideal reader will be likely to be attracted to them and be familiar with their work.

How do you figure out the style and values of potential endorsers? Start by visiting the “About Me” page on their website and pay attention to their branding and message.

Then, visit their social media pages and focus on the style of their posts and the content they share. You’ll get a good idea of whether the person’s values and style might be a good match for you or not.

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#2 – Deliver value first

Because it’s much easier to get a yes from someone who has already received value from you, it’s important that you start planning your request for endorsements in advance.

For blurbs by top influencers, you might need to start the outreach process several months ahead of the publication of your book.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, there’s always a way for you to bring value to the influencers and start a relationship with them.

Something as simple as sending them a handwritten note about how much their message means to you, posting a video review of their book on Amazon, or recommending them on LinkedIn will help you stand out.

Here are other examples of powerful ways to stand out:

  • becoming an active member on the influencers’ social media groups
  • attending one of their conferences
  • joining one of their paid programs

You should do this because you truly enjoy their message and not just because you’re seeking endorsements. Your true intentions will come through in your communications and behaviors.

Avoid going straight to the ask without having taken the time to deliver value first.

#3 – Prepare to ask

Before you reach out to potential endorsers, do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.

Prepare well in advance so you can find the best opportunities to ask for the endorsement, and give yourself enough time to get through gatekeepers.

For example, if the influencer will be speaking at an event in your town, you could grab a ticket and introduce yourself.

However, local events aren’t your only choice. One of my friends was interested in building a relationship with an influencer who would be speaking three thousand miles away. But that didn’t stop her.

By following the influencer on Instagram, she learned that this person loved brownies and would be attending the event with her husband.

My friend ordered a dozen brownies to be delivered to the event with a customized note that read, “Best wishes during your presentation. Hope you and your husband enjoy these treats!”

That was the start of their friendship.

As part of your preparation, write a sample endorsement for each influencer. Blurs usually hover around 50 words (never more than 100). If you know their work well, you will be able to create blurbs that closely match their writing voice.

#4 – Ask for the endorsement

It might feel nerve-wracking to ask, but never wrong. If you’re hesitant, it might be too soon in the relationship, especially when it comes to top influencers.

If you ask too soon, they will either ignore you or reject your proposal.

Rushing might mean that you’ll have to start the process all over again and find someone else to endorse your book.

Never send a mass request to a group of influencers. You’ll waste your time, and hurt your chances of ever building a relationship with them. Customization is key.

Send the influencers a copy of your book along with a well-crafted message asking for the endorsement.

Ideally, you’ll send them a physical copy. It doesn’t have to be the final version, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a printed PDF.

That said, you must ensure that whatever you send to the influencer is professionally packaged.

If sending a physical version of your book is not possible, you can send them the PDF or ebook, but you’ll have to ask in a way that stands out. You could achieve this by customizing your message in a unique way, creating a video specifically designed for them, or preceding your email with a handwritten note.

Think outside the box! A video card or a note written on a balloon would be clever ways to stand out, too.

Be succinct. Remember that time is a high-price commodity for influencers (for everyone!) so you don’t want to make it a chore to understand what you’re asking.

Start by expressing why you feel they’re the right person to endorse the book and why you respect them so much. Be sure to mention that you’re eager to make your readers aware of their work.

Next, specify the length of the blurb you’re seeking as well as by when you need it done.  

Don’t make your deadline too far in the future so that it’s put in the back burner, but don’t make it so soon that the influencer will immediately say no. I personally chose 3-4 weeks to collect the blurbs.

Be prepared to negotiate an extended due date, and allow for extra time in your planning.

When you share the blurb that you wrote, explain that you’re just trying to make things easy for them.

Express how much you appreciate their time and attention, and close with the promise to follow up in a week or two.

#5 – Follow Up for Book Endorsements

If you don’t hear back from the influencers, it’s easy to assume they’re not interested in writing the endorsement and be tempted to give up. However, it’s important to realize that they might have not received your message yet. 

Emails go to spam folders. Gatekeepers delete emails and toss out mail. You never know!

When you follow up, try a different way to reach the person. If you used email first, follow up with a handwritten note or a message on social media.

If you find out the name of the influencers’ gatekeepers, reach out to them directly. Build a relationship with them as well, and you will have a great chance of success.

My rule of thumb is to follow up three times. If you don’t hear from them, it might be time to move on.

As you can see, with a well-written manuscript, proper planning, and a great dose of authenticity, it’s possible for you to get endorsements from top influencers in your field.

The most important step is to take action.

It’s easy to be sidelined by fear of rejection, but if you think about it, the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no. If you’re confident in the quality of your book, you have nothing to fear.

Take the first step today to gain powerful social proof and make your book a success!


grammarly review

Grammarly Review 2019: Pros, Cons, and Best Features for Writing

You need help.

That’s why you’re looking into Grammarly, right?

With the world turning to the online and computer space, having a reliable way of ensuring your grammar is nearly perfect each time is essential.

Nobody wants a troll using their grammar as a weapon online.

No matter if you’re a blogger, aspiring to be a successful author, or just want an app to take care of the technical aspects of writing across many platforms (including email – thank goodness!), Grammarly might be the answer for you.

grammarly review

But before we get into the Grammarly review, let’s take a look at what this software actually is.

Here’s what we’ll cover in our Grammarly review:

  1. What is Grammarly?
  2. Grammarly Features
  3. How much does Grammarly cost?
  4. Grammarly Pros
  5. Grammarly Cons
  6. Grammarly Alternatives

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in ourVIP Self-Publishing Program. Learn more by clicking here!

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is an app or extension for your browser that checks your grammar, spelling, plagiarism, and more in real-time on a number of different platforms, including Microsoft Word, WordPress, Facebook, and more.

This grammar app is actually coined as being your “Free Grammar Assistant.”

Sounds nice, right?

But there are certainly limitations – as with any writing software like this. Let’s take a look at a full Grammarly review of its features, the pros and cons, and the price point for premium and business upgrades.

Grammarly Review: The Features with Each Version

As someone who has used Grammarly’s free program for a few years while building a freelance writing business, I can confidently say that if you’re not using it, that’s a mistake.

But there may be features you need that aren’t available with the free or even premium versions.

Here’s a table covering each Grammarly feature and which plans cover it.

FeaturesFreePremium
Grammar and spelling checks
Checks punctuations grammar, context, and sentence structureX
Vocabularly enhacementX
Genre-specific writing style checksX
Plagiarism detector (checks over 16 billions web pages)X

How Much Does Grammarly Cost?

As you know by now, Grammarly isn’t just free – and for a good reason.

With as many helpful features as it offers in addition to what you get for free, paying a pretty penny is totally worth it if you’re someone who needs more of those advanced capabilities.

Here’s how much Grammarly costs for each version:

VersionMonthlyQuarterlyAnnual
Premium$29.95 / month$59.95 (breaks down to $19.98 / month)$139.95 (breaks down to $11.66 / month)
Free

Grammarly Review with Pros and Cons

As with anything, there are some pros and cons that come along with Grammarly.

Let’s dive into this Grammarly review and discuss each in detail and what you can expect if you choose to use it for all your writerly needs.

Grammarly Pros

There are many reasons Grammarly has exploded its growth in recent years. These are a few of many pros this writing software has to offer.

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#1 – Real-time grammar correcting


grammarly editor review

This is fantastic and has changed the game when it comes to checking your work and editing faster.

Instead of writing everything out and then clicking the “check spelling and grammar” button, you’ll know right when you make a mistake that you have, in fact, made an error.

You might be wondering why this is so great when you can just check it after you’re done.

Have you ever forgotten to hit that button when you spent a ton of time drafting something very important? Because I have.

And let me tell you, if I could see the errors as they happen, I can change them right away, resulting in a cleaner final result.

Plus, it’s all automatic. You don’t have to click a button for Grammarly to do its job.

#2 – Highly accurate

This grammar software doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. Occasionally, it can misunderstand what you’re trying to say or put a comma where you don’t necessarily need or want one, but overall, it has a high rate of accuracy.

And when you’re checking grammar, accuracy is always best. Just be aware of why it’s asking you to change something and only accept if it’s correct.

#3 – Easy to understand explanations

Grammarly doesn’t just tell you when something is wrong. While that would totally be okay, this program goes a step further with explanations so you can understand in order to learn and improve.

So not only are you getting the benefit of your writing being polished in real-time, but you’re also learning how to become a better writer.

Grammarly has 2 options when it comes to explanations. You can do a quick-view to make the change with little help like below:

grammarly example

Or you can click “See More in Grammarly” and view a full explanation like the image below:

grammarly review example

The more you use Grammarly, the more you’ll understand where commas go, how to phrase certain sentences properly, and how you can strengthen your writing altogether.

By a simple explanation like the one featured above, you won’t even need Grammarly as much in the future.

#4 – Customization

Even if you’re using the free version of Grammarly, it’s pretty customizable given its limitation in features.

You’re able to select your preferred language, turn it off on certain websites, as well as add new words you use often to the dictionary.

This is perfect if you have any words you use regularly that aren’t necessarily “real” words, like brand names, slang, or abbreviations. There’s no need to fix each of these errors if you just click “add to dictionary” when Grammarly marks it as incorrect the first time.

Just hover over the word and click “Add to Dictionary” in the pop-up box, as you can see below:

grammarly feature example

#5 – Very simple to use

You don’t have to be a computer whiz in order to figure out this piece of software.

Essentially, all you have to do is install the plugin or browser extension and you’re good to go!

Much like Microsoft Word and Google Doc’s spellcheck, Grammarly will underline incorrect words or grammar and show you what to replace it with and why if you simply hover over it.

This is perfect for those of you who need a bit of help in the grammar department but aren’t thrilled with the idea of a more complex piece of writing software.

Grammarly Cons

It can’t all be perfect, right? While there are some amazing features within Grammarly, there are certain aspects that could be improved.

#1 – It doesn’t work on everything


grammarly new feature

Most popularly, Grammarly doesn’t function on Google Docs, which can be a real bummer for those of you who use this writing software all the time.

But, they are currently beta testing Grammarly with Google Docs so you might not have to wait long before this feature is available for good!

Just take a look at the notification I received on my Grammarly Chrome extension when I was crafting this very blog post in Google Docs:

It seems as though Grammarly is certainly breaking out and extending their services to more and more platforms – which is great if you use many for work, hobbies, or a combination of the two.

#2 – Its free version is very limited

As you can see from the table above, the free version of Grammarly is very limited. It really only has one function, and that’s to correct your spelling and grammar.

While this might seem like a major con to some, it’s perfectly acceptable to others.

Personally, I don’t need much more than just the free features.

Going for Grammarly Premium is certainly more useful for those looking to transform their writing for the better or those who need a bit more than just grammar help.

There’s a huge gap between the free version and the premium option that could be closed a little by offering more free features.

If you’re curious which writing software is best for you and if Grammarly is even a good fit, take this short, 2-minute quiz below to find out!

Want to find the best writing software for you?

Take this quick, 2-minute quiz to find out which will help you the most!

Click Here to Take the Quiz!

#3 – Aggressive advertising

This company wants you to upgrade – they really want you to upgrade.

While they’re completely justified to get you to spend more money to go premium, their spam-like ads and emails can be a bit much for people.

Thankfully, you can easily opt-out of their email list by unsubscribing and that virtually solves the problem on that end.

However, they still advertise to you through the Grammarly extension from time to time by notifying you to upgrade.

While it’s irritating, it’s still tolerable and not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Grammarly Alternatives

If you’re not quite sold on Grammarly, there are other programs out there that are very similar you might want to check out.

Writing SoftwareCost
Microsoft Word$79.99
Scrivener$45
Pages$28
Freedom$2.42/month
Google DocsFree
EvernoteFree
FocusWriterFree
FastPencilFree
Hemingway AppFree
DropboxFree
Open OfficeFree
yWriterFree

What’s Your Author DNA? Find out Which Famous Author You Are!

Knowing what type of author you are will do wonders to help you sharpen your writing skills. When we become aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we begin to flourish.

Nobody is perfect at writing. Not even Stephen King or George R.R. Martin. But the one thing these authors know about themselves is how they write and what they need to work on in order to improve themselves.

But those pros have been at it for years. They had to put in hours, weeks, and years before they were able to determine what type of writer they were.

And with the self-publishing world on the rise, who has time for that?

It’s so important now, more than ever, that you realize your strengths and weaknesses as an author from the start. When you know what you need to buckle down on and what you should spend time highlighting in your work, you can save time while writing and become a better writer overall.

Find out what type of author you are!

We decided to do the work for you. Instead of wasting weeks, months, and even years figuring out the type of author you are, you can find out in just a few minutes!

This quiz is composed of 10 highly intuitive questions to help match you with a famous author just like you! Along with learning who your author twin is, you’ll gain a stronger understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and even gather tips for improving.

What are you waiting for? Find out what your author DNA is right now!

 

Take the Quiz Now!

Click Here to Take the Quiz