Tuesday 29 July 2014

Reader's Luncheons with Guest Blogger, Debby Giusti

Today I have asked Debby Giusti to come and share some information about Reader's Luncheon. Welcome Debby

Debby Giusti here!
Thanks, Jenny, for inviting me to your blog. I’d love to share some information about one of my favorite type of events…Readers’ Luncheons. Whether hosted by a writing group, church or civic organization, or even a library, a readers’ luncheon is a wonderful way to promote local authors.  It’s also a great way for writers and readers to mix and mingle and talk about books and the craft of writing while generating revenue for a worthy cause.
I often attend the Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon held each spring in HuntsvilleAlabama.  Many of the authors arrive on Friday and lodge at the Embassy Suites that adjoins the conference area.  Heart of Dixie Romance Writers of American chapter members join the authors for dinner that night and often visit in the lobby until late in the evening.  The next morning, readers line up early and wait for the doors to open, hoping to grab a seat at their favorite author’s table. 
The writers provide books and small gifts for the people sitting with them and also donate large baskets or totes filled with books and other goodies for door prizes.  The chapter provides additional baskets that are raffled off as well as “get your name in a book” chances where the winner’s name ends up as a character in a future novel. In addition, each attendee receives a bag filled with books and promotional material. A nationally known, best-selling author is the guest speaker, and a book signing follows the luncheon.
Debby waits for the doors to open for the
Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon.
Kathy Bone has chaired the Heart of Dixie Readers’ Luncheon for a number of years and shared the following suggestions for hosting a successful event.
Mary won my author basket!
 “Our luncheon has grown in size, from 144 to182 attendees in four years.  We've learned to better access online resources, advertise the luncheon on the chapter website, use online PROMO requests to help create over 40 raffle baskets, post bookseller posters detailing the event, leave stacks of invitations at book stores and other retails shops, and include invitation postcards in other event goody bags.  The key is promotion.  I can't stress this enough.  Let readers know this luncheon is all about them.  Include readers.  They'll love the hosting chapter for it and will be devoted to it from that time forward.”
The Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon
 The Southern Magic RWA chapter in BirminghamAL, holds a similar readers’ luncheon each November.  Former chairperson, Lisa Dunick, says her chapter wanted to grow the event, which was a huge challenge.  “You need to keep the ticket prices reasonable but still be able to cover the cost of food and facility rental. If you want to have an event that is professionally catered, don't expect to make a lot of money--if anything--on the ticket sales unless you can sell A LOT of tickets. But then, too many tickets mean you have to pay for a larger space, so it's a strange balance.”
Lisa advises asking for donations early. “We had so many lovely authors send boxes of books and other goodies, and because I also asked presses and publicists, we were able to get some sponsors for things like the swag bags and an e-reader we raffled off.”
My table at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon.
Murder in the Magic City, held in HomewoodAlabama, is hosted by the local Sisters in Crime Chapter and is chaired by Margaret Fenton, who calls it “a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference.” Close to 100 readers listen to a series of author panel talks, enjoy a delicious box lunch and bid on baskets provided by the Sisters in Crime chapter.  A book signing concludes the day-long event, and the money raised is donated to the SINC Chapter’s charity.
The following morning, the authors travel to WetumpkaAlabama, for Murder on the Menu.  More than 130 readers take part, and the proceeds benefit the town’s library.  The authors are treated to an early lunch with the mayor and chief of police and her deputy and then rotate tables during the actual luncheon to speak individually with the folks attending the event. 
Margaret Fenton has organized Murder in the Magic City for over five years and says, “People want to hear authors they know of and have read.  We get two relatively big names every year, and then 10 or 15 or 20 midlist authors who need the exposure.”
Debby's gifts for each person sitting at her table for
Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon 2014
Barbara Vey, formerly with Publishers Weekly, hosts an annual luncheon that has grown from 130 readers to over 500 in three years. Held in MilwaukeeWisconsin, Barbara says the luncheon is filled with fun, gift bags full of books and door prizes. Proceeds benefit a local charity and provide what Barbara calls a “girl’s day out with a room full of your best friends who love books.” For those arriving the day prior, Barbara hosts an evening Question and Answer forum with the authors fielding questions and a social get-together after the Q&A.
Debby Giusti (L) poses with Debbie Macomber,
Keynote Speaker for Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon
Whatever the format, Readers’ Luncheons are delightful for everyone involved. Consider planning such an event in your local area.  All you need are a number of authors willing to host a table, volunteers who will provide the manpower and readers eager to attend.
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
By Debby Giusti

Eight years ago, a drifter destroyed Becca Miller's ties to her Amish community—and murdered her family. Now a special agent with Fort Rickman's criminal investigation department, Becca knows her past has caught up with her and doesn't want to relive it. She's convinced that the killer, who supposedly died years ago, is very much alive and after her. Special agent Colby Voss agrees to help her investigate. Yet the closer they get to the truth, the closer the killer gets to silencing her permanently. 


  1. Thanks, Jenny, for hosting me on your blog! I hope some of your visitors will have questions I can answer about Readers' Luncheons. They're fun events that everyone--readers and writers alike--always enjoy!

  2. Hi Debbie - what an interesting post! I would LOVE it if we had something like that here in Australia. Maybe not on such a grand scale as yet - our audience is tiny in comparison with yours - but it's a great concept and something for us to aim at. Nothing wrong with starting small though, is there?

    1. Hi Andrea I would too. and even if it was just small for the local area. I am sure places like koorong would put up a notice also.

    2. Hi Andrea, starting small is a good idea. Any size group would enjoy a readers' luncheon. Authors host their table and give away a basket of books, which would work no matter the number attending.

  3. Thanks Debbie. I agree with Andrea - it's a great idea and would be lovely if we Aussies organised something similar. Thanks for your post.

    1. Hi Jeanette, It would be good wouldn't it. even starting small would be great. I know that some states have writer get togethers maybe at some stage it could include readers too so it starts informally.

    2. Hi Jeanette. I mentioned a number of different type events in my blog, but you could come up with your own format. Getting writers and readers together always spells success!

    3. Hi Jeanette. No matter the format, getting writers and readers together always spells success!

  4. Hi Debby, Welcome to ACW :) It was wonderful to see you at RWA this past week.

    Thanks for sharing the helpful tips on the Reader Lunches. It's a great concept that we could adopt in our part of the world. I noticed a few of the events you mentioned are organised by RWA chapters. Do you think it's better, or easier, to stick to one genre eg. romance, or can the lunches work well across genres? For example, a Christian event that covers fiction, non-fiction and children's books.

    1. Good Question. being a smaller part of the world it may need to be spread across genres here.

    2. Hi Narelle! So wonderful seeing you at RWA. Hope you had an uneventful trip home. :)

      Yes, including a number of genres would work. Folks would sit with the authors they like to read. Even the romance luncheons I attend have a number of different genres within romance--some steamy, some sweet, even mystery and thrillers--but the readers find their own subgroup. Talking books is fun no matter the genre.

  5. What a wonderful original idea. Oh for something like that here in Australia. Debby, do the guests pay for their meals or is that covered by sponsors of the event?

    1. From what I have heard the guests pay a for tickets that would include food.

    2. Hi Rita! Yes, those attending buy a ticket that covers lunch and a goody bag filled with swag and books that authors and publishers donate. The event coordinators also provide raffle baskets that generate revenue to help cover the cost of the event. The raffle tickets are sold during the event with the raffle held after lunch. The author baskets are not part of the raffle. The name of every reader attending is placed in the drawing for the author baskets, which are given away free. Readers have a chance of winning both author baskets and raffle baskets. Folks love to win so the drawings create a fun buzz and build excitement. The author book signing is the last event for the day.

  6. So good to know about reader’s luncheon. These details are very nice. Anyways, I also have to host a DIY lunch party on coming weekend and would like to book the best Los Angeles venues for this bash. I was just finding some ideas for easy lunch menu. Can anyone help regarding it?


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