It’s a special honor this week to feature a man who has worked hard to establish a special connection between readers and authors. Fred St. Laurent, along with his wife, Nora, established The Book Club Network (TBCN) in 2010 with the goal of creating the ultimate online book club.
With its unique and diverse reader groups, monthly giveaways, and book review opportunities — as well as an online magazine now available on Amazon — Fred and Nora have more than achieved their goal.
Fred and Nora currently make their home in Georgia.
What inspired the idea for The Book Club Network?
The original idea was to connect with readers across the country who belonged to book clubs. My wife, Nora, was reading so many books, to find a few good books, to challenge her book club members. Her book club was in a store and she had more than 100 members. These people were not all going to church on Sunday, but they were seeking fellowship and a safe place to discuss the relevant issues that were being brought up in the reading of these wonderful books.
Nora called this Finding Hope Through Fiction and it became Finding Hope Through Reading Groups. We know that Hope is a person and I thought that there might be other groups like this out there. In particular I knew that there had to be other leaders out there, like Nora, who would share the books they loved with each other and possibly cut down on the number of books they needed to read through by networking with each other.
I set out to find them, and did indeed find over 3,000 leaders who make up the core of Book Fun.org where there are close to 7,000 active members today—and just over 500,000 that we send the magazine to each month.
How did you go about organizing what would become such a massive gathering of readers? What have been your biggest challenges?
The platform was the biggest challenge. We wanted to create a safe place where our members would not be assaulted by spammers or even well-meaning authors who do not understand marketing. Social Networking has become a huge hall, full of empty rooms and the idea there is to open all the doors you can, and shout in “Buy my book!” and leave. If you look back at the efforts poured out that day, you find that there are few, if any interactions on the postings done. Add the algorithms that curb the number of people seeing posts, employed by all the large networks and marketing has become a fruitless enterprise.
I have been in sales my whole life and the truth is that very few people buy something from someone that they do not know, or like. Some will but most will not. Social Networking is really about finding the readers and allowing them to get to know who you are. Our network had to provide this kind of safe environment, where this could take place on a sensible level and we believe that we have developed this. We are constantly working to improve on this.
Book Fun Magazine came along a while later. What was its genesis and how has it evolved?
Some of the clubs we connected with were much larger than Nora’s club and we wanted to reach the readers that belonged to them, and most didn’t want another network, which was really designed for the leaders anyway. So we decided to create a magazine that would talk about who the authors were, not what they did. We wanted something that would help connect the readers to the authors in a way that we didn’t see anywhere else. It took off in ways that we didn’t expect and gets out to many people who are seeking family friendly entertainment.
Now we have people on the cover like Dr. Dobson, Franklin Graham, Philip Yancey, Beth Moore (September 2016) and this November we are blessed with Joni Eareckson Tada. The venture has been a total God thing.
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To learn more about The Book Club Network and Book Fun Magazine, visit the Book Fun website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
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[…] Book Fun Magazine, visit the Book Fun website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. (Click here to read Part I of […]
I enjoyed getting to know more about Fred.. I do enjoy being a member of the Book Fun group
Thank you Deanna!
I am so honored to be apart of such a wonderful group lead by such a dynamic couple. Thank you for this great interview.
Hi, Penny! Glad to have you stop by!
Awww thank you Penny. You honor us with your active support!
Thank you Kathy for sharing your interview with Fred with us. I really enjoyed reading about & getting to know more about Fred & TBCN. I have been blessed by being a member of TBCN.
God bless you Tina!
Great interview, I enjoyed getting to know more about Fred, the family and the Magazine.
Thanks, Galinda. Blessings!
Galinda! Thank you! We also enjoyed doing this interview and I am happy that you like it!
It’s great to get to know more about Phred and the beginning of the Bookfun.org. I’ve enjoyed being a part of it so much and am so thankful to author Becky Wade for introducing me to the opportunity.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a note, Gail!
Great interview! I’m a very happy member of TBCN since its inception. Fred and Nora are some of the kindest people I know.
Deborah, it’s good to have you visit DivineDetour!
What an awesome work you have accomplished, your story is a encouragement to others who what to see their dreams come to pass, you all have come a long way in a short 6 years, congratulations