Ask A... Book Influencer with Robin Kall

Robin Kall has always been an avid reader. From sneaking copies of Judy Blume from her childhood librarian to developing her own radio program, Reading With Robin, in 2002, Robin is a literary influencer and book pusher in her own right. Over the past 14 years, Robin has built a devoted and passionate following locally in Rhode Island, as well as online, and wherever there are readers. In addition to her talk show, Robin has hosted countless “can’t miss” author events including her annual Evening With Authors and Summer with Robin, and the newly minted Point Street Reading Series. Robin is a graduate of Binghamton University and lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their corgi. Follow Robin on Twitter @robinkall, on Instagram @readingwithrobin and “like” Reading With Robin and Point Street Reading Series on Facebook. 

You do so many different things in the world of books; from interviewing authors and hosting events to running an online book club. Was your first job in the publishing industry? 

When I began Reading With Robin in 2002 I had absolutely no experience in this space except that I was a voracious reader and had helped out at a few book fairs when my children were in school. As a caller to a local radio show, I caught the “radio bug” and eventually worked my way onto the show. From there I pitched my own show and knew that I’d want to interview authors. College Hill Bookstore was the first sponsor of the Reading Robin With radio show when it was nothing more than an idea and a whole lot of passion. 

I have a great idea for a book. Can you help me to get published?

I’m sorry but I am not able to help with the publishing journey. The proper way to go about this is to get an agent and have the agent bring your manuscript to the various publishers. This is never the answer writers want to hear but I have heard this advice many times from those in the industry. Check out books that are similar to yours and see who the agents are for those books. Before reaching out to agents make sure you have a really strong query letter. Beware of “agents” who seem too good to be true as they probably are. In a rush to publish, writers can sometimes be easily lured in by scams. 

Do you always finish a book that you’ve started?

No, and it’s always surprising to me when people say that once they have started a book they have to finish it. Life is just too short and there are so many fabulous books out there. If a book is just not doing it for me I have no trouble putting it down. None. 

How do I start a book club? 

If you are interested in starting a book club I would start by asking people whose company you enjoy and see if there is interest. Once you have a few people gathered you might ask them to suggest a few friends. A good number to begin with is 6-8 members. It might grow from there but you want to ensure that you’ll usually have at least 5 for discussion. However you begin your book club, my biggest recommendation is to make sure it’s with like-minded readers. Before you go down the path of agreeing to read a book a month you’ll want to make sure you all have similar goals. Is this going to be a more serious group of readers, more social, or a mix? There is nothing wrong with making your desires known. This is not a good time to “go with the flow” and find yourself with a group of readers determined to read thrillers and mysteries when you are more of a historical fiction fan. One of the benefits of joining a book club can be exposing yourself to books you might not ordinarily read. Then again, there might be a reason you’re not reading those genres. 

Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

I can get myself into a lot of trouble with this question due to the nature of my career. What I will share are some of my favorite titles from the summer! It’s been a summer filled with fabulous books and several awesome debuts. Summer of ’16 favorites include: Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam, The After Party by Anton DiSclafani, Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, and The Assistants by Camille Perri. I am also reading Fall and Winter ’17 right now and I’m excited about many of these as well. Check my Facebook page for updates!