Book clubs: A good use of my time? Or just plain fun?

As a first time novelist, the publishing process is new to me, and so I’m not quite sure what typical authors do to promote their books, communicate with readers, and make themselves available to the general public. I have wonderful people at Broadway working with me, but I’m also trying to do my part, using Twitter, Facebook, and this blog to reach out to potential readers.

Recently, a new opportunity for outreach and promotion has arisen: book clubs. In the past month, I’ve received requests to attend the meetings of about half a dozen book clubs, all of which plan on discussing SOMETHING MISSING, and the book isn’t even out yet!

Since the book has already been chosen as a Border’s Book Club pick, my participation in these book clubs seems to make a lot of sense, and to be honest, I love book clubs. I love talking about stories and authors and writing in general. And to think that I will not be required to read some potentially terrible choice from a fellow book club member (usually my wife, who chooses books using a bizarre and indecipherable process of Internet searches and obscure recommendations that seems to inevitably yield a week of painful reading) is just an added bonus.

My question, though, for the authors, publishers, booksellers, and publicists in the world is this: Is this something that authors routinely do, and is it a good use of my time? Sure, these meetings will be fun, but will they generate sales, buzz, and the like? I’m not sure. Would I be better off spending an evening in a library or a bookstore, promoting my book, or could the time spent with these book clubs be worth the effort?