Friday, March 25, 2011

Small Press Month - Tip # 25

March 25 - Create a list of discussion questions for book clubs and other groups. Make sure the questions are not leading ones...and make sure they relate to many aspects of your book. You want readers to think and discuss your book, but sometimes you have to "guide" the group along without leading them to the answers you think they should come up with.

Think about how you want people to view your characters, or how you want them to behave after reading your book. Create your questions from those thoughts, but keep an open mind when doing this. Ask people that have read your book to review the discussion questions and try to have a discussion based on the questions. Listen to what they say and adjust your questions so you are not leading the answers by how you ask the question.

Plan on having 10-15 questions of varying lengths and topic areas. Focus on scenes, characters, emotions, thought processes, outcomes, metaphorical references, and time periods. Try to stay away from educationy-sounding questions -- you don't want someone criticizing you for being too "didactic". (Which I hear a lot these days. It means "intending to instruct" -- which is kind of ironic, because it's usually people in the education field telling me this. How can something for an educational environment be not intended to instruct?... but I digress.)

EXTRA TIP: We now put a little seal on the back cover of the book that says "Includes discussion questions," and that helps schools, libraries and book clubs select your book over another one because you have made it easier for them to utilize your book in groups.

Discussion questions also do one more thing. They really help the group leader understand your thought process, and that helps them see the relevance of your book to their group.

(Oh yeah, have some fun doing this!)

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