Why book clubs and discussion guides are good things for authors
This is a post by Novel Publicity Marketing Director, Pavarti K Tyler
Does a novel have to wear an Oprah sticker to be worthy of discussion? Of course not. Book Clubs exist in all shapes and sizes; some are even formed around a common niche interest. Jane Austen, anyone? There’s no doubt that book clubs are great ways to make new friends, eat more muffins, and find common ground between the pages of a book. But aside from the fact that writers are, indeed, readers, what do book clubs have to offer authors?
Philip Roth’s recent run-in with Wikipedia over his novel, The Human Stain, highlights the ongoing cultural discussion of whether or not authors are the greatest authorities on their own work. Writers possess conscious awareness around their sources of inspiration and the themes of their work. But what about the subconscious mind? Is it possible for books to contain more than the author intended?
Once a book is published, it flies off to live many different lives in the minds of readers. The author has no control over the gathered perceptions of everyone who reads their work. This is a good thing. Imagine how dull reading would be if readers couldn’t share the author’s world in their own, unique way and form their own opinions? One of the huge benefits of book clubs is the focus they bring to the reading experience. In order to be able to discuss their personal relationship with a novel, book club members must process, distill, and dissect their reactions to the work.
Even if the reader response is unintended, even if the author never knows what’s discussed around that plate of donuts, this type of focused discussion of one’s work is a gift to the author. You have had an effect on the world! And word of mouth is the absolute best way to sell more books.
However, many of us have a vision of what we intended to get across in our novels? Well, one way for authors and publishers to help steer book club discussion is to place a Discussion Guide at the end of their books. Well thought out questions can lead readers to dig out the same themes and conclusions reached by the author. And if book clubs turn up unintended bits of treasure as they journey together through your novel? That’s a bonus. Books have lives of their own.
Discussion guides can also help a book which otherwise might be over looked appeal to a group. Knowing there is a guided discussion available makes the process of leading a Book Club much easier. Traditionally, Literary Fiction is the target audience for book club Discussion Guides, however, any book can benefit from having a little something extra to help readers sink their teeth in.
This week, we are celebrating five books which feature Discussion Guides: Monique Domovitch with Scorpio Rising, Jane George with X-It, Anderson O’Donnell with KINGDOM, Lenore Skomal with BLUFF, and Pavarti K Tyler with Shadow on the Wall. While very different, each of these novels offers readers the opportunity to think beyond the pages in front of them, and explore the deeper meaning of issues such as love, death, religion, ethics and morality.
Please follow along on our Event Page for great opportunities to find out more about what Book Clubs mean to authors, readers and bloggers as well as some great opportunities to win one of the prizes these authors are offering.
About this post’s author:
Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a dramaturge, assistant director and production manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry as a freelance accountant for several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy working as the director of marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next novel. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.