Last week, my book club featured one of my books, Buried Appearances. Sure, I was nervous, but I’d done this before. A previous book club I was in had read and discussed Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker. I could totally handle this, although I did buy lots of booze just in case.
The result? In short, it was not a roaring success – vast understatement. Don’t get me wrong. No one was mean. And therein lies the problem. Because I knew the ladies in my book club – had known them for some time and gotten rip-roaring drunk with them on more than a few occasions – I didn’t properly prepare. Which was a problem since I’m the fearless (Ha! Ha!) leader of the group and usually bring discussion questions to each meeting. Added to my nervousness about the discussion, this was a HUGE mistake on my part.
I’ve been in several book clubs in my life and they all have one thing in common – it’s easy to get off the topic of the book. As I’m a book addict and am a member of a book club to discuss books, this irks me. I don’t think gossip is completely bad. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some gossip. But I think the book should take central stage. I usually handle the off topic chatter by using discussion questions to bring the book back to center stage.
Because I didn’t have discussion questions prepared, we didn’t actually discuss my book that much. We kept veering off of topic. Eventually, the meeting ended up being more about books for future discussion than the actual book we were supposed to be talking about. Color me disappointed.
So, how do you handle a book club discussion of your book?
- Be prepared. Make several discussion questions about your book in advance. Make more than you need! Sometimes questions you think will take hours to discuss are quickly tossed aside. If you need help, check out this article from book riot to get you started.
- Leave time for questions. Your fellow book club members will have questions about the book and writing. Some of which you would have never expected. (Someone asked me why the main character in my novel didn’t ask a man she meets up to her hotel room. It’s a historical fiction novel with a teensy weensy bit of romance. Not a question I was expecting.)
- Create an open atmosphere. A tennis partner asked me yesterday if it was even possible to have a book discussion of my own book as surely everyone would just be nice. Ha! Bloody ha! Most likely people won’t be mean – on purpose. But they will ask questions, some of which will make you feel uncomfortable. Aside from the sex question above, my fellow book club members were upset my heroine didn’t go looking for her mom at the end of the book. Spoiler alert – I never even considered it. Of course, I started doubting myself. Why didn’t I make that the end of the novel? Should I have? And on and on. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.
Considering the above, you’re probably wondering if I would still recommend discussing your book at a book club. The answer is yes. Despite being uncomfortable, I did learn a lot from the experience. So, yeah, I’d do it again.
What is your experience with discussing your book at a book club?