If you want book clubs to discuss your book, you need questions, right?

256px-Inverted_question_mark_alternate.svgMy mother’s book club is reading Life First for its February selection. I appreciate my mother’s haranguing her friends until they agreed to read her daughter’s book* diligence, as it’s very cool to be a book club selection.  This will be the second time being read by book clubbers I know, as the book club I belong to read Life First as a selection.

While this is a great honor, I realized I hadn’t made it easy for book clubs as my books had no book club questions in them.  When questions are included the book club facilitator’s job is much easier. All she has to do is read the book and show up with the questions from the book (and maybe wine. Or is that just my book club?).

In an effort to make thing easier for readers who want to read my work for their book club selection, I decided to hunker down and write some questions. Interestingly, this is  niche enough that you can actually hire someone to write them. Being the cheapo cost-conscious author I am, and because I have more time than money at this point in my life, I researched how to write discussion questions and came up with some of my own.

The one thing I struggled with as I wrote the questions was how much information to give away. These questions are designed for people who have read the book. However, on the off chance that someone peruses the questions ahead of time,  I don’t want them to see major spoilers. When I examined book club questions for half a dozen popular books, it looked like they went ahead and gave some foreboding information, but tried to  keep it fairly general.

As such, my questions are similar, with some broadstroke information.  I tried to touch on major issues that could bring discussion. For example, in Life First, the pro-choice movement that is opposed to forced kidney donation borrows some of the language used in the current abortion debate. I ask readers to discuss.

If you think you want to read the book before checking out the questions, don’t hesitate to pick up Life First or Second Life. If you haven’t read the books and mild spoilage doesn’t bother you (how often are you going to hear that phrase?), click the links to be taken to the book club questions (which are housed on the books section of this website). If you have read the books, please click through.

Life First

Second Life

I’ll be updating the ebook files on all the retail sites this week.  Unfortunately, if you purchased through a Smashwords retailer (Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Sony), you probably won’t see the changes until March (sorry! Smashwords pushes out changes slowly).  If you have the paperback, use the links to read the questions. I’ll be updating future paperback editions with the questions in the near future.

* I said that for comedy. My mother does not harangue people. A member of her book club suggested reading it.  I also don’t harangue people, though I have been known to annoy them at times.


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About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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6 Responses to If you want book clubs to discuss your book, you need questions, right?

  1. Jeri says:

    I’ve given the idea of book club questions a thought every now and again. As a former teacher, this sort of stuff is right up my alley 😉 That’s great that you researched how to write good questions. The key to good discussion questions is providing ones that touch on all level’s of Bloom’s taxonomy…. Plus, it can be fruitful to come up with questions that engage the readers in different literary criticism lenses, like a question with a feminist slant, and another with a Marxist slant, etc. Oh, I feel a future blog post coming on.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Going into different literary criticism lenses is definitely a good idea. The nice thing about it, is every book is telling its own story, so you can get very specific about theme or genres. As an author, you also know all the hidden meanings, so you can draw on that in asking your questions. And I’ll certainly keep tabs on your blog, as I’d love to see more of your thoughts on book club questions.

  2. RJ Crayton says:

    Thanks. I had thought about it a while ago, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Once we discussed it at my own book club and then I realized my mom’s was upcoming, I wanted to tackle it. It turned out to be a fun process.

  3. Having questions for book club readers never entered my mind. Greta idea.

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