by Priscille Sibley
I’m still in the pre-publication phase of this amazing endeavor. My substantive edits are done and accepted. As I write this, my copy edits are due to arrive within the next week. And I’m doing all the little last doodads: writing the dedication, acknowledgements, author picture – and my wonderful editor asked if I wanted to include a Reader’s Guide.
Yes, I said immediately because everyone is saying my novel is book club fiction. It stands to reason that a reader’s guide should accompany it to foster discussion.
My book has a few divisive issues floating around in it. (Isn’t there supposed to be conflict?) So I want readers to question what is the right thing to do. I want them to wonder what they would do if they were in my protagonist’s situation.
And frankly, although my protagonist has a definite position, he struggles with his choice. And honestly I don’t know if he makes the “right” one. Hardly any of his friends or family agree with him. I do hope though that he will make a solid enough case that a reader will go along with him on the ride.
So yes, I wanted to write a reader’s guide.
What to include? Let me preface this answer by saying it is not yet done.
- Questions. Right now I have fourteen. One of my questions is: Elle says women are stronger because they can discuss their sadness and men have to mask their pain and insecurities. Do you think that’s true?
- A paragraph or two about what prompted me to write about this topic.
- Supplemental material. There’s the adage about writing what you know. But there is also research. I had to learn things about law, medicine, the Perseid meteor showers, gardening, etc. As of now, I have included a few internet links if anyone wanted to learn more.
- Photographs from archives. I did not do this but I just picked up The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen. It is a historical novel based on the true story of a Civil War era woman who was born into slavery freed. She worked as a spy in the Confederate White House. Leveen includes pictures of some of the real people and places.
- Recipes. In some novels, food takes a place in the story and what the characters eat whet the appetites of readers. After all, we’re supposed to put all the senses on the page, right? How about putting some of those into the reader’s guide?
- Someone this weekend was telling me the version of The Da Vinci Code she read included photographs of the artwork mentioned.
- Bibliographies. Yes, this is fiction but there may be a reader who wants to learn more.
I don’t know exactly what will end up in my reader’s guide.
What else have you seen that worked in a reader’s guide?