5.12.23 Joy E. Held explains why you need a study guide for your book

Joy E. Held wears a lot of hats: freelance editor, educator, Yoga Alliance registered yoga and meditation teacher, English processor, certified Journal to the Self facilitator and workshop presenter with over 500 articles published across trade magazines, newspapers and literary journals. But she’s also an author, with a historical romance novel (Message to Love) and a nonfiction book Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity.

Her latest project, however, involves both writing and introspection as she asks: Why don’t more writers include study guides with their books? Should you, as an author, include one? Her latest course offering suggests that not only should you — but explains how to as well. I spoke with her via e-mail to find out why this is a valuable asset in any publication.

Your latest course helps authors create discussion guides for their books. What other workshops have you been involved in?

“Create a Discussion Guide for Your Book” is my newest workshop. It leads students in the what and why of discussion guides as well the exact how-to steps to making one that readers, book clubs, and educators will appreciate.

I’ve created several workshops based around the key principles of my book Writer Wellness. My current course offerings include:

“50 Ways to Leave Your Muse and Find Creative Bliss”

“Introduction to Writer Wellness”

“Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity”

“Reflective Writing: A Journal Workshop for Writers”

“Learning from the Masters: Journals of Published Authors”

“Mindset, Motivation, and Wellbeing for Creative People”

As far as which workshop does the “best,” I teach them all regularly and students always have nice things to say about them. For instance, a recent student named Jennifer Henshall says, “Thank you for a wonderful course! I learned a lot of creative ways to keep the journaling juices flowing and am excited to continue honing my craft with this amazing writing technique.”

Why don’t more authors include discussion guides with their books?

Discussion guides have always been a part of some books especially when publishers recognize the value of them. They extend engagement with a book and the author and can lead to more book sales! An author might not include one because it is admittedly a little tricky to know where to start. As an English teacher, I’ve spent the last 20 years composing study guides with questions designed to help my students better comprehend a reading selection. I like making them. My study guide for Bram Stoker’s book Dracula is 15 pages long, although I don’t use the whole thing every semester!

I developed “Create a Discussion Guide for Your Book” for authors who don’t have my teaching background but want to know the steps in creating a discussion guide. Once an author has the template and the ideas from the course, they can apply it to all of their future publications.

Is a study guide as relevant for fiction as non-fiction to have a discussion guide?

This is a good question and one I get regularly. Fiction is ripe with all kinds of directions to go for topics to use in creating a discussion guide. Nonfiction appears on the surface to have all the questions and materials built into the book, but there are always extras that can be included in a discussion guide such as additional resources and details about the author.

Without giving away your whole course, what’s something critical that authors should include in a study guide?

To answer this question, take a look at what is in the course.

  1. What is a book discussion guide?
  2. Typical contents of a book discussion guide.
  3. Discussion categories and how to create questions from your book.
  4. How and why a book discussion guide will help you and your readers.
  5. Downloads of worksheets, progress journals, infographics, checklists, a resource list, a sample fiction book discussion guide, and a basic book discussion guide template.

How can people can sign up?

Here is the link to sign up for the self-paced course. It retails for $197.00, but your readers can access it for $97.00 for a limited time!

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