As a promotional venue, I think readings can be a boon to sales. But…and it's a big BUT…you better be a confident reader with a good speaking voice. I can't stress that enough.
I've walked out of readings where the author squeaked, snorted, coughed and mumbled his way through his excerpt. I feel for them. I really do, but if you're not capable of "entertaining" your audience you'll lose more potential readers than gain them.
Have any of you seen those horrible commercials for American Idol where they give camera time to the poor slobs who can't hold a note? If that's you with an excerpt… Dude, don't do it!
The purpose of a reading is to rouse excitement and interest in your book--and YOU.
Choose a short excerpt. I usually don't want to listen to anyone for more than 10 minutes and I think it's tiring for the author to make them read longer than that. As a matter of fact, my favorite readings are when authors read only short excerpts then fill the rest of the time with anecdotes about how the story came about.
Excerpts should be short, punchy and carry the tone of the book. If it's romance, I like to hear the part where the hero and heroine first meet. If it's SF, I want to be immersed in the world building. If it's mystery, it better get to the dead body right away.
Speaking of romance: I'm no prude, but I prefer not to hear the part where they get down and dirty. Listening to someone describe a sex act while I'm sitting in a crowded room full of strangers gives me that ick feeling.
Tips for holding a good reading:
• Choose a favorite excerpt, one that really involves you.
• Practice! Make sure you can get through an entire reading without stumbling over words.
• Keep a glass of water nearby.
• Remember to breathe. (I always forget to breathe. It's a wonder I'm still here.)
• Visit your local library and listen to professional story tellers. Watch the way they get involved in the story. Listen for their pauses and analyze their expressions. They really know how to sweep you into their world.
•If it's allowed, talk to the audience before the reading. They might not seem so intimidating if you get to know them as people first.
• Don't rush through the excerpt. I see this a lot. I know authors get nervous, but it's okay. We won't bite.
• Thank your audience, and mingle with them afterwards.
So what about you? Have you done a reading? Would you want to?
If you've done a reading, feel free to add to this list.
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