Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Giving Readings

elizabeth (2)I’m one of those writers who’s a real people-pleaser.

Would you like me to change something in my manuscript? A character name, the setting, a plot point? Bring a character back from the dead or kill one? I’m your girl.

Want me to talk to your book club? On the radio? Give a chat at a bookstore? I’m there.

Want me to do a reading?….No thanks. I’ll ask to do something different.

I’ve read aloud on two occasions—and both times I was taken completely by surprise. Once I was on a panel at a bookstore event and a reader from the audience asked me to read an excerpt from my book.

“I don’t read,” I told her. She was a scowling older lady and she raised her eyebrows at my proclamation that I didn’t read. “I mean, aloud,” I said. Again with the eyebrows. “Except to my children.” She looked stern. So I ended up reading my prologue. I was quite put-out.

The second time, I was on a book tour and didn’t realize a reading was part of the gig. And I had to follow Avery Aames who has been a professional actress. Ugh. Let’s just say that I couldn’t compare. (The picture at the top of the post shows Avery and me together before last summer’s event—luckily there are no pictures of the moment when I realized I’d be doing a reading. :) )

Why do I dislike readings so much? I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like being read to. One of the things that will drive me up the wall is to have my hubby try and read a story out of the newspaper to me. I’ll read it myself! In seconds, because I read quickly. And since I don’t enjoy being read to, I’m also not wild about reading aloud, myself.

This being said, I’ve attended a number of events where there were readings (and couldn’t escape). Here are some tips for handling readings:

Keep it short. Really short. This Galley Cat article recommends keeping the reading to three minutes.

If you don’t have a microphone, speak loudly.

Use inflection when you’re reading. Avery Aames honestly had the best reading I’ve ever heard. Did her background in television have anything to do with that? Of course! I felt almost like I was listening to a book on tape…which was much more entertaining than an ordinary reading.

If you’re on a panel, be sure to listen attentively when someone else is reading their excerpt.

I’d love to be converted into a writer who enjoys readings, but I have a feeling I’m a lost cause. Any tips to win me over to them? Does anyone out there actually enjoy readings—either listening to them or giving them?


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