of the biggest challenges I faced, after writing my first book, was reading from it to a live audience. I had never done anything like that before. My very first reading at a bookstore in Vacaville, sadly now closed, is still a vivid memory. I had flop sweats from minute one. I plowed onward. And at the exact right time in the scene the audience laughed.
Once I got that laugh I was hooked on the feedback loop in public readings. I enjoy readings immensely. But it took practice and learning from a lot of mistakes to get there. All in all, it’s no surprise to me that one of the most common requests for advice from new authors is how to survive that first reading. In 2020 it got even more complex because we had to manage cameras, lights, and microphones, as well as working with tech or someone running the tech. It was that, or have no opportunities at all to appear for readers.
I’ve attempted here to create a useful checklist of advance work that will take a lot of anxiety out of the process. Plus tips for managing the event itself gleaned over many years in a changing landscape of opportunities for live readings.
Hidden bonus: Reading my work aloud has also proven an invaluable editing and feedback tool. I hear clunky phrases, wrong words, repetitive structure, and awkward sentences when my eye thinks they’re fine. Once, before publication thank goodness, I even discovered a paragraph was one long sentence, all 143 words of it. I had also used actually, really, and just multiple times each. My ear heard them; my eye didn’t see them. Read More