Last week, I explained why writers should read their work to a live audience. Here are my top tips for success when you do!
#1 Be Prepared – Once you’ve decided what you’ll read, practice it aloud until you know it back to front. Read aloud in front of your mirror, your housemate, your cat; until you’re comfortable performing it. This will mean you’ll avoid stumbling over words or burying your face in the book on the night!
#2 Don’t Bore Your Audience – This one may seem obvious but audiences can be fickle. My mantra is: “If in doubt, leave it out.” Keep your readings short – a maximum of 15 minutes. Make it interactive, at the very least ensuring to look up from the page and make eye contact. Even better, have the audience participate in the reading in some way.
#3 Promote the Event – Whether through social media or word of mouth you should be prepared to publicise any live fiction event you are at. Twitter and Facebook are great for boosting your audience numbers, as is gently coercing friends, family and co-workers to attend. I tell readers about events via my newsletter (if you haven’t signed up, please do so – I’ll send you a free ebook of short stories).
#4 Go Beyond the Bookshop – Live reading events don’t have to be in bookshops. A live fiction event held at a theatre, coffee shop or art gallery makes for a memorable alternative, and can create a vibe a bookshop can’t. My favourite venue ever (among stiff competition!) was the Grosvenor Casino in Birmingham, where I launched The Bride’s Trail – it’s a crime thriller about a missing croupier, after all!
#5 Get Personal! – Audiences coming to an author reading are looking for a more personal experience than they might get simply reading the book for themselves. Talking about what inspired the story you are about the read, or extra information about the characters etc is a great way to connect with your audience.
#6 Be Courteous – This means always honouring your commitment to attend if you are able to, and aiming to arrive early. This will be appreciated by the event host, and will give you time to familiarise yourself with the venue and prepare.
#7 Have Fun! – Live readings can be nerve-wracking (at least to start with), but they can also be a lot of fun. Remember to relax and enjoy the experience, because it will create a buzz for the audience. It’s a chance to showcase your writing, so use drama and suspense to make it memorable.
If you’re organising a live fiction event, or know a venue that would like to, please get in touch at aaabbottstories [at] gmail.com. I’d love to help!
I’m a British crime thriller writer, author of three full-length crime thrillers and numerous short stories. Here’s a video clip of a live event where I’m reading one of them!