5 Tips for Knocking ‘Em Dead at Your Book Readings

August 2001
by Gail Farrelly

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This is not a “how to” article about Sopranos-style whackings. Instead, it’s a primer on reading from your book in a way that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. Here are five key tips:

Tip #1. Don’t be boring! People may assume that boring speakers are boring writers. Rather than choosing one or two long passages, it may be better to read numerous short passages, interspersed with personal reflections about those passages (how you came to write them, what it was like to revise them, your thoughts as you were writing them, etc.). Be a storyteller. Stories are guaranteed to capture the interest of the audience.

Tip #2. Project your voice. I’ve attended some readings in which authors buried their heads in their books, softly reading long passages in a monotone. Some of the audience couldn’t understand a word that was being said. Other didn’t care to. Yikes! That’s no way to sell yourself and your books. When you do a reading, think of yourself as an actor, rather than a writer. Read with attitude. If you have trouble projecting your voice, plan in advance to use a microphone.

Tip #3. Seek audience participation. “Just listening” is a lost art. You may want to do a short reading first. Then get the audience involved. Ask them what they’d like to hear. If some of them have already read your book, ask what their favorite parts were. You could discuss these parts, offering some fresh insights and/or choose a selection from these parts for…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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