7 Tips for a Fabulous Book Reading

School-person-literature-15648-lI did my first in-person reading of Emma Jean's Bad Behavior last night (I did one on the telephone, which was a bit trippy, for the virtual release party).  It was at at local coffee shop and I'm happy to report that it went really well.   People laughed in all the right places and after the initial rush you get when you stand up in front of a group, I relaxed and settled into it.

I've done a lot of public speaking, presenting workshops on various aspects of writing, and yet reading my own work is a bit of a different beast.  While I've read pieces in manuscript form through the years, now I'm getting used to reading from an actual book.  I thought you might like a few tips.  (I'm probably writing these nearly as much for myself, as a reminder, as for you.)  Because once you are published, and maybe even before, you will get asked to read.

1.  Plan your reading.  Figure out what you are going to read.  I've gone to lovely readings where the author read in an organized flow, segueing from a piece of chapter one, to chapter three and further in, which can give a good idea of a book.  When I tried to do this, it was a disaster–I got confused, and I wrote the book.  So I settled with several passages with chapter one and that worked great.  If you are reading in chunks, be sure to provide connecting information to your audience–and plan it out ahead of time.

2.  Plan your attire.  This sounds vain, but it isn't, really, because you are going to have a roomful of eyes on you and you don't want to be fussing with pulling your shirt down while they watch.  Last night I chose one of those cardigans with long tails in the front precisely so that I didn't have to worry if my stomach was hanging out.  (I thought if I wore my Spanx I wouldn't be able to breathe.  See #5.)

3.  Suss out the location.  Check it out ahead of time.  The coffee shop where I read has a regular Thursday evening reading series and I'd been there a couple times to hear friends read.  I knew there was no podium and that I'd be speaking into a standing microphone.  And I knew this meant that I was going to have do practice reading with my book held in front of my face.   See next tip.

4.  Practice, practice, practice.  This is far and away my most important advice.  Practicing will give you confidence, the confidence that comes from familiarity with your material. It will alert you to potential minefields–the word you've never been sure exactly how to pronounce, the swear word that might not be appropriate for your audience, the sex scene you might want to save for another venue.  Your work sounds different when you read it aloud–do it ahead of time to find potential problems.

5.  Breathe.  Once you've walked onstage, try to remember to take a deep breath.  As mentioned early, there is a rush of energy that comes in the act of getting yourself up in front of others and it can make it hard to catch your breath.  Nerves make you breathe faster, too.  This didn't happen to me last night, but it has in the past, and then I struggled to overcome my shallow breathing.

6.  Make eye contact.  Look up at your audience once in awhile, instead of keeping your nose buried in the book or manuscript.  This was something I could have done better last night, but since I was reading from my book with no podium, I had to wear reading glasses and it was awkward to peer over them.

7.  Enjoy.  You might not be able to actually utilize this tip until you've done a few readings and gotten used to them.  But you will feel the rush of relief when you are done, and people are applauding.  Soak it in!

 Your turn.  Do you have any tips for readings?  Do you enjoy them, or dread them?

(And by the way, if you feel so moved to buy a copy of Emma Jean you can find info on online outlets here.)

 Photo by svilen001.

Promoting Your Great Creative Work

Daisy_green_blue_242467_lI've been working on publicizing and promoting my novel over the last month and I fancy I've learned a few things along the way.  I can't tell you for sure how successful the results have been, as my publisher gets sales numbers, not me, but I'm hearing from lots of people that they've bought the book and it seems my sales rank on Amazon is staying fairly consistent.  So I think things are going well.

Because I've been so focused on promoting the book lately, I thought it might be fun to talk about how I approached it, so herewith are my five best tips on how to publicize your creative work:

1.  Build first.  Please, please, please start working on your author's platform as you write.  You hate me for saying this now, but you'll thank me when the time comes to get your work out in the world and you have a built-in way to do it.  What does a platform entail these days?  Things like a blog, a presence on the social media outlet of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+).  Many people I come in contact with assume that they will write (or paint, or create in whatever way) and then work on all this stuff when they are ready to put the work out to the public.  Wrong.  If you do this, you'll be scrambling to catch up.

2.  Utilize contacts.  This is one reason the above advice comes in handy.  Because of my years of blogging, I had a built-in network of blogging buddies eager to support me.  (I love you all so much!  Thank you again!) When I called upon them to see if I could do a guest post or an interview, they leapt at the chance.  I'm finding this offline, as well.  The people who support me the most are those I've built relationships with–not only other writers, but friends at church and other locations as well.

3.  Be brave.  Don't be afraid to ask people for help.  Earlier this week, I was at a bookstore in a nearby town and the friend I was with suggested I ask about a book signing.  My first reaction was to shrink back a bit and start coming up with excuses why I shouldn't, but then I decided to just do it.  The reaction was mixed–the store is winding down from doing author events because they don't make money–but the woman was exceedingly friendly and we had a nice chat.  No harm done.

4.  Fill out forms.  There's a lot of this kind of thing as you sign up on Goodreads, create your Amazon Author page, and so on.  It's tedious, yes it is, but don't back away from it.  Forms are your friend as they will get your name out in more places.

5.  Expand your horizons.  Branch out a little bit.  There's places galore to experiment with.  I love Pinterest, for example.  Not really sure how much traffic it generates for me, but it sure is fun to hang out on.  (Check out my pin board on possible actresses to play Emma Jean.)  I'm also maintaining more of a presence on Google+ these days, seeing how that works. 

Those are the tips that occur to me as I look over what I've been doing the last month.  How about you?  How have you found success in promoting your work?

***Perhaps you might need a bit of help in creating that work at the moment.  My Get Your Novel Written Now class starts next week.  For me, there's nothing more fun than writing a novel, unless it's talking about writing a novel. Join us! 

Photo by Henkster.