Power of the Group: Grab Your Author Friends and Hold a Group Reading!
by Laura Orsini
Every other month, the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup holds a group reading event. Authors have the chance to read from their published and unpublished works – and, if there’s interest, to sell and sign books. It helps when we have guests outside the group. That doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to, but we’re working on it.
Our most recent reading event was last Wednesday evening, March 29, 2017, at a local microbrewery, North Mountain Brewing. I took photos of most of the readers – here’s a group shot. Pictured, L to R, are Rita Goldner, Lisa Schaefer, Diane Enos, and Joe Torres.
Each reader had 10 minutes, total, for their presentation – including their reading and any intro/closing remarks.
Though this is the second year we’ve been holding these reading events, this was the most successful, by far. We had so many readers interested in participating that I had to start a waiting list. Looking forward to many similar successful group readings throughout the rest of the year.
That said, I took a few lessons from the event:
(1) We have some very talented authors writing on all manner of subjects, from sexism to history to paranormal fiction to humorous PI drama to not only surviving cancer, but thriving afterward. We’d love to hear what the rest of the group is writing!
(2) We used a mic to ensure that everyone could be heard – but some authors were more familiar/comfortable with the mic than others. If you plan to do any reading events, make sure you know the AV setup before you get there. If possible, take and use a microphone. Practice with it so you get comfortable, rather than treating it like a snake about to bite you. If there’s no mic, USE YOUR OUTDOOR VOICE and project, project, project. More and more people are hard of hearing – don’t lose a reader because they couldn’t hear you!
(3) Rehearse ahead of time, so you have some idea how long your reading will go. That way, the timer doesn’t go off, catching you mid-sentence.
(4) The only way you can see the person doing the timing and observe your 2-minute warning is if you look UP at the audience once in a while. This is practiced skill, but an important one. If it means holding your finger on the text so you can come back and find your line, do it. Eye contact is crucial if you intend to connect with your audience. It will also single you out as practiced and professional in a sea of untrained newbie self-published authors. I can’t see a thing past my nose with my reading glasses on, but I still look out at the audience as often as possible while I’m reading.
(5) Slow down! Find a passage that fits a 5- to 7-minute window (depending on how long you need for comments) and be confident that it will convey enough of your story to capture your audience’s attention.
(6) Try to pull a section that doesn’t need too much explanation, in terms of who characters are or why they’re behaving a particular way. Those interruptions when you stop to explain things interrupt your flow.
(7) Be ready to sell books – this means having a way TO GET PAID!! I rarely carry more than $5 cash with me, yet there were two authors’ books I wanted to buy. Neither was prepared to take a debit card. In today’s SquareUp/PayPal/smartphone world, there’s no excuse for this. You want to be ready to sell books out of your trunk if you strike up the right conversation with someone at the post office or grocery store. So if you attend a reading event – where a sales opportunity is BUILT IN – be ready to sell books. Really!!
We do this event the last Wednesday of every odd month, usually at a local restaurant. The places we frequent have a $10/person minimum – but that’s the only fee to participate. I’m willing to bet you have a group of author friends who could get together to do something similar in your community. Post a Facebook event so that all of your collective friends/followers/families know about it, and do what you can to get some guests to attend. Every new audience member is another potential buyer/reader/lifelong fan!
LAURA ORSINI is a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to change the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the popular and successful Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, creator of the Holiday Author Event, and conjuror of many other author opportunities. She will explore the power of the group in her posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her regular posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.