Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thoughts on doing an effective reading

This is a post aimed at all the authors in the audience. But even if you aren’t yet a published writer or never intend to become one, you might find what I have to say interesting and illuminating.

Like many of the promotional things authors are expected to do, one of the most time-honoured is readings. I’ve done many. I’ve also heard other authors do many. Some of us enjoy doing them. Some loathe them. To be honest, most are not very good.

I’ve discussed readings here on Type M before, as have others, but I feel it’s time to hit on it once again. Why? I have to do a reading in two days for the Arthurs Ellis Shortlist Announcement here in Toronto. The participating authors have been given three minutes each. That makes the assignment doubly tough. What can you read in 180 seconds that will make an audience feel compelled to buy your book?

Here are some of my thoughts (in point form) on doing an effective reading:
  • Pick an effective passage. Remember: you’re selling your book here! Action scenes with dialogue are most effective. It helps if you can give some individualization to your characters by changing your voice. Even a little bit can make a difference.
  • You don’t have to read every word you wrote. Leave out long descriptive passages unless they’re really gripping. Sell the sizzle, not the steak! That’s why action scenes are best.
  • Don’t read from your book. Print out the passage in large, easy-to-read type, complete with any edits needed (see above point).
  • Practise your selection beforehand. Very few of us are trained actors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better with practice. Recording yourself is unbelievably helpful here! If you tend to get nervous, do a dry run before an audience of family or friends.
  • Before you read, take a deep breath and gather yourself. Speak to the audience, not to the air. Practising beforehand will make it possible to look up from your material and engage your listeners more effectively. Speaking more slowly will make you more understandable. Again, think about actors and speak strongly and confidently. Even if you aren’t, look as if you’re enjoying this. I guarantee that the better you get at reading, the more you will enjoy it!
Remember: when you’re doing a reading, you are an actor more than an author. Making a positive impression with your reading makes it far easier to sell your book.

As a public service to some very good friends, I’m including in my post this week, the announcement for the 2015 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award shortlist announcement.

Murder Is Nothing to Have Fun With...Or Is It?
Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award Announces Finalists

(Toronto, ON) April 15, 2015 – The Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award, an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries is pleased to announce this year’s finalists. The award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore.

Congratulations to the five finalists for the 2015 Bony Blithe Award:

Cathy Ace, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair (Touchwood Editions)
Judith Alguire, Many Unpleasant Returns (Signature Editions)
E.C. Bell, Seeing the Light (Tyche Books)
Janet Bolin, Night of the Living Thread (Berkley Prime Crime)
Allan Stratton, The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish (Dundurn Press)

The award will be presented at the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award Bash on Friday, May 29, at The Hot House Restaurant & Bar, 35 Church St., Toronto (Church at Front). The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Room. For more information, contact us at bw-award@bloodywords.com.

The winner will receive a cheque for $1,000 plus a colourful plaque.

Thank you to all the publishers and authors who submitted their books for this year’s contest. May there be many smiles in your future.

Website: www.bonyblithe.com
Facebook: Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award
Twitter: @bonyblithe


Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks for the tips. This is something I need to learn to do better.

Rick Blechta said...

The most important thing is to want improve your reading skills, and that requires practise — like anything else, plus believing in yourself. You've already mastered that last bit because you managed to get yourself published!