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How to Prepare for a Public Appearance or Reading

June 18th, 2014

So, now you’ve written your book it’s time to move on to promoting it. After all, it’s no good having a book published if no one knows about it! It used to be that the promotional work was your publisher’s responsibility, but more and more authors are now choosing to get involved with the marketing side of things – particularly now that self-publishing is becoming more popular.

Some authors might make public appearances to talk about their book or do a short reading in person. This is a great way to stir up some excitement about your book, as people always like to meet local celebrities!

There are a few things you might want to consider when you are promoting your book:

The Venue

The first thing you want to do is see where you’ll be giving the talk. This matters because you don’t want to arrange a reading from an erotic novel if they are going to seat you next to the children’s section! If this were to happen, and you were unprepared for it, you’d have to change the theme of the reading pretty quickly, which can add more stress to the mix. Your aim is to make your day as stress-free as possible, as people are much more likely to buy a book from a relaxed and friendly author!

Checking out the venue also allows you to make sure that you have the space to set up any equipment you want to bring or that’s being provided – it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a chair and a microphone, even if you have to bring your own!

Once you are happy with the space, you can start preparing what you’re going to do at the appearance. You can read from your book, you can offer a Q&A session, you can sign books or a combination of all three, and more besides. What you choose to do is up to you, as long as the venue allows it and has any kit you may need.

Preparing For Your Talk

Preparation is the key to success – we can’t stress this enough! So, read through the points below to make sure you’re prepared for anything.

If you choose to talk about the process of writing your book, make sure you have notes that you can refer to. Funny stories, things that gave you ideas, or even times it went wrong are all things your readers will want to hear about, and it’s always better to have too many notes than not enough!

Even the most seasoned speakers can experience mind-freeze under pressure, so having some notes as a prompt is a good back-up. And, as a general rule the more time you spend preparing your notes, the less likely you are to need them. This is because the very act of writing your points down fixes them in your mind, it’s a very effective way of memorising.

Tease – include enough information to tease the listeners into buying the book, but don’t overdo it. More importantly, make sure you don’t spoil the ending for anyone. You might know all your plot twists and turns already, but your readers don’t!

Reading – try to include a reading and make it a good one; something dramatic that’s likely to cause a reaction, even if it’s one of disgust! It’ll not only prompt discussion after the talk, but stick in the listeners’ minds and, hopefully, get them talking – just what you want!

Privileged information – when people make the effort to turn up to a reading they want to feel it’s been worth it. One way to do this is to give them a snippet of information, about the book, the writing process or, if you feel comfortable doing so, about yourself that’s not common knowledge.

Practice – once you’ve decided what’s going in your talk all you need to do is practice. Run through it a couple of times so you know how long it takes, if there are any words or phrases that may trip you up and to familiarise yourself with what you’re going to say.

Take a Friend – another great tip, if you plan on holding a question and answer session, is to take a friend along to the reading. They can get the ball rolling with questions if you end up with an audience that’s too shy to speak up.

And the final piece of advice is enjoy it! Make the most of the opportunity you have to meet the public. Be open and friendly and if things do go wrong, try not to panic! Laughing off your mistakes is a much better way to handle things, and your audience will respect you more if you show that you have a sense of humour.



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