Readings for Writers #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #amwriting #writercommunity #2020Debuts

Wow, it has been a hot damn minute since I last posted here. Apologies for the long hiatus, but I’ve had good reason – swear! From January on, my year has not slowed down as I’ve mowed through edits on my book The Missing Sister with my editor and tried to get my sea legs as I prepare for its publication early next year. My exact publication date is still up in the air, but you can bet once I have it I’ll shout it from the rooftops (i.e. blog about it).

For this month’s Author Toolbox Blog Hop, created and managed by the wordsmith Raimey Gallant, I’m going to weigh in on one form of self-promotion I highly recommend: readings. As in, from your book, or your flash fiction, or that other work-in-progress you’ve been dying (terrified) to share, in public. This post will also be largely from the perspective that you’ve got your self-published work or your traditionally published work, and you’re ready for people to buy.


Recently, I did my first reading. I had the good fortune of being invited to read at a local lounge by epic editor, Sione Aeschliman, who also founded Twitter’s RevPit, the wonderful editing contest I entered and won over two years ago now. The reading was extra special in that I read from the first chapter of my book The Missing Sister — in front of people not my editor, agent, or husband.

Why should I care, exactly? Okay, I’m getting there. I’m advocating that doing reads of your work is a great way to self-advertise — while practicing talking about your work.

As writers, we spend hours, days, months, perfecting a paragraph and years, sometimes, perfecting an entire book. Shifting from that internal space, to discussing your characters, their motivations, and their arcs, in public, with strangers, is not the same rodeo.

Why should I? If you’re still on the fence, here are more practical reasons you should do a reading, out loud, in public:

1. Log line. We always need to have our log line rehearsed and ready, to pitch to one of those Hot Dudes Reading or your local bookseller who is debating ordering your hard cover. We really never stop pitching our work, even after you get an agent and/or publisher, or self-publish. So get some practice in!

2. Word of mouth. Often times in this saturated market, word of mouth is what propels readers to buy a certain book. I, for one, am always more enthusiastic about authors I’ve met in person. The more points of engagement you leverage along your journey as a published author, the better chance you have that someone mentions your book to someone else. Ever heard of the advertising Rule of 7?

3. Instant feedback. Although that may sound scary, if you choose to share a WIP, you’ll know where the sentences work and don’t work (–is it difficult to read that alliterative phrase out loud? maybe change it up a bit–), and whether that paragraph you guffaw over actually resonates with your audience. Knowing when and where something works in your writing, could save you countless rejections from agents or editors. Alternatively, if you’re past the querying phase, simply being present allows you to form personal connections that may lead to sales, or exposure to other local writers — and let’s face it. We all need a write tribe.

Tips and Tricks for Readings:

  • Practice beforehand. Read out loud and time yourself, so that you’re not rushing your words in the moment. Slow down.
  • Decide what medium you’ll need. Have the actual book in print? Read from that. Otherwise, bring a tablet to read from and adjust the brightness of the screen.
  • Choose something you’re excited about, or confident in (either/or). It’ll show.
  • Decide in advance how to use your time. Will you read the whole time slot, ask for audience participation, or allot for a Q&A afterward?
  • Bring merch. Once people hear your passage, they may want to take something home (bookmark, pin, sticker, etc.) to remember it by (– maybe the whole book?!)

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to read at a lounge, a coffee shop, a critique group, or a book club, say yes! Don’t hesitate, although there may be a part of you that worries x-y-or-z bad will happen. Be brave. Read.

For more posts on authorly issues, check out the many blogs over at the Author Toolbox Blog Hop.

Have you ever done a reading before? If yes, what was your takeaway from the experience? If not, would you be open to it? Please share in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

14 thoughts on “Readings for Writers #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #amwriting #writercommunity #2020Debuts

  1. Hi Elle, I have done readings before, first in grad school, and later at reading events in my hometown. What I like about reading my work out loud is getting a feel for how the audience receives the info. I can see in real time which parts of my writing are funny or make the reader go hmm….and readings help me to think about revising, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never done a reading. I’d feel sick and worried over it but I’d still do it if I had an opportunity. I gave a few briefings in the Air Force and I’ve learned that I can feel crumpled and messy on the inside but look confident and happy on the outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I’ll bet briefings in the Air Force had a whole other slew of stakes attached to them. Good that you powered through despite any messing feelings. The payoff, I’m sure, makes both sets of readings worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sweet baby Gandalf does the idea of a reading make me super anxious. I don’t people well at the best of times, and much less well when I’m the focus of a lot of eyes. Ugh. Maybe someday, but it’s going to be a long time coming I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great advice here, Elle. I’m not at that point yet, but I do look forward to reading my book aloud to others. Right now, I only read aloud to myself to see, as you say, it flows well. All best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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