Online Learning Blog

How to Prepare for a Personal Appearance or Reading

Published on 2nd May 2014 by Emily Ashton in Creative Writing

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 down to the publisher, not the author, but times have changed and authors are now far more involved with the marketing side of things. Some authors make public appearances to talk about their book or do a short reading in person; you might have seen advertisements for upcoming talks in your local book shop. People always like to meet local authors, especially if they think you might be famous in the future! If you decide to go down this route when promoting your book, there are a few things you might want to consider when you are preparing for your talk.

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 whilst being seated next to the children's section of the book shop! 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. 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 – microphones for example.

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. Clichéd I know, but true none the less . So, read through thepoints below to make sure you pull off a sensational personal appearance.

Notes - if you choose to talk about your book, by this I mean the process of writing it, whether you enjoyed writing it, funny stories, disasters and the like, make sure you have lots of notes to refer to. 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 rule of thumb, 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. If you give everything away, they may feel they no longer need to buy it.

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 about the experience, and your book, with others afterwards, which is 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, even if they irritate you, always be polite and courteous – after all, these are the people who will be buying your book.