Doing a live reading or discussion of your work is something most new authors dream about long before publication.
However, when the time comes, it can also be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re not accustomed to public speaking.
I was recently lucky enough to talk to the Romancing the Gothic group about my first novel Ghost Story, and I’d like to share some things I learned with other new writers who might find themselves scared of the prospect of talking in front of friends and strangers alike.
So here are my five tips for live readings:
Practice – it might seem obvious, but reading in the privacy of your own head might not take the same time as reading aloud, and you don’t want to overrun your allotted time. Make sure you leave room for comments and questions. Practicing could also reveal that there are words you stumble over or don’t know how to pronounce – an editable version of your text might make that a lot easier to deal with on the day.
Do your research – check you know what sort of group you’re presenting to – steamy love scenes might not be the right choice for an all ages event. If your work covers difficult topics or genres such as horror, it could also be worth giving content warnings at the beginning of the session.
Prepare to share – have your own links and details on hand. A short URL or twitter handle will make it much easier for an intrigued listener to find your work.
Know your tech – in the age of the video conferences it’s easier to connect with the rest of the world, unless something goes wrong with the IT. Check how you’ll appear on screen the day before the event, so you’re not scrambling to hide an embarrassing background or vanishing in the glare of the sun behind you.
Deep breath, relax, have fun – this one might be easier said than done, but in the end trust your preparations (and your story) so on the day you can focus on sharing the joy you found in your work.
All the best from me, G, to you.
(Take a sneak peek inside my book Ghost Story! You can also have a look inside my second novel Strangest Day So Far, also a contemporary supernatural story, and keep an eye out for its sequel.)