7 Reasons to Embrace the Author Reading
Writers tend to be an introverted bunch.
So when your publisher expects you to do readings and signings to help promote the book, your first reaction may be to blanch and feel a little woozy.
That’s completely normal! However, here’s why you shouldn’t be (too) afraid to put yourself out there.
1. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.
More commonly used when referencing spiders or other creepy crawlies, but also kind of true here. Once you have the label of “author,” you’re automatically given an air of professionalism; you’re now seen as an expert in something. Even working in the industry, I still get nervous and stammer unnecessarily when I meet authors. I can just about guarantee that a good chunk of your audience will feel the same.
2. You’ve been published!
Someone—many someones, in fact—saw your work as worthwhile and invested a lot of time, energy, and money into your manuscript to turn it into a bona fide book. This fact alone should make you feel proud, and give you some confidence to get in front of a crowd.
3. You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into this project.
Let’s not forget what you’ve put into this book. You’ve probably spent years writing, revising, and re-revising before your manuscript even landed on the desk of your publisher. Don’t let all that go to waste! Especially because . . .
4. You’re building a career.
If you want to build a name for yourself as a writer, you need to be in front of the public. There’s a commonlycited idea that people need to see a product at least seven times before they decide to buy. This means not only do they need to see your book on the shelf, but they need to see you. Besides, how do you think your book gets on the shelves? Yes, by being in the public eye and doing readings and signings. The more active you are, the more stores will happily carry your book.
5. You need to beat out the competition.
Harsh, but true. Bowker & Bowker, the folks in charge of ISBNs (International Standard Book Number, which books need to get into stores), report that in 2015, self-publishing alone accounted for 727,125 ISBNs used (this number is for print and ebooks; the same title with different formats need separate ISBNs, but even if all these were one title in two formats, that’s still about 363,500 books self-published in one year). And what about all those traditionally published books? According to one source, Bowker reported 300,000 traditionally published books in 2013, the most recent year for which numbers are available. So what does this mean? Few bookstores have room for all those titles, let alone those titles plus all the backlist titles people buy on a regular basis. If you’re not getting out there in front of people and you’re not selling, why would bookstores keep your book on the shelf?
6. It’s not necessarily about you.
For all this is about business, don’t forget the reason you’re out there doing events—the people who’ve read and enjoyed your books. The people who come out to your readings and signings are there because you’ve touched them in some way, you’ve said something they can relate to, they love your story, they have a similar story of their own, they’re a writer looking to make a name for themselves; the reasons are as varied as the people. If you keep in mind that the people at your events are just that—people—readings suddenly become a whole lot easier.
7. It’s a lot of fun!
People come to your readings because they want to be there. And these events don’t have to be stuffy affairs—crack jokes, get to know your audience, bring in donuts, whatever you need to do to make the event fun for everyone involved. This is your event, and you can have a good time with it!
Have I convinced you yet? Author events don’t have to be frightening or overwhelming. With these seven points in mind, the next time your publisher asks you about a reading at your favorite indie bookstore, you’ll be able to smile, say “sure!”, buy a big ol’ bag of candy, and get ready to have a great time with some of your biggest fans.
Anne Rasset is the founder of and editor at Inkstand Editorial, LLC, which provides editing services to emerging and published writers of fiction and nonfiction. In her spare time, she can be found reading, playing with her two cats, or cross-country skiing with her partner in the Minnesota winters. You can find out more about her services on her website and follow her blog for book reviews and more tips for authors.