(I recently wrote a book on writing call The Glorious Grind: Meditations on Crafting Fiction & The Writing Life and have decided to simply publish it in installments here.)
The Publication Reading
All right! Time for your publication reading! Try to choose a venue that feels comfortable to you and can seat at least forty if you’ve got a bunch of friends and family coming. Create an event page for the reading on Facebook and invite everybody, via Facebook and regular email—you’ll be surprised who might show up. Consider coming up with a short little phrase to inscribe when you’re signing all those books at once, some favorite little mantra of yours or something that ties into the book. Use a nice fluid pen. I’m a fan of the Pilot G-2 07.
If you don’t have the reading at a bookstore you’ll need to have somebody reliable selling the book while you sign (and you’ll need to have a little cash box prepared to make change and a credit card app for your phone if you want to handle credit card sales—I usually just say cash or check only in the event advertisements). You could also consider calling your favorite indie bookstore and asking them if they’d send a seller and handle all the book sales themselves. It can be a nice little profit for them for an hour’s work. I like to do the majority of the book signing as folks arrive and then I stick around after the reading for anybody else (this way I can get to the after party quicker). Reserve a cozy backroom at a nearby bar for the after party and hand out a little map to showing the way. Prepare for people to buy you a drink or two and, like a bride at her wedding, try to float around the room and spread the happy to everyone. They’ve all come out to love and support you.
As for the reading itself, aim for around twenty minutes. Pick a few selections that are both good entry points for the novel and might play well before a live audience (humor and passages with dialogue seem to usually go over well). Prepare a little opening speech before you start reading from the book and have a written copy of it in hand. Thank everyone for coming. Tell them how attractive they look tonight. How the stars sing their praises. Thank the folks you’ve thanked in the book’s acknowledgements and anybody you forgot. Thank the venue’s staff for hosting the reading.
When you open that beautiful book of yours, remember to relax and breathe. Don’t read too fast and try to enjoy it, moment to moment.
This is the rare breather in the Grind. The shaded oasis.