Book Readings: They’re About Relationships, Not Just Sales

This month we’ve been exploring the topic of preparing for and giving a book reading to help boost your marketing, your self-confidence, and to expand your comfort zone. The best way to gain a standing in your fans (and potential fans minds) is to see and hear you stand before them and share your story with them. Once you’ve given a passionate reading of your story before an audience, your readers will see the passion inside you that drove you to write the story in the first place, creating a connection that readers don’t often get to have with authors of their favorite books.

book reading
Lauren Weisberger reads at Books & Books (FL), July 19

If you think about it, as readers, we often get so consumed by the story and the characters that the author never comes to mind. I personally think that well-written pieces should have that effect on readers, one where the reader feels as though they’re inside the story and can’t hear the author’s, but only the character’s voices. However, once I’ve already fallen in love with a story, I find myself looking into these authors to find out more about them. I want to know how they knew so much about the history of jazz music in New Orleans, or about the intricacies of youth tennis academies, the mechanics of telephone switchboards, or the cobblestone streets of European cities. It gets to the point where I would give anything to sit down and pick the author’s brain to see if any of the characters in their stories were autobiographical, or if they grew up in the city the story took place in, etc. etc.

Just think of people who haven’t randomly stumbled upon your story, haven’t had the chance to have already been consumed by it, and don’t know anything about you. A book reading is your chance to convince those readers that they must have this book, that they must read it, and that they must also tell their fellow bibliophiles all about it.

While performing a reading with the kind of passion that can captivate an audience may terrify some more asocial writers, know that you’re not alone. I often dread social obligations and parties, choosing to shadow a more extroverted, socially affluent friend – however, that’s often because those gatherings are focused on small talk and catching up that I find generally uncomfortable and forced. The opportunity to speak, uninterrupted about something you love seems less intimidating for just that reason – I don’t have to force anything, it’s something I naturally love speaking about. A book reading allows me to prepare what to say in advanced in a way that doesn’t seem contrived, but is just a given part of the expected performance. When I am forced to interact with my audience, it is on the level of answering questions about something that I am deeply passionate about, which is my writing. For these reasons, while preparing for a putting on a book reading may bring about feelings of anxiety and general unease, know that the sense of satisfaction you’ll receive from having the opportunity to give your story a voice, and to gain readers who will stick with you for life will make it all worth it.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM

Book Readings: Making a Success of the Big Day

Okay, so now you’ve committed to putting on a book reading, and here comes the big day!

Last week, we went over how one prepares for a book reading, but it’s just as important to break down what will happen on the big day itself!

poetry reading

First of all,

  1. SHOW UP.

No excuses. Set aside this time slot and stay committed to it.

Even if there are far less people in attendance than you expected when you do arrive, do not let them down. Give them the same reading you’d give a sold-out theater.

Also, bring your family or some close friends along with you – this guarantees that you’ll at least have some sort of very attentive audience, no matter what.

  1. Be Professional.

There’s a lot that goes under this heading, because being professional is so very important when trying to appeal to new readers and not let down old fans.

Show up on time and start on time – obviously. Don’t keep your audience waiting, some of them may have families or other engagements that they planned around this event.

Do not talk down to your audience, especially to those asking questions who haven’t read your book. Being pretentious won’t sell you books, so even if someone’s question seems silly to you, answer it genuinely and in a way that doesn’t insult their intelligence.

It’s important that you dress well, as well as dress to fit the venue. It may be over the top to show up to a coffee shop in a suit and tie, or to book store in ripped jeans and a tee-shirt.

I can’t think of anything more unprofessional than forgetting to thank your audience and the venue. This can be brief, but it shows that you respect the people who have taken time out of their day to watch you, or who have coordinated with you the weeks leading up to the reading to put on the event.

  1. Get live photos!

If it’s not on social media, then it probably didn’t happen. For those who are too far across the country to make it, but are friends with you on Facebook or follow your Instagram/Twitter, it’s still nice to “see” (even if it’s on a screen) that you’re out there telling your story!

  1. Feel Gratitude

Selling ANY books is something you should be excited about. So you brought 20 copies and only sold 5? That’s FIVE more readers you didn’t have before.

Be grateful for the opportunity given to you by the venue, and by the listeners.

  1. Don’t get yourself down if things go wrong.

Planning out a script at home and reading it to your cat will never be the same as the real thing.

Maybe the mic won’t work, maybe you’ll forget a pen to sign the books, maybe you’ll stutter over the answer to a question.

IT’S OKAY. You’re only human, and so is your audience. Take any potential slip ups in stride, but also feel free to lavishly celebrate if all goes exactly according to plan.

  1. Last but not least, ENJOY yourself.

It’s no small secret that many writers can be sort of recluse. A book reading shouldn’t just be strictly used as a marketing technique, but it should also serve the purpose of getting you out of your shell, speaking freely with an audience of potentially interested readers, and knowing that when you walk away you will have gained a better understanding of yourself as an author and as a person.

It’s not often that you get the chance to stand before others and talk about such an incredible accomplishment that you’ve maybe only shared with your publisher, family, close friends, etc.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM

Six Steps to Hosting a Successful Book Reading Event!

As an established author, one may come to notice a seemingly inevitable plateau or decline in book sales as time goes on. There are ways, however, to re-engage your fan base and reinvigorate your marketing strategies. One terrific, simple way to do this is to arrange a book reading at your local bookstore, library, coffee shop, university or school, etc.

It is important–whether or not your book is hot off the press–to keep your audience engaged, but also to keep yourself actively engaged in promoting and selling your book. Not only do fans of your work want to see you in person, a book reading can also drum up potential fans who would not have otherwise heard of your piece!

So…the question you may have is, how does one prepare for a book reading?

Come Prepared

  1.  Pick 4 or 5 captivating passages to really draw in your audience. Practice reading these passages to friends, to a mirror, or even to your cat if you feel so inclined. If you want to utilize the camera feature on your smartphone or computer, you can even film yourself to see how your performance will appear to others.

Be Confident, Comfortable, and Relatable

  1.  A great way to relate to your potential readers is to provide your personal reasons for writing the story, or the inspiration behind it. Make sure to come up with key talking points if you’re going to take this approach so that you can talk freely without a  script–appearing confident and comfortable will further inspire people to give your book a chance!

Keep Your Audience Engaged

  1. Make sure to keep a close eye on your audience: if you’ve only made it through some of your material but notice that the crowd is getting restless or checking their phones, change gears and do a Q & A to keep them actively participating. If you’re too busy staring down at your script or book, you’ll miss important body language cues that could help you gauge where you should direct your attention, or perhaps encourage you to take up a more captivating tone or to make better eye contact.

Don’t waste a precious opening by reading out a long list of names, thanking those who helped you publish your book and risk putting your audience to sleep–instead, lure them in, grab their attention, answer their questions, THEN thank whoever you need to thank.

Anticipate Obvious Questions

  1. Don’t fumble when people ask you “What does the title mean?” or “Was the character inspired by a real person?”, etc. etc.

Also, repeat the questions to the audience, you want everyone to know what you’re responding to, not just the person posing the question.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative with Location

  1. Remember that bookstores are not the only places to find potential readers. There are a myriad of potentially relevant locations for you to speak at which could span from a woman’s shelter to a community garden to a prison, etc. etc. If your book is about long distance hiking, try a local gear store. The key is, start close to home!

Get the contact information for whatever venue you’re looking to speak at: manager’s name, phone number, and email are great places to start! Describe how your book reading could benefit the business by drawing in customers, resonate with the store’s target customers, increase the likelihood that those there for the book reading will also shop at the store after the event.

Advertise Your Event!

  1. Make sure to publicize your event: flyers, social media posts, mention it in your blog, send a press release to local shopping guides or community calendars.

Remember above all else, it is not up to book stores to sell books, but authors themselves! Be active in the process of marketing and selling your book and the success of your book sales will reflect your hard work!

book reading
[ book readings are a great way to drum up interest in your book! ]

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM