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Are You Prepared to Present Your Book to a Public Audience?

July 1, 2013
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So you’ve finished your book, or you’re on the verge of finishing, and it’s almost ready to be revealed to the world.

You’re excited. And why shouldn’t you be, right? You’ve dedicated the hours and spent all those nights writing when you should have been sleeping.

In your mind’s eye, you’ve pictured yourself finding an agent, signing a contract and attending a book launch.

Or maybe you’ve considered self-publishing, where you’ll do all the marketing yourself and push the book out to the public.

But did you consider what it would be like to actually read your book in public to an audience of tens or even hundreds?

Standing on a raised platform in an auditorium, or sitting on a lone chair at the front of a room before an interested crowd, all focused on you. The silence cuts the air just like the anticipation cuts into your gut.

But this is not a problem. You did practice reading your book, right?

Monotone vs. Exciting

I attended a literature week at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and saw the difference between monotone reading and exciting reading.

I was nodding-off during a monotone author, each sentence dragging behind the next like a cart with one wheel. I got lost in that same-pitch voice, not even having a clue of what the book was about at the end.

And to make it worse, this was the first book reading I ever attended, which didn’t leave a good impression. I wondered, is this what all book readings are like? Damn.

Just when I was about to sneak out the back door, another author came on that really caught my attention.

As the narrator, he used his own voice. But when the protagonist spoke, he really got into character, even deepening his voice a bit. And when a child spoke, he raised the pitch of his voice slightly.

He slowed down a bit when the book’s pace was slow, and read a bit faster during the action.

I understood every word being said, and I knew exactly where his story had left off. So intrigued was I that I just had to ask about the story when everything was finished.

Practice Out Loud

It was pretty obvious that this guy had practiced, and you should too.

Having the opportunity to share a couple pages at your book launch or as a guest author in a conference is a great chance to show readers how awesome your book is, so why throw it away with a boring read. Capture their attention by adding some excitement to your voice.

Practice reading your book out loud, get the characters’ voices, keeping in mind the different emotions, attitudes, and ages.

There’s no need to put Tom Cruise out of the job. After all, your practicing for a book reading, not an audition. Leave the dramatic voices and sudden movements for when the movie actually comes out. Just don’t read in that same boring tone.

It’s going to sound and feel dumb at first, but get comfortable and get prepared. Remember, you have a book to launch in the near future.

So what do you think about reading out loud to prepare for public presentations? Let me know in the comments.

If you like this post, then you can subscribe to receive updates for new articles and get more awesome content straight to your inbox, and me on Twitter. And if you haven’t already, click here to check out excerpts from my upcoming book, King Larsen.

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From → Writing Tips

2 Comments
  1. Harsha permalink

    That’s true – reading in different voices is not the only important thing. You also have to get the audience involved. Make them guess at the outcomes, drop tantalizing hints on what rest of the book involves and so on

    It isn’t easy to further describe this, as this is a natural ability. You got to have the funny patch – which allows you to make jokes and ideas instantly. If you’re a serious, geek-writer, whose stories aren’t the product of instantaneous (and random) inspiration, then public reading isn’t for you.

    • I agree, Harsha. Public reading can be hard for some people, but I think anyone can master it with practice. It also develops personal character.

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