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Tips to ensure a successful book reading/signing

The day 12573132_10153184583460216_9118772915842450524_nhas finally arrived: Your first book reading and signing! No doubt your stomach is aflutter, not just with excitement but with a little apprehension. What if you mess up in the reading? What if you can’t think of what to say when someone answers a question? What if the crowd finds you boring and starts to leave?

Don’t worry. None of that is likely to happen at all. And with a little preparation, you can take the edge off these fears while decreasing the chances of something going wrong.

Some tips:
• Know what you’ll read – If doing a book reading, select in advance which passage you want to read. Practice reading it out loud a couple of times. You don’t have to memorize the text, just refamiliarize yourself with it. Make sure it doesn’t go any longer than 10-15 minutes (If reading a short story from an anthology, just go with a single story.).
• Think about questions in advance – Attend a few book readings by other authors and get a feel for what kind of questions your audience might ask. Then think of some answers to them. After you’ve done a few book readings, you’ll discover that the same questions keep getting asked.
• Dress appropriately – You don’t have to be dressed to the nines but look professional or at least match the part. For example, if you’ve written a nature book, show up in a nice pair of jeans and a button-down shirt; an outdoorsman don’t wear a suit and tie when on the lake, after all.
• Stroll around until you feel at home – Get to the location where you’ll be reading and signing books a bit early. Walk around to get a feel for what the place is like. Familiarity breeds comfort.
• Win over the crowd – When answering questions, get involved in a conversation with the audience. They’ll sense that you care about them and will be more interested in you (and your book!).
• Bring books and pens – Take with you more books than you expect you’ll need (you don’t want to leave any fans disappointed). Sign a few copies in advance. Carry a couple of additional pens in case the ink runs out.
• Remain good humored – If you do misread a passage or use the wrong name, be self-deprecating and good-natured about. It was an honest mistake, and so long as you don’t get defensive, your audience and host will overlook it and maybe share a laugh with you…and the latter is a good thing, by the way (But don’t deliberately make a mistake to get a laugh – it will appear inauthentic.).

Usually the book reading follows a simple format: Introductions by a host, a few introductory words by you, you reading your book aloud, an audience Q&A with you, and then the book signing. When done with the Q&A (because people will begin to leave after that), be sure to thank the audience for coming and the host for having you. When you get home, send the host a thank you letter. Your graciousness will be remembered the next time you have a book to promote.

Finally, don’t forget publicity before and after the event. Plug your book reading/signing with press releases sent to local media and posted on your website/blog/social media pages. Make sure the location hosting your book reading/signing has a placard or bulletin board plugging the event; if you have to create one for them, do so. After the event, send pictures of the reading/signing to local media and post them on your website/blog/social media pages.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Arlington, Texas, or a small town like Pineland, Florida, I can provide that second eye.

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