re: Do I Have to Read When I Sign?

in Publishing Biz by

Dear Editor…

I was wondering if doing readings of your work at book signings is something you’re required to do as an author?

Sincerely,
Megan

Dear Megan…

No one’s going to whack you with a wet noodle if you don’t want to read at your book signing. What you do at a signing is up to you and the bookseller hosting it, and typically they’ll ask you your preference. If they suggest a reading, though, give it serious thought. Booksellers have a good handle on their store’s clientele and know what they’ll respond to. Happier customers translates to higher sales. If a fear of public speaking is behind your reluctance, I beg you to make squelching that fear your next New Year’s resolution. These days, the bulk of the promotion is on YOUR shoulders. Nothing creates loyal readers better than a personal experience with an author in classrooms, writers’ group meetings, and, yes, book signings.

Happy writing!

The Editor

10 Comments

  1. I agree with Dear Editor. Reading an excerpt of your book to kids and visiting classrooms is the icing on the cake for a children’s author. I have a fear, a VERY BIG FEAR, of public speaking, but not when it comes to kids. Interacting with them and visiting their classrooms is one of the most rewarding things in my life. And the teachers and parents seem so supportive, too. So don’t let your fears stop you from the best part of being a children’s writer.

  2. Megan,
    I agree with Dear Editor and Lynn…When you do a book signing at a school you will want to share with the kids. You’ll feel comfortable and loved. They are so excited to meet a real live author…My students were beside themselves with excitement when authors came to our school.

    I have a good friend who writes for adults and I’ve been to several of her launch parties…She doesn’t do readings at them. She sits at a table and visits with people, signs books and takes photographs with people.

    Happy writing!
    Sharon

  3. I’ve been doing classroom visits for years, so I’ve become very comfortable reading to kids, not just my own work, but other author’s work as well. In the beginning, I remember telling classrooms that I was nervous. Right off the bat, I became relatable, and we became instant book friends–Reading Buddies! After 15 years, I still stumble on words, but if
    I giggle, the children giggle with me, afterall, even the storytime lady makes mistakes, too. Reading to kids is so rewarding! I say kick your fears to the curb, and “go for it!” Have fun!

  4. Megan, if you really want to get the kids attention right away, take fun props to your classroom visits. Kids will think you are the coolest! I have a treasure chest on wheels, a rat dressed like a pirate, a ghost story telling bag with all sorts of fun & spooky goodies, a doll named Scary-Lou, and a mummy dog named Dry-Bones. I wear fun, funky glasses, fun shoes, and have worn a pizza on my head, even rats in my hair! By the way, most of my visits are to 6th grade classrooms. Lollipops are always a winner! And if you engage the kids in your program by asking them questions, that’ll take some of the pressure off of you. Time will fly by, and the kids will be richer from your unforgettable visit! I guarantee it! Good-luck & have a blast! 🙂

  5. I agree with all the comments…As a theatre teacher of 30+ years, adding a prop or a costume really makes a difference…Keep it simple… Don’t hesitate to ask the children questions, too. They will give you paths of conversation to travel and even a lead-in to your reading. Remember, you are walking into a room of people who love you and your stories already.

  6. Be prepared for kids to ask you how old you are. They are trying to make conversation. It’s what adults ask kids all the time, so they have no idea that they shouldn’t ask. My favorite answer to this was Kirby Larson, who answered “90!” Of course, that got the kids’ attention and several start waving their hands. When she calls on one, they said, “You’re not 90!” She said, “I’m a fiction writer. I made it up. That’s what I do.” They’ll also ask how much money you make. Be creative.

  7. Before sending my book off to publishers, I read it aloud to three different classes of the target readers’ age range. It really made me quite comfortable about the idea of reading excerpts anywhere. And it gave me great feedback that I incorporated before submitting.

  8. Agree with everyone, Megan. Me, I dream of giving a reading. Would that I could. (Not that I wouldn’t be nervous. Nerves are good!) So, if you get the chance, go for it. Learn from it. You’ll only get better.

  9. Great suggestions for ways to take classroom appearances up a notch. Another one: I always ask the teachers about the topics they’ll be teaching the kids around the time I visit so that I can tie those elements into my talks. High school teachers LOVE that. “See, kids, I TOLD you point of view was important!”

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