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Reading Your Work in Public: Tips For Success

Whether you’re organising your own reading or you’re invited to read at an event, every writer unfortunately needs to be prepared to face the public. It’s a scary thing. You could, I suppose, get by without it and be the hermit-recluse-type—but it’s as much a promotional thing as anything else, especially as an unknown (not-yet-famous) writer.

People tend to buy books at events where they can get the author to sign and dedicate it to them, even if they were ambivalent about it before. You might even wow the crowd so much with your reading that they rush to buy more of your work (one dreams)!

Here are some tips to make your reading a success.

Reading your work in public

Nail down places, dates and times

You definitely want to show up at the right place at the right time and on the right day.

Also ask if there is a sound check or any form of pre-event prep that you could attend just to get a feel of the place, understand how the microphones (if any) work, and to release some last-minute jitters.

If they can give you a run sheet of the event, even better! Then you’ll know who you’re reading after, how much time you have to panic in the bathroom before it’s your turn, and how much time you have to read.

Tip: The more prepared you are mentally, emotionally, and physically, the better you’ll do.


Choose Your Story/Excerpt

Who are you going to be reading to and/or what’s the audience like?

If it’s a children’s event, pick something fun and exciting and maybe a little weird (kids like boogers and poo and dinosaurs). You’re unlikely to get these invites unless you write for children, though.

At a general event, find out what’s the age range of people who are likely to turn up. You don’t want to pick something racy or full of swearing only to find that there are minors in the audience and you need to censor yourself. Though you might still need to censor yourself at a public event with or without under-eighteens.

Pick a story, or a portion of a story, that’s exciting! Make sure something is happening and it’s not just all descriptions. Dialogue is good, but can be a little tricky—you might have to add in some additional dialogue tags for the reading, especially if you don’t do voices (as in, read each person’s dialogue in a different voice/tone). If you’re reading an excerpt that’s in the middle of the story, plan a brief explanation of who the characters are and how they got to where they are.

Tip: An exciting, action-filled excerpt is usually a crowd-pleaser.


Rehearse Reading!

Most of the time, reading events are organised waaaaaay in advance. Which means you’ll have at least two weeks to a month (or more) to practice what you’re going to read. Do it.

Read it aloud several times and time yourself. Besides making sure it fits the time allocated, you also get to see how consistent you are in your reading speeds. Underline tricky words or passages. Mark up places you should slow down or speed up. Put in the crescendo and decrescendo points.

If that sounds like drama or choral reading, it is.

Tip: Think about it as storytelling.

I know, I know, people call it a “reading” because you’re reading from a book or something that you’ve written down before. You’re not some kind of oral storyteller of old or performer.


And this is an important but, reading straight from the text and reading as performance has very different impacts. Think about all the boring readers or preachers you know and you’ll find that they always speak in the same tone of voice and at the same unvarying speed, usually really slow. And droning.

What makes storytelling exciting? Injecting drama into the piece. Whether that means lowering your voice at tense times, speeding up with the action, or actually shouting when the character shouts, this helps to engage the audience. And that’s what you want, even if you’re “just” reading a passage from your book.


Turn up. Early.

Budget to arrive at least 15-20 minutes before the event (or the pre-event check) because delays always happen and then you’ll be right on time, instead of late. (Or at the least let someone know if you’re going to be late because of unforeseen circumstances so they don’t panic when you don’t arrive when they expect you to.)

Tip: Even if you don’t panic if you’re late, the organisers will, and that makes for bad mood/feelings overall.


As mentioned earlier, reading your work can be a key marketing or promotional tool, so the last tip is this:

Remember to bring along copies of your books!


If you’re looking to read from your work, or want to attend one to see what it’s about, check out Readings @ Seksan.

Organising an online book launch

In recent months, we’ve personally been getting several queries about book blog tours and online book launches. After typing up email summaries several times, we’ve decided to just compile all those emails into one post about organising an online book launch!

organising online book launches

There are several ways to do an online book tour, but most of them have to do with bloggers. Bloggers are your friends, if you still know anyone who blogs (you’ll probably find some on KLBAC).

Organising an online book tour/launch is as easy as asking all your family, friends, and random strangers on the internet to host you during launch week (or any random dates you think up). It’s also as difficult as planning launch materials, coordinating dates with the bloggers, or maybe hosting a live Facebook event. There’s a lot of coordinating and networking to do, so it may be best to leave it in the hands of the professionals!

If you’re considering an online book launch, here are several standard posts to consider.

The Cover Reveal

The cover reveal is like a pre-release drip, where you share the cover of the upcoming book plus basic details. This post works best if there are existing fans who are excited about the series, and if there is an ability to pre-order the book. At the bare minimum, post materials should include:

  1. the shiny new book cover (duh!),
  2. the book blurb/description,
  3. pre-order links (you gotta channel that excitement somewhere), and
  4. pre-order sales or promotional announcements (e.g. discounted price for pre-orders, exclusive goodies, additional bonus material, previews, etc)

The Launch Post

Usually posted on the day the book goes on sale, this is a general announcement to say hey the book is now out! Post materials usually include the following:

  1. the book cover,
  2. the book blurb/description,
  3. buy links,
  4. launch promo/sales announcements, if any (e.g if the launch price is only valid for a period before it goes up, discounts on earlier books, etc),
  5. author bio,
  6. author picture,
  7. tour graphics/banner, if any (mainly because pictures make it easier to share & garner interest), and
  8. an excerpt or preview (not too long, preferably an exciting hook from the book).

A Review Post

Reviews would usually be posted on or about the launch week/month. If they’re posted before the launch, resharing these posts will help you build more organic buzz as this is what others are saying about the book instead of you just announcing BUY MY BOOK. Reviews have the most impact 2 weeks before (if you take pre-orders) and 6 weeks after the actual release date (crunch time for a new release).

Review posts are slightly trickier because you need to send a review copy (digital or otherwise) to the reviewer hopefully one to two months before the launch so that they have the time to read and write the review. It’s also tricky because there’s always the chance that the reviewer might not like the book! If you can, politely request the reviewer to also post their reviews to Amazon & Goodreads when your book is available.

Post materials should include:

  1. a review copy to be sent to the reviewer/blogger 1 – 2 months before launch (they shouldn’t be sharing this with anyone else), and
  2. Everything from the launch post (the blogger can then decide what they want to add to the post)

Guest Posts

A guest post is usually an opportunity for you to talk about your writing and/or your book. Some bloggers have a theme for their blog, others keep it open to the authors. If a blogger offers/agrees to host you, check with them if they have a specific topic in mind and if they have word count limits. Post materials would generally include:

  1. A guest post of about 500 – 800 words, and
  2. Everything from the launch post (the blogger can then decide what they want to add to the post)

Author/Character Interviews

This is just a bit of fun to get to know the author better. You can predraft a generic interview with FAQ-type things, but most bloggers would have their own questions to ask the author. Just make sure you have everything from the launch post on hand (especially your book cover and buy links)!

Facebook Live Events

Got a Facebook Page? Schedule a launch event where you invite all the fans on your page, and your newsletter, and random Facebook strangers to listen to you ramble about your book! Some launches use the live facebook video (which can be a scary thing) whilst others use frequent posts concentrated around a few hours on the web. This is a great way to interact with fans (and friends), give out some freebies, or con them into buying your book.


Book launches and blog tours can be exciting things… or they can be super dead. It really depends on who’s on your team and who’s excited enough to share your books (and about you) on social media! It’s also really cheap to organise if you’ve already organised your materials, can work out some graphics on Canva, and can work out a simple spreadsheet to coordinate who’s posting what when. Make sure you also share their posts on YOUR social media!