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CaroGirl
02-12-2012, 09:32 PM
For authors who do public readings of their work, at the book launch or a conference, how do you decide what passage to read and what length it should be? Do you get advice from publisher/agent/editor? Family? Does the venue affect the choice of passage and length?

Thanks!

Toothpaste
02-12-2012, 09:43 PM
I think audience and situation affects what I'm going to read, more than venue.

If I'm reading for the proper age group for my books (8 - 12) then I am going to want to read something that requires little to no set-up, is easy to follow, action packed and hopefully funny. Also definitely no longer than 15 minutes (10 is ideal).

If I'm reading at an event with adults and I'm the only person reading, then I have the luxury of taking a bit more time to do set up, explain everything leading up the passage I'm going to read. I can maybe read something a bit more complicated, but humour is always the way to go. I also personally enjoy reading dialogue because of the actor in me.

If however I'm one of several reading, I tend to read what I would for the 8 - 12 yearolds, straightforward and short.

I say though in general you want to keep one's reading short (unless otherwise specified, I did a reading the other night where I was asked to do 15 - 20 minutes). The less introduction you can give, the better. And I think it's important to read something that captures the spirit of your book, that entices the audience to want to read the whole thing. Sometimes this is reading the beginning, sometimes it's somewhere in the middle. For example, my latest that comes out in the fall is giving me a devil of a tricky time. If I read the beginning, I'm only reading one character's POV and that is hardly representative of the entire book. But since I have three POVs do I choose one of those or do I find a scene where all three girls are in the same room - much later on in the book. The latter might require more setup, but it also might represent the book better. Still not sure what the answer is :) .

It never hurts I guess to ask the opinion of your agent/editor, they've been through this before and you haven't. But also trust your gut.

And like I said, you can never get in trouble for reading too little. :)


ETA: A few years ago I wrote a series of blog posts on reading aloud - if you are interested you can start here (each subsequent post is linked to at the bottom): http://ididntchoosethis.blogspot.com/2007/02/tips-on-reading-aloud-part-un.html

CaroGirl
02-12-2012, 10:16 PM
When I used the word "venue," I intended to mean audience and situation as well as location. Sorry about that!

I want to read a single scene for my launch, which would take about 5 to 10 minutes to read. I'll be holding it in a public place (bookstore) and I know some of my friends are bringing small children. Although it's YA, it's pretty edgy so I'll want to find a passage without swearing or sex (my novel has both).

I've read some of your reading aloud tips in the past. Now that it's more relevant to me, I'll read them with my own appearances in mind.

Thank you for the great insight!! I am so nervous.

Toothpaste
02-12-2012, 10:29 PM
You're welcome :) .

My biggest tip of all is that no matter how nervous or whatever you are, it's okay. We all feel it, it's perfectly normal.

But keep in mind that a reading like the one in particular you are doing is a great thing because the audience is a friendly one. They are there because they want to see you, they want to support you. They want you to do well. You don't have to prove yourself to them. You just need to have fun.

So go up there and feel what you feel, but also feel excited and grateful. If you make a mistake (which we ALL do) just pause, gather yourself, and carry on. People don't mind mistakes, especially if you overcome them with grace. It's when one starts apologising and getting flustered that an audience can start to feel uncomfortable, because they feel your frustration. They don't want you to feel that way, they really don't care that you said "As" instead of "Has". They know what you meant.

Enjoy it.

I don't suppose it will be in Toronto, btw?

CaroGirl
02-13-2012, 01:14 AM
You're welcome :) .

My biggest tip of all is that no matter how nervous or whatever you are, it's okay. We all feel it, it's perfectly normal.

But keep in mind that a reading like the one in particular you are doing is a great thing because the audience is a friendly one. They are there because they want to see you, they want to support you. They want you to do well. You don't have to prove yourself to them. You just need to have fun.

So go up there and feel what you feel, but also feel excited and grateful. If you make a mistake (which we ALL do) just pause, gather yourself, and carry on. People don't mind mistakes, especially if you overcome them with grace. It's when one starts apologising and getting flustered that an audience can start to feel uncomfortable, because they feel your frustration. They don't want you to feel that way, they really don't care that you said "As" instead of "Has". They know what you meant.

Enjoy it.

I don't suppose it will be in Toronto, btw?

You're right. Thanks for the advice!

jaksen
02-13-2012, 02:37 AM
If you are reading for children or young people, the standard length of time for paying attention: the subjects' age plus five minutes.

This worked out pretty well when I taught 12-13 year olds. As a teacher I never talked (lectured, read aloud) for more than 18 minutes and 15 was my usual length. You can always break it up into two short readings, too. Read ten minutes of exciting stuff or great dialogue, then take questions. Ask if they want to hear more. If, yes, go for another ten minutes.

I've never given public readings, but I often read aloud to my students. (Science teacher, now retired.) I seldom read my own stories; usually I read from science books (non-fiction) and sometimes science fiction. They loved it.

Libbie
02-13-2012, 03:02 AM
Great question! I've been wondering about this, too, just out of idle curiosity.

Hearing how to read for kids is interesting. I'm also very interested in hearing how writers who do mainly adult fiction choose what to read for an adult audience.

KTC
02-13-2012, 04:49 AM
For authors who do public readings of their work, at the book launch or a conference, how do you decide what passage to read and what length it should be? Do you get advice from publisher/agent/editor? Family? Does the venue affect the choice of passage and length?

Thanks!

I've read several times, Caro. I usually get told how many minutes I'll get prior to the day of. As for what I choose, I pick 3 or 4 passages...get them all timed out...and bring them all with me. It's an organic decision I make at the last minute. I am so negative, that I never think anything is good enough. I pick the one I hate the least when I get up to the mic. (-;

KTC
02-13-2012, 04:51 AM
I don't suppose it will be in Toronto, btw?

PS: You didn't answer Toothpaste's question. (-: Is it in Toronto or Ottawa?

PPS: Will you bring copies to the Ontario Writers' Conference? Both Toothpaste and I will be in attendance. (-;

CaroGirl
02-13-2012, 06:49 AM
PS: You didn't answer Toothpaste's question. (-: Is it in Toronto or Ottawa?

PPS: Will you bring copies to the Ontario Writers' Conference? Both Toothpaste and I will be in attendance. (-;

It's in Ottawa. And if it's okay with you, Mr. Organizer, I'd love to bring copies to the conference. :)

Brickcommajason
02-13-2012, 06:51 AM
I've only done this twice, but both times I read the parts that made my alpha and beta readers laugh the hardest. Funny is a great way to go for book readings.