Old Moon

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What to Say?

I'm trying to decide what to say to what will doubtless be a small though sympathetic audience at a reading/book-signing tomorrow. Having been asked to "talk about the book," MaidenRun, I wonder what I can offer. A work of fiction should give hope of surprises and a story to entertain, naturally. The cover "blurb" provides as a good a hook as I could dream up, so is there any need to repeat that -- even in different words?

I look into the carton with half a dozen copies ordered for the occasion, remind myself to include a pad for taking orders (trying to take the optimistic view), and wonder if there's a way to make use of a couple of complimentary reviews. Do I really need to take so many copies? Should I have ordered more?

I left out the worry about leaving the dog behind when it's likely to storm before I return. I haven't mentioned dithering over what to wear. What if people can't hear me? I've been told I'll do this in a part of a large auditorium. There was no sound reinforcement the last time I did this in the same place for the first novel. Maybe there won't be anybody listening who is hard of hearing?

If I admit that when I write a story, what I want is to entertain, but admit that I intend some food for thought to be available along with the yarn, will that put off a potential buyer? So many people (perhaps more men than women) are proud of the fact that they don't read fiction. It's unlikely that I could launch into an apology for the non-factual in a program that no one wants to last more than 30 minutes -- less if possible. Besides, I'd only resort to quotes from writers whose names would be familiar to almost anyone present, since my qualifications to make pronouncements are virtually nonexistent. Redundant?

Then, to read the first chapter aloud will take at least ten minutes. A quarter of an hour more or less that probably should include time for questions isn't much, even for an unopposed debate. Again the need to figure out a couple of succinct but challenging remarks. What about a joke? The great speeches of recent days always include one. Why do I think I can make good speech off the cuff? Well, I hate "canned" talks. I feel cheated if I can't make snap judgements about the speaker.

If only I were "into" promotion! I envy those who have no discomfort when doing their utmost to sell something. I'm able to be persuasive if I'm convinced and committed -- but about a book I understand to be flawed -- that I've written? Not so much! It would help if the darn thing didn't have nearly 50 misprints! Do I mention that I've discounted the price on that account? Where is a mentor/publicist when I need one?

1 comment:

Glenda C. Beall said...

Joan, this is what I've found to be the most interesting readings by a fiction writer. Don't dwell on reading from the book. Talk about the writing of the book. Where did your ideas come from? What did you want your readers to gain from reading the book, besides entertainment.
Begin by making the audience like you and then they will want to read the book. (Sell yourself, then sell your book)
Tell some things about yourself that your audience can relate to. Talk about your characters. That is better I think, than reading from the book because you can hardly read enough to create interest in that short time period.
And if you want to read from the book, talk about a certain part of the book, then read some from that place in the book.

As an audience member of numbers of readings, I also know that you should begin with something humorous and end with something light. When people are smiling or laughing, they have good feelings toward the person who gave them the good feelings.

That is my five cents worth. Good luck. I know you will knock then dead.