When I do a book reading, I try to do the following:
- Advertise - so people know when and where to come.
- Prepare and rehearse.
- Have an interesting and engaging start. Just like a great opening in a book.
- Involve the audience.
- Tell stories about how my characters/locations/plot came about or other asides that I think may be of interest.
- Read from my book for about 20-25 minutes within 60 minutes. I break these readings up.
- Link the readings to personal stories and anecdotes.
- Leave time for questions from the audience.
- Have books ready to sell or information about where the audience can buy them.
- Leave the audience wanting more.
Recently, a book reading in Greece did not go quite according to plan. A few days before, I stepped on a sharp piece of metal in the sea and had to go to hospital. Consequently, I didn't get posters out until two days before the reading and the day before it rained for eight hours. Yes, it rained all day in Greece in the summer!
I ended up delivering my reading with a toe the size of a lemon and mixing pain killers with white wine. Not that I would recommend this. Fortunately, I had prepared well and my exclusive audience - a CNN journalist, fellow writer, Norwegian publisher, documentary director and others - really enjoyed the reading and I got a lot of positive feedback.
This leads me to a final bonus tip - don't be offended or upset if not many people come. Doing a reading is still good practice and a smaller crowd makes for a more personal and intimate atmosphere.