I owned and operated a bookstore for seven years, during which I sponsored at least one hundred book reading/signing events. I came to dread the part of the event when the author read from the book. I found this to be the least interesting, indeed, boring, part of the experience.
Authors routinely—not always—chose to read selections giving little or no context of plot and referencing characters to which the audience had virtually no prior introduction. I saw puzzled faces, yawns, and even some in the audience going to their phones.
So, when I had such an event for my own book, I decided to do something out of the ordinary. I dressed as one of the characters, in this case, the ghost of Ambrose Bierce, American writer and Civil War union soldier. When interviewed by the sponsor of the event, Mr. Bierce scolded and criticized the author of the book—uh, that would be me—.
My character did not hold back in offering his opinion of the shortcomings of what the author wrote—again, me—and thanked my editor for cutting a significant amount of tedious material. Mr. Bierce ultimately accepted that he was “comfortable” with how the book turned out.
I believe the audience engaged quickly with this twist, asking interesting questions addressed to the character in the book. Some of the questions posed were not always about the content of the book. One of the audience members asked if Mr. Bierce could lower the price of the book. Another asked about the biggest change in the world-of-the-living that Bierce had seen since his death. Mr. Bierce replied that it was the ability to sign one’s name with a finger.
Authors need to shake things up when they read from their book. Bring the book alive! A simple reading of a small section of their work seldom does the job. Consider not reading at all and simply talk about yourself and how the book came to be.
A New Haunt for Mr. Bierce is sold wherever books are sold. Now available in print, e-book, and audio formats. Signed print copies at www.page158books.com Shipping available.
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.