Online interaction and social media networking is all very well, but you can't beat real life. Reading your work in public is a terrific way to raise your profile, connect with readers, and gain feedback and many other benefits. If you've never done it before, the prospect may seem scary, but the potential rewards make it well worth perserving.
Currently in the midst of organising Triskele's next live event for indie authors in and around London (more info about the Triskele Lit Fest here), Canadian novelist Catriona Troth, now based in the UK, has taken time out to write this report on a regular public reading event for self-published and trade-published novelists. Although this event is obviously available only to authors within reach of London, the same format would work very well anywhere in the world. We hope that Catriona's case study will inspire others to organise similar events wherever they live.
Over to Catriona…
The literary scene is rich with opportunities for poets and short story writers to read or perform their work in front of a live audience. Less common is the chance to hear anyone other than major established authors read from their novels.
This was the hole that Safeena Chaudhry, author of Companions of Clay, sought to fill when she set up Novel London, a unique opportunity for newly publishing and unpublished novelists to read the opening chapter to an intimate audience in bookshops and other venues in central London. In addition, reading is videoed and uploaded on the Novel London website – a valuable tool for promotion in this social-multi-media age.
I asked Safeena why she set up Novel London.
I like to capture moments and create narratives through writing, photography and video. There’s something about documenting that can transport us. Sometimes, we forget what we have achieved, who we once were, and some moments in time, captured digitally, can provide us with evidence. Reading in public is an act of courage and having a record of it can remind us of a moment that I hope the novelists will treasure.
Novel London for me is a platform for novelists and the novels that we might not otherwise have a chance to be aware of. It’s showcased yet-to-be published, independently published and traditionally published novelists. It’s a place of discovery and diversity. I want more people to go into bookshops and buy books and I also want them to connect with novelists in person and online. I want the guests to be inspired by the writing. Some novelists have written one novel and others have written half a dozen. Either way, sometimes we need to see the results of what happens when people just.keep.going.
ALLi member and literary novelist Jane Davis took the plunge in May to read from her novel My Counterfeit Self at Novel London’s Contemporary Fiction evening. Jane talks here about one of the bonuses of taking part in a Novel London evening – the services of professional voice coach, Norma Cohen.
Norma encouraged us to engage with every member of the audience – and since the audience would be sitting in a semicircle this meant moving about and making eye contact. She was very encouraging. When it came to my turn, she suggested places where I should pause to give the words time to sink in, and words where greater inflection was required. In fact, she wanted me to start the chapter with a shout!
As it progressed, the practice session became interactive. Norma had us read lines from our first chapters in turn, giving the opportunity to compare delivery techniques and making us match rather than compete with one another. Finally, before the audience arrived, she put us through some relaxation exercises – to which I added a glass of white wine, for good measure.
Whilst I didn’t remember every suggestion, I did notice a marked difference in my delivery, and focusing on the audience, I was barely aware of the camera I had been so worried about. I didn’t even notice there was a second!
Novel London takes place on the first Friday of every month. If you have completed your novel and would like a chance to read from it in front of an audience, please feel free to send in the opening chapter, biography, and blurb to [email protected]
- For more information about Novel London, visit its website: www.novellondon.co.uk.
- For more information about the Triskele Lit Fest, visit: www.triskelelitfest.blogspot.co.uk.
OVER TO YOU
Do you have a great case study to share of reading your work in public? We'd love to hear about them!#Authors, here's why you should read your work in public - inspriring case study of @Novel_London by @L1bCat Click To Tweet