First reading at Barnes & Noble – check!
Even though I’ve been a published author for four and a half years and have four novels under my belt, I participated in my first ever public book “reading” this past Thursday night at the Barnes & Noble in Manhasset, New York, along with fellow Booktrope authors Hilary Grossman and Jennifer Gracen. For those of you not in the know, Manhasset is a town in Nassau County, Long Island.
As I mentioned in my blog post a couple of weeks back, I get very nervous at the thought of public speaking. Past experiences have left me lacking confidence in that regard. As you can imagine, booking this gig at Barnes and Noble, while a dream come true in one respect, was a nightmare in another. Terrified, yet determined to see it through, I made it my mission to kill it, or at the very least, not make a fool of myself.
I chose an excerpt of my newest release, How Do You Know? that I considered intriguing enough to pique interest in my story without giving away anything not already exposed in the book’s back cover blurb. A very dialogue-heavy scene, I sought advice from author friends who have far more experience at readings on how to best distinguish between which character was speaking. Thank you to my mom for this brilliant suggestion and to Eileen Goudge, Josie Brown, and Jen Tucker for their willingness to share their wisdom. At the advice of these authors, I marked up the scene to include additional dialogue tags (I said, he said) where necessary and add phrases such as “I thought, I wondered” to indicate inner thought.
As a result of this wonderful advice, my devotion to rehearsing the reading for two weeks prior to the event, and perhaps a little magic set off by the designer shoes I had purchased the night before, I am proud to announce that the reading went off without a hitch. Despite nursing an awful cold, I think it’s fair to say I rocked it. I didn’t read too quickly, which was my biggest fear. I remembered to include the added dialogue tags to avoid confusing the audience. And I managed to make eye contact with the audience every so often rather than keep my head buried in the book. Folks laughed at all of the right times which fueled my confidence.
In my wildest dreams, truckloads of devoted fans would stand elbow-to-elbow for an opportunity to hear their favorite author—me of course—read from her book. In reality, however, while we had a full house, the majority of the audience consisted of friends, colleagues, and family of Hilary Grossman and most of them were there to see her. I blame the crazy cold and the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey for the absence of my fangirls (and boys). But while I’m fairly certain the majority of the attendees were not my target audience, they were very attentive and respectful to all three of us and I managed to pique the interest of a couple of them who purchased a signed copy of How Do You Know? at the end of the evening. Another promised to download the ecopy on her Kindle when she got home.
I’m so excited to have my virgin reading behind me and look forward to my next opportunity. The second time will be even better, I’m sure 😉
Thank you to Hilary Grossman, Jennifer Gracen, and the staff at Barnes & Noble for making it possible!
So glad it went so well, Meredith!!! I wish I could have been there. I’m not surprised at all that you rocked it! I love your positive attitude about it all too. Now that you have all this experience and were so successful, doesn’t coming to CA to hold my hand for my first sound like a good idea? 😉 Seriously, I really appreciate you sharing this because 1) I’m super happy for you!!! 2) It helps with my sleepless nights over my first B & N appearance, which isn’t for 2 more months! xoxo
I wish I could be there for your first reading in California! But I have no doubt you will rock it. You also have more experience speaking in public – you’re a professor! I know you’ll do awesome. It’s a wonderful book. Read it with pride. XO.
I’m so glad this went well (yay for designer shoes) and next time you’ll feel much calmer, I’m sure.
You make a good point about the differences necessary when reading aloud to people: I listen to lots of audiobooks and often the (professional) narrator uses different voices for different characters. In that situation, many of the “she saids” are unnecessary. Moreover, several adverbs become superfluous too, if the narrator changes her voice to indicate the tone of speech. Ideally, I think books need to be tweaked for the “out loud” version, just as you did here.
Exactly! While I put emotion into my reading, I don’t have the acting chops to change my voice to distinguish between my main character and her boyfriend. I hadn’t even thought of tweaking the book until my wise author friends suggested it to me. I’m so glad I asked!
You totally killed it my dear! And you rocked it with those shoes. I don’t think there was a girl in sight who didn’t envy those beauties! Hope you are feeling better! I am so glad the three of us got to share in this awesome night!
I’m definitely feeling better now. I’m so glad I was able to tough it out. Thank you again for everything – for including me in this great opportunity, for picking me up at the train station, for buying me dinner, for being my author buddy. XOXO.
How exciting for you! I loved your dress and shoes!
Thank you so much, Isabella!
Hey, you sold books! Books with an “s”! That’s a very successful reading! Good for you for pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.