It was nearing 8:00 PM on a New York City summer evening and a group of friends and colleagues had gathered at a popular book event to hear a much beloved author read from her latest. We were hugging, kissing and smiling despite the 90-degree weather. We were excited for our friend. We were excited to be among writers and good books.
Fast forward an hour and a half.
The air was stagnant. People were schvitzing. My friend’s teenage daughter rolled her eyes and whispered, “Not again, Mom.” The woman next to me suddenly clutched my arm and muttered some obscenities, abruptly forcing me out of my coma. My Diet Coke was long gone. I hadn’t an email left to answer, but it didn’t matter, because my phone had lost life.
What was happening?
The first author was still reading.
There was beautiful writing in there—really, truly—but it didn’t matter, because the author had lost us within the first few minutes. She spoke slowly without inflection. She didn’t pause or make eye contact. She never looked up (which might have been a good thing in this circumstance). And she read what seemed to be a very large portion of her book, not a well-timed passage.
This author was in desperate need of my kind.
All of us—the survivors of The Worst Reading Ever—bring up the occasion each time we see one another at book events. As I gear up for a robust spring and summer season of new, marvelous books, I think a lot about the art of a signing because I learned a whole lot from that night:
1. Script it. Your book event is more than just reading that awesome passage from pages 2—4. Weave in takeaways, tidbits about characters, what you were thinking as you wrote, and/or points you’re addressing. [Read more…]