Over the past ten years of my publishing career I have done countless readings, from Saskatoon to Los Angeles, Ann Arbor to Montreal, in bookstores, at a Cherry Festival, for book club meetings, at a convention for criminal justice professionals, at conferences, outside, inside, on my own, as part of a group, all times of the day and night, for crowds of hundreds to less than a handful. Each one was unique, exciting, a bit nerve-wracking, well-prepared for, something I looked forward to. I have met hundreds of wonderful people, a few quirky ones, received gifts and hugs and much more good cheer and support than any one person can hope to get.
Over that time, things have changed. It used to be that once a book was released I’d get on a plane and head here, there and everywhere. Those were the days when there were many more bookstores and places for authors to do readings. Today much of the time I used to spend travelling to author events and being in personal contact with readers, I now spend behind my desk being in contact with readers via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter.
Has social media replaced author readings?
I don’t know if anyone has the definitive answer on that one.
But it got me to thinking about what the casual reader thinks about attending author readings today. So this was the topic of my most recent website poll:
Author Readings: Do You or Don’t You?
Of the respondents to the poll, although it wasn’t an overwhelming majority, 36% of voters stated they always find it interesting to hear an author read their own work.
So far, so good, right?
22% of respondents qualified that is only the case when the author who is doing the reading is one they already know and they have read their work. I find this interesting. This seems to say that a good portion of readers upon hearing about a reading event would likely not attend if they have not read that author’s book. Which seems to indicate the book comes first. Engaging with the author comes second. I suppose this makes a certain amount of sense. Why risk a couple hours out of a perfectly good day for something less than a sure thing. But if you like a book, you want more from that author…like hearing them read or meeting them in person.
So how do books get into the hands of readers who don’t know the author? Isn’t that -in part- what author readings are supposed to be about? Certainly bookstores and authors hope so. Well, over 14% of respondents said whether or not they attend author readings, they do NOT make buying decisions based on such events.
The poll couldn’t get into this, but it would appear that other reasons beyond the author – like subject matter, writing style, reading habits, and on and on still hold strong sway with some readers. Writers cannot expect that the head count of an audience will equate to sales numbers at the end of the night.
7% of voters said they really don’t care to see most authors in person. Another 7% said they aren’t against it, but they simply never make the time to attend a reading.
At the end of the day, I still believe there is something special about that human connection, meetings between readers and writers can be a truly magical thing. A shared love of the written word for whatever reasons is a special thing. For me, I am all about social media, but whenever and wherever I can, it’s a special treat and thrill to stand up in front of people who are kind enough and interested enough to give of their time to attend an author event, and read something I’ve written. And for that I promise to always give you my all.
All of this ruminating about author events led me to my next poll question. Regardless of whether you attend readings or not, as a reader: What Do You Really Want to Know About An Author?
You can vote now (choose up to 3 possible options or register your own answer) at