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Embracing the Open Mic: Unlocking the Power of Live Author Performances

"Remember that the emotional depth of live readings cannot be duplicated on a screen"

By Gila Green

In a world dominated by virtual meetings and online interactions, the allure of live performances may seem like a relic of the past. However, the magic of sharing stories in person should not be shelved in the age of Zoom. Live author performances have the potential to add emotional resonance to the reader-author experience, creating an authentic connection.

The first step is to find a venue. Book stores, book clubs, community centres, synagogues, and churches are all great ideas, or create your own setting. For example, I approached a make-your-own ceramics studio that attracted a lot of the customers I sought for one of my novels (mostly women, Jewish, and over 40). I approached the store owner with an idea: anyone who came in to my author night would get a ten percent discount on any ceramic project, and I threw in catered cookies. I confess I got the idea from an invitation I received from another author colleague who invited people to her author night at a friend's art gallery.

Once your venue is set up, you need to focus on making the most of this opportunity and that lies in selecting the perfect excerpt from your work to share with the audience. Choose something that resonates with the mood of the event. Consider the demographics of the audience and their interests. Start with your own book and take it from there. If it's a thriller, read something gripping if that matches the atmosphere. On the other hand, choose something light for a humorous event.

Injecting some music and/or incorporating props will make the most of your time on stage. You want people to remember you. For example, if you're reading a historical novel, play a tune from that era before you begin. To avoid copyright issues, if you don't play an instrument yourself, there are plenty of local musicians and DJs who would be happy to have their work included in a reading and receive the credit. If you're reading fantasy, pass around an artifact related to your book or put it on display.

In addition, be theatrical and get your visual cues on. Wear an article of clothing that corresponds with your book's theme or protagonist. This will leave a strong impression on the audience and it communicates passion for your work. For example, if you write crime fiction, wear a detective's long trench coat to set the mood.

Next, consider leaving the audience something they can take home; hand out bookmarks or postcards with your book cover and website details and leave time for a Q&A session.

While a live performance is an amazing opportunity, think beyond the now. Film your reading and repost it on various platforms to extend your reach, leverage your reading, and boost your author profile.

In conclusion, embrace live performances and remember that the emotional depth of live readings cannot be duplicated on a screen. Select a place that targets your demographic, choose your excerpt wisely, and throw in some creativity. Remember to record and share your reading while you benefit from the reader-author experience the old-fashioned way. 

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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