Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Authors Reading From Their Books - A Poll

First, authors need to be creative writers. And good ones, too.

After publication they have to become entertainers, going out meeting readers,making them laugh, cry, care.

Then someone, sometime, is going to ask them to read from their book. Gasp! Gulp! What??

The first time this happened to me, I was at the Wisconsin Public Radio studio, with those big earphones on, and my interviewer tossing questions at me. "Read a passage for us," he said, throwing a curve ball. And he knew exactly which pages he wanted. Okay, then, go....and I did okay, not great, passable.

I felt like Pierce Brosnan singing in Mama Mia - not all that comfortable. James Bond is good at so many thing, why does he have to sing?

Now, the question is...if you are at a book talk, do you want the author to read?  Do you expect audiobook quality?

Do you ever feel like these guys??

15 comments:

Vicki said...

I think it's ok if the author reads a passage, but not necessary since I will eventually read the whole book myself! I'd rather hear the author talk about where they get their ideas, how they were inspired to write the current book, their strengths or struggles with the writing process. It's also interesting to hear about their professions before becoming a writer. I can't get all that from reading the book itself!

Sheila Connolly said...

Not every one is good at public speaking, even when it's words that he or she has written. (There's something wrong with the grammar there, but you know what I mean.)

And I agree with Vicki--I think people are much more interested in hearing about the process, either for writing or for getting a book published. And you as a writer would hate to waste the opportunity to let your readers get to know you.

Bookwoman said...

I agree that not everyone is good at public speaking. Some are better than others. I enjoy hearing an author read from their work because they know the intended emphasis and inflection. But I'm not disappointed if they don't read a passage. I am more interested in how they got their ideas and the whole writing process and things they know about their characters that the readers don't know.

Janet said...

I've heard authors who were excellent at this, and it was interesting because I think I learned more about how they viewed their characters. I've also heard authors who weren't particularly good at dramatic reading. It didn't stop me from buying and enjoying the book; I just thought my time with the author could have been better spent hearing them talk about their writing process.

Dru said...

I've been to an event where the author read a passage from their book and I could tell the author preferred answering questions.

And that's what I like as well, hearing the antedotes surrounding the creation of their book and listening to the Q&A sessions.

Patti said...

This takes me back a ways when I heard Truman Capote read a passage from one of his books. While he was very entertaining and certainly a great author, he was not good at reading his own material. It actually changed how I viewed his books. By that I mean, I could hear his voice reading to me and it really ruined the shock or intensity of the story. So, this may not be the best thing to do for some authors. lol.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

One of my favorite authors droned on so long at a Bouchercon reading that I could never bring myself to buy another one of his books, although I had probably read about fifteen up to that point! Reading out loud and writing: two very different skill sets.

MJ

Lover of Books said...

One of my all time favorite authors reads at her signings. It is sooo much fun cause I follow along with my book. But it's typically not a long passage so she has time for questions too. But then I only go to one book signing a year so far. lol
Krista

Shel said...

I'm with Dru. I'd prefer the author to answer questions or tell stories about how they got the inspiration for their characters. Masters of this are the Deadly Divas, (Marcia Talley, Heather Webber, Sara Rosett, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, and Denise Swanson), especially Denise. She had me laughing and nodding as she explained where she gets her situations for her characters. If I'm interested enough to go to a signing, it's a sure thing that I've either already read or plan on reading the book.

Andrea C. said...

I have to say I kind of like hearing the author read from his/her book. I enjoy hearing how they think the characters would say things...attitude etc.
Although I understand it is not a talent for everyone - if it makes an author uncomfortable then I think it is okay to skip it!

Linda McDonald said...

I am much more intersted to hear about the writer, rather than hear a passage from the story read. I'd like to hear more about the writing process, ideas, how they picked their character's names, when they first started writing, etc. I've noticed at workshops that I've gone too, that I tend to drift away and think about other things if passages are being read.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I really prefer not to hear a book read aloud (I never do audiobooks). I like to imagine the sound of the character's voices and hearing someone else, especially the author, read the dialog spoils that for me. Plus, I enjoy hearing an author discuss their writing process, inspirations, etc.

Vickie said...

I like an author reading from their book and I don't expect a professional narrator. Only a few authors can do that, Neil Gaiman or the Sweet Potato Queen, and I enjoy it for the long term.
I like the joy I hear in an author's voice when they read from their 'child', for lack of a better term.

Laineshots said...

Mostly, I agree with the majority here, though I do enjoy hearing the author say, "Oh, I just gotta read you this--listen to what Xzzz says!" If it's spontaneous, and part of the author's train of thought, I know I'll enjoy it, because it tells me what the author was thinking.

Valerie Consoer said...

I must admit that I've never been to a book signing. Yes, I'll hang my head as I continue typing. Anyway, if and when I decide to attend one, I would also prefer the learning side of it. If an author feels comfortable reading an excerpt, then I'll naturally listen closely. But I want to know more about what was going on in their head when they wrote that excerpt. Also, I would imagine that if they read an excerpt, it was an important point in the story instead of just being a random choice. Living in a small town surrounded by corn in Indiana, I don't get many choices to go to book signings, but I anxiously wait for my day to arrive.

P.S. I thought Pierce Brosnan had a wonderful part in Mama Mia and sang wonderfully. He wasn't fantastic, but he had a ruggedness to him that made me swoon. Sing on, Pierce! I'm listening!