Lessons from a reading

Erin M. Hartshorn reading at WorldCon

Photo courtesy of Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Last month, I attended WorldCon in San Jose. I had an amazing time, primarily because of the wonderful people I talked to, both those whom I already knew and those whom I just met. (I wrote all about it in my newsletter last month — consider subscribing if you missed it!) The last thing I did officially at the con was to give a reading on Monday afternoon of a couple scenes from Troll Tunnels.

Lesson 1: All conventions are not created equal. When I did a reading from Ghost Garages last year at Boskone, two people came to listen. This year, the room was crowded, with easily a couple of dozen people. Maybe more? I tried to take a picture but failed to do the panorama properly. But … a crowded room, most of whom had never heard of me or read my writing, seeking to be entertained and decide whether to check out my work.

The reading itself went well, with a couple of people coming up to me afterward to compliment me on my reading skill.

Lesson 2: I can do this! Even if I’m a little unnerved by the number of people in front of me. However …

Lesson 3: I need to be prepared to say more about the book and series to lay the groundwork for the new audience, and

Lesson 4: People actually want swag like bookmarks or other material to help them remember who was reading from what. I’ve seen a lot of people online say that no one cares about bookmarks, they just throw them away or don’t really look at the content, so I’d dismissed this as something to pursue. Evidently, it’s common because it does work.

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  1. If you need access to a steep discount on bookmarks some time let me know. Because of the number of business cards I order through a particular online company, I have their Gold, and sometimes Platinum VIP level which makes a significant dent in pricing.

  2. You did a great job joking about the number of people. You didn’t seem intimidated at all :). I guess I never really thought about it because my first ever reading was at Confluence in Pittsburgh where there were a lot of people. Most readings at cons in the Bay Area are a group affair and are usually well attended.

    I never use the bookmarks/cards I collect as bookmarks because I don’t read in paper, but I do keep them to remind me of the authors I spoke to, and I put them on a bookmark shelf once I’m done so the paper readers in the family have easy access.

    • A great job? Thanks!

      Most of the readings at Boskone are well attended, too. On the other hand, I’ve heard stories of people doing signings and readings st bookstores where the audience is pretty much nonexistent, too, so I knew it was a possibility going in.

      That’s good to know about the bookmarks!

  3. I can Never have too many bookmarks! Bring them on.

    Excellent on a ‘great job’ !!

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