As you can see from the picture above, I’m reading on St. Patrick’s Day (Thursday, March 17) with five other authors as part of the Strong Women/Strange Worlds online reading series. The reading runs an hour, starting at 7 pm US EDT, which is 4 pm out here on the U.S. West Coast, late morning on the 18th in Australia, and the middle of the night in the U.K.
You can register for this free event here. Each author is doing some form of giveaway as part of the reading. I’m offering a print copy of For the Good of the Realm to one person in the US and an e-copy for a person living in other places. (The cost of shipping books these days is beyond the means of most writers, especially when the shipping costs more than the book.)
The people behind this reading series started it after some of them did a Zoom reading at a virtual convention and realized they could do such things without the convention. They’ve put together an organized system, with a set of tips for readers, and they solicit applications from people who’d like to participate.
Virtual readings are one of the good things that have come from the complicated times of the pandemic. Many conventions were cancelled or held virtually and most bookstores and libraries stopped holding events.
I suspect virtual readings are going to stick around. They can draw a worldwide audience — though the time of day may be less convenient in some locales — which is a lot better than the crowd a writer can get at the local bookstore. And the audience can listen while doing other things. (I like to listen to readings while cooking or eating dinner.)
I did several last year. FOGcon, our local convention here in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been doing a series of both readings and panels to make up for not holding a convention. Laura Blackwell and Daniel Marcus do Story Hour each Wednesday, with two authors each reading a short story. I enjoyed reading both places.
The only drawback to the virtual reading is that you can’t see your audience while you’re reading. When I’m reading in person, I’m always attuned to audience reaction. I miss that in the virtual events.
I’m also a big fan of group readings, both online and in-person. For an author, it’s great because it expands the audience beyond the people who’ve heard of you. And when you listen to such readings, you often find a writer you want to check out.
And if you don’t like someone’s work, well, they’re only reading for a short period of time! In this case, we’re reading for 8 minutes each.
The main difference between the rules for doing virtual readings and the rules for doing in-person ones is that you focus on where your camera is, not on a sea of faces, and that you have to make sure your tech is working. Otherwise, it’s basically the same: be on time, don’t run over your time slot, make sure you can be heard and understood, and listen politely while the others read. (For online readings, listening politely includes making enthusiastic comments in the chat since no one will see your reactions otherwise.)
I’m hoping to go to a convention or two this year and read in person there. I’m also hoping bookstores around here will start holding more events and that the several Bay Area reading series will start back up on a permanent basis. However, I’m also one of those people who thinks we need to be stay vigilant about the pandemic, so I’m not going to push too hard for a return to indoor un-distanced socializing.
The good news remains that we’ve learned to do some things very effectively online. Readings are one of them.
Hope to “see” some of you at this one.