Dear touring authors,
A lot of you are really lousy readers of your own work. I’ve seen thousands of you. I’ve been bored by quite a few of you. Stop doing it.
If you suspect you are really lousy at it, you are. Stop doing it. If you are on a book tour, talk to the audience about the book. Pitch the book to people. Just answer a bunch of questions. Stop reading to us. It’s boring. You are boring us. There are other things you can do. Figure out where your strengths are, and go with them.
If you are an agent and you have an author who is not good at reading to an audience, tell her/him. Seriously. Just say it. And then figure out what the author can do instead. Stop sending them out to bore the hell out of an audience. A small audience. A very small audience that will inevitably get smaller and smaller because so many authors are so damn lousy at reading to an audience.
If you have a friend who is not good at reading to an audience, and her/his agent won’t say anything, or her/his editor/publisher won’t say anything to her/him, cowgirl/boy up and tell her/him. For all our sakes. Tell them to cut it the fuck out and figure out something else to do when given the chance to stand in front of a group of people her/him hopes will buy her/his book.
“Hey…listen. You guys in the front, if you see somebody going down, help them out. It’s what we’re here to do.”
And, really, if you are a terrible reader, but you insist on following the silly ritual, if you think because you are a writer asked to go to a bookstore, you must read something, read something in first person. First person fiction, memoir, maybe some autobiographical poetry. People perk up at the “I.” And you are a lousy reader of your own work. At least you can cover it by appearing to talk about yourself.