Improving Indie Author Events

This post, by Shane Solar-Doherty, originally appeared on The Things They Read on 10/27/10.

On Monday night I went to a reading at Lorem Ipsum Books, a local used shop, a business I get great pleasure out of supporting. They were hosting Lindsay Hunter and Christian TeBordo, two authors with debut story collections with Featherproof Books, an indie publisher out of Chicago. Featherproof sent Hunter and TeBordo out on a five-stop tour that they dubbed the Road Read tour. Their fourth stop was Lorem Ipsum.

Hunter and TeBordo picked funny and daring stories to read and delivered them well. Their stories were very short, and they were read quickly, which the pace of the stories called for. But the reading only lasted about ten minutes, or to measure it another way, approximately one minute for each audience member in attendance. The audience and the authors were crammed into chairs and stools in a corner of the store. And there was no discussion to wrap things up, the part of a reading that I look forward to the most. In the end, I felt lead on, like I was supposed to anticipate what was to come next. And that’s a quality I admire at the end of a well-written story. It’s not what I expect at the end of a reading.

It reminded me of another reading I attended recently, when HTMLGIANT hosted Grace Krilanovich in a streamed live video to read from her novel, The Orange Eats Creeps, the book that got Krilanovich selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award. The format of the reading seemed like it had Krilanovich confused. The new format, which I do believe will be effective after it’s been trialed further, would have baffled me as well; read into a lens, not to an audience. Krilanovich slowly settled into reading to a webcam. And then, when she finally seemed to be getting comfortable, the video went out. And then the audio.

It was out for maybe a minute, maybe two, and then it came back, and Krilanovich, clearly flustered, had to collect herself, pick up where she left off in the story, and work back up to that comfort level of reading to an invisible audience. Once she did, the video and audio went out again. This occurred about five times throughout her reading. At another point, a cat walked across her desk while she read. At the end, questions were slow to filter in, and Krilanovich was stuck in a virtual world with no real way to gauge her audience’s reaction to the reading.

 

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