Author Readings: Yay or Nay?

While browsing Facebook I came across this video that Anne Rice posted from her author fan page. I’m not a huge fan of her fan page because she mostly posts about how much religious persecution is happening, and I’d like to hear more about her as a writer. However, in this video she states that she rarely reads her work to an audience, but she is okay with reading to a camera.

This got me thinking: What is the allure to having an author read their work to an audience? Is it merely because the readers enjoy the work so much that it means more if actually read by the creator? I posted this question on my author page and the first response was “to confirm the pronunciation of the character names.” Is this also true? What do you think?

Also, would you read your work to an audience? Have you before? What was the reaction? Did you enjoy it?

I personally don’t feel comfortable reading my work to an audience, but that is because it is slightly more difficult for me, what with the speech impediment and all. However, I certainly don’t mind answering questions about the work or the process in which I used to create it. Perhaps there is something deeper there.

Anyway, I am very interested to find out just what is so exciting about hearing an author read their work to an audience.



9 thoughts on “Author Readings: Yay or Nay?

  1. I think it depends on the skill of the author as a narrator. I say this not because I’ve attended a lot of author readings. I do listen to audiobooks daily since I spend a couple of hours in my commute. Some authors are narrators of their own books and shouldn’t be. Neal Gaiman did a fabulous job on Neverwhere. Other authors have ruined their own work by narrating. I can imagine the same result in an author reading. I realize this sounds very harsh. I’ll add that I would hesitate to do an author reading.

  2. I wouldn’t want to read to an audience simply because I think the reader would lose a bit of their personal specific interpretation of it. What if a small inflection change in your voice changes the reader’s perspective on or excitement for a specific quote or passage? I’d be paranoid I’d ruin something for one of my readers; people get very attached to what they like.

  3. I’ve watched several author readings – all over the web, never in person – and they differed for me. Some made me love the book even more, while others just didn’t fit with the image I had in my head of the book. It’s even little things like accents – when I listened to Eoin Colfer read an excerpt from Artemis Fowl, I was strangely thrown by his accent. I knew he had one, of course, but when I read in my head, it’s with a Canadian accent, so hearing the Irish was just weird.

    Should I ever have the chance to do an author reading, however, I would love to do it. Stage fright would be a problem, but it helps that you’re reading something that you’ve slaved hours over, and know inside and out.

  4. I can’t understand why an audience above the age and ability to read for themselves would want to be read to like that. Recited to sure, around a campfire or in some lush and shady corner of a ren-faire, otherwise they would get so much more enjoyment reading for themselves.

  5. I would read to an audience for a couple of reasons. You can make a connection with them on a personal level, the intimate moment of sharing a creation. The satisfaction of having written something deemed sharable, by virtue of people showing up for the event. (Side note: Yikes what if no one came?) Lastly, the Q&A session. I would love to experience that, answering questions about a project because the reader was spurred to thoughtfulness. I think that would be one of the prominent hallmarks of success for me. Being able to draw in the reader and getting a response, even if its a question, from them.

    I have been fortunate enough to have gone through a public speaking class in college and several jobs where speaking to groups large and small, subordinate and executive, has left me with the ability to converse on most levels with anyone. If the topic is something I know absolutely (such as a story I wrote) I am very comfortable because I know the material. Having said that, speaking in public is one of those skills that must be practiced, like writing, to obtain proficiency. It is not easy to begin with and I cannot imagine how difficult it would be with a speech impediment.

    In the end, I will opt for speaking to people because I do not wish to be reclusive, I do want to share myself and work and I wish to connect with those willing to read what I have written.

    • I think it’s a combination of things, like you said. It’s cool to see your favorite writers in person, reading their work. It’s cool to hear how they inflect certain elements, what kind of emphasis they put on things, and if/how they modify their voice for different characters.

  6. I was just reading something else on this subject, and the idea seemed to be that readings are a magical experience because the author knows their work best, and can read it in its best voice. However, as some of the previous comments suggest, it often seems to ruin a certain magic instead, throwing off how the reader had come to interpret (and very possibly love) the material in question. I listened to a bit of a reading of The Hunger Games recently, and the accent used completely threw me off, and really rather didn’t do anything for me. However, hearing Christopher Paolini read his work pretty much seems to confirm how I interpreted the prose, and sometimes actually improves upon my interpretation and opinion of his writing. It really seems to depend. (I would be much too frightened to do a reading myself. Perhaps to a camera, if I had really rehearsed the excerpt, but I don’t know…)

  7. I think it helps the audience make another connection to the author as well as their book. It gives them the pleasure of saying to their friends.. ” I went to an event and heard them read from this book that I love” It is a way to make the entire experience of the book more real and more memorable. I have my first reading to audience coming up and am nervous but excited to meet the people attending.

I know you have thoughts, and I want to hear them...

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