From the Page to Stage: When Writers Speak

by Christie Hinrichs

C Hinrichs

A talented writer does not a speaker make.  Go to enough literary events, and you’re bound to experience this first hand.  You love the work, have read the author’s novels or memoir and recommended the titles to everyone you know.  But when you see them in person?  Just. Not. The Same. It’s unfortunate, but occasionally it happens. Authors, after all, frequently live an existence of isolation, in communion with the page alone.  But as all literary event coordinators know, the best way to ensure success of any community or campus reads programs is to include the author for a community event.  But what if the author is a terrible speaker?

That’s why, at Books In Common, we make sure that the authors we work with are always engaging and talented public presenters.  We not only review their writing with a critical eye, we also watch videos of the author giving a lecture or interviews, and gather feedback from venues that have previously hosted the author about how the author is as a presenter.  We always ask the writers we work with what they like about talking with an audience, finding that if we can emphasize that aspect, success is assured. Finally, we ask the venues that host authors about what made their presentation good, and what could make it better.  All of this valuable feedback we pass along to our client-venues (you!) early in the selection phase, which can help immeasurably as a committee decides on a particular title.

But doesn’t the work speak for itself (you might ask)?  Being a charismatic and inspiring speaker is more important than you think! When a culminating author event falls flat—after months of related programming and preparation—because the speaker is disorganized or rambles or is scared to death, the results can be extremely disappointing. There are thousands upon thousands of good writers out there, but those that are also great speakers…not so much.That’s why it’s so helpful to have all the information you can as you lay the groundwork for your event.  Knowing what to expect is often best way to ensure a good outcome. Books In Common can provide author/speaker feedback, in addition to our general slate of services (fee discounts, title recommendations, logistical support) to help our client-venues host the most successful events possible!

This entry was posted in All Campus Reads Programs, Common Reads Programs, Community Reads Programs, Issue #6, Uncategorised and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Garth Stein: A SUDDEN LIGHT