So, You’ve Been Asked to Do a Reading From Your Book…

Getting ready for my signing

Getting ready for my signing

I am so excited to participate at a Book Signing at the illustrious Dolphin Bookshop on June 7th from 2-4 in Port Washington, NY. I’m part of a multi-authored event where I will be promoting my adult thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU.

I’ve been asked to prepare a 90 second reading. Now, I’ve been to author readings before. I won’t lie. I don’t usually like them. In fact, at two library talks I did, the coordinators suggested that I don’t do a reading because they felt that they weren’t interesting enough for attendees. Hmmm. You see, there are some books, when read aloud, just don’t sound good – especially the ones riddled with sentences that end with “he said, she said, they said, Karen said, said Mark…” you get the picture. I was at one recently, and there was so much of it, that it completely broke up the entire flow.

So the question is, what to read that will be exciting, won’t give away any crucial parts of the book, but will sound great read aloud? Pick something action-oriented, something that will grab your audience in their clutches…

I decided to go with the beginning of chapter one of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, not the epilogue, but right into the beginning of the book that starts with this action scene:


Hidden in the security camera’s blind spot, she sucked in her gut, closed her eyes and listened intently. “Come on, already,” she thought, drumming her fingertips rapidly against the brick wall. She heard the dogs panting now. This sound had replaced the earlier frenzy of them tearing into the drugged raw hamburger she had thrown over the fence just twenty minutes before. She’d crushed thirty-six Acepromozin tablets into the ground meat, reckoning it would enough to knock out the four guard dogs, if not kill them outright.

She glanced at her watch and waited. This is taking so long. Five more minutes passed, with nothing sounding except the soft, rotating click of the camera. Abruptly, she yanked down the protective goggles resting on her head and placed them over her eyes. The clicking now echoed loudly, indicating the camera was once more faced in her direction. Brazenly she stood, aimed her laser gun and pointed it directly into the lens. The high tech, silicon-based CCD camera had an impressive wavelength sensitivity. The laser’s high-powered emitter instantly saturated the pixels of the camera’s CCD sensor and burned the chip out instantly.

Ricardo Perez thought he protected himself with the best of everything. He’d under-estimated meeting an assassin so invested in seeing him dead.

Hooking the laser into her belt loop, she flung her knapsack over her shoulders and scaled the wall in a practiced leap. She balanced delicately on the edge to prevent being punctured by the barbed wire and slipped on a pair of leather gloves, grabbed the wire cutters hanging from her backpack and snipped her way through. In less than twenty seconds, she was inside the backyard of the compound. Three of the dogs lay unconscious in the grass nearby, but their twitching feet told her they were still alive. Where is the other one?

A deep, menacing growl came from behind her and she whirled to face the remaining Doberman. She had just enough time to register the bits of bloody hamburger still clinging to its snout before it lunged. Her instincts kicked in and she did the only thing she could remember. She punched the animal savagely in its throat like she’d been taught, and it fell to the ground, dead.

Breathing hard, she turned back to the house where Ricardo had hoped to escape from her. Her body shook and she took a deep breath, trying to keep her anger in check. This man couldn’t expect to destroy her family and get away with it. He was going to pay.


I might add on (since it’s all of 45-60 seconds), or not. But here’s the kicker… I DON’T HAVE TO READ EVERY SINGLE WORD! That’s right. In the above reading, I might remove the last sentence in the first paragraph entirely and simply move on… this is your reading, your time to shine in the spotlight – heck, you can make everything up if you’d like – it’s like doing a presentation for work. Your audience doesn’t know what you’ve prepared or what you’re presenting, so there’s no reason to ever be worried about making a mistake. Even if you stumble over your words. Just own it and move on. Remember, the attendees don’t want an embarrassing situation either – they want you to do well – that’s why they are AT your signing.

If you can’t make the event but would like to grab your copy of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, please feel free to do so here: I have little postcards that I can sign and mail to you if you’d like. Come to my contact page and join my newsletter – give me your address, let me know you’ve purchased a kindle copy and I’ll mail you a personalized note:

Want to come get a signed copy of the book? Here are the details!

June 7th 2:00 – 4:00
The Dolphin Bookshop
299 Main St, Port Washington, NY 11050
(516) 767-2650

And, I’ll have Dove Chocolates and Asian treats! Come on down, love to see you. 🙂

15 thoughts on “So, You’ve Been Asked to Do a Reading From Your Book…

  1. Really like the fact you decided to go right into the action. This read well, so it should sound just as good if not better out loud. Wish we were in NY during this time so I could hear it. 😀

    • Thank you Mark – do you think the dog death was enough to put people off? I’m an animal lover and felt this was appropriate… but some folks have other thoughts about this.

  2. I take it you’re a cat person?

    I wouldn’t enjoy this reading, it puts me off the book altogether. But then, I really doubt the rest of your book has much to do with punching dogs to death in the throat. As a reader I might read on and if this was the only incident I’d let it go. As a listener, knowing this is the representative sample the author chose, I’d be wary. Sorry! But I do think it’s something to consider.

    • You know Mallory, that is a very valid point. I’m a huge animal lover, grew up with dogs, and for this book, it made sense this man had guard dogs and this girl had to deal with it – the rest of the book is all about people… not animals. I might rethink this part. I do appreciate the comment and will really consider it or figure out how to soften it.

  3. Good luck w/ the reading. You might want to review 2nd paragraph where “instantly” is used twice in the last sentence. Read the segment aloud to hear how it sounds to you. Trust me, it always sounds great when read between the ears but totally different when the ears can actually hear it!

    • You are so right – which is why I think people should realize they don’t need to read every word. In fact, I always think it’s a great idea to have one book that you completely write in – notes to talk to people about, words to cross out in a reading…

  4. I’m a firm believer in making that reading your bitch Elyse! LOL You do what sounds interesting and fun… if you’ve ever seen the “Mean Tweets” segment on Jimmy Kimmel, some of them are super awesome because people read them but they also sort of act them… Put some personality in it – you’ll be FANTASTIC!

  5. I think it’s a good idea not to start with the epilogue. 😉

    I’ve read for other writers, and I’m very comfortable speaking in public (frequently teach sessions, MC large events, etc.), but I’m much less comfortable reading my own work. I’ve been thinking hard about how to overcome this! Already I tend to drop words which are unnecessary when I can vary voice and intonation or help interpret with movement (all those “saids,”, some adverbs), and I think focusing on that will help me with my own work — it’s a performance then, and not a submission of my work for judgment!

    Hope your reading goes well!

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