Sunday, December 2, 2007

Readings In General, A Free Life

I wanted to try putting an author reading into my blog. This is my first time doing this. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author. You should enjoy this quite a bit. At least one person who has visited has expressed an interest in Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman is a prolific author. He has written for Comics-- The Sandman and Swamp Thing, Movies: Beowulf and Stardust, the english language script for Princess Mononoke, numerous adult novels: American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, and many others, young adult novels: Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls, as well as many short story collections.

I see a lot of people using youtube in their blogs. This is my first attempt at this.

Author readings are a really fantastic experience. I used to go to quite a lot of them. One of the things which I would do is go to the Strand bookstore and buy a few reviewer copies to get them signed. Or, I would try and find copies at a discount. A rule of thumb is that a book usually retains at least the value of its cover price if it is signed by an author or editor.

When you get a book signed, it is also a good idea to keep the ephemera that went with the book signing. Try and keep the flyer, or calendar that went with the signing. This shows that you saw the author and makes the signed book appear more authentic. Very few booksellers do this. If you are selling a book on one of the online services, scanning the flyer can make a lot of difference.

Hearing and seeing an author speak is very different from reading their book. You get a better feeling of how the characters are with their different voices. Plus, quite often the authors will surprise you by reading from a forthcoming piece not yet printed.

If you are a bookstore or library and doing regular signings, get an autograph book so you can have all the authors that visited sign the book as a permanent record of who visited. This can be both very valuable and very entertaining. It is fun to look at the different signatures. Sometimes authors will doodle in the book if it is large enough.

Quite often readings are not at bookstores, cultural centers often have readings. I used to go to Dixon Place in Manhattan where they had a regular science fiction series. Also, the 92nd Street Y hosts readings. I saw Octavia Butler speak there.

Libraries quite often host readings as well. It takes a decent amount of preparation to do them. You generally have to call at least three months in advance. Then you have to prepare flyers and press releases for the local papers. Most authors require an honorarium and travel expenses to get to the library. Because, we are in New York, we don't usually have to pay for hotels. Generally, it is not that hard to do a reading event. You just need a microphone, a large well lighted space to read, plenty of seating, and some light refreshments. Most of the time the author requests a bottle or glass of water. Reading is thirsty work.

It is often quite interesting to host an editor and author talk combined. This allows one person to talk about the process of writing, while the other talks about the process of correcting, selecting, and providing the finished product in writing. Usually multi-author and editor talks happen at conventions. Baen Books had a talk about science fiction in libraries at the last Book Expo America in New York City. Toni Weisskopf, the chief editor of Baen, and David Weber a major science fiction writer were both on the panel which made it quite interesting.


The ending of A Free Life by Ha Jin is truly wonderful. The epilogue consists of several poems by Nan the main character, as well as a few poetry journal entries. I especially like the poems, The Drake, and Groundhog Hour. The book continues in an interesting manner. Nan runs his restaurant with his wife PingPing and his sun TaoTao until his wife collapses and they have to sell the restaurant. Oddly enough getting rid of the restaurant makes the families life much more fulfilling, going back to work at a motel allows Nan to focus on his poetry. It is a wonderful statement about how chasing the American Dream can submerge your personal dreams. During the novel, Nan spends time with his American Friend Dick focusing on poetry and art when he is not at the restaurant. There is a lot of insight about the meaning of art and writing in this book.


I put in three videos from Youtube to see how they would work. One is of Neil Gaimn, the other two are of Cory Doctorow. Both of these people are excellent writers. People seem to appreciate the videos. I think it is interesting to watch writers read or talk about their material on the internet.

No comments: