Sunday, January 24, 2016

Better Book Tour

Since I started working at Porter Square Books in 2004 I have seen hundreds of author events. Some were great, others painful, and most, somewhere in the middle. Perhaps the most frustrating of the events were those in which a brilliant author, read from their brilliant book in a boring, monotonous voice. Here was this great book that I wanted readers to discover, fall in love with, and, of course, buy from the store and yet none of the audience could hear the brilliance over the author's droning. Furthermore, these authors (and their publishers) were spending the time, effort, and money, to visit stores, but their actual performances didn’t do much to create sales of their books.

I don’t remember which event in particular it was, but after such an event, it struck me how little the author needed to do to dramatically improve their performance. A different perspective, a few core principles, and some practice would be enough to transform the monotonous reading into a performance that would actually sell books. “Someone should coach these authors on performing in bookstores,” I thought. After hosting and seeing so many events, performing in various venues from book stores, to dorm rooms, to bars, to auditoriums packed with high school students, and going on my own book tour, I eventually realized that “someone” could be me.

So I am proud to announce the launch of the author education service, Better Book Tour. Better Book Tour offers three services: hour-long one-on-one workshops, feedback on performance samples, and a complete guide to performing at bookstore events.

In some ways, developing this education service, wasn't that much different from writing a book. I started with an idea and then I worked on it until I felt confident enough that I could get feedback from fellow booksellers, publishing industry professions, and other people I trust. Then I incorporated their feedback into all of the materials and read everything over another dozen times to make sure it was perfect knowing full well that I'd find a typo the instant I pushed start. And now, I'm letting Better Book Tour out into the world to see what happens.

There is an element of talent in performance, but I truly believe that a small investment in time and education, will help make any author an engaging performer who makes the most of their bookstore events.

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