Q. I am about to have my first opportunity to read from my newly-finished memoir. Any tips for a doing a memoir reading program so that I can make the most of the opportunity?
A. I have many tips for doing a memoir reading program, but I will limit myself to five.
1. Specifically, you ought not to read for longer than 30 minutes. Then, 15 minutes for Q & A and 15 minutes for meeting your audience personally.
2. But before you speak, you must set your goals for the program. Why are you participating in this program? I will presume that you are viscerally interested in sharing your life otherwise you would not have written the memoir. Let’s presume on your enthusiasm and let that be taken for granted.
3. Is your (secondary, presuming sharing content is your primary) goal to sell the book itself? For this you will have to demonstrate how the book can meet the needs of the audience. Ask questions such as, “Has anyone here experienced a bitter divorce? Speak briefly about your own bitter experience, then say something like “But let me read from the book. It says what I want to say more succinctly and clearly.” Then read from your memoir about your divorce.
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4. Always collect email addresses. Offer a bonus for doing so. “I’ll send you a PDF of a chapter I wrote but decided not to publish. I would love it if you gave me your feedback? Ought I to include it in another edition?” Use the emails to keep in touch with the audience—especially for your second book.
5. Place your books near the exit and stand there during the last 15 minutes of your program. Bring all your titles. One may sell the other. Offer a discount or a bonus premium for buying that evening.
My best tip for a memoir reading program is really general: whatever you do, don’t just go for doing a reading. Go for a marketing opportunity so that your past writing will support your future writing.
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