Here’s a post by Madeleine E. Robins at Book View Cafe: Crickets: The Art of Reading to an Audience
One last thing about reading to an audience: bring a big box of graceful resignation. Because sometimes, no matter how wonderful your work is, no one shows up. Or, perhaps worse, three people show up and you’re reading to a room set up with chairs for thirty, and you can’t say “I’m sorry, this is below my threshold of audience numbers, so I’m not reading today,” because that’s unfair to the three people who did show up. Even if two of them are your parents.
Look: this happens to everyone. Odds are that even the Gods of Successful Writing, early in their careers, had author appearances where the author outnumbered the audience. Don’t despair. The fact that you are not yet the sort of household name that drives audiences to leave their homes and forsake a nice walk in the sunshine, or a game of D&D, or the kid’s softball game, or a myriad of other leisure activities, means… well, just that. And you knew that coming in, right? So, how to prepare and what to do.
This post is actually good for me. I mean, it’s undoubtedly good advice for me personally.
First: if you are asked if you want to do a signing at a bookstore, ask if you can do a reading instead. There is nothing so demoralizing as sitting a table with a stack of your books and people walking by, ignoring you. If you read, there’s a good chance that your voice will draw people, that a phrase will catch the ear and bring an auditor from the Philately section.
See? I should probably see if I can arrange readings at local bookstores for November, after Winter comes out. The big issue for me is that by “local” I mean “within 100 miles” because the nearest bookstores are about that far away. And the other big issue is I really don’t like doing readings.
But I should probably try it a few times and see whether I can learn to like it better.