Writing is wonderful — solitary and soul-satisfying. And yet, sharing the fruits of our labor with an encouraging audience can be equally enjoyable and rewarding. That’s why it was so much fun for my critique group, Working Title 7, to gather with friends, family, and other enthusiastic listeners for an event we called, “Grass Roots Fiction at its Best,” — an evening of readings from our works in progress followed by wine, cheese, and cake. We attracted a lively crowd and a great time was had by all.
Organizing a reading like ours takes some planning, but it can be well worth the energy. As writers, garnering community support for our work can help create valuable buzz and begin to build a solid, loyal audience base. Here are some of the things we did that helped make the evening a success:
We chose a welcoming venue: A local indie, Watchung Booksellers, loves writers and hosts many events to support them, so it was a natural choice. Margot Sage-EL welcomed our event and was kind enough to keep the store open on a weekday evening for us.
We distributed a flier: Our organizer, David designed a pithy, eye-catching flier on his computer and emailed it to all of us. We printed out copies and distributed them in cafes, store windows, and our local library libraries.
We used social media: We publicized the event on Facebook and listed it on several online community bulletin boards.” It was also listed on the bookstore’s well-trafficked Web site.
We practiced our program: Once the logistics were handled, we focused on creating an enjoyable evening for our audience. We planned an hour-long event, which meant each of us had 8 minutes. We selected scenes in this time span and met to practice and time them. We also paid attention to the pacing of our program, alternating a funny piece with a serious one, for example.
We made it a party: After the reading, we invited everyone attending to join us for wine, cider, cheese and crackers, and other treats, which we all contributed. This turned the event into a festive celebration.
For me, one of the highlights of the evening was meeting Steve, one of my loyal KWD readers, who gave me a huge boost with his kind words about my daily posts. Thanks, Steve — and write on!