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What Is The Future Of Book Readings?

By February 21, 2021October 22nd, 2021No Comments

Authors must find a way to prevail over this seemingly never-ending pandemic…and they are! As writers, we spend entire segments of our lives crafting new works. To see them pop out of our imagination and into the world is insanely gratifying, and we feel a responsibility to do everything in our power to launch a book that finds an audience. One of the key ways to do that has always been book readings.

The last year or so has forced us to look differently at promoting new works. Technology provides ways for authors to bridge the gap between a new book and its potential audience. At the same time, thus far even the best online solutions seem like a temporary fix. So what is the future of book readings? Here’s a look at what authors are currently doing to promote their work and some innovative ideas for the future. 

The Current Scene

The internet is filled to the brim with events these days. The cup overfloweth. Authors are doing their best to adapt to the current situation with arguably some positive promotional side-effects. (Can you imagine trying to organize a zoom event for your book launch before March of 2020?) 

The Pros And Cons Of Hosting Virtual Events On Zoom

People have become accustomed to jumping online and connecting with family, friends, colleagues, or checking out performances. Yes, even an online book reading is part of the new normal. The problem, if anything, is that people have too many online events to choose from. Folks might not show because there’s something else happening on the internet at that time or they simply forgot. It’s easy to get distracted when your whole world exists mostly within four walls, especially if you have kids. Not to mention, it’s easier than ever to flake out and ghost people on the internet. 

Virtual events can lack a convivial atmosphere. I wonder why? There’s an energy in the room with a bunch of strangers on a city night being moved by live art while enjoying free food and drink. Some people prefer holding a physical object in their hand before purchasing, i.e. your book. They’re more likely to pick up a copy at a fun in-person event, especially after a few drinks. 

On the flip side, some are more likely to buy your book during an online event for the sheer convenience of buying it in just a couple of clicks. You don’t even have to get dressed to check out an online book launch. There are plenty of upsides and plenty of downsides, and everybody is still trying to figure this thing out. We’re doing OK with what’s available, but we’ve still got a ways to go. 

Book Readings On Social Media

Yes, we’ve adapted quickly but the zoom world is a little blown out at the moment. So how can we spice it up? Let’s have a look at some ways authors can push the envelope and make an impact with book readings in isolation. We’ll tell you everything you need to know, short of a how to book readings guide. 

  • Live Stream- doing a live stream book reading via Instagram can be an engaging way for your new book to reach readers. Also, you can see how many people, and which accounts, are tuning in. These metrics are valuable–keep track! After the reading, you can reach out to viewers with a link to buy the book and a “thanks for tuning in” message. Increased book sales, anyone? 
  • Pre-recorded- A pre-recorded book reading gives you more control over your “performance” as well as technical details like sound and lighting. The advantages to a pre-recorded reading are mostly aesthetic. If total control is important to you, why not take advantage? Get creative with the mise-en-scene and put your best foot forward! Try wearing a black turtleneck and little round spectacles and do your book reading while reclining on a chaise lounge in front of a crackling fire. Better yet, get completely naked and film yourself reading outside. This is especially entertaining if you live in colder climates. It’s all about bumping up those views, people! 

Come Correct With A Cinematic Book Reading 

Social media book readings are all well and good. Everyone is doing them and if you have a new book coming out, so should you. But that’s just the starting line. Everyone is on Zoom so why not get creative and stand out? Harness the power of technology and do a badass cinematic book reading. Think about it. How cool would it be if your book reading came across like a short film? 

A cinematic book reading is a departure from the “live” element of doing a book reading, but has impressive potential for both entertainment and promotion. This is a few steps beyond doing a simple reading on the platform(s) of your choice, live or pre-recorded. A cinematic book reading is a whole new level entirely, and the possibilities are endless. 

For example, you can do a straightforward reading of a chapter that best sells your book or you can adapt a chapter of your book for the screen and make it into a short film. Whichever route you take, hire a professional service to film it and make it look slick and polished.

A Cinematic Book Reading as A Promotional Tool

Wondering how to read more book reviews praising your new work? The publications generating the coverage you desire won’t know you exist unless you hit them over the head with a promotional tool worth their time. A cinematic book reading can be used to promote your novel in the same way a book trailer does. Posting your cinematic book reading on YouTube and throwing some ad money at it can help your book reach audiences you didn’t even know were out there. Help the critics do their part in spreading the word by pitching a cinematic book reading to publications you want to feature your book. 

Cinematic Book Reading vs Book Trailer

Ok, so what’s the difference? A book trailer is a cinematic interpretation of your book designed mainly for promotional purposes. Obviously, it helps if it looks professional and is entertaining to watch. Actually, those are requirements if you want to convert casual viewers into engaged readers and fans. A good book trailer is short, to the point, fun to watch, and tells your future readers where to buy the book. It should capture the tone and essence of the story without giving too much away. Utilize Netflix’s evil principle of binge-watching and throw in a cliff-hanger at the end. Make us need to know what happens next. This can be as simple as a 15-second video consisting mainly of sound design, voice-over, and text. It can be as complicated as a 2-minute cinematic trailer that sells your book as if it’s already been made into a movie. There are no rules, but generally, the successful ones follow these basic guidelines. 

Go For The Gold 

A cinematic book reading, however, does all of this and more. Here we go beyond the promotional trailer format into short film territory. A cinematic book reading can be similar to an author video in which the author explains their reasons why you should read the book via a “talking-head” interview-style short documentary. But it’s deeper and more exciting than that. A cinematic book reading has the potential to stand on its own as a short film that can be both submitted to festivals and used to promote the book in the same way a trailer does. 

Chuck Palahniuk reads from ‘Doomed’

This is a straight-forward cinematic book reading from one of the greats, Chuck Palahniuk. Dig his cool outfit, subtly-intense sound design, and stage lighting. 

‘Make Me Do Things’ by Victoria Redel

This Film 14 production is short enough to be a book trailer, but is also a cinematic book reading by nature. Here, voice actress Gita Donovan reads from Redel’s collection of short stories Make Me Do Things over cinematic imagery that mirrors the narrative. Directed by Justin Duval.

In the absence of live events for the foreseeable future, book reading horizons will continue expanding into the digital realm with greater emphasis on quality production and cinematic presentation. The future of cinematic book readings will go above and beyond the classic format into narrative short films. It’s the wild west right now, wide open for creative approaches to the conventional format. Do something daring and edgy…surprise us! Now more than ever, your audience needs to be engaged and inspired. Go forth and make some beautiful art that sells your book and doesn’t put your audience to sleep. Don’t forget, fortune favors the bold. 


Patrick Salway is a writer, musician, and actor living in Los Angeles. Follow him on social media @blone_noble and @veneer_publications. Listen to VENEER.

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