Author Reading

How do I organize an author reading? - Tips for a successful event

Despite the lull in the book market, the number of visitors to author readings is developing positively: according to Statista, in 2015 there were around 10.53 million people in the German-speaking population aged 14 and over who were interested in attending readings. So a reading can be a chance for you to get to know your audience and market your book.

What are the reading formats?

Author readings are traditionally held in bookshops or at the book fair, for example in Frankfurt or Leipzigtakes place. But there are also other event formats where you can perform your text, such as on an open stage or online.

The classic author reading

For readers, the stationary book trade is still a place for haptic experiences around books. As an author, the book trade offers you a range of marketing opportunities such as a book table, the display on the book shelf or in the shop window or a reading. A classic author reading is an event at which you introduce your book to your audience and read passages from the text. You get to interact with your readers and answer questions about you and your book. Afterwards, they can buy your book and may want to have it signed by you. In addition to bookstores, you can also give readings at book fairs, literary institutes, schools or cafés. Either way, this can be a useful addition to your book tour. Book Marketing be.

Open stage

Open stages like "Poetry Slams" or "Open Mics" also offer you a platform to perform your texts. Usually, several speakers come on stage one after the other and compete for the favour of the audience or a prize. Unlike a classic author reading, these event formats focus on self-dramatization and performance. In so-called "staged readings", theatrical elements are added.

Online readings

Another alternative are online readings. In this form of book reading, authors present their book via a livestream, with the audience sitting at home in front of the screen. This is a cost-effective way to promote your book and connect with your readers.

What challenges do you face in a reading?

A total of 17 percent of all authors present their book at a reading. This challenging marketing measure is not an option for all authors. At a reading, you have to organise the reading event together with booksellers or other organisers, promote it, present yourself in front of an audience and answer all the questions about your book. Therefore, a certain enjoyment of the organisation is a basic requirement and you shouldn't mind talking in front of a group of people. The biggest challenge is facing your readers and getting them excited about your book.

What are the advantages of a reading?

As an author, readings can be a valuable marketing activity. You have direct contact with your readers, get feedback for your future writing, and strengthen your brand at the same time. Through a fee and book sales, you can increase your income and perhaps better make a living writing and the press will take notice of you. Even if you can't imagine talking about your lyrics in front of an audience yet: Just give it a try. Every time you get over yourself, it gets easier.

How to choose a suitable bookstore for a reading?

Booksellers tend to be risk-averse and prefer crowd-pleasing titles. As a precaution, be prepared for them to be cautious about unknown authors and self-publishers. Large chains in particular will be difficult to approach. Often, smaller specialist bookshops or those in your personal circle are the better contacts. Introduce yourself as a regional author or expert on a special topic. Make sure that your book topic fits into the programme.

Which places are suitable for an author reading?

It doesn't always have to be a classic book reading in a traditional bookstore. Public libraries, literary cafés, schools or other places with a cultural focus also offer space for an author reading. The best place to read is where you will find your target audience. If you've published a guide to vegan eating, for example, a vegan café might be a better place than a bookshop. By using an unusual location, you will attract additional attention and reach the right target audience.

How do I approach the bookstore correctly?

A confident demeanor, persuasion, and a bookstore-ready, quality book are crucial to whether a bookstore wants to organize a reading with you. After all, the Sales opportunities also play a major role for the bookseller. It is best to make an appointment, booksellers often have little time for your book presentation between customer meetings. Don't forget to highlight what makes your book special and convince them with original ideas. Has your book already sold well or been featured in the press? This means your title has proven marketability and you have a better chance of getting a reading. Also, leave a proof copy and find out where and how the bookstore can order your book. Ideally he will get the usual Book trade conditions and a right of return.

How do I plan an author reading?

In order not to get bogged down in the organisation, you should get an overview of the individual points that await you in the planning. For example, you should consider in advance who your audience will be, create a concept, have a preliminary discussion with the bookseller and find a way to offer your audience added value.

The audience

You've been preparing for your reading for weeks, invested a lot of time to be able to offer your audience a great event - and you're sitting in front of empty chairs. Maybe your target audience isn't interested in a reading? Think about whether readers of your book might consider attending such an event and lay out your talk accordingly. For example, if you read from your Children's bookyou're going to have to adjust to a very different audience than you would at a Thriller.

The concept

To start, you should think about a reading concept. You have never hosted an author reading before? Then take a look at other author events and make notes on what went well and what didn't go so well. Set out all the key points of your reading so that the day runs smoothly. You should discuss this plan and all organisational questions with the bookseller or organiser in advance.

The preliminary conversation with the bookseller

If you have won over a bookseller for a book reading, you should clarify all the necessary organisational points in an early appointment. Also ask for experience values, what you should pay attention to and what the readers react particularly well to. Discuss everything from the date to the book table to a book signing.

For example, key data to be clarified may be:

  • On what day and at what time does the event take place and how long does it last?
  • Should there be a book table and how many books will the bookstore order?
  • What should be the sequence of the reading?
  • Should there be any comments on the subject, a question and answer session or anything like that?
  • Will there be an opportunity for you to sign your book after the reading?
  • Does an application take place on the part of the bookstore, or are you as the author responsible for the appearance of the guests?
  • Is an author's fee or a travel allowance paid?

Can I charge a fee for an author reading?

The question of the author's fee for readings often causes discussions. Reading fees are an additional and important source of income for authors. Bookstores lure well-known authors with high amounts - there is not much budget left for unknown writers. Booksellers often see a reading as a chance for self-publishers to advertise their own book. According to ver.di, an average Reading fee of 300 euros is recommended. Decide for yourself how much the advertising platform in the book trade is worth to you and whether and which author's fee is important to you. Address this point in good time and look for the best solution for both sides.

The venue

Take a good look at the location of the reading in advance and make notes to include in your planning. What does it look like there? Where will you sit during the reading, where will the audience sit? Do you need a microphone and are there other media such as a beamer that you can use?

add value

To give your audience something, you need to get creative. In one survey, the majority of 18.55 million respondents said they never picked up a book in their free time until 2019. So entice your audience with more than just a traditional literary reading. Whether it's an event in an unusual location, with musical accompaniment, or a staged reading, come up with something to liven up the event and keep your audience entertained. Invite a special guest from your subject area to discuss afterwards, or bring snacks to a presentation of your Portugal travel guide. Such actions will also attract the attention of one or the other journalist.

Among the tredition authors who organise author readings, 37 percent report the success of their reading through an unusual reading location, 17 percent rely on musical accompaniment and 12 percent on the active participation of readers in a crime reading.

What additional measures for an author reading add the most value?

Extraordinary place34 %
Musical accompaniment17 %
Crime Reading12 %
Posters and flyers10 %
Special guest for panel discussion10 %
Staged reading3 %
Situational catering2 %
Read-along read-along2 %
Suitable room design2 %
Provocative discussions1 %

How can you promote an author reading?

It's often not easy for self-publishers to get guests for an author reading due to a lack of name recognition. Don't let that put you off. Even well-known authors sometimes perform their text at a reading in front of empty rows of chairs. A small but interested audience is often worth more than many visitors who may not be interested in your book.

In order for the audience to find out about your reading, you should think about different advertising options in advance. For example, flyers or posters in the bookshop and in the surrounding cafés and supermarkets, or a notice in regional event calendars. Contact the local press and create an event on Facebook to which you invite the appropriate audience. Announce the reading via your social media channels. Maybe your publisher or self-publishing service provider will offer support as well? And how about a sign-up to estimate how many listeners will come? It's best to discuss this with the bookshop or the organiser.

How does an author reading work?

Programme items

An author reading consists of an author presentation and book introduction, the book reading and a Q&A session at the end. Afterwards, there is often a book table where the book is sold and signed by the author. You should not allow more than an hour and a half in total for your reading. If it's longer than that, you run the risk of your audience getting bored or leaving early - and your book not being bought at the book sale afterwards!

Author presentation and book launch

A successful start to an author reading determines the rest of the process. So start thinking about how you're going to begin well in advance. Say a few words about yourself, and a touch of humour won't hurt if it suits your work. And don't panic if you're nervous. Most famous authors feel that way too! After a few words, find a segue to your book. Maybe tell how you got into writing and how your current work came to be. But keep it short and remember: the book is the focus. Get your audience curious. What is it about, what is special about it?

Book reading

The actual book reading is the core of every author event. The success of a reading therefore also depends on the selection and presentation of the text. Don't just start at the beginning of the book, but think about passages of text in which the theme of your book becomes clear. But don't give too much away. And break off briefly between the individual text excerpts, tell something about the genesis of the book, sprinkle in anecdotes or provide background information. Be sure to practice your reading at home and make notes on your delivery. This will help you to emphasise stresses and mark meaningful pauses.

Q&A session and signing time

Allow time at the end of your reading for your audience to ask questions. Be prepared for possible questions and be open to them. A short book signing is a good way to round off a reading, where the audience can talk to you again and take your book home with a personal dedication.

On the day of the event

Allow yourself time to prepare before the event. Be there a little earlier. Have a glass of water ready or take some sage or ginger tea with you, they are good for the voice and have a relaxing effect. And don't forget to bring someone with a camera to have pictures and video footage for your promotions afterwards.

At the latest when the first listeners roll in, it's completely normal to get nervous. But don't worry, they are there to learn about you and your work. Take a good look at them at the beginning to better adjust to them. What's the age range, what's the mood of the audience? And don't be angry if an audience member falls asleep. One experienced author told the nice anecdote that in almost every reading someone nods off, often just in the front row. Don't take it personally, often it's the "tag along" someone, or the audience is just tired after a day's work and relaxing. Take comfort in the fact that it happens even with the most famous authors!

The follow-up

Just as important as the preparation and the author reading is the subsequent analysis. What worked well and what went less well? Was the audience enthusiastic or were there negative reactions? Photos and videos from the reading can also be useful for thinking about how you can improve from the outside looking in. They also lend themselves wonderfully to further marketing efforts: Report on it on your homepage, your blog, your author or book pages and social networks and point out the next events. It's a great way to strengthen your author brand and build a community of readers!


Whether you're a repeat offender or a beginner, every author reading is different. It depends on the audience as much as your program points. Think about whether a reading is right for you and whether you want to face the challenges of such an event. Also, talk to other writers about their experiences. A reading gives you the opportunity to connect with your readers and get feedback on your book.


Written from our team by

Make something out of your book
Convince yourself and try out our tools. Simply register and get started. Without obligation. Without costs. You decide.