Need Some Advice

The fair and always pleasant Boston Erin and I are planning a literary reading series in the Boston area. Since this is our first time planning something like this, I could use some advice.

  1. If you’ve started or been involved in a reading series, what was the experience like?
  2. If you’ve attended a reading, no matter which genre, what did you like or did not like about it? How long should readers read?
  3. What do you think makes a reading successful?

Once we’ve fleshed it out a bit more, I’ll post on our progress. I’ll also post my thoughts on what makes a good reading in a day or so.

FYI, if you’re a poetry or fiction writer in the Boston area and would like to be a part of the series, e-mail me directly at jgill27494 at aol dot com.



J - I've never run a reading series, but I have put stand-alone readings on. First off: get great readers! And by this I mean, people who love and want to read their work aloud, and who have folks to invite! You've got to get the word out double time in order to fill the room with 30 folks.

Second, pick a cool fun venue. I did mine in a popular bookstore, a theatre workshop space, and a leather clothing store (it was a very specific reading!). I offered wine and snacks (not necessary, but it definitely makes people linger longer). The venue can make all the difference. Bookstores often work well because people will browse. You could also pick a venue that already holds readings, because then you will have audience support potential from their mailing list and whatever publicity they already do.

Third: readers read MAX 20 minutes. 15 is better, esp. if fiction. And probably not more than 3 readers, two is usually the norm. You start to make your listeners sleepy if you go longer than that. Esp. if you have given them wine.

Fourth: hang out after and have books available for purchase and or signing! People love this aspect, me included!

Hope that helps! I also know some fiction writers/professors at Harvard and Stonehill and I might be able to put you in touch with them if you think that would be of interest to you.

January said…
Thanks for the feedback. I think we can get 30 people to attend, and we're planning on having snacks and drinks.

We'll have access to a mailing list from a local bookstore. Also, we're going to produce postcards and flyers, as well as list the reading in a few local event listings.

I may take you up on the local contacts to help spread the word. More to come.
Nic Sebastian said…
No helpful input, just to say good luck and wish I was in the Boston area!

Shin Yu said…
Try as best as possible to make sure your event date doesn't conflict with other poetry events/series around town like the Plough & Stars series, the Union Square Poetry Series, Harris Gardner's events for Tapestry of Voices, Blacksmith House, or The So & So series, area unversities, etc. Get in touch with Dan Bouchard (editor of the poetry magazine The Poker) at MIT and ask him to email blast his list the publicity for your event.

To increase your audience numbers, send PR to friends teaching in universities who can tell their students to attend.
Bug said…
The readings at Lesley work like this: there there are lots of readers (maybe 15-20?) who read short excerpts--like 5-10 minutes. That works well for people who haven't done readings before, I think. And like we talked about last week, I love the idea of all the readings revolving around a theme. (Oh, and sign me up!)
January said…
Bug, you're on the list--that's a given!
January said…
Shin Yu, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the great info--I did not know about some of those readings (So & So, Union Street).

We are planning on contacting local colleges, universities, libraries, and coffee houses in the area. Also, I will use your suggestion to contact Dan Bouchard. Cool.
colleen said…
This sounds exciting. I'd say that I do best (as an audience member) with reading slots at about 10 minutes each reader (15 tops) Sometimes readers over read and I find it hard to absorb to the point that even there early readings which I heard can be erased. Less is best.

My writer's circle hosts spoken word events once a month. There's still one posted on my blog's front page. It's small town for sure, but has been growing and drawing some from out of town. I also have a sidebar category of all the events under "spoken word."

I came by way of some links I followed via the "Thinking Bloggers Awards" (and I'm originally from Boston).
January said…
Thanks for stopping by, Colleen! And thanks for the tips--very helpful.

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