Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours

LAUREN CERAND (Publicist)

• Tours are overrated, and authors often incorrectly assume there is a correlation with talent or self-worth. I would recommend teaming up with someone local who has some savoir faire about the scene, and putting effort into coming up with the best possible event in that area. You are always going to do better in a locale that you have a connection to, past or present.

• I can lose track of the events I publicize and put together in a month, let alone over the past decade. The scale can always vary so widely, and it’s about the right happening for the right writer in the right setting for the right reasons. I enjoyed introducing David Lynch to Au Revoir Simone via Upstairs at the Square, the event series I have helped to create for Barnes & Noble for the past six years.

• A client, one of my first who I still work with, and I were laughing about a bad event several years ago, on the phone this morning; it was a big-deal launch for her, and I asked them to have chocolate chip cookies, her favorite, especially since we could barely afford their catering minimum, which they totally blew. While I was dealing with that, the stage caught on fire: “We’ve come a long way, baby.”

• In a bookstore, and to a crowd, you can sell some books. If someone is interested enough to come out for you, it could be said they’re into it. Will there be enough of them though, to justify the resources? The average author event, conceived with a generic formula corresponding to an outdated set of factors, attracts eight people.

• I encourage people to do less, better, when it comes to author events.

• The internet has completely changed the way that people process information. No one wants to be read to from a lectern-broadcast style. We all want to comment now, in real time.

• I loathe gimmicks. And readings. The conversation is the way to go: Why should I read this book instead of all the other books, tonight? I’m currently helping to program the inaugural Mazama Festival of Books, strictly a series of themed salon-style discussions.

• When it comes to choosing excerpts, as in life, choose sex over death.

• I tell authors to read the same thing, as the more boring it is to them, the more natural—and unrehearsed—it sounds to the audience.

• Be selective, and go where your audience is most likely to be found. In all likelihood, it’s as unique as you are.


Lauren Cerand advises her clients on buzz, and how to get it.

Next: Tao Lin on q&as and avoiding suburbs.