Lady Jane Salon Reader Series: Wendy Van Camp

Wendy Van Camp - Lady Jane Salon 2015All writers eventually go forth to read their work to the public. I am no different. In February of 2015, my first reading occurred at a funky cafe called the Gypsy Den. It is an artist hangout of the city of Anaheim, California. There are fun paintings on the walls, a wall of old books and heavy wooden tables and chairs. Outside is a cement patio where writers and students come to avail themselves of the wifi signal and cups of delicious coffee.

On the second Monday of each month, the Lady Jane Salon holds readings from four romance authors. The performance of each author is recorded for later podcast. The original Lady Jane Salon is in New York City, but there are various chapters of the reading series around the country. The book that I would read that night was “The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion”. My novella is a regency romance, unlike most of my science fiction or fantasy based stories, and thus this novella fit their romance theme. It is my first published book on Amazon.

I arrived at the salon early. I wanted to find a table close enough to the front where I could get a clear view of the other readers. Some reading series have a stage for the authors, but this venue puts us in a chair next to a wall of old books with a large snowball microphone to record our performance.

I had been practicing reading from my book all afternoon. While I do have experience in public speaking and being in front of a television camera, I had never read from my novel in public before. I leaned on the advice my husband gave me to speak slowly and to remember to breathe.

The audience were other writers from the local Romance Writers of America chapter and I had a good time networking with them before and after the event. I had publicized the reading at various writing groups I belong to in the weeks leading up to the event. I was happy to discover that a small handful of listeners had come to hear me speak.

I was the second author to read that night. The moderator of the event introduced me and then stepped away. I started my set by greeting the audience, which surprised them and then read from the blurb on the back of my book. This helped to set the tone of the excerpt I would then read.

I read for around 10 minutes in total and afterward I asked if there were any questions. The direct and intelligent questions about the writing process that the audience asked astonished me. It was a true pleasure to answer. How often are we granted the opportunity to talk about the nuts and bolts of the craft with people that understood. Then it was over and there was a short break where I could chat with the audience and sell books.

Two weeks before the salon, a friend of mine had recommended that I bring printed books to the event to sell and autograph. Originally, since this book was a novella, I had not planned to create a paperback version of it. However, my author friend had assured me that the fliers I had planned to bring to showcase the ebook were not enough. People like to hold a book in their hands and to have it autographed.

This meant that I needed to create a back cover and format my ebook to a print version all within two weeks of the reading date. It was a hard scramble to get the work done in time. I decided to use the Createspace for my printed book. Fortunately, there were templates to follow and I was able to put the project together in only a few days.

I tried to place an order of 20 books on Createspace, but because of the press of time, the best I could do was to bring the five “proof copies” the publishing company allowed. The rest of my books would arrive via the mail after the reading, but in time for a science fiction convention I was attending as a dealer the following weekend.

I ended up selling two copies of my book and autographed them for readers for the first time. It was a wonderful feeling and I’m glad that I went through the extra effort to bring those five copies with me.

Lady Jane Salon was a wonderful introduction to participating in a reading series. It was a friendly audience of fellow romance writers that understand the genre. If you are an author, I recommend them as a venue if you write romance. It will prove to be a great way to meet new readers, to have a podcast record of your work and to sell a few books.

At the time of this writing, my podcast is not yet up on the Lady Jane Salon site, but when it becomes available, I will edit this post and include a link to it.

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