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Use local “read-citals” to promote your book

Today’s guest blogger is Billie Williams, a fiction, non-fiction, and poetry author who has won several contests for her short/flash fiction stories, essays, and poetry. Learn more about Williams at her website, sign up for her Mystery Readers Connection newsletter, and visit her blog. I thought her “read-cital” concept was so clever that I asked her to write the following article about it.

Use local “read-citals” to promote your book

By Billie A. Williams

In our small rural area, there is no Chamber of Commerce and rarely any event that would relate to my books, but . . . I have found a way to get noticed, but not just for me.

I schedule “read-citals” (you know . . . piano recitals, dance recitals — this is like them, but for stories) for members of the writer’s group that meets once a month in my home.

I am the only member with published novels, but some have had devotionals or meditations published in local papers. One has written articles for the American Legion, the VFW, and the Historical Society. Another published a story she wrote from one of our prompts (see below) in the Catholic Digest Magazine, while another has a story in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Each member is working on a novel, memoir, or coffee table book.

Write to a prompt

During our events, the writers read one of the pieces they wrote to a provided prompt. There’s a new prompt each month. One member who is an avid photographer gave us a prompt that was a picture of a Christmas tree farm with a sign at the entrance that said “closed forever.” That prompt elicited many stories as different as night and day.

I usually take the group’s stories each month and make them into a booklet. It’s a way to keep their work and we can re-read each other’s and see our progress. Then we always have a store of writings to choose from when a group asks us to do a read-cital. In addition, we give these booklets to audience members. Who knows — these might be early stories by writers who could one day be famous authors!

Depending on the time and the organization we are reading for, group members try to make the event suit that particular venue. For instance, when we did a read-cital for one of the Red Hat Society groups for Halloween, we dressed in costumes to reflect the stories we read. I was a pirate who took nuances of conversations and overheard snippets to use in stories.

Incorporate give-aways

Give-aways are part of the fare when we do read-citals. For this particular group, we gave Halloween treat bags filled with candy, and a slip of numbered paper in that bag so that each story reader could give a gift to the person with the number assigned to their story.

At a library read-cital, we distributed cupcake liners filled with things that represented each story —  bubble gum,  red/white/blue wrapped candy, and dog bone candy.  As the moderator, I usually give one of my books as a door prize.

Add special effects

When we did a read-cital for one of the libraries, I sprinkled boa feathers over the area before telling the audience that feathers floating around their chairs were reminders that these were fledgling writers.

Our members usually dress in apparel that reflects the stories they are reading.  One woman wore a poodle skirt when she read her story about Marla Hooch, a 60s character from her youth. Another dressed in red, white, and blue to read her story about the Statue of Liberty. One of our male writers carried a yellow rabbit for his story about his own yellow rabbit — as in Volkswagen Rabbit — from his younger days. When he told about his time in the crow’s nest on a naval vessel, he dressed in appropriate clothes and wore a sailor hat.

We have given read-citals for the Historical Society, libraries, Red Hat Society, 4-H groups, and nursing homes.

We continue to accept invitations for any and all venues. People seem to love storytellers and our group loves giving them what they enjoy.

What clever things have ou done to call attention to your book in your local area?

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  1. What a great idea. A Read-cital. Sounds like you have a lot of fun and provide fun for the groups you read for. Love the boa feathers. Very clever.

    1. I thinks it’s so clever! I love the “fledgling writers” explanation for the feathers, too!


  2. Sandy, as always, your guest posters add great value. The “read-citals” is a fantastic idea…here is a group of writers who are having fun while getting the word out.
    Last month, I did the Show-Me-How Library Project where I invited bloggers to leave a comment on my post, nominating their favorite library to win a copy of my book. I sent out over twenty copies…and many of the bloggers who will present the copy to their library are also doing a review of Show Me How on their blog. I’m hoping to do a similar event in August and September, donating copies of the book to preschools across the country. The library project didn’t get the immediate “buzz” I had hoped for…however, next time I will try to notify local media about it. I know, I know…I should have sent out a press release. 🙂

    1. Vivian, I love your library donation project! I think it was actually quite successful. Now that you’ve gone through the process once, your second venture will be even stronger! Your book continues to get attention and sell well for two reasons. First, it’s an excellent book. Second, you are committed to supporting it. You’re a wonderful role model for all of us. : )


    2. Hi Vivian,
      I just love your idea about library and preschool donations. It’s generous and sounds like fun!
      I agree a press release should be part of it and will include it when I shamelessly copy your great idea! I’ve already printed your post!
      May I send you a copy of my children’s picture book, Oliver the Overachiever, as an exchange for your great idea? Contact me at kdemesa1@me.com if you’d like one.

      1. Oh Karen…I am thrilled to have you use my Library Project idea. It’s great because not only are you getting the word out about your book…you are getting reviews by bloggers…and libraries are receiving it so that instead of one person buying your book…hundreds will have the opportunity to read it…and perhaps love it enough to buy a copy…a win/win/win situation. 🙂 I’ll email you…would LOVE a copy of your book…and will be happy to review it on my blog: http://www.viviankirkfield.wordpress.com

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