Monday, May 22, 2017

How Long is Too Long for a Book Reading?

At a local sci-fi/fantasy conference over the weekend, a couple of the authors discussed book readings. How long is too long? How many different readers are too many?

We’d all attended book readings that went on too long. Fidgeting sets in.  Phones are covertly checked for the time. At some point, people simply stop listening and zone out. For this reason, I tend to err on the side of taking up less time rather than more. It seemed to be consensus that five to ten minutes was reasonable and fifteen was far too long.

I often attend book readings, and I’ve found that hearing three or four people giving five to seven minute readings works well. Any more than that and I get restless, and it seems, others do too.

Attention spans have gotten shorter, and I think we need to be conscious of this. I feel it’s better to give a shorter reading from a high-energy piece than to read on and on and have people stop caring about what you’re reading. I always want to leave readers wanting more.

What do you think? How long of a book reading do you enjoy? 

Melinda Marshall Friesen writes YA and adult speculative fiction from her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 


Leandra Wallace said...

I'm (hopefully) going to a book launch party this weekend, and I'm curious as to how the reading will go. I don't think I've ever heard an author read live before. And nice pic of you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

From my experience, five minutes is good.

JeffO said...

Five to ten works. Past ten, you'd better be *really* good.

Jodi Carmichael said...

Depending upon your audience's age level, I think the shorter the better. No more than five minutes for sure and even then I think it also depends if an author is a good presenter. Someone who writes well may not be a dynamic speaker, so five minutes may be too long. I attended a launch this week where an author read poorly for twenty minutes.