Alex HamiltonYou’ve written a novel. That’s good. It’s being published. That’s better. You’ve been asked to perform a reading at a literary event. Very encouraging, but give it some thought before you accept - unless you’re an actor or a school teacher.

When you last sampled your own book, perhaps for the umpteenth time, was it a silent appreciation, or did you voice it aloud in your den, while your puzzled dog reckoned it best to wag his tail?

Had you thought of recording it, to share the dog’s satisfaction? If so, was it loud enough to keep the loyal beast awake, or did he turn turtle and dream of a walk in the field?

Did you make the right emphases? Perhaps you discharged the opening confidently and trailed away by the end. Before you read for half an hour to a fee-paying audience, some of whom may not hear very well anyway, you could practise.

You may be asked as a swansong to take part in a discussion on, for instance, “Was Tolstoy at 200 the greatest ever?” Don’t just confide your view sideways to the panel, but give it to the audience straight between the ears. (I’d plump for the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, what about you?)

The great George Canning, who lent his weight to the liberation of Spanish America, was said to have acquired a house in Brighton so he could pitch his oratory against the roar of the waves. A model for us all. Though it doesn’t have to be Brighton.

Indeed, you might try your local library, and see if you can make yourself heard above the new fashion for live gigs.

Best wishes,
Alex Hamilton

About Alex: Guest blogger Alex Hamilton is an award-winning travel writer. He contributes articles 'The growth of travel guidebooks' and 'One hundred years of fiction bestsellers' for the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook.