For Liz Donatelli, going “clubbing” has a whole different meaning than your a-typical night out with high-heels and cocktails. Liz, an avid reader and book clubber, launched a monthly social gathering where local Los Angeles/Orange County authors can connect with readers called Book’d in Burbank.
The mix-in-mingle event allows authors to not only read from their works, but to perform and allowing readers to get to know them outside of the pages of their books. This is what makes for a successful reading, according to Liz who has seen her share of the good, bad and ugly author readings.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, check out April’s Book’d in Burbank event being held this Thursday, April 23 from 8 to 9:30 p.m.
Let’s welcome Liz who is here to share insight on her monthly literary event, what authors need to consider before going on stage and what she’s Eating.Writing.Loving these days! - Cindy Arora
Los Angeles isn’t necessarily known for having a big literary scene like New York does, can you share a bit about creating Book’d in Burbank and what was the catalyst for you to get something like this in the area?
Book’d in Burbank was inspired by my early days of book clubbing in Los Angeles. As the head of (Burbank and Westside), I’d coordinate book club events with local authors that included readings, book signings, Q&As, book giveaways and dessert. They were lots of fun and super popular with the ladies. Unfortunately, my pursuit to find similar L.A. book events fell short. So, after launching Liz D Publicity & Promotions, I used my resources to create the type of bookish social gathering that I would want to attend. Book’d in Burbank combines the casual and fun vibe of my former book club events with the literary tradition of live author readings.
How would you describe the book scene in LA? Do you find authors are eager to get to know one another?
The L.A. book scene primarily serves the “celebrity autobiography” non-readers and the erudite literary fiction and non-fiction bibliophiles. However, the genre fiction-reading book club majority receives little attention.
Most authors make an effort to connect with each other, especially with those who write within the same genre. Authors tend to live insular lifestyles, so they often seek community with writers who understand their struggles and triumphs. They understand the value of belonging to writers organizations, critique groups and attending writers conferences. I’ve known some “hermit” authors who, unfortunately, lacked the support and the professional ties to achieve long-term success
How do you pick your authors?
I always consider authors who I know and whose work I’ve read, or whose work I believe that the audience would enjoy. Aside from flipping through my “little black book” of authors, I research A LOT. I discover authors via local writers organizations, bookstore signings, library book fairs, recommendations from former Book’d authors, pitches from authors and publicists, Google, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Of the authors who cross my radar, I’ll invite those who live in Los Angeles County (and, sometimes, in Orange County) and have written unique and/or intriguing mystery, romance or YA novels that released within the past year. I make every effort to either read the authors’ work beforehand, or to read chapter excerpts before issuing a formal invitation to read at Book’d. Although mystery, romance and YA are the foundation of Book’d, I do vet and invite authors of other popular genres, such as science fiction and horror. Non-fiction is typically added to the program once a season to honor National Humor Month in April.
Do you have any advice for authors who have never been a part of a reading, but want to do one? What do audience members respond too?
Book lovers are won over by author readings that are well-acted. Also, props and bookish anecdotes are a hit with an audience.
Based on my experience in front of and behind the podium, I have three pieces of advice for authors.
- Allow your character’s voice to come out and play. When reading dialogue aloud, use vocal variety, emotive inflections, hand gestures and appropriate accents to best represent your character’s personality and mood in the excerpted scene. Step aside and let your character run free.
- Use a visual to engage the audience’s imagination. Place an oversized poster of your book cover or a picture of the main character next to you on stage. If your character eats, wears or regularly uses a particular item that isn’t commonly known or is tricky to envision, then bring it along to show the crowd. Limit yourself to a single prop. Any more than that could become distracting.
- Get personal. Preface your reading with an entertaining anecdote that either sheds light on your life as a writer, or explains the inspiration behind the novel that you’re about to read. Sharing a personal moment is a great way to “break the ice” and introduce yourself to the audience. Book lovers read books by authors who are likeable and relatable.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve just about finished reading Marking Time by April White. It’s an urban fantasy time travel romance. Next on my list is Suede to Rest, a cozy mystery by Diane Vallere. Then, I’ll dig into my book club’s current selection, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. (I’d like to give a shout-out to the gals in The Guilty Ladies Book Club!)
What are you loving right now?
As of right now, I’m especially loving Sundays, as this has evolved into my special day of uninterrupted reading time, the TV show Jane the Virgin on The CW (watched via Hulu) and my handsome three-month old nephew, Chase.
Liz Donatelli is a book publicist with Liz D Publicity & Promotions and the founding director of Shirley You Jest! Book Awards and Book’d in Burbank literary event. She is a member of the Women’s National Book Association (Los Angeles) and the Jane Austen Society of North America (Southwest), and serves as leader of The Guilty Ladies Book Club. A native New Yorker, Liz lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Tom.
Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/lizdpublicity & www.facebook.com/BookdInBurbank