At a time when we authors are being encouraged to overcome the challenge from AI by highlighting our humanity, it is interesting to look back to another time when authors were busy getting themselves physically in front of their readers.
The penny reading was a form of popular public entertainment that arose in the United Kingdom in the middle of the 19th century, consisting of readings and other performances, for which the admission charged was one penny. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_reading for more). It was, for a while, a vastly popular way for authors to get in front of their readers and to make some money.
I guess we have a kind of modern day version of this, only, instead of people paying a penny and showing up at a physical venue, they pay a subscription on a platform like Patreon and join a Zoom call.
But is that enough? Do we authors need to get out there more? Do we need to follow the example of musicians and highlight our humanity by getting physically in the same space with our readers? Do readers actually want this or would they prefer us to stay hidden away in our little den of creativity?
Just imagine an author getting mobbed in the same way as a rock star or actor. A scary thought for us introverts, but it would certainly let you know where you’ve been successful in making that human-to-human contact with your readers.
Whether you’re an author or a reader, or anything else, for that matter, I’d love to know what you think.