We did some more thinking about the rules for book readings posted by Gail Carriger. Which, incidentally, is an absolute must-read for fans and authors alike.
From the audience perspective, here are six more tips for authors (we've got advice for organizers as well, but those can wait...):
1) No poetry. The tiny minority of fans that want to hear your verse is thoroughly outnumbered by the rest of the audience, who are dying inside. The one, possible, exception, would be something short and humorous. And even then, err on the side of caution.
2) Don't read the ending. It seems obvious, but there are authors that spoil their own books. (My favorite example of this was John Irving, reading the climactic reveal of Until I Find You. That's 800 pages I'll never read.)
3) Abusing your editor/publisher/marketing team is tasteless. Imagine the Oscars - Sandra Bullock stands up to accept her award and immediately lashes out at her director for making her work late at night. And then makes snide remarks about the post-production team for cutting her best monologue. Finally, she bitches out the distribution team for shoddy posters in the Polish market. Classy, right? (I realize this is pretty far-fetched. Sandra Bullock could never win an Oscar.)
4) Don't get drunk. Everyone is staring at you. Everyone can tell. It doesn't make you wittier or edgier, it makes you sloppy. I'm sure you're nervous - I'd be terrified - but get your drinking done after the reading, not before it. (The same rules apply with other chemical enhancements.)
5) Choose your dance partner carefully. Too many panels and Q&A's are ruined by bad moderators. No one is there to listen to them, but they can still make or break an evening. A moderator needs to bring out the best in the author, without being overbearing. Their pre-prepared questions (and they damn well better get them ready in advance) should be challenging and interesting - not lengthy, overly-specific or thinly-veiled advertisements.
6) Sign. Again, this should go without saying. But, really...