I’ve been a regular open mic reader for over six years and an open mic instigator, known properly as a host, for eighteen months. Organizing open mics takes a lot of work: setting up the venue, marketing the event, organizing the reading schedule, testing the mic, making sure folks don’t go over their time and more. Sometimes I’d just rather be an audience member and relax, but once you get good at organizing open mics, “they,” meaning your organization or your public of writers won’t let you relax. Well, why not? It’s because writers know a good host is hard to find and they know open mics are the best place to build their audience, gain confidence and try out new material. And as the host, nothing could make me happier than see writers succeed and grow in their craft. So, I’ll keep working at making as many open mics I run be successful and memorable.

Just for you, I pulled together 10 benefits of a literary open mic:

Open Mics….

1. build your confidence and presentation skills—necessary skills for writers who need to stand out from the crowd
2. let you figure out your material before you submit it for publication
3. allow you to learn what five minutes feels like in the real world
4. get you to network and listen to other genres, and other styles of writing
5. help you build an audience so you’ll have folks who’ll support you and buy your eventual book
6. get you inspired from just being there
7. have you support local businesses since the open mics usually take place in a coffee shop, bookstore or other venue
8. have you support your local literary talent and you don’t have to read to do so!
9. make you dress up in your “writer” clothes
10. are a low-risk and low cost (free!) tactic to market yourself

On that last one, writers can always help their host by doing some of the open mic marketing. By that I mean, they can let their friends, neighbors and colleagues know that they are performing and would really enjoy their support by physically being there. Readers can also place their open mic reading on their websites, e-lists, Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds so their friends and followers can support them and also support the event. Smart writers know that if they piggy-back on a successful event that has a history of bringing a lot of traffic, they will attract more followers and visitors for themselves. Piggy-backing is a smart marketing move since it’s low-cost and brings people to an event that’s already established.

My friend and colleague Megan Cutter and I put on several open mics during the year. With a smart partner, it’s so much easier to organize and divide up tasks. Plus, your partner can also help you cross-market your open mic so it’s even more successful and beneficial for writers. To read more about Megan and How She Found Her Voice Through Open Mics, read here.

My next Open Mic that I’m co-facilitating with Megan Cutter will be held Friday June 18th at Scout & Molly’s ladies’ boutique in North Hills. We’ll start the readings at 7pm. I have a full list, but if you’re interested in being on my wait-list, email me here. More details about this event are available here, which is also a fundraiser for MS Society.

So what did I leave out? Tell me how open mics have helped you grow as a writer.