The first time I read in public, (a Grub Street open mike event at the now-defunct Johnny D’s in Somerville, Massachusetts) I flopped. I failed. I sucked.
Years later (no more experienced) with my debut book launch looming, I was terrified. My mouth became dust each time I practiced, but a glass of water in hand, I went to work.
First, pre-publication months were spent attending bookstore events with a notebook (and money to buy the book of any author to whom I listened) in hand.