Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the delightful Sarah Chauncey, co-creator of SKYPE AN AUTHOR. Look for the complete interview post on Friday. To prepare for our conversation, I experimented a bit with Skype. Here are some quick conclusions (I bet you know all this but, just in case...):
1. Comb your hair and wear a nice shirt. Cameras are cruel.
2. Think about what is behind you. (Behind my desk are two lovely framed watercolors of which, unfortunately you can only see the bottom 1/3 when I am centered on the web cam.) Cory Doctorow has a cool shot of his laden bookshelves behind him as he reads from LITTLE BROTHER. He also shares a few personal details to help viewers understand the setting (his London office). Bare walls or a pile of dishes on your kitchen counter...not good.
3. Look at the camera, not the computer screen. (This is hard for me as I compulsively want to check my hair.) John Green posted a hilarious review of TWILIGHT AND NEW MOON which is pretty straightforward technically (except for a quick photomontage at the start, it's pretty much John in the frame--also backdropped by bookshelves) but his gestures and energetic focus make it very engaging to watch.
4. Prepare & Practice. This point is echoed by Sarah Chauncey but more on that Friday.
To keep the issue of Virtual Visits in perspective, and to counterpoint the enthusiasm of some, I must refer you to a very entertainin blog post by author Kirby Larson. This leads me to point number...
5. Manage your time. I don't have room to quote all the authors who comment on the amount of time required for virtual marketing (though arguably still much less time than is required to fly on airplanes to remote school districts across the country and world). The best advice I have heard is from a few authors who suggest setting aside a few hours on a particular day of the week for the cyber stuff and trying to stick to that.