Friday, March 12, 2010

A VIRTUAL HAPPY FRIDAY

For the last hour, I have been struggling to complete my introductory post on Virtual Author Visits. This is a huge topic right now, the subject of much discussion amongst writers, and amongst the marketing and publicity folks within publishing houses. There are some amazing things going on in the virtual world and also some frustrations. The topic is far too big for a single post, so consider this an introduction.

Virtual Visits, for the purposes of this conversation, include Skype, chats, blogs and vlogs, and any other internet medium through which authors connect with school or library groups.  At this point, Skype seems very popular.  Authors are handling Skype requests in myraid ways. Many offer free short (10-15 minute) Skypes with book groups, etc., and only charge for longer Virtual sessions. (If you're doing this, please share your experiences--thanks!). There are authors who Skype for free, those who charge a fee or require minimum book purchase, and every possible permutation and combination in between. Some just find the medium challenging (shy!) and are nervous about charging because they are not sure they are any good at virtual appearances. Others love the high-tech stuff. In sum, there is a lot of experimentation going on.

At work, I routinely receive requests for authors to Skype or otherwise "virtually visit" with school or library groups. With school and library budgets shockingly tight, it is not surprising that this is an appealing notion.  But, though the idea seems great, the hows of a successful virtual visit are still being figured out.
Here are a few third-party sites for those investigating Virtual Visit options. Not endorsing any of them as yet but it's good to know what's out there. Please do share your experiences or any other resources you may have found for Virtual Visits: Skype an AuthorTeaching BooksSchoolTubeEduBlogs.

So the resources and interest are out there.  The big question, in my opinion, is how can authors build great relationships with schools and libraries, have successful interactions with students, and encourage readers to BUY THEIR BOOKS through Virtual Visits? What does it take to develop a thoughtful, payment-worthy Virtual Visit program? Next week, I'll look at some authors who are innovating in the virtual visit arena and a few I think are handling the medium with great success.

For tonight, I'll end with a Happy Friday book note: I finished THE FARWALKER'S QUEST on Tuesday (loved it, especially the notion of "The Forgetting") and am halfway through AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES (artfully drawn protagonist and hilarious footnotes).

3 comments:

Dawn Simon said...

I didn't meet any real authors as a kid, but I would have totally enjoyed author visits! I think school visits (live or virtual, when the author can interact with the group) are such a great opportunity for students and authors. What a nice way to see the human side of things: the faces behind the names on the books and the faces of the people who are enjoying the books. When authors come to my kids' schools, it's always meaningful.

Thanks for keeping us informed. Your blog has so much great info!

Tahereh said...

awesome post and great insight into the future.

thanks so much for sharing!!

SWK said...

Thanks, Dawn & Tahereh. Virtual Visits are such a huge topic right now. I am enjoying all that I am learning from talking to authors and marketing professionals about them, and am glad this information is useful to you.