Skype is showing real promise for schools and authors to connect. Making this connection via Skype or other video conferencing software is called a Virtual school visit.
It’s no secret that school budgets are being squeezed tighter each year which is limiting what schools can do for added beneficial curriculum. Authors may have a limited budget and time constraint to do in-person visits, so with the advance of technology, and software such as Skype, this is gaining positive speed as an option that is a win-win for all involved.
Having an author visit in-person certainly creates an impression that a Virtual visit may be a limited one. But if done right, you can absolutely leave an everlasting, positive experience when using Skype or other video conference programs.
Depending on how many students take part in the Virtual visit, if small enough, it can provide a very interactive session. With a small group, and the help of the teacher or librarian, an author is able to ask questions with the students raising their hand and being called on. Question and answer time works well with a small classroom and gives each student the learning opportunity of approaching the webcam to ask their question.
A large assembly can still work well too if all the details are worked out prior to the visit. This may require the majority of the staff to take part in the visit to watch for any behavior issues so that they can be quietly corrected. With a large group, each classroom may want to come up with one question and choose someone to ask it of the author. But with a little thoughtful planning, a virtual visit can work for any size group.
Virtual visits typically last anywhere from 10-to-60 minutes and depends on the age of students. Authors will also want to work with the school in determining their needs. Do they want a presentation, a reading, or a workshop?
So you may be thinking, “What do I charge?” As of the writing of this article, fees range from free to $500. The average charge is $150-$200 which is for a 45-60 minute program. If you offer a 30-minute program you may need to adjust your pricing. Many authors will work with each school on an individual basis to determine the school’s budget and a price that works for both the school and author.
Once you determine your fee and programs you will offer, you will want to promote yourself as an author offering Virtual visits.
Setting up Google alerts such as “Schools using Skype,” Libraries using Skype,” and “Skype in the Classroom” will help you discover schools embracing this technology. You can then design an email or postcard mailing campaign to pitch your program to schools doing Virtual visits.
Just as doing in-person author visits, doing Virtual visits takes practice, organization, and some technical skill. When I first began offering visits via Skype I gave out ten free sessions to help work the bugs out. Not only did this give me practice, but also helped with gathering testimonials for my program.
If the school has a techie person on hand that always helps the school and the author feel a little more at ease should they encounter a challenge. But having done quite a few Virtual visits, knock-on-wood, I have not had any major glitches, and I don’t consider myself a techie person… just an author eager to share my message!
So embrace technology as a real positive as an author, and a wonderful avenue in which you can share your books with virtually anyone in the world!
Barbara Techel is the award-winning author of the Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series. She has shared her story of hope and inspiration about her dachshund, Frankie, who is in a wheelchair, with thousands of children and adults since 2007. Barbara is also a speaker and publisher. Barbara and Frankie are avid volunteers as a therapy dog team. They routinely visit a local hospice community, hospital and senior assisted living facility, where they “walk their talk” about the inspirational nature of perseverance in the face of challenge.
Since before her first book was published, Barbara has worked tirelessly to promote her books and the positive message they embody. She has garnered coverage for her story from local, regional and national media through these efforts, and continues to develop and refine her marketing message and approach. CLASS ACT is her first book about what she’s learned, but not likely her last. For more information visit www.joyfulpaws.com.