Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Not to worry, this will not be an incredibly long post outlining all the "thou shalt nots" for the debut author. Instead I want to focus on author visits. In the year preceding my launch, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some other local debut authors, and that group (with the fittingly apocalyptic title of "The Harbingers of Doom") was a fabulous support as well as a great resource for cooperative events. We did several local appearances together which not only maximized the numbers of attendees but cemented our friendships and the capacity for mutual angst-ing over the entire publishing process.
So while author events are fun (there's nothing like being handed a fat stack of your own books to sign) and provide the fabulous opportunity to connect with booksellers and librarians (you wonderful bookish folk, you!), they were not opportunities where I connected with readers of Storybound. Enter Skype, that heretofore mysterious term I had heard thrown around by my expat friends but had ignored until now.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to do a Skype author visit with the kids' book club at Changing Hands Bookstore in Arizona. After accepting the invitation, I fumbled my way through the online Skype tutorial, and at just the right moment, had a lovely virtual chat with kids who love books, and, even more thrilling, had read Storybound. Perhaps I'm several years too late, and those of you who don't dwell in the 1990s where I bide my time in a wifi free and Luddite existence are yawning and tabbing over to the next blog post in your reader. But for the rest of us, for those who muddle their way through the latest online trends, this is one worth checking out. The savvy folks over at skypeanauthor have even set up a virtual network to connect interested authors with teachers, librarians, booksellers, and, ultimately, readers.
I, for one, am sold. Not only is the virtual author visit an easy way to connect with specific readers, but it provides a welcome informality that seems fitting for a middle-grade event. While I may be stumbling my way through the Skype menu, my middle-grade readers are not. This is old hat to a generation that keeps in touch with grandpa via a regular Skype date or checks in nightly with mom when she's on a business trip. I found the energy and enthusiasm of the kids to be a welcome surprise, and the necessary brevity of a virtual event kept my presentation streamlined. Without question, I'll be adding Skype visits to my newly-revised list of author "Must-dos" before Story's End launches next year.
What about you, Mayhemers? Authors, what are your favorite ways to connect with readers? And readers, have you ever participated in a Skype visit?