Over the past few years, I’ve watched the number of requests for virtual visits go up quite a bit. Part of this is because schools and libraries have had their budgets for author visits slashed, and part may just be because more people have access to speedy Internet and other technology that’s needed for a virtual visit to work.
Either way, virtual author/illustrator visits can be a great way to enable direct interaction between book creators and readers without the costs of an in-person visit. While authors usually still ask for an honorarium for virtual visits, often their honorarium is lower and travel costs are not an issue. Some authors also offer a free shorter (10-20 minute) virtual visit to classrooms or libraries who have purchased copies of their books. Here’s how to set up your first virtual author visit.
1. Set up the technology
Sometimes when I work with people who are thinking about setting up a virtual visit, they get a little panicky about the technology aspect. But virtual visits are actually quite easy, and don’t require all that much in the way of equipment. Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need:
- An operating system compatible with Skype, Google Hangout, or another similar program
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In her first guest post, author/illustrator Christy Hale shared ideas for how to plan a successful book launch. In her follow-up post, Hale shares tips for planning storytelling and activities for bookstore appearances. Hale is the author and illustrator of, most recently, Dreaming Up, which was named a 2012 ALA Notable Book by the American Library Association and one of the Horn Book Magazine‘s Best Books of 2012.
1. Consider the audience when planning your program. Bookstores host different types of author events. If possible attend other programs at bookstores where you will appear so you can scope out the typical crowd. The time of the event may be a good indicator of the age level likely to attend. At Kepler’s Story Time Sundays, I have read to toddlers and preschoolers with a few older school age children scattered in the mix. A mid-week morning time program at BookSmart in a shopping mall in San Jose drew in moms and caregivers with toddlers and preschoolers. An afternoon program at Linden Tree in Los Altos brought school age children. An early evening program at Reach and Teach in San Mateo was geared toward whole families. My evening launch party at Books Inc. in Palo Alto was mostly attended by adults.
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