SKYPE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR!
Welcome to Library Lions. Author Trudi Trueit is here with good news for librarians about Online Author Visits (OAV) . Considering an Online Author Visit? It’s easier than you think and it’s well worth it! Trudi’s here to tell you all about it. Take it away Trudi!
I remember trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach just before my first Skype author visit four years ago. Originally, virtual visits had seemed like the perfect way to balance my heavy writing schedule with my desire to chat with students wherever they might be – across the state or across the country. I had my stage lights on, presentation notes nearby, and even a game at the ready. I had spent hours preparing for the visit. Yet, I was also worried. I was used to connecting with young writers in-person: walking around the classroom, looking into their eyes, and feeling their energy. As I answered the Skype call from a class 3,000 miles away from my home office in Seattle, I wondered what if Skyping was different—and not in a good way? What if the ‘magic’ wasn’t there?
Then I saw them: about one hundred fourth, fifth, and sixth graders packed into their school library. I waved. A cheer went up. I started to relax. Maybe there was some magic here, after all. I did my presentation exactly the way I would have done it had I been in there standing in front of them. I shared how I fell in love with writing plays in elementary school, showed them some of my first stories, and did a reading from one of my books. We did a writing prompt together and shared our work. Finally, we had a Q&A where they asked insightful questions about my writing and research process. There was even time for a brief tour of my office and a game (I’d sent small prizes ahead of the event). After the session was over, the feedback I got from my hosts was positive. The students had loved meeting me and most important, they were inspired to read and write.
As social media expanded, Skyping became a regular part of my life. I was honored to be asked to join Online Author Visits, founded by children’s author Suzanne Williams. OAV now has 14 authors in its ranks, covering the gamut from picture books to young adult. Also, each author in the OAV line-up has pledged to donate a portion of their Skype fees to their chosen charity (a list of charities is on the site).
For educators, there are some real advantages to hosting an author online. First, it’s far more affordable than an in-person visit. Most OAV author’s charge between $75 and $125 per half hour, which is significantly less than the cost of an in-person visit. Also, the technology isn’t difficult to master. You download the Skype software onto a computer and you’re set to go (you’ll want to connect the computer to a larger screen for the presentation).
Laurie Thompson, author of BE A CHANGEMAKER, chats with Julie Reuter’s sixth-grade class at Horizon Elementary School in Pewaukee, WI.
At OAV, we like to walk our clients through the process so they know exactly what to do to prepare their students and what to expect the day of the call. An author can do just about everything online that can be done in person and even a few things that can’t be done in person, like give a tour of their workspace. Additionally, an online visit offers greater flexibility. An educator may choose to Skype in more than one author for a panel discussion or an author/illustrator team so students can learn how the two work in tandem to produce the final product. Most of all, virtual visits are a fun way to connect with your favorite author.
Patrick Jennings, author of GUINEA DOG, hangs out with the students of Montverde Academy in Montverde, FL
Suzanne Williams, co-author of THE GODDESS GIRLS and HEROES IN TRAINING series’ talks with students at Gwinn Oaks Elementary in Georgia.
Sharon Amolo, the media specialist at Gwinn Oaks Elementary, has had Suzanne back for a virtual visit every year for the past three years! Why? “Suzanne is really easy to work with and her books are wonderful,” says Sharon. “Her price is also very reasonable so if I have a tight budget I know hers is always one I can afford. She is also wonderful with the students and keeps them engaged during her presentation by not only answering their questions, but sharing her research process and sources too.” Sharon says Skype visits are a wonderful way to extend your book clubs or book discussions. “With the prominence of social media and connections it only makes sense that libraries stay current and offer this as a service or program,” she says.
To read more testimonials, learn about our authors, and see how easy it is to host an author at your school, visit us at OAV. We look forward to ‘seeing’ you in cyberspace!
Thank you, Trudi for the skinny on OAV!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.