March 24, 2010


TOP 6-1/2 LIST:

Kate Messner is the author of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. (2009) and SUGAR AND ICE (December 2010), both from Walker/Bloomsbury. Her MARTY MCGUIRE chapter book series with Scholastic debuts in 2011, along with two picture books from Chronicle. Learn more at her website:

Kate is also a National Board Certified middle school English teacher and contributor to School Library Journal. Her SLJ technology feature “Met Any Good Authors Lately?” has inspired both authors and teachers to give Skype author visits a try. Kate will be speaking on virtual author visits at the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago this April and the New England SCBWI Conference in May.

How to Survive Your First Skype Author Visit

  1. Download Skype. It’s free. Install it and register with a username. For authors, using your whole name will make you easier to find.
  2. Take a test run. Skype with a friend. Or your mom. Make sure your computer, camera, and microphone work well. And you can also use this time to practice looking at the camera so the people on the other end of your visit will feel like you’re really talking to them.
  3. Decide what kind of visits you’ll offer and when. Will you do free Q and A sessions with groups that have read your book? How much will you charge for longer presentations? When are you available for Skype visits? Knowing all of this before you get requests will make things a lot easier.
  4. Let teachers & librarians know you’re available. You can join the terrific Skype-An-Author Network here: And leave a comment to be added to the updated list of Authors Who Skype with Book Clubs that’s linked from the SLJ feature.
  5. Once you get a request, it’s a good idea to make sure the teacher or librarian is familiar with Skype, too. Teachers should also have students prepare questions in advance. There’s a how-to list with the SLJ technology feature on this topic, “Met Any Good Authors Lately?” Here’s an online link you can share with teachers to help them prepare.
  6. On the day of your Skype visit, make sure your computer area is ready. Check to see what your audience will be able to see in the background behind you, and make sure there won’t be loud interruptions like kids or dogs (unless you plan to introduce your dog, which can be fun, too!

6 1/2. When it’s time for your visit, log onto Skype and look for the username of your contact person. Either call him or her, or wait for the call – whatever you’ve arranged in advance. And have fun! The kids on the other end will be excited to talk with you using this cool technology. Happy Skyping!

Thanks, Kate, for taking time out of your BUSY schedule to share information about creating a successful Skype author visit and for contributing to this occasional series of wit and wisdom from editors, agents and authors!


Maria Padian said...

Great advice! Thanks to Kate I've started Author Skyping as well! Another good tip (which I learned from my Social Media expert sister) is keep your eyes glued to the camera, not the screen where you see the people you're speaking to. If you focus on the camera your audience will see you looking at them; if you look at the screen, they'll see you looking into your lap.
Thanks for the post, Donna!

Wild About Words said...

Great advice, Maria. Thanks!

Marissa Doyle said...

Thanks so much--very timely for me! I have my first Skype session next month with a school in South Carolina. It's so neat that I can sit here and Boston and talk to them!!

Wild About Words said...

Marissa, That's wonderful. Hope the visit goes wonderfully!

Anne Mazer said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Very timely and helpful. Excellent post.

Wild About Words said...

Thank you, Anne, for stopping by. Kate's so generous, isn't she?

Barrie said...

Thank you, Kate!! I have my first author skype visit in April with a school in Oregon. While I'm in San Diego. ;)