I’m still new at this: setting up Skype appointments with book clubs and writing classes. But I’m in love. I fell hard the first time I clicked my Skype button and hooked up with a college professor in Alabama from my upholstered, flying chair in Massachusetts. I didn’t have to spend money on travel. I didn’t have to be away from my family. I didn’t have to go out at night (I’m a morning person)—or pack.
Skype, I now know, was invented for authors and book clubs. It’s energizing. Free—a stellar means for spreading the word about books without draining authors who are truthfully exhausted from trying to do too much in the name of promote, promote, promote. Skyping helps authors get their time machines back, and time machines as every author knows, help us escape to that place where books are written.
Ready for takeoff? Here are eight tips to get you going.
- Set up your Skype account. It’s free. It’s simple. Go to the Skype website, create your account and you’re done. It won’t take more than five minutes. If you hate all things technical, then ask a friend to walk you through. It’s truly e-z. (www.skype.com)
- Establish a place in your home (or office) for your Skype appointments. Ideally, it’s a room with a door you can close, a setting that you can control. If you don’t have that, then pick a corner or space that’s out of the way, free from ambient street noise, babies crying, and kitchen kettles whistling.
- Arrange a five-minute practice run with your host before your scheduled time. That way, you can be sure your Skype call numbers (like telephone numbers) connect, and that your equipment—computer, computer screen, audio—is working.
- Visuals –What will your book club hosts see on their screens? A view of your bathroom is not recommended—unless your book is about bathrooms. Do you have a floor lamp or lamp with a moveable arm so you can adjust your lighting? You want to be sure your hosts can see your face and not a shapeless shadow. Skype visuals have a tendency to look a little crinkly, too, like vintage I Love Lucy episodes, so lower your expectations for perfection in that regard. If your laundry room is the only room available to you—fine. No worries. Drape a tablecloth over the dryer. Put a pile of favorite books on top, or flowers. That’s it. You’re done.
- Audio – Make sure your sound is audible and clear. And speak just a tad slower than your usual pace because Skyping is a bit like communicating from outer space to mother Earth. Your voice will lag. Everyone’s lips look out of sync. (Sound waves are slower than light, remember?)
- Your style— Be comfortable. Be genuine. In short: be—yourself, whatever that means.
- Let everyone know you’re up for Skyping. Put a note on your website so book clubs are aware that you’re interested and available.
- Have fun. Remember, you’re an author-astronaut now. You can go anywhere.