Author Laurel Snyder + Skype = MAGIC
Books make magical things happen. And when the author is full of as much magic as the book – you better watch out! Laurel Snyder embarked upon a personal mission with the publication of her latest book, Bigger Than a Breadbox, this past September. She was determined to visit classrooms, book groups and bookstores all across the country via Skype. The project, which began with a goal of 100 Skypes in 100 Days quickly took off via internet word of mouth before her book had even hit the shelves. Today, Laurel joins us to talk about the tour, the magic that was shared with her, and how technology is making authors more accessible to readers everywhere!
This fall I set out to do a crazy thing. I announced I would conduct FREE author visits, by Skype. I claimed I wanted to meet “100 schools in 100 days.” When I dreamed this up, it was a “marketing stunt.” I hoped to sell books. I wanted to “connect with” teachers and media specialists. I sought to avoid road-weary weeks of travel. I figured Skyping would be easier than doing a book tour. HA!
In reality? I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into. The spreadsheets alone were crazy. Juggling the overworked schedules of 100 public school teachers was nearly impossible. I learned about fire drills and field trips, “specials” and “advisories.” A full third of the scheduled events changed multiple times, long after being confirmed. Some of the groups were too young for the book I was promoting, and some were a little too old, but I didn’t want to turn anyone down. A few of the schools signed up, but didn’t have the technology they needed, and we had to puzzle that out. Some of the teachers asked me to sign and fax contracts. There were, to put it mildly, a lot of hoops to jump. I wrote study guides. I made trips to the post office. I ended up pushing my new book back a year, to make time for all the skypes.
And you know what? I’m so glad. Because In the end… IT WAS ALL SO WORTH IT!
These Skype visits were, without a doubt, some of the best author events I’ve ever done. Being in my own home set me at ease, and allowed me to show the kids my real life, in a way I couldn’t have predicted. I could share artifacts, show them my home, introduce them to my dog and cat and kids. And they responded in kind, showing me their honest selves. Writing to me after the visits, sharing their own story ideas and poems. It was incredible.
In the space of three months I crisscrossed the country, and even popped up in Canada. From Idaho and New Mexico to Maine and Florida. From LA to NYC, Chicago to Dallas. And everywhere I “went” there were these kids! Kids on a daily basis, with their amazing questions. Kids, reminding me what we’re all doing this for. Kids, believing in magic, and looking sad, and looking hopeful, and laughing and making dumb fantastic jokes. Kids reading and writing and thinking and challenging my assumptions about them. KIDS!
And TEACHERS! Teachers and librarians who are out there in the field everyday, doing the really hard work—educating our future on a shoestring,
turning straw into gold. I had them all in my skype contact list, so I was able to see them every day, online at midnight and up again at five in the morning. Working so insanely hard. I’m so grateful to them. I don’t know how they do it.
I feel so very lucky to have had this experience. I almost can’t rememberwhat it was like to not have daily contact with these classrooms,and I’m struggling
with the idea that it’s about to end. I’m so grateful to these teachers and these kids, for opening up their schools to me, their minds. For getting me out of the silly part of my own brain, for pushing out thoughts of marketing and replacing them with thoughts of story and language and humor and fantasy and gratitude.
So I’d like to announce that starting in January of 2012, I’ll be carving out an hour a week so that I can continue Skyping. Every Friday I’ll be setting aside an hour for a free Skype school visit. First come first serve. If you’ll all have me. Because it is a great honor to be allowed into the schools, a huge blessing, and one I don’t take lightly. It is, in fact, one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had.
Many Thanks to Laurel Snyder for joining us at RAoR today, and special thanks for your wonderful books and for reaching out to all of your readers, teachers and librarians! If you want to get in touch with Laurel, please visit her website for details.
As always your comments are welcome.