Monday, May 7, 2012

CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK - With GAP Author Margot Finke

I am one of the Guardian Angel Publishing Authors
( affectionately known as GAP )

We are Blogging ALL 7 days of
Children's Book Week
(See list of other GAP bloggers below)


May 7th - 13th, 2012 

Every day this week,  

7x GAP authors will BLOG about their passion:

Books for Children


GAP authors also offer 2x FREE GIFTS
you can WIN

( entry form at the end of this post )  

A cool tote bag of books by GAP authors
a FREE Picture Book Critique - by me!



So. . .  let's get to it, mates. 

 My Topic for

 Monday May 7th

Virtual School Visits – Skype Makes it Happen!
 A wake up call for authors, teachers and librarians. 

Video of me chatting about Virtual School Visits.

Come on folks, this is the 21st century: the age of awesome technology.  SKYPE and a webcam are tools authors can use to visit far flung schools, that in the past never got the whiff of an author visit.  

Teacher and Librarian Benefits:

Whether you wrangle a grade school, middle or high school class, there are REAL  LIVE authors out there who would be thrilled to offer your class a VIRTUAL VISIT.  Just sign up for a FREE Skype account, and make sure the webcam is working.

Kids today are savvy techie users.  And, your reluctant readers and bored students perk up no end when a published author visits FOR REAL.  Your virtual author will chat about the hard work and  thrill of writing their books,  problems getting them published, and how they learned to promote the hard way.  Self published authors will highlight the highs, lows, and frustrations of getting their first book on the bookstore shelves - or into Kindle or iPhone etc.  Disaster tales abound.  They will read from their latest book, happily answer student questions - and ask a few of their own!  The icing on your Virtual Visit is when the author reads a story they have written to your class - and then answers questions about it.

Most authors are more than willing to fit in with what  you, the teacher, needs from them - be it a short chat about what makes a great story, how to HOOK readers early,  writing in rhyme, or even judge a class writing competition.  Negotiate what you want from your virtual author, and they will set up their visit to fit your class needs.

Author Benefits: 

WOW! I could go of for pages. Virtual school visits are easy.  No long trips, or overnights in mangy hotels.  You do it in your own comfort zone. Wear slippers: no one will see them!  Just make sure your hair, lipstick and smile get an "A" plus from kids in the next state, or in a country on the other side of the globe.

The secret is to prepare ahead.  Chat or e-mail with the teacher or librarian, and get a clear idea of what they expect from you.   Make notes, have your props handy, and if you boo-boo, just laugh it off and go right on.  And remember, you can e-mail the teacher with file attachments that contain a short lesson on writing,  lists of great books the class might enjoy,  including yours, and any facts or details that need to be read, as well as mentioned on screen.  Send coloring sheets for younger classes.  The teacher can make copies on the spot.  Attach a nicely designed page that kids can take home to their parents.  Show book covers, links to where they can be purchased, and a short bio about yourself. Add links to your website and your e-mail address.  Parents like to be able to see your books, know something about you, and even e-mail you if they feel like it.  This page can be copied by the teacher and sent home to parents.

Think of questions to ask the class ahead of time, and be ready for the doozies they will ask you.  One child asked me if my red hair was real.  This was kinda tricky to answer, because I AM a natural red-head, but time snuck in some gray, so I "helped" keep it red. Admitting this was not fun, but the kid looked happy with my answer, and I was glad I fessed up. 

Ask them what they like to write, what their favorite books are, and if they enjoy reading.  Your enthusiasm for reading and writing will rub off on the class.  I tell kids that reading is a Magic Carpet Ride to adventure, fun and knowledge - all from the safety of your own room.

And what does all this cost the school?  Very little thank goodness.  With so many school districts today in desperate need of money for the bare bare teaching necessities, a Virtual School Visit can be negotiated to whatever is agreeable for the author and the school.  I do suggest somewhere between $25 and $100, depending on the number of classes visited, and the time the author spends in each class, and the school budget.


Here are some resources that have proved helpful to me.

*Put the word Skype into a Google search, and all sorts of pages of help and interest pop up. 

Surf on over to some of the other Guardian Angel Bloggers
and enjoy their Children's Book Week posts.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry during the Children's Book Week celebration by Guardian Angel Publishing does not guarantee winning the FREE tote bag of Guardian Angel Publishing books, or the FREE picture book manuscript critique by Margot Finke. Winner of the FREE picture book manuscript critique by Margot Finke shall not hold Ms. Finke liable in publication success of submitted picture book manuscript.


*Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques 
*Virtual School Visits – SKYPE makes it happen

CLICK to Download
this fun FREE kid's book



  1. Margot,

    Absolutely terrific post on the benefits of Skype author visits! It's a true win-win combo for authors and schools. Thanks for joining in on the Children's Book Week fun!

    Best regards,

  2. This is a great idea for authors and schools. There is so much technology available these days, it would be great to see schools take advantage, particularly if it promotes reading.

  3. Thanks Donna and Carrie. Hope you both signed up for a chance to win one of our two terrific FREE gifts - tote bag of author books or a free PB critique.

    I am the one giving the free PB crit.

    BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  4. Oh, you've managed to erase all the excuses this shy author has used for not taking the Skype step. You make it sound so easy. Perhaps I need to get a camera for my laptop :D

  5. Go for it Kai!! It really can be FUN! Seeing kids enjoy your books is a great incentive. And kids ask the funniest questions!!

    BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  6. Thanks for the great post, Margot! I still haven't done any skype visits--I think they make me nervous but you're right. I should embrace this new technology!


    1. You and Kai both, mate. It is fun, just like inperson visits. Kids love technology, and it is a way to take your books to schools and places you would never visit if you had to fly or car travel long distances.

      Now all we need to do is get the schools on board!!

      Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  7. Margot, I think more schools are getting with the idea of having real live authors visit their school via skype. I hope that this simple transition of technology will be afforded by all schools. This post was a great read. I hope to have you critique a work of mine very soon. Meanwhile, I'd like to have you visit my blog as I discuss my early learner's literacy program:

    1. Pam thanks for the great comments. I really appreciate your input. I will go check out your blog ASAP.
      What sort of book are you writing? For what age? I love helping writers polish and publish their work. It is such a thrill when I hear someone has had their book published. YEA!!

      BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  8. Thank you for all the wealth of information you always share. I can't wait to do a Skype visit! It's fun doing this blog hop with you! Happy Children's Book Week!

    1. Right back atcha, mate. Good to get your comment.

      BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  9. Thanks for sharing all this good info on Skype visits. I hope to one day be among those authors doing them. I am book marking this page for future use. I will also face book it and tweet about it.

    1. Clar, you are the absolute BEST. Your blog is awesome. You have the magic touch with getting readers. Throw some fairy dust on my blog please!!

      Don't forget to enter the competition. Winning a tote bag of 7 author's books is not too shabby. I sent all 4 of mine!! AND a FREE PB crit form me as well.

      BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  10. Hi Margot,

    Marvelous post on skype visits. More and more schools are using skype for author visits. At my son's high school, an award winning author made a presentation to 2,000 students. All students had already purchased the author's book. Thanks for sharing it.

    Nicole Weaver
    Trilingual Children's Author

    1. Thank you Nicole. I would be happy to "virtual visit' your son's school and tell writing, publishing and illustrating stories + read from my latest 2 books. If teachers want something special - just let me know. Negotiation is the name of the game these days.

      I think from an author/teacher POV is is a great idea. Kids will read more if they get a feel for what goes into the planning, writing, illustrating, publishing and promotion of the books they see in stores and libraries.

      BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  11. Great post on the use of Skype. I know quite a few authors who are doing skype visits.

    Great opportunity for some lucky author to have you critique their ms, Margot. :)

  12. Thanks Jennifer and Sharon. Great to read your comments.

    BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

  13. Great advice Margot!