Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Could a Skype-driven book tour work for your book promotion campaign?

Could a Skype-driven book tour work for you? Maybe, at some point in the not-so-distant future, it could.

If you're currently setting up signings, speaking engagements, and other events at bookstores as part of your book promotion campaign, then you might want to check out Publishers Weekly's article, "Visiting Bookstores Virtually." The article describes an experiment that Random House is trying with two of its children's book authors: Jerry Spinelli and Libba Bray.

Random House arranged for its authors to participate in Skype phone calls to bookstores, and the selected bookstores arranged for children to be part of the calls. The lucky kids had a chance to visit with the authors, virtually, as pets and other family members wandered into their home offices. And the authors didn't have to pack their suitcases and travel from one city to another to meet their fans.

The bookstores took a risk, because this is the first time they've used Skype in place of having an author actually appear, in person, to talk with an audience. Who knew, ahead of time, whether the technology would work, or -- even if it did -- whether it could keep an audience of young people entertained? And, for authors, it took a leap of faith to look squarely at a Web cam and trust that, somehow, they were connecting with their fans.

But, according to the PW article, it worked. Then again, as the article points out, both of these authors have a huge fan base. They were also playing to an audience that's excited by Web cams and Skype -- rather than a group of adults who could very well be turned off, or intimidated, by it.

So will you be participating in a Skype-driven book signing in the next week or two? No, probably not. But a year or so down the road . . . who knows? Things change so quickly in the world of book promotion that, some day soon, it might make perfect sense to trade in your plans for a traditional bookstore tour for a virtual one. You might find, as these pioneering authors did, that a Skype book tour provides even more opportunities than a standard book tour to foster intimacy and connections with your readers . . . and you might find yourself trading in traditional book tours for Skype-driven book tours for good.

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