Editing Skype Author Visits
I am recycling this blog post from our old site because it has generated a bit of interest. A while back I was asked what software I used to edit the above video. It was a good question and the perfect opportunity for me to share what I have learned with other authors.
Before we begin, it may be helpful to watch the short snippet above, or if it peaks your interest, the full version (a whopping 3 min/40 sec) over on YouTube.
Important Note: Do not post pictures or videos without express permission! In this case, the teacher authorized the use of the pictures and video with the school’s principal. Every school will be different as far as their rules and regulations. This school’s only stipulation was that I did not specify the name or location of the school. Please remember, a child’s safety is more important than our marketing!
Before you start your call
Get organized! It will make all the difference.
Here is a short checklist:
- Do you have a good webcam? I don’t use the standard webcam that came with my laptop. Instead I use one by Logitech. It ran about $100.00, but it was well worth the investment.
- Check your Skype connection speed. Can you achieve a “fast” connection, which is needed for the best call quality. If not, consider upgrading your service. Remember, your connection will also only be as good as the other person’s call quality as well. You can have a super-fast connection speed, but if their connection is slow, your call (and video) quality will be degraded.
- Turn off any unused computers, gaming equipment (yes, we’re just big kids around here!) that may cause a draw on your connection speed. You don’t want these other items bogging down your connection speed during a call.
- Pick yourself up a good microphone. I use the Yeti and love it! I’d be lost without it. In addition to Skyping, I use it to record story segments and podcasts (which I’ve seriously neglected as of late).
Recording your Skype call:
I’m not going to go into the specifics of how to record your calls because that will really depend on your computer operating system, whether you are using Mac vs. PC, etc. There are a lot of software options to choose from and Skype gives you a list of applications here that you can download.
Editing your video
Once upon a time—a long, long, time ago—my husband had a hobbyist video business. We had all the latest equipment and programs, and back in the day, I would easily spend 40+ hours editing a phenomenal wedding video for someone. Boy, am I glad those days are gone! Programs are so intuitive and advanced nowadays. You can create videos in a fraction of the time and I’m always looking for an easier, more cutting edge way to do things. Why? Because I don’t want to spend hours making videos when I can spend that precious time writing. After all, that is my objective.
Knowing I needed a simple software program to accomplish this task quickly, I chose the Wondershare Video Editor. It gives you two options: Easy Mode or Full Feature Mode.
Which mode do I use?
Full Feature is for me. Here is the reason why—I’m used to editing and want more flexibility (and I’ll just throw it out there, I’m a control freak!) to tweak and split up my call into video segments. For example, the original video length of this call was 33 minutes and I knew I only wanted to create a short snippet. From the video footage, I decided what I wanted to portray as my YouTube sample. Let’s break it down.
Include clips and pictures from the event to capture the attention of the watcher. I loved that the teacher in this video immediately posted pictures to the internet and shared her experience. With permission, take the opportunity to grab and use those photos!
This is when I first came in on the call and said hello. This is your moment to “connect” with the students. Try and get them talking. A lot of times, they are going to be shy. Other times, you will have a class that is very outgoing and talking over themselves. You never know what to expect so be prepared! Try and let the students know you are approachable. If you think you might be a little nervous, just think how they feel!
Introduce your book or series
Give the kids a little history about your books or yourself. Don’t make it too long, make it interactive, and don’t bore them! They’re kids! They don’t want a monologue.
Read a chapter of your book or do an activity together
Since this particular class had already started on my third book (gosh, I love those dedicated Dani readers!), we read Chapter 13 together. I like reading off of a split screen. In my humble opinion, when you read from the book during a Skype call, you detach yourself from the kids. If you read from the screen, they still feel that connection to you as you are facing them. Also, make your reading as lively as possible. No one wants to hear you drone on in monotone. I also took this moment to give one of my many little messages—it’s the mom in me—that you can’t “judge a book by its cover” and it’s important to give someone the benefit of the doubt. (Unless you’ve watched the full video, that sentence won’t make a lot of sense to you.)
Another option is to utilize one of the activities from your teacher resource package and complete one with the students.
Q & A Time
I love this part! Kids come up with the best questions! They can also keep you on your toes! Use this valuable time to not only answer their questions, but encourage them! Be a mentor. Ask them what interests them. What are they reading? Are they working on any writing projects? You can make a difference!
Be sure to say goodbye and let the children know how much you enjoyed visiting with them. Encourage them to visit your website and Facebook page with parental permission. I try to promote the free Kid Zone on my site where they can download coloring pages. Also, be sure to let the teacher know (if you didn’t prior to the call) about any Teacher Resources available on your site. Finally, take the opportunity to once more encourage them to read. I like closing with one of my personal quotes, “Books are like ice cream. There is a flavor for everyone.” Yes, yes. I know. I misquoted myself at the end of the video. Silly me. But even us authors get nervous.
Cutting Your Segments
You might wonder why I don’t show the entire video call and only snippets. It’s simple. I want teachers to schedule their own Skype visit! I don’t want kids to watch a recycled video of me on YouTube. I want them to feel the same excitement as these children did at the thought of meeting “an author.”
I’ll give you a a real life example. Months ago, I dropped off some posters to a local school where I was scheduled to appear in a couple of classrooms. After recess, the teacher took the package I had left at the main office to the class. She told her students that as soon as she opened the package, they would know who had stopped by their school. Slowly, she pulled out one of the posters, which was abruptly accompanied by a shriek, “K. Lamb! K. Lamb was here?” Apparently, there was also some cheering and “wows” involved, too. (Many thanks to Nancy for sharing that story with me!)
That is the kind of reaction you are trying to create. You want this to be a magical experience for a child. You and I both know we are just regular people (who are lucky enough to have a job where we can get lost in our own imaginations) who are struggling to get our books into the mainstream. But for a child, we are the creators of some of their favorite stories. Keep that illusion and magic alive for them. Don’t recycle your videos. Create snippets. Make them want to find out more and schedule their own author Skype visit.
Now if your Skype call isn’t very long and you’re not worried about control over the video, this is the mode for you. I hope you’re ready for the next few steps, because they are a doozy! Go ahead, take a deep breath, and grab that can of Dr. Pepper while you still can because we are moving on to Wondershare in “Easy” mode.
How to make a video
- Import file, which will probably be in .avi format
- Pick a pre-made template
- Select music
- Preview video
Did I fool you into thinking it might be difficult? Nope? Hmm, well I guess the name gave it away. It’s really, really easy. No treading dangerous waters. No hidden doozies. If there was a Video Editing for Dummies software, this would be it! And trust me, there might come a time when I will use this feature. Why? Because sometimes I just don’t have the time to invest in editing as much as I might enjoy the excuse when I have writer’s block or want to procrastinate.
This concludes today’s workshop in the Author’s Corner. If you have any questions or comments, please leave one below! I’m always happy to help my fellow authors as we make our way through the world of Indie publishing.
Wishing you success and inspiration,
Update: Still not sure that mentoring and encouraging makes a difference? The delightful classroom of students pictured below sent me this beautiful gift that I will treasure always—the students authored and illustrated this precious book, Larry the Lonely Owl. A wonderful reminder that when you give of yourself, the rewards are priceless.