Thursday, January 6, 2011

Skype Interviews for Writers

skypeYesterday, I was interviewed by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn for an upcoming post on a new video blog she’s launching soon.

I’m on Skype, but pretty new to it. After tinkering around with it a little, though, I think it’s a great way to promote your book or do virtual interviews, especially if you can’t travel or don’t want to.

This article on Galley Cat pointed a couple of helpful sites to help connect writers with readers, including the Skype an Author Network.

I’m never wild about seeing myself on video or hearing my own voice, taped, but I was able to minimize some of my discomfort by a little preparation (and the knowledge that Joanna will be doing some editing on the video before it runs.)

Lighting—From what I was able to find out online, it’s best to have a light at about the 2:00 spot, a small light behind you, and a small light at the 9:00 spot. I’ve seen some videocasts that were poorly lit, and noticed that shadows can be really unkind to anyone over the age of twenty.

Camera—I have a separate web camera, which cost under $100. It’s nice to be able to move the camera around, instead of having it as part of the laptop. I set the camera up to be almost shoulder height to me and angled it to get the picture waist-up. I put a sticky note with a smiley face on it to remind me to look at the camera, not at Joanna’s face on my computer screen.

Sound—My microphone is attached to my webcam. I ran a test with the Echo Sound Check Service that’s free on Skype to make sure I could be heard. Also, I tried to eliminate background noise. I asked the kids to stay upstairs and be quiet, put the dog in the backyard, took the phone off the hook, silenced my cell phone, and put a sticky note on my front door.

Since Skype can be a little jerky in sound and video, I spoke slowly. Also, I spoke slowly knowing that I have an accent and wanting folks to be able to understand me. Actually, our segment should be called “The Accent Show” since Joanna is Australian. :)

Make-up—Joanna mentioned that she recommended wearing a good deal of make-up for Skyping. So I went out to buy some (the tiny amount that I wear wasn’t going to work.) Unfortunately, the eye liner was liquid instead of pencil and I didn’t know how to apply it, so I ended up looking Goth. :) I had plenty of time to fix it, though.

Water—Same advice as being on a panel…good to have water nearby, just in case.

Clothing—I heard that patterns were a no-no, and so was wearing white. I put on a black top and some jewelry.

Background—I just chose a corner of my downstairs. The idea was for it to be pretty uncluttered. I made sure the table behind me was dusted. :)

Books—You might be asked about your books. You’ll want to have them close by, just in case you need to hold them up.

Preparation—I think it’s the fear of losing my train of thought that’s the worst. If I can just know that I have something available to glance at if I’m stuck, then I’m a lot more relaxed. I jotted down some notes on a white board and put the white board on a stand behind the camera.

Test your video image: Want to see what you look like before the interview goes live? Log on to Skype, click “tools” and “options” and then “video settings” on the left-hand side to see your image.

Skype to Skype is free and it’s a very easy application to download and use. Have you ever done a Skype chat?