by Karen Ball
I’ve been in publishing for lo, these many years (over 30), so you’d think the work would be pretty much second nature for me. No so! In fact, just this last week I did something completely new!
The amazing thing about this isn’t that the author and I got the book done so quickly, but that it was SO MUCH FUN! We parked on Skype for hours, so that if I had questions as I edited a chapter, I could just ask him, and if he had questions about the editing, he could just ask me. It was like being in the same room together, but without the expense or stress of travel. And I discovered that doing the edit this way gave me a fresher understanding of what the author wanted to say. It also enabled us to do a bit of arm wrestling when we disagreed on something, but to do so with humor and kindness. When you deal with issues over the phone or in email, you always run the risk of misunderstanding because folks can’t see your expressions or body language, or hear the tone of your voice. With Skype, those risks were gone, so we handled a couple of sensitive issues without frustration or misunderstanding.
And that, my friends, is a miracle!
So how does this affect you? Well, as I was working with this author, I started to think about all the other ways we, as agents and authors, could use this technology:
When you know a conversation is going to take more than a few minutes, use Skype (or whatever video calling option you have). Seeing each other, being able to read expressions and body language, to hear tone of voice, goes a long way to heading off misunderstanding.
Use video calling when you’re communicating with someone you don’t know well. I didn’t know this author at all before I stared working with him. But now I feel as though I’ve had an editing retreat with him, and he’s become a friend.
Writers, use video calling if you need to hash things out with your editor. Face-to-face works so much better than email and phone calls.
Are you collaborating with another writer on a project? Use video calling to brainstorm, discuss, and edit your project.
Writers could also use video conferencing to:
- Mentor other writers
- Have a critique group with other writers from across the country (Skype has group conferencing)
- Brainstorm your books together
- If you’re stuck on your work and need some help, video call a writer friend and brainstorm together. Or just take a coffee break together. I have a good friend who lives in Illinois. When I lived in Illinois, she and I loved to do coffee runs together to Starbuck’s or Caribou Coffee. I’ve missed that time with her so much, so I proposed doing a coffee run on Skype. It’s working out great!
These are just a few of the ways we can jump into this technological world and use it not just for meetings, but to enrich our relationships and writing.
So hey, why not give it a try? You may find that you enjoy it even more than I do.