It’s A Brave New World

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. Not so! In fact, just this last week I did something completely new!

I edited a book, in four days, using Skype and Dropbox.

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.

11 Responses to It’s A Brave New World

  1. Connie Almony March 14, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Great idea, Karen. It would save me typing all those smiley faces so the recipient doesn’t take my comments wrong. They can just see me smiling.

  2. Lindsay Harrel March 14, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Wow, great thoughts here, Karen! I’ve heard of others doing this with their editors, agents, crit partners, etc. What a great tool!

  3. Ruth Douthitt March 14, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    I have never used Skype before, but these ideas are wonderful! I just might have to try it sometime…

  4. Angie Breidenbach March 14, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    I love video conferencing but I’ll toss out a few that might work better in certain situations.
    Skype cuts out and freezes on a lot of people. Oovoo works a little better and is also free.
    When coaching and mentoring, set up so you can a) set a time limit to protect
    people’s schedules and b) record it and send a link to your mentee 🙂
    They can review rather than forget the coaching.

  5. Deanne Durrett March 14, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I’m new to Skype but love it and this sounds like a wonderful idea. Personally, I’d need a little notice since I often work for hours in my robe and PJs and delay the hair ironing ritual until mid-afternoon. Wouldn’t want to scare anyone.

  6. Sharon A Lavy March 14, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    The thing is, when I am sitting in the room with you, I don’t know what my facial gestures look like. But on Skype, or face time. I do. And the angle of the camera makes noses big and distorts things, at least on husband’s face so I am sure it does on mine too. So yes it it a scary new world.

  7. Tamara March 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    We use Skype for our writers’ critique group…and we love it! we have writers from all over the country that join, which makes it even more fun! 🙂

  8. Peter DeHaan March 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    Since I have an hour plus drive to my critique group, the idea of using video conferencing is most intriguing.

    Of course that would require a computer upgrade, since I purposefully buy computers without a camera and microphone — but with the money I would save in gas, I would recoup my investment very quickly!

    Thanks for a great idea.

  9. Rachel Wilder March 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    My CP’s and I use Skype for brainstorming and just general chatting. We did a mad fast edit of an entire manuscript on Skype one afternoon. It was so much fun.

    I’m a transcriptionist, and I use Dropbox with my clients to transfer audio files. Works great.

  10. Jennifer Major March 15, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    I have deaf family members, aged 95 and 86. IF they had Skype, they’d be on it all the time!! I wish they did have it, but they don’t feel the need to deal with computers. Missionaries LOVE Skype and the other video phone services because a real time conversation can be an enormous blessing when life on the front lines gets rough.

  11. Sharon A Lavy March 15, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    I need lessons, though on how to put your best face forward.

    Now for family, I will do whatever it takes. We plan to use facetime with our family in Haiti, but it has not worked out on their end yet. They are so-o-o busy.

    Our son does call us with google-talk. He is very tech savvy, gave up a good job in the US to go to Haiti for two years.

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