I'm going to ask for help this month. Because there is one thing that I keep trying and then wishing I could do over. And that's virtual visits.
It sounds so easy. If you don't have time to visit a school, do a visit via Skype or FaceTime. But in reality, I often find them... kind of lacking.
First, there are the technical issues. Despite the fact that I've learned to do a practice session beforehand, there is often something that happens the day of the visit. The tech person who helped the day before isn't there. The school's WiFi goes out. The speakers suddenly don't work
Second, I have to admit, I find it hard to speak coherently when looking at a blurry image of a room full of children. I can't see anyone well enough to tell if they are responding to what I have to say. The best set-up I ever had involved me looking at only one student at a time. They could all see me on a big screen. But even though I suggest this to teachers, it's not always the set-up they can make happen.
Finally, there is the issue of to charge or not to charge. On the one hand, it feels presumptuous to ask for an honorarium. It's only 20 minutes, right? I don't even have to leave my house. But when you factor in emails to set the visit up, time practicing and hiring a babysitter (nothing like your 3-year-old turning off Dora and announcing she has to go potty right in the middle of a Skype session), it doesn't seem so easy after all.
How do other authors handle virtual visits? Are my expectations too high? Is a certain amount of technical trouble to be expected? What do teachers, librarians and students think makes a good virtual visit?
I'm going to continue doing online visits - but I could definitely use some suggestions and advice!