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ONLINE AUTHOR CHATS

Here is a list of authors and artists we represent for online chats, as well as relevant information for each. Online chats are cheaper than traditional author visits. Honorariums are lower and there are no travel or hotel expenses involved. They can also be very rewarding. The more prepared you are, the more your students will get out of the experience. For example, it’s important students be familiar with the author’s or illustrator’s books. When you contact us to set up the chat, please have some dates in mind, and please leave time for ordering books for the chat (at least 6 weeks if you are ordering from a publisher). The author or artist will be happy to autograph bookplates, so if you want to send him or her bookplates in advance to sign, you can insert the bookplates into the books you order. (Please leave time for both mailing bookplates to the author and the return mail from the author. You’ll be asked to pay postage for both ends of the process.) Having autographed books will also enhance the experience for your students.

Please let us know what kind of computer set-up you have for online chats. Balkin Buddies authors and artists are set up for iChat (mostly used with Macs) and Skype (mostly used with PCs). If you have some other kind of arrangement, let us know and we will check to see if the author or artist can accommodate you. At this point in time, we are not certain that iChats are suitable for an illustrator illustrating his/her technique, so you may want to research this before asking an illustrator to do this via iChat. If you just want him or her to chat with your students, that would probably be fine.

As for equipment, all you need is a computer with speakers, a mic and a camera. If your computer doesn't come with a camera, you can get a fairly inexpensive one directly from Skype, although there are other sources as well. Furthermore, more students will be able to see the monitor if you can project it onto an ActivBoard. Another option teachers may wish to consider is using Skype's conference call feature described in the paragraph below. That way, you might be able to do a conference online chat on several school computers so that more students can participate.

Here are directions for how to get set up on iChat. And here's some help for Skype. For university teachers who teach online classes and would like to have an online chat between an author and the students in the class who are located in several areas, you'll find Skype directions at

https://support.skype.com/faq/fa92/How-do-I-start-a-conference-call.

For authors to do a PowerPoint presentation, Premium Skype is required, so please let us know if you have this so we can notify the author or illustrator. You can choose to buy a subscription for 1, 3 or 12 months.

Furthermore, teachers and librarans -- and authors and artists, too -- should find this article from the June 2009 issue of School Library Journal very informative and with a lot of practical advice.

And finally, to insure a good chat, please read these tips from teachers and librarians and tips from authors who have already done chats and wrote about the experience. We believe you will find these useful when you start making arrangements for your own audience, be they students, patrons, adults, or children.

RESTRICTIONS:

RECORDING AND VIDEOTAPING RESTRICTIONS:

Unless otherwise indicated, the online chat may NOT be videotaped, recorded and/or reused. Rights to the content of the program belong strictly to the author or artist. Should you wish to videotape, record or reuse a portion of material from an online chat, permission must be obtained from the author or artist in question in advance, and we will ask you to sign a limited-use contract. This contract may vary a bit, depending on your needs as well as the needs of the author, but it will basically require restricted use only -- that is, for promotional purposes only or for use only on a secured website so that students unable to participate in the chat could view it later, etc. Please discuss your needs with Balkin Buddies in advance of the chat so that terms may be established and written into the contract.

RESTRICTIONS CONCERNING OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE DISTRICT OR CITY PARTICIPATING IN THE CHAT:

Unless specifically requested and agreed to in advance, other schools, classes, organizations or other groups of children or adults may NOT participate in the online chat without prior written consent, in which case a larger honorarium may apply. Again, please discuss your needs with Balkin Buddies in advance of the chat so that if other schools wish to participate, the terms may be revised and written into the contract.

Should you have any questions concerning online chats, please contact us by phone or email.