Author Nancy Richardson Fischer is a veteran storyteller. But in the age of the internet, the publishing industry has faced unique challenges, and reaching audiences interested in reading new stories has become more difficult. For Fischer, it was embracing new technology – including Skype – that has helped expand her horizons in the publishing space.
Fischer first heard about Skype in the most unexpected of places: a small fishing village of Prea, Brazil. “Everyone in the middle of nowhere knew about and used Skype.” After her trip, she started just using Skype video calling to keep in touch with friends.
But that changed when she decided to take a new route to publishing her book Pandora’s Key, her first foray into young adult fiction. Pandora’s Key, Book One of The Key Trilogy, is about Evangeline, an Oregon girl whose life is uprooted when she is given an ancient key that plays a pivotal role in a prophecy stemming from Greek mythology. Unless Evangeline can discover her true identity and use her wits and newfound powers to fight her deadly adversaries she will lose everyone she loves…but can she accept who she really is and save the world?
“All of my past books had been published through traditional publishing houses. I’ve done everything from sports autobiographies to Star Wars books for LucasFilm previously… this is the first book I self-published. The publishing world is rapidly changing.” With essential promotional activities like marketing and public relations outreach now also her responsibilities, Fischer was looking for unique ways to promote her book and reach her young adult audience.
Shortly after publishing Pandora’s Key, Fischer discovered the Skype in the classroom program and felt it was a fantastic opportunity. She began having regular Skype video calls with classrooms across the US to discuss her book. “When you self-publish, the onus is on you to create relationships with your readers,” Fischer said. “With Skype, I interact with students and build connections more directly. It helps build stronger relationships by allowing for face-to face connections.” Fischer’s video calls with classrooms provided direct access – something that neither she nor her student readers had ever had previously.
The feedback and reactions she receives from students are the best part about the Skype calls. “I can hear what the kids like about my book, what they want to see in future books – ‘I want more action, I want more romance, who is going to live or die?’” she said. “I love seeing their faces so I can see what excites them, where they want me to go with the story.” Her most recent Skype call was with a classroom in Boulder, Colorado. The students, who had all read her book and were currently studying a unit on Greek mythology, gave their thoughts on the book and asked Fischer questions about what it’s like being an author and how she comes up with the ideas for her books. This month, Fischer will connect with a classroom in Moscow and another in Portland, Oregon.
Fischer’s experiences conducting Skype calls with classrooms have paid off. Pandora’s Key was first released in December 2011, debuting at #330,000 on Amazon.com’s sales list. By September 2012, the book had reached the #5 spot and broken the top 1,000 for Kindle books in the contemporary/fiction/fantasy category. In December, Pandora’s Key again reached the #5 spot in its category and broke the top 600 books overall in the Kindle Store.
Would your classroom or book club be interested in having a Skype call with Nancy? You can get in touch with her via her Skype in the classroom profile.