Do Writers Need Skype?

7 Reasons to Consider an Internet Phone Service

Time once again for me to encourage you to take advantage of technology! Are you using Skype yet—or another Internet phone service? It’s not a necessity, but it can save you money and be fun, too.

Skype is super easy to use, and probably will work without any additional expense unless your computer is a dinosaur. Just download from Skype.com, follow the instructions, and get talking. There are a few technical requirements: You need a microphone, speakers, and preferably, a webcam. Many newer computers have both of these built-in, but if not, you can buy them separately.

(Note: a webcam isn’t a necessity for Skype—mine has been broken and I’ve done several Skype calls without it—but obviously, you’ll be limited to voice calls only.)

Why would you want to consider Skype?

1. Personal connection. You may have an agent or other business associate who isn’t in the same city and face-to-face meetings are unlikely. While a video call on Skype isn’t the same as being across a table from someone, it certainly can make a big difference in helping you be connected. For that reason alone, I recommend it and would love to begin communicating more regularly with my clients via Skype.

2. File sharing. On Skype, since you’re on the computer, you can pass documents, photos and other files back and forth during the call. You do it straight through Skype, avoiding email or any other platforms.

3. Save BIG on international calls. If you have business associates, friends, or family members in a different country than you, Skype makes it easy to talk—no worrying about country codes, and NO long distance charges. I’ve used it for talking with clients and potential clients in other countries—calls that could have cost me $50 or $100 or more, but were free with Skype.

4. Save on domestic long distance. Even if you’re not dealing with international communication, Skype is still useful for long distance calls because you pay no long distance fees.

5. It’s fun! Skype has many purposes beyond business. If you have family that lives far away (grandchildren, anyone?) it’s so much fun to be able to see them (not just hear them) when you call.

6. It’s affordable. Skype’s basic service is free; and upgraded service is available by buying a subscription or purchasing credits.

7. It’s flexible. Both parties on the call don’t need to have Skype. You can also call people’s phones, and it may be less expensive than the long distance on your current phone service. For example, if you’re going on vacation in Mexico and want to call ahead to book a tour, you can do a Skype-to-phone call and save international charges.

Q4U: Are you using Skype or another internet “telephone” service? Why/why not? What’s your opinion either way?

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

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  • Anthony

    >I and my entire family use Skype. We use it for international video calls and it is a wonderful service. The kids love it.

    I would agree that the video calls add a special touch to business conversations.

    I like the service so much, I would gladly pay for the portions that are free.

  • Raquel Byrnes

    >I totally agree. I just had a Skype 'dinner' with my brother two states away.

    I also saw an author offering a Skye "visit" to the class that wins a collection of her children's book.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  • Kayeleen Hamblin

    >My husband uses google voice for his work phone. (He's self employed.) That way, he never has to worry about moving his phone service or changing his phone number. It just goes with him. He can even use it on his android, so he can cut down on the minutes on his plan.

    As a family, we use Skype for talking to grandma. My little kids love seeing grandma on the computer and it keeps them familiar with her.

  • Tana Adams

    >I have Skype. Although if you Skyped me I'd probably sit and giggle the whole time. I'm childish that way.

  • Adam Heine

    >Living in Thailand, Skype is AWESOME. My parents get to watch their grandkids grow up, and I actually have a chance at speaking to an agent someday (since both phone calls and conferences are prohibitively expensive).

    I've even heard of authors meeting book clubs or doing readings via Skype. Sounds like a good way to tour to me!

  • Ted Cross

    >I've been using it since the beginning, more than ten years ago. Since I work all over the world, it is a blessing. Most of my friends use it, so we can always see when we are online and talk for free, and since my grandmother doesn't use computers, I can call very cheaply to her landline from anywhere in the world. It's one of the greatest internet innovations ever, IMO.

  • Kate

    >I couldn't live without my Skype! My husband passed away in Europe and I stayed on, taking care of legal matters, etc., so here I am in a foreign country where I do not speak the language and don't know anyonw. Without the ability to "Skype" my friends, the sense of isolation would be overwhelming.

  • Rosemary Gemmell

    >You've convinced me, Rachelle! I shall look into it. Haven't felt the need of it before but I have so many new writing contacts around the world now that it probably would be useful.

  • Sharon A. Lavy

    >My 20 year old grandson loves Skype since his girlfriend lives 2,000 miles from him.

    I'm tempted. A group of us were asked to do Skype interviews. Of course we have to get Skype first. That is more scary than just the phone part. How do you make sure you don't look dorky in a taped interview?

  • Katie Ganshert

    >I've never Skyped, but more and more people are talking about it. Jody Hedlund joined a book club session somewhere in Canada (maybe….I may have just made that part up) on The Preacher's Bride via Skype.

    I can see the benefits. Now I must find out if my computer has all those things you mentioned.

  • Katy McKenna

    >When author Mary DeMuth still lived in France and her (first, I think….) book came out, I interviewed her for my blog over Skype. THAT was a while ago!! Now I'm addicted to facetime on my iPhone–essentially the same thing. My 8-month-old grandson goes crazy when my daughter starts setting up the phone to talk to–and SEE!–his funny grandma! We live for facetime!

  • Laura Pauling

    >I do have Skype and I chat once a week with my crit group. I've never done the video part but think it's a pretty cool tool.

  • Michelle

    >I don't use it much – but the kids love it – they are always chatting with their friends – for free!
    I'm sure I'll get in on my computer one day – don't think I have a mike tho.
    xx

  • Jody Hedlund

    >No, Katie you're right. I did Skype with a book group in Candada. It was a fantastic experience! I got to chat with all the members of the book group and answer questions they had about the book and my writing process. I think it's one more way we as authors can be more available to our readers and show them that we really do care about them!

  • Sue Harrison

    >We love Skype. What a joy to speak face to face with our missionary daughter in Greece! (And it's great to save the cost of international calls.)

    Jody, what a terrific idea of Skyping with book groups!

  • Wendy Paine Miller

    >I Skype with my mom and my sisters. Love this technology. I have it in my proposal as one way to help market my book.

    Like the pasta sauce (can never remember which one Ragu, Prego?), it's in there.

    ~ Wendy

  • Lisa Jordan

    >I have Skype. I got it to stay in touch with my son in college and my writing support group spread all over the country. I never considered using it to call my agent. I'll have to be sure she knows my Skype name. :) Thanks for a great reminder of another way technology can bring people together.

  • Noelle Pierce

    >I LOVE Skype! My parents and in-laws all use it to see the kids growing up, since we live so far away. I could do that with Yahoo, too, but the video quality is so much better on Skype. Thanks to a couple of writing forums, I also have a lot of new friends in other countries. Whereas before, I wouldn't have dreamed of calling England, China, or even Canada before, I now have seen first-hand (through the camera) the sight of Hong Kong from a high-rise and the London suburbs–all with commentary. :D It. Is. Fabulous! But it also kinda makes me itch to travel. C'est la vie!

    I think it would be great to talk to an agent through video chat, but not the first time. I'm going to have a hard enough time keeping my cool without video (with the assumption I will get that call one day). *grin*

  • Kelly Combs

    >I like the good old fashioned way where I can take calls sans make-up in my pjs or sweats. LOL! Seriously, I love the idea of skyping with MY AGENT, but since I don't have one, and my family is local, no need for me to skype just yet.

  • Marla Taviano

    >My favorite thing about Skype is chatting with friends we met in Cambodia last summer. And while my husband and I were there, we Skyped with our 3 girls almost every morning (super early, 13 hour time difference).

    It still blows my mind, because when my aunt and uncle were missionaries in Indonesia when I was young, we used to record our voices on cassette tapes for them, and it took about 2 months to get there!

  • Kathy

    >I use Skype to connect with members of a communications team in several states. As a family, we use Google Video Chat because we are all on g-mail. I like it a little better, but maybe that's just because I used it first.

  • Nicole L Rivera

    >I'm a Skyper! :) I use it to collaborate on projects. It is so much nicer to work with someone you can see rather than conference calling.

  • Catherine West

    >Love it!! I have used it for years, and living in Bermuda it definitely comes in handy! I can see my daughter in Canada anytime, chat with my sister in Connecticut, relatives in the UK – you name it. And I would love to have some skype calls with my agent, that would be awesome!!
    I also plan to use skype with bookclubs – I did one the other day with a group in California! Of course I offered to go in person…
    Highly recommend skype and the cost, as you say, can't be beat!

  • Bonita

    >This is the fourth time in two days that I've heard about Skype in connection with writing. I think I'm getting the message! Apparently, I need to use it for more than just talking with my son when he's away at college.

  • Beth

    >Well, I guess that means no more writing in pajamas.

    (Just kidding. I'm a morning person anyway.)

    I have skype on my computer, but I've only used it once. Particularly good during bad weather.

  • H. A. Titus

    >When I was engaged, my fiance had to move to MI for a job while I stayed in MO. We used skype for the 5 months between our engagement and our wedding. It was so much better than just regular phone calls!
    Recently I've been hearing about authors using it. This is definitely an idea to consider…

  • Chazley Dotson

    >It also helps if you're querying and in the process of moving home from another country — one phone number that you keep no matter where you are!

  • J. Strickland

    >One of my publishers is in Canada. I use Skype to call their office from the US for 2 cents a minute – far less expensive than international long distance. I also use it when interviewing people for background research for my writing. One of my beta readers moved to Asia and we can still work together with Skype. It's been a wonderful tool for me.

  • Laila Knight

    >I've never tried Skype since I do everything on my cell anyway, but it sounds interesting. Since I do love the whole idea of being in front of a camera, I'll check it out. Thanks.

  • Kim Kasch

    >I love Skype – it's a good way to connect with college kids when they can't get home – like this weekend for Mother's Day …

  • Loree Huebner

    >Last summer, my son went to Oxford University in England to take some classes. I learned to skype then.
    It's nice (and a relief) to see your kids in real-time when they're so far away.

    I always tell parents of students going abroad to learn and practice Skyping before they leave.

    I can see it helping in other connections down the road.

  • Viridian

    >I used Skype when I was apart of a long distance writing group (two were in Maryland, one in Massachusetts and I was in Washington). It worked extremely while when we had conferences once a month. I can see it working very well for the publishing side of things too.

    Its major downfall that if you need to relay information at the spur of the moment, it's not good for that. Using Skype means scheduling times and meetings, so if you need to get a hold of someone suddenly, you have to rely on the regular phone for that. But overall, it's incredibly useful if you have the correct equipment for it.

  • Marion

    >Another of your posts that I thought I wouldn't need, but looked at anyway.
    And it looks as if Skype might be useful to me, way down in Egypt land. If I move back stateside in a year or 2, maybe not so much.
    But it probably would cost me money, because I'd probably need a new computer. Time, too, since to get a new Apple–or equipment plug-ins–I'd probably have to go down to Cairo. A nice excuse!
    More useful info. & food for thought from Rachelle's blog!

  • Kathi Lipp

    >Also as a not-famous-writer, there are not a lot of TV programs that will fly you out to be their program, but they will SKYPE you in to be a guest. Now a lot of interviewers (Radio, blog talk, etc.) want you to use SKYPE so they will have content for their websites.

  • Larry Carney

    >The great thing about this technology is that it is truly focused marketing; instead of sitting at a table at a bookstore and having your ability to connect with your fan base limited (due to location, weather, and other factors) you can meet directly with them.

    The downside, however, is that traditional media is still used to the concept of how writers used to market themselves and meet with their base; if you can say you'll get a hundred or so people to show up for a signing you'll get some local coverage, but let them know you'll be meeting with two or three times as many people over Skype the same day (meeting with, say, various book clubs in the area) and you won't even get the college intern to slap together a story on the news outlets website….

    Of course, when that intern becomes the reporter things might change. Since they are used to the technology, are aware of its impact, and hopefully being taught in the classroom about the evolving nature of news being more specialized and targeted at certain demographics, the reporter might one day tag along on that Skype call…

  • Sarah Forgrave

    >We use Skype every week so our kids can see Grandpa and Grandma. :) And my husband I traveled to Europe last year and used it to talk to our kids while we were away. You're right…It was much cheaper and a much better connection.

    I didn't know about the file sharing feature. Good to know!

  • Mary Ann

    >I'm not famous but I use Skype. LOL I use the chat feature as much or more than the phone feature, though. I can't say why. It just seems to suit my circle. We installed it to use when my son was deployed to Iraq. It's useful for that, too.

  • Louise Curtis

    >My brother-in-law lives in China, so we talk to him on skype. The tiny delay in movement creeps me out a little (plus the not-quite-direct eye contact), and I prefer talking on the phone.

    But I'll get over it.

    Louise Curtis

  • Shannon

    >Ooh, I never thought of getting skype, but now if I get an overseas agent or editor, I sure will. Thanks for the tip!

  • Beth K. Vogt

    >I've used Skype some with limited success. Mostly when a good friend was overseas (Uganda.) My daughter uses it quite frequently to stay in touch with friends she made while living in Nicaragua for 9 months.
    Sounds like I may need to brush up on my Skype skills.

  • Kate Larkindale

    >Love Skype! For the past 3 years, my parents lived in a different country to me, and it was fantastic for keeping in touch with the grandkids. Both my sons are much closer to their grandparents than they would have been without it.

    And professionally, I use it at my cinema when we can't get film makers to come in person to do Q & A sessions. It's easy to link up to them anywhere on the globe and chat live with the audience. And it's free!

  • Patrick Thunstrom

    >I have used skype (Not for writing.) before, and have been wanting to try out Google's new phone service.

    Great points on the strengths of VOIP, though!

  • P.I. Barrington

    >I've never used Skype though several people have asked to contact me that way. My main concern and I heard something about security problems with Skype. Otherwise I'd be there.

  • Kathryn Magendie

    >Yep, have Skyped with my new little granddaugther and I don't know what I'd do without it – since I'm in NC and she's in Oregon! I did have some problems with my computer hanging up, etc, but I uninstalled and then reinstalled a couple times and this time it seems to be okay.

    The other great thing is Book Club meetings! I've met with some wonderful book clubs all over the US using Skype. When an author can't go to the book club, Skype is the next best thing!

  • Hallie

    >I used it when I hosted my book club when we read Erika Robuck's book RECEIVE ME FALLING. My friends loved it and loved getting to know Erika. Having the author there to answer all of their questions.

    Erika and I are Skyping on Monday, matter of fact. I think it is an awesome way to connect with readers and other writers. For some reason, Skype seems to freak some people out but I am all for it! I am an extroverted introvert, I guess. :)

  • Karate Los Angeles

    >I think everyone should have it, even if you're not a writer. No matter what you're doing in work or your personal life, it's a great way to stay connected from all aspects- and it makes everything easier. Although, be careful! I've known a few people to get viruses from hackers before!
    Ava

  • girlseeksplace

    >I've never thought about using Skype from a writer's perspective, but my best friend and I use it all the time – since she lives in Georgia and I'm in Vegas. It's way more fun than just talking on the phone.

  • Carol J. Garvin

    >I have Skype but have used it only a couple times. The long-distance family members who like to interact online have Mac computers like mine, so we tend to use iChat instead.

  • Richard Bauman

    >I use Google phone on my Google email. I’m told the sound quality on the other end is clear and crisp, and what I hear on my end is excellent. I occasionally hear an echo, but the person on the other end doesn’t hear it. I think it has to do with my earphones rather than the Google phone.

  • http://www.yourselfstore.co.uk/ Soila Biser

    Well blow me down, I actually sold my maisonette last week, so I’m moving home. I actually did it in the depression. Hoorah! But, I’ve now got to get down to the nitty gritty of moving to a new area. I need to think about where to store my stuff, so I’m on the lookout for cheap furniture storage. I do want it to be safe and accessible, so I’m thinking about one of these new self storage places, that you always hear advertised everywhere. Does anyone know of any cheap ones?

  • Joseph

    Yes making cheap calls to mobile and landline phones is one of the best thing about skype. I’ve been using skype to make cheap calls to Turkey for a year now and must say it way more affordable than making calls from an ordinary phone.

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