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Obert Skye
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Obert Skye   Obert Skye is the young adult author of the Leven Thumps series (Leven Thumps and the... Gateway to Foo, Whispered Secret, Eyes of the Want, Wrath of Ezra, and Ruins of Alder) and Pillage. His books have received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Juvenile Fiction, the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award for audio book, and the iParenting Media award for Best Book. Obert has visited more than 600 schools around the U.S. speaking on such topics as making right choices and promoting literacy.

Buy Obert Skye's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 01/28/2010 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Obert Skye

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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

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Matthew Peterson: Now for a bonus question. You’ve spoken to a lot of children throughout the country. If you could give them a bit of advice, what would it be and why?

Obert Skye: Well, I’d probably tell them two things, if I could tell them anything or kind of the message I want to do, there’s two things: 1. I think reading changes your life. I mean there’s nothing more influential than a book. It’s sort of in your head. It’s there. It’s just such a fantastic trip. And if you can learn to love reading or to get into the stuff you like, it just can change everything in your life. It did for me. And 2. Would be, just do what you love. I mean, sometimes you have to do other things to get to that point, but just aim for what you love because it makes such a difference in just the kind of life we have to live. And I believe books tie right into that. I mean, books sort of clarify what we love. They enhance what we love, and it just makes kind of the texture of our lives so much better. I think those are probably the two most important things I would love to convey.

Matthew Peterson: Okay, well good!

Extra Material That was Cut from the Show Because of Time Constraints

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Matthew Peterson: You know, you went with Shadow Mountain. They’re a small publisher, but they’re backed by Deseret Book, which, you know, has a ton of money. So that’s a safe bet.

Obert Skye: Right. Leven was kind of their first thing they’ve ever done that was national. Like those first days were just sort of so much fun. It was crazy. We were doing things that Shadow Mountain had never ever done.

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

Obert Skye: We’ve kind of tapered back a little bit.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Obert Skye: They’ve kind of come to realize that they don’t have enough people to focus everywhere they are. But they’re just a great company. And there’s a couple people that work there that I just think are as good as people can get.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, I did a tour in Utah a couple times and visited schools. And I charge. I charge when I go. And they’re like, “Well, Obert Skye and Brandon Mull just came and they did it for free.” And I’m like, “Well, ya gotta pay me 500 bucks, sorry.” [laughs]

Obert Skye: We’re looking to ruin your . . . but not any more. We charge. I mean, I charge now . . . What do you charge, $500 a day?

Matthew Peterson: Well, locally I charge $500 for a day. But like in other states, I charge more because they have to fly me and . . .

Obert Skye: Right. Right, right, of course, right.

Matthew Peterson: . . . lodging and all that. But you guys killed me! And I’m like, “Man, all the schools in Utah expect authors to come for free.”

Obert Skye: That’s all I get from so many authors. I mean, [laughs] I’m sorry, but the . . . yeah. It’s been a while . . . but now we charge, so . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, and with this economy it’s really hard.

Obert Skye: It is.

Matthew Peterson: Because, you know, the schools, all the budgets are going down.

Obert Skye: Yeah, it is. I’m always curious as to what other people charge, because, yeah, I mean, most of mine involve traveling.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Obert Skye: And so I have to do expenses plus, but it’s the “plus” that I’m always nervous even to ask anything for. And anymore, I mean, I have more than I can possibly do, but I still just... I don’t know . . . and then you hear like some authors get like $10,000.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, the normal actually is... well, I’ve talked to a lot of schools. And they’re like, “Well, the normal is about $750. And it goes up from there.” You know, but in Utah my family lives there and I can just stay at my mom and dad’s house, and so I think I only did $500 when I was there at Utah. And I just got a few schools. But the thing is, I also sell a bunch of books while I’m there. I mean, I get another $300 bucks just from selling books.

Obert Skye: Sure. No, yeah. It does a lot of things besides . . . right.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I mean, plus it’s something that you love. I mean, obviously you probably really enjoy it, ‘cause you’ve gone to a ton of schools. You really went to a lot of schools, 600?

Obert Skye: Yeah, we’re over that right now.

Matthew Peterson: Over?

Obert Skye: Almost all 50 states.

Matthew Peterson: Oh. That’s crazy. Yeah, I only went to about eight different states. But I was, you know, it was all me doing it. You know, you had a publicist and a publisher helping to push it, right, to get you into the schools?

Obert Skye: No, it made all the difference, right. But, yeah. But this last year it’s just been, since the demand is there, and we’re charging, it’s shifted a little bit, but . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Obert Skye: Yeah. It’s pretty time consuming, but like you know, it’s kind of a fun hands-on kind of thing.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. How much do you charge normally?

Obert Skye: I usually charge $500, plus expenses.

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

Obert Skye: So if I go somewhere . . . $500 a day, plus expenses, but every time I charge that, I just, I feel awful. Maybe it’s ‘cause I didn’t for so long, but . . . I always say that and think they’re going to be like, “$500! For you?” But almost every single school I charge says, “That’s the lowest price we’ve ever had.”

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s on the low end. It is.

Obert Skye: Yeah, and then... so then I’m like, “Man, I should’ve charged more.” But . . .

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Obert Skye: [laughs] I don’t know. Like you said, you sell books. There’s benefits that far outweigh it. So if they’re paying to get me there and putting me up and $500 a day, I’m, I don’t know, I think that still feels pretty generous. I really do want people to know about the books and read, so . . .

Matthew Peterson: And there’s a perceived value when you do charge. There’s a bunch of authors too that will, you know, they’re trying to get the word out and they will do it for free--and they’re big time authors. But there definitely is a perceived value of when you charge.

Obert Skye: Yeah. I think you’re right.

Matthew Peterson: I like have a whole section on my website with like reviews from librarians and teachers, and they, you know, the word gets out from them as well. So that all helps.

Obert Skye: Right. Sometimes you’ll say, you know, “It’s only $500.” And they’ll be like, “Oh, well, you know, so and so was here and they charged $1200.”

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Obert Skye: So then you feel bad like you’re that “discount author.”

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Obert Skye: But yeah, there’s definitely a perceived value, but every school kind of fluctuates. I mean some think $200 is more money than they can possibly spend. Some don’t blink an eye at, you know . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Most of the schools I found in Utah were like . . . like two of them in my hometown, I was like, “Hey, I’ll do it for free.” And they’re like, “Oh, we can’t fit you in.” I’m like, “You can’t fit me in?” [laughs] “How ‘bout if I do it for $500? Then can you fit me in?” I’m like, “Man! Did I just lose value or something by saying I’d do it for free?” [laughs]

Obert Skye: Isn’t that weird? Yeah. Human nature, man. We’re weird. Well, Utah’s kind of spoiled and saturated at least with, I think, quite a few authors. And you know, we did it for free for way too long, I think. So I don’t know. But they have good readers there.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. It’s definitely a good audience. It’s really good.

Obert Skye: Yeah.

[Matt’s Personal Note: Most schools get special funding from the government that must go towards things like author visits. Funds spent on author visits are not taken from the same budgets that are used to educate the children and provide for the upkeep of the school. In fact, these “grants” enhance the student’s education, and that’s why there’s government funding for the arts.]

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