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IBPA Member Carla Bass Lands Multiple TV Interviews for Write to Influence!

Thursday, August 6, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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IBPA member Carla Bass shares tips on writing college application essays with Melanie Hastings on Good Morning Washington.

Garnering media attention for an independently-published book can be difficult, but IBPA member Carla D. Bass, Colonel, USAF (Ret) has achieved great success landing multiple media opportunities, from podcast interviews to magazine articles to television interviews. IBPA spoke to Carla about how she managed to secure these opportunities to promote her book, Write to Influence! (the 2nd edition is available now), and what other indie publishers can learn from her success.

IBPA: You landed four TV spots so far for Write to Influence! [Good Morning Washington and three on Great Day Washingtonclick here to see one of those interviews], among many other media opportunities. How were you able to land these TV opportunities?

Write to Influence! second edition by Carla Bass

Carla Bass (CB): I invested in two local publicity firms. For the first edition of Write to Influence!, publicity firm Awesome Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) secured my first TV interview, “Nail that College Application Essay,” and timed the pitch to coincide with the college application process.

For the second edition of my book, I employed a cracker-jack publicity firm, Nardi Media, owned by a vivacious young woman named Ashley Bernardi. The Nardi team worked its magic securing media interest by developing a variety of campaign plans on substantive topics, then offered me as an expert to a tailored list of reporters who typically cover these areas across print, online, and broadcast media. For example, Nardi pitched a piece on the post-job interview thank you note, which netted a surprising number of opportunities with major online venues. Nardi also astutely timed these pitches to coincide with current events, such as “Write a Standout Resume” in January, a perfect time for new beginnings. That resulted in two TV interviews!

IBPA: Can you share tips for giving a successful television interview?

CB: A TV interview is a rare opportunity…make each second count—literally! Here are 10 tips based on a 4-minute interview:

  1. Outline your message. Then prioritize your key thoughts—three maximum. To sort your thoughts, complete this sentence, “If I can make only one point, it would be…” and build from there.

  2. Develop 1-2 sentences for each key thought.

  3. Distill sentences into sound bites. Avoid lengthy, rambling dialogue. Think telegraphically.

  4. Transcribe your comments. Writing them several times on paper solidifies your thoughts, their sequence, and the sound bites. It also helps you sort glitches and revise as needed.

  5. Practice aloud. Verbalize your comments until you can speak them without notes. Time yourself to determine how long you spent on each thought. Adjust accordingly.

  6. Subtract one minute. Of the anticipated four minutes, the host will consume one on intros and posing questions.

  7. Stay on your toes. The host might not pitch questions tailored to elicit your key points. Watch for opportunities to inject them into the conversation.

  8. SMILE! This was the most difficult aspect for me. A television interview is a serious opportunity; you are serious about your project; and are likely on edge… but to influence the audience and effectively deliver your message, you simply must smile!

  9. Send thank you notes. Express appreciation to the producer and host(s) immediately after the interview. I also send flowers. On the day of the event, I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies for the staff, too. Providing an autographed copy of your book is also advisable.

  10. Apply this equation. time + space = opportunity. This is the premise of Write to Influence! Each communication is constrained by two factors: the audience’s time (and patience) and space. Advantage often goes to the individual who best leverages both. In the case of a TV interview, strategize your thoughts and practice to maximize those fleeting seconds.

IBPA: Garnering media attention can be a difficult task for indie publishers/author publishers, but you’ve been able to land a good number of opportunities (podcast interviews, magazine articles, TV spots, etc.), can you share tips for other indie publishers about how to garner media attention for your books?

CB: An author [whether self-published or published by a traditional or hybrid press] must aggressively engage—daily—to maintain a book’s visibility with its intended audience. That said, I am a member of the Non-fiction Author’s Association, run by Stephanie Chandler. As a member benefit, I receive a weekly product, Media Leads, which I harvest religiously. That single product is responsible for many of my podcast interviews and some published articles. LinkedIn is another valued source for podcast influencers. Through this venue, in addition to many podcast opportunities, I have landed two major interviews (hour-long, each) on the Federal News Network and that led to three workshops for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, St. Louis, and in the D.C. area. The Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) is another organization I recommend to IBPA members. I’ve been featured in its newsletter and recently delivered to WNBA members a 3-set series of webinars applying Write to Influence! techniques to resumes, performance reviews, post job interview thank you notes, and one tailored to authors of fiction.

Last year, I pitched an article to the magazine published by the Military Officers of America Association (MOAA). The August 2020 edition now carries my fourth article for them, “Write a Standout Performance Review.” By the way, MOAA’s membership is 350,000 strong! Serendipity also helps. An article in the Washington Post profiled the manager of the Central Intelligence Agency’s gift shop and mentioned a podcast he hosted. I contacted him, the interview was fabulous, and my book is now in the gift shop!

IBPA: Did you notice a surge in sales after the interviews?

CB: Essentially, no; I couldn’t correlate the interviews with sales. However, occasionally an individual will state that he/she purchased a copy as a result of a particular interview. Another way to measure success is to recognize opportunities that result from an interview. For example, based on a lead from NFAA, I composed a guest post for C.S. Lakin’s blog (her audience is fiction authors). “Write to Influence! – Spin that Captivating Tale” was so well received, I’m scheduled to present a webinar in October to the San Fernando Valley Branch of the California Writers Club.

IBPA: One of the biggest issues facing independent publishers right now is the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Now that we are several months into this crisis (with no clear end in sight), can you share advice for other independent publishers about how they can weather the impact of the health crisis on their businesses?

CB: I respond here from the perspective of an author-publisher. During this morning’s commute, I experienced an “Ahhh-Haaa” moment. Envision a stool with four legs: production (referring to a book and subsequent products based on it), publication, marketing, and publicity. To be effective, each leg must be sturdy. Lacking strength in one, the stool teeters. Accordingly, I’m fortifying two legs for my own business: production and marketing. Because of the health environment, my focus is completely IT-centered.

Production: I’m in the midst of a major project, long on my bucket list—developing a self-paced, web-based course that covers the first half of Write to Influence! (i.e., strategies and Word Sculpting Tools). The content and script are complete, as is the accompanying workbook; I will record it this summer. I’m also developing smaller courses on grants, resumes, performance reviews, and email. Upon completion, the next step is…marketing!

Marketing: I’m shocked my stool didn’t topple, because my marketing strategy was nascent—no, non-existent! Under the tutelage of Rob Eagar, I’m taking new approaches, which I commend to others. First, develop content magnets—free e-books on my central topics that I’ll offer on Amazon—two completed, one to go. Second, restructure my web page to 1) more prominently feature my workshops, webinars, individual coaching sessions, etc., rather than focus on the book as it does currently and 2) expand my email list by encouraging people to sign up for my newsletter. Third, develop a strategic communication plan for my newsletter, scheduling topics throughout the year so I can better meet the need of my followers. I never considered the newsletter from that perspective, but it makes perfect sense.

IBPA: How are you and your business faring during this health crisis? For example, you normally have writing workshops, so have you had to move those to being virtual instead of in-person?

CB: Responding to your first question—My 4-month furlough presented an unexpected opportunity to tackle major projects, described above. Regarding my many workshops—Thankfully, one was rescheduled as opposed to being cancelled. I was to present at Purdue University’s 2020 International Women’s Conference this summer, now scheduled for May 2021. My other workshops fell victim to COVID-19. Many were through public libraries unable to service their communities via webinars. I lost another valued, long-standing opportunity—a 2-day, hands-on workshop for a corporate client, which I give in NYC and Chicago. The duration of the course and complexity of the material did not translate into a virtual presentation.

Carla Bass gives her presentation, "Powerful Writing for Professionals,"to military officers, enlisted troops, and government civilians.

Finally, I’m an adjunct instructor at the National Intelligence University (NIU), operated by the Defense Intelligence Agency. For the past few years, I presented a series of workshops, “Powerful Writing for Professionals” to military and civilian students and faculty. I’m waiting to see how NIU transitions its operations this fall. Fingers crossed!

On the bright side, I cultivated new opportunities that are appropriate for webinars and I’ve become proficient in this medium. I presented a webinar last week to a group of public librarians, “Write to Influence! – Nail that Grant”…great reviews! I’ve also gained experience engaging audiences in more interactive sessions via IT platforms such as Skype.

IBPA: What benefits have you derived from membership in Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)?

CB: I participated in IBPA’s booth at the BookExpo exposition in NYC in 2017, my first exposure of anything like it. I was shell shocked at the physical magnitude of the show, its intensity, and the size of the crowd. This tremendous learning experience paid dividends weeks later when I participated in IBPA’s booth at the American Library Association (ALA) convention in Chicago. I gained keen strategic insight into working the event, bolstered by excellent advice IBPA provided its members. I was in heaven with my book signing experience at the IBPA booth. I debuted the second edition of Write to Influence! at IBPA’s booth at the ALA convention in Washington, D.C. and enjoyed two book signings at that event.

I competed both editions of my book in the IBPAs Benjamin Franklin Award program. Although I didn’t win, I greatly appreciated receiving the judges’ evaluations and suggestions for improvement—a benefit most other book award programs don’t offer.

I’ve used several of IBPA’s marketing tools such as advertising in Publishers Weekly, IBPA’s Media Outreach Program, IBPA’s NetGalley Program, and IBPA’s Library Market e-Blast Program.

IBPA: Thank you, Carla, for sharing your expertise with the IBPA community!

Click here to learn more about Carla Bass and her books!

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