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Wordeee Perseveres During Pandemic and Launches New Book in TV Interview

Thursday, September 10, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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Wordeee COO Patrice Samara (center with pink jacket) and author Sharla Feldscher (second from right with white coat) appear on the PHL17 morning show to chat about their new book, KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play. Also pictured are the PHL17 staff (far right) and segment guest (far right).

Landing a television interview to promote an independently-published book is difficult in general, but it gets even more complicated during a pandemic. But IBPA member Wordeee masterfully navigated a recent interview to launch their new book, KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play by Sharla Feldscher. Click here to watch the interview.

IBPA spoke to Wordeee COO Patrice Samara about how they landed this opportunity, what tips they have for conducting a successful television interview, and more!


IBPA: You launched KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play on Aug. 27 on WPHL-17 TV (PHL 17) during their morning news show. How did you land this opportunity?

Patrice Samara (PS): Yes, having the launch of this book on WPHL-17 TV was indeed an honor! This is Sharla Feldscher's eighth book and she frequently talks about KIDFUN in the media and has an ongoing segment on that morning show.

That said, the concept of having the book launch of KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play began with pitching the story to the General Manager of the station, Vince Giannini. From there, the concept of doing the launch on WPHL-17 TV was discussed with the Executive Producer Matt Toal and others. The process took many weeks and we presented an intricate plan of exactly how we could execute the various activities while keeping socially distant, wearing masks, and discussing who would be appearing on camera and why.

It goes without saying that the author, Sharla Feldscher, and I, as the publisher, would be on camera to talk about why we published this important book and describe our thought process and our working relationship with the author.

The author deeply believes in giving back to the community, so she wanted Liz Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national charity supporting better treatments and research for a cure for childhood cancer, to appear on camera because she supports Alex's Lemonade Stand and it's mentioned in the book.

What was especially challenging were the security precautions regarding guests invited to the live broadcast and the COVID-19 health/social distancing requirements. Without question, we were all committed to wearing masks on camera. Each aspect of the program was rehearsed and scripted so nothing was left to chance.

IBPA: Why did you decide to make this television appearance the way that you launched the book?

PS: We are living in very challenging times. Generally, an author would be able to have their book launch at a prominent local bookstore and then have a national or local book tour. Not so in the time of COVID-19. A book launch and promotional book tour are not possible at this point in time. The author and I had morning calls at 7:00am (and throughout the day) for months planning this and other promotional activities for the KIDFUN book.

IBPA: Can you share general tips for how someone can conduct a successful television interview?

Sharla Feldscher, Author KIDFUN pictured with (from left to right) Felix, Sloane, Daniel and Bryan.

PS: The author, Sharla Feldscher, is a frequent guest on TV and radio and is a polished speaker. However, she and I collaborated on the messaging to make it current and pertinent to parents and teachers during COVID-19. We chose the most important points to cover and rehearsed them many times. Since we were doing the segment outdoors with social distancing, we worked diligently to create activity areas that would be highly visual and colorful for the camera, yet still observe healthy practices. Basically, we set up KIDFUN "play zones" with five distinct areas for separate activities.

Regarding general media tips, no matter how polished or experienced an author may be, it is critical to get the messaging about the book clear and consistent. It's also important to be aware of wardrobe, makeup, and hair. Not every station has makeup and hair artists available. Be prepared with your own translucent powder to eliminate shine and go for some professional makeup tips so you'll always be looking your best.

Authors should have a varied wardrobe, so they don’t look the same in every interview. Don't wear small patterns or herringbone patterns that can moire on TV. Men should be aware that patterned ties and striped or checked shirts can moire. Test wardrobe and shoes beforehand. They need to look professional yet comfortable. Test what it looks and feels like to sit and get up.

Ladies should think about stockings and hem length. What does it look like if you are sitting down? Does the skirt ride up? Men should be aware of their sock length so their leg is covered if they cross their ankles or legs. If ladies are wearing slacks, they should also test all aspects of their pant length and comfort, standing and sitting. Does your blouse gap when sitting?

Often there's a lot of waiting time in the Green Room. It's important to be well nourished and hydrated, and stay away from over-caffeinating before going on camera.

Finally, while making sure your message is consistent and all names are accurate, be prepared for the interviewer to ask a question that may not be "on script." Are their controversial elements about your book (or about you) that are off-limits? Be prepared to let the interviewer or producer know ahead of time.

Pictured from left, WPHL-17 Morning News Anchor Demetria Green, WPHL-17 Meteorologist Monica Cryan, Wordeee COO Patrice Samara, Author Sharla Feldscher, Ryan Munro, Olivia, WPHL-17 Traffic Anchor Jenna Meissner, and WPHL-17 Morning Anchor Nick Foley.

IBPA: How did the interview go?

PS: The live interview and the segment went beautifully and were very well prepared by the anchors. The segment was an incredible 6 minutes and 30 seconds long, which included a teaser by the Traffic Commentator, Jenna Meisner.

The weather cooperated and we were in a large outdoor area that accommodated social distancing. It was a very special experience when all of the other WPHL-17 TV anchors and producers came out to the set at the end of the segment.

IBPA: Have you launched other books on TV before?

PS: Jay Manuel launched his book, The Wig, The B*tch & The Meltdown, live on livesigning.com presented by Premiere Collectibles. It was an awesome, live experience, and the next best thing to having a huge in-person launch, which was impossible because of COVID-19.

Other Wordeee authors have done virtual book signings, utilized the Wordeee Author's Lounge to have virtual events, Facebook live sessions, and press tours. The KIDFUN launch on WPHL-17 TV was a very important precedent-setter in terms of length and exposure!

IBPA: Can you share tips for how an indie publisher/author can become a media personality in their area of expertise?

PS: First and foremost, as a publisher or an author, it is important to have a well-written, well-edited, and well-designed book with a memorable cover. The printing should be elegant. Paper choice and finishes are critical to stand out in a highly competitive market place. Statistics from Statista in 2019 have shown that there are over 45,860 writers and authors in the United States, and almost 2 million books were published by traditional publishers / self-published books in 2019.

Here are some important questions: Have you built up your social media and professional presence prior to the launch of your book? Are you a noted and recognized expert in your field? If not, you should possibly consider teaming up with someone that could lend credibility to your endeavor or subject matter.

Start preparing your media campaign as soon as the manuscript is completed. Look at ways to get recognition for your work in professional journals or trade magazines. Write op-eds. Build up your social media presence by friending and commenting on the pages of those who would have interest in your topic. Make YouTube your friend with well-produced short segments.

Invest in yourself and use professionals. Just because someone has an iPhone does not mean they are a producer. Start in your local market and branch out from there. There are actually 100's of ways to up your "Q" rating [a Q-Rating is the measurement of the familiarity and appeal of a brand, celebrity, company, or entertainment product].

Most importantly, consider working with a top-notch PR professional. Most authors think that writing their manuscript was the hardest part. It’s critical is to pat yourself on the back for completing your work, take a breath, and take a deep dive into promotion.

IBPA: Did you notice an obvious bump in sales after the TV appearance or buzz about the book on social media?

PS: Yes, there was a bump in awareness and, of course, sales since it was DAY 1, the actual book launch. The author received over 1,000 views of the video within the first few hours, 100's of personal emails, plus additional communication on Facebook and Linkedin. She heard from business colleagues and friends that she had not spoken to in years.

The segment has led to the author writing a number of editorials, requests for personal appearances (all will be virtual now and in person as health restrictions change), and an on-going video series called a "KIDFUN Minute" for an educational nonprofit. This is just the beginning. We are aware that the momentum must be supercharged well beyond the initial launch.

IBPA: Can you share tips for other independent publishers about how to land a TV show opportunity to launch a book?

PS: What we did with KIDFUN was ideal and came from years of nurturing relationships. The most important thing is to have an experienced PR team that will be passionate and committed to you and your book. In today's competitive marketplace, a cookie cutter approach to PR will not work. Being creative, focused, and consistent is critical.

Network and cultivate relationships with the press and social media. It can sometimes take many, many tries to get in front of the right person. All your promotional materials need to be well-designed and stand out.

IBPA: The COVID-19 health crisis has caused difficulties for publishers in launching new books. How did Wordeee adjust the marketing of this book during the pandemic?

PS: This is Sharla Feldscher's eighth book. The idea of doing a new book was "hatched" prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We actually started talking around February 2019 because I became aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation on limiting digital media time for young children. I knew that KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play used household items and did not include the use of electronic/digital media. In our 24/7 world where everyone is busy, I was sure that parents and teachers would appreciate having everything organized for them and clearly written out… sort of a recipe book for play. As we got closer to the release date, the COVID-19 pandemic was looming large. We pivoted the message to include a message of "Now, more than ever, play is important for a child's growth and emotional well-being."

We reached out to prominent people in the field of pediatrics, head of schools, a Doctor of Psychology, and others that supported Sharla's book so we could widen the net.

IBPA: Speaking of the COVID-19 health crisis, now that we are a few 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?

PS: The most important thing is to be flexible and know your strengths. Do a SWOT analysis, which is a strategic planning technique used to help companies identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In the time of COVID-19, look for collaborations and partnerships that can enhance your business. Be a constant networker and keep up with prior business relationships. Be conservative fiscally but be creative. Make sure that you have applied for all grants and entitlements for your business. This too shall pass.

IBPA: How are you and your business faring during this health crisis?

PS: At Wordeee, we have been fortunate. As an online portal, we and our outstanding technical team have been planning a robust platform.

When the worldwide health crisis loomed large, we looked at all of our systems and made sure we were prepared.

Importantly, we stay in close touch with our authors. We have some outstanding new books coming out in many genres. On August 3, we launched The Wig, The B*tch & The Meltdown by Jay Manuel (former host of America's Next Top Model) and it zoomed in sales and recognition.

Our next big launch will be on October 15 with A Blessing: Women of Color Teaming Up to Lead, Empower and Thrive by Bonita Stewart and Jacqueline C. Adams. It is timely and an extraordinary work. The book includes a proprietary study and analysis that was over four years in the making. The authors are deeply committed to their work and see the enormous potential for the impact it will have on readers and influence in business and the world of education.

As their publisher, The Wig… and A Blessing… could not be more different, but my partner Marva Allen, CEO of Wordeee, and I are dedicated to their success and to the success of each and every other one of our books. Our goal is to give Wordeee authors the tools and mentoring so that they can control their own success. Wordeee's tagline is "where words connect" meaning that we believe it all begins with the word in every form: books, poems, lyrics, plays, movies and much more. We see a bright future.

IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?

PS: I have been involved with IBPA for many years. When I was first starting out in publishing, a mentor suggested that I join IBPA. It is a great resource and educational body. I have taken advantage of being part of the IBPA booth at book fairs and author signings. Additionally, the trade resources have been invaluable. Happily, questions I may have are generally answered by Terry Nathan and others who are so knowledgeable. It's truly refreshing to be able to have the camaraderie and know that one can receive solid and practical, detailed information that can translate to your bottom line!

IBPA: In addition to the books you mentioned above, do you have any other new books coming out soon?

PS:

September - The Untold Story of Itsy Bitsy's Long, Emotional Day by Jill Leibowitz. Psy.D.

October - A trio poetry board books by Anne Marie Brown:
Foxy Moxy
Goodnight Little Owlet
Hazel's First Winter

IBPA: Thank you for sharing your story and expertise with the IBPA community, Patrice!

Click here to learn more about independent publisher Wordeee!


Share your publishing news with the IBPA community! Send news about events or accomplishments to christopher@ibpa-online.org. For more details about the types of stories we're seeking, click here.

Keep in mind that we reserve Spotlights for major news (such as, you published a book about space exploration and now it's being read in a live video feed by astronauts from the International Space Station), unique news (such as, you published a book about cycling and now the author is riding a bike across the U.S. for their book tour), or human interest stories (such as, you visit shelters every weekend to read books to the dogs and cats there).

Though launching a new book isn’t the focus of our Spotlights articles, IBPA is happy to share that exciting news on social media. Please contact christopher@ibpa-online.org with the launch date, your book cover, your book title, your book's genre, a link to where readers can learn more about your book, and your Twitter handle.

For good news in general about your publishing company (your book received a wonderful editorial review, you have an upcoming speaking engagement, etc.), use the hashtag #IBPAmemberGoodNews on Twitter and IBPA will amplify your good news!

Whether you have news or not, all of us at IBPA are cheering you on!


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