Journalist and author Bill Tammeus shows us what a virtual book launch can look like in 2021

The launch of author Bill Tammeus’s new Love Loss and Endurance—A 9/11 Story of Hope and Resilience in an Age of Anxiety is so timely and helpful that Bill is finding many opportunities to talk about this book from columns to podcasts and TV reports. For more about the “timely and helpful” nature of this book, see our recent ReadTheSpirit cover story.

After a long career as one of the nation’s top journalists, Bill continues to adapt to innovative forms of media—including a public book launch in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. Bill worked with the Kansas City Library, where he already had established a good working relationship as a presenter. That’s a crucial tip for authors who would like to work more closely with their local libraries: You have a greater chance of succeeding if the librarians already know you and your work. (For more on this crucial tip for authors, see Joe Grimm’s earlier column about how he gave 100 author talks in 10 months.)

In Bill’s case, the library’s Director of Programming Steven Woolfolk hosted the virtual book launch and served as a wonderful moderator for the question-and-answer session with Bill. That was a real challenge because the public nature of the YouTube stream allowed at least a couple of Internet trolls to pop into the chat. Woolfolk deftly dodged the trolls and, throughout the event, Bill was not even aware of their presence. The result was a smooth and up-beat talk.

Because they were comfortable working together, Woolfolk and Tammeus produced a fascinating 50-minute program—which you can see in the video screen below. We have set this rebroadcast of the stream to start with Woolfolk’s words of welcome. (The stream itself was “on” for 26 minutes with a blank title card before the actual program started, which is why we’ve conveniently reset the starting point for you.)

Notice how they carefully divided the time. Bill gives a standard 25-minute author talk combining personal reflections with a short reading from a passage of the book itself. The 25-minute Q&A session includes the following questions that Woolfolk drew from participants’ spontaneous notes they typed into the chat.

Among other questions to which Bill responds:

  • How has the closeness of your personal loss on 9/11 affected your ability to look objectively at what happened?
  • Now, many people have lost lives due to COVID. Do you have advice in this book for people who have lost loved ones in the pandemic?
  • Can you share some of the things that have helped you and your family as you have endured this grief and loss?
  • During the pandemic, are people finding it harder to grieve because we can’t do the things we normally do to grieve a loss?
  • Why is it important to share personal stories like you have in this book to connect us to events on a national or global scale?

Woolfolk and Tammeus have shown us all a model for this kind of event, including the way half of the time was devoted to audience questions and the way in which Bill kept his answers concise enough to allow lots of questions to be raised.

Here is the video, which starts just as Steven Woolfolk welcomes us.

(NOTE: If the embedded video does not play properly on your device, you also can go directly to YouTube to watch the video. And, Bill says that he is open to other requests for speaking engagements, events—or inquiries from other authors who would like to talk about using media more effectively, these days. Email him at [email protected])


About David Crumm

David Crumm is founding Editor of Front Edge Publishing. Nationally, he is known as a veteran journalist—a top writer and editor—with experience both in the U.S. and overseas. He is based in Canton, Michigan, where he also serves as Editor of Read the Spirit online magazine. His columns on trends in media appear twice a month on our Front Edge Publishing website.

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