No. 074 The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

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No. 074 The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

Pamela Wilson just launched a book — Master Content Marketing — and a podcast played a key role in the project from idea inception to launch. She dishes on the details in this episode of The Showrunner.

In this lesson, Pamela describes how she:

  • “Showed her work” every step of the way with ZeroToBook.FM
  • Developed a community around the show, which informed the production of her book
  • Is considering using the audio asset once it’s complete

You’ll learn a lot from this episode, even if you’re not planning to write a book.

Listen, learn, enjoy …

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

No. 074 The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM.

Jerod Morris: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready?

Welcome back to The Showrunner. This is episode No. 74. I’m your host, Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and I will be joined momentarily, as I always am, by my coffee-connoisseuring co-host, Jonny Nastor, the host of Hack the Entrepreneur, as well as by a special guest that we have with us on this week’s episode of The Showrunner.

This episode is brought to you by Acuity Scheduling. Acuity Scheduling makes scheduling meetings online easy. Clients can view your real-time availability, self-book appointments with you, fill out forms, and even pay you online. To learn more and get a 45-day free trial, visit AcuityScheduling.com/Showrunner.

Mr. Nastor, how are you?

Jonny Nastor: I’m doing excellent.

Jerod Morris: Good.

Jonny Nastor: I’m drinking tea. I feel like I don’t want to tell you that as a coffee-connoisseuring co-host.

Jerod Morris: Didn’t you look at the notes before we started to know what kind of beverage would be appropriate for this episode?

Jonny Nastor: I haven’t had tea in a week, and right now, I decided to have tea. I really should have read the notes first, Jerod.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. You should have. All right. We’ll have to incorporate your new-found love of tea in next week’s introduction. We’ll do that.

Jonny, we’re both very excited for this episode. We’re doing a little bit something different. Obviously, most of these episodes of The Showrunner are us on here, talking and sharing our experiences, but today, we’re bringing in a guest, one who has a very interesting story to share with us. It deals with the production of a book. We’ve talked about producing books before. Obviously, I produced one with The Assembly Call. You produced one with Hack the Entrepreneur.

A little bit different strategies there, but in this episode, we’re going to get a completely different perspective than that one. That is from Pamela Wilson, who has a new book coming out. It’s called Master Content Marketing, which you can find out more information about at MasterContentMarketing.com. A podcast played a really unique role in this book’s development, and as I said, a different, unique role from the ones that we have talked about before. That’s why we’re really excited to have her on here to share her story and lend this perspective.

Pamela, welcome to The Showrunner. It’s great to have you.

Pamela Wilson: Thank you so much for inviting me. I cannot wait to share how this podcast ended up being this really integral part of the whole book promotion process and the production process, really. It turned into something way more interesting than what I would have predicted.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. We’re excited to dive into that. That will be the main topic of this week’s episode. Jonny, Pamela, are you ready to dive in?

Jonny Nastor: I’m ready.

Pamela Wilson: Let’s do it.

Jerod Morris: All right. Let’s do it.

Pamela, I guess to start, just share the story with us. Tell us how the idea of Zero to Book came about. Zero to Book is the podcast that went along with the launch of this book, Master Content Marketing. How did that come about, and what were you hoping to accomplish?

How Pamela “Showed Her Work” Every Step of the Way with ZeroToBook.FM

Pamela Wilson: I had wanted to write a book for a long time, and it came to a head last fall. I was on a short personal trip to New York City, and I took part of that trip to put together a book proposal. Somebody had given me her agent’s name. I went through and put together a full book proposal, which forces you to think through exactly what you want to do with the book, so it’s this multi-page document. I was on my way back to Nashville. I was actually in the Newark Airport about to go through security.

I’m like, “You know what? I’m just going to send this out to her because I think it’s finished, and it may take her a few days to get back to me. I’ll just send it out now, and then I’ll do my trip. Maybe in a couple of days, I’ll hear from her.” I send this off, and I closed my laptop, stick it in my backpack, and go through security. By the time I got out to my gate, she was asking if we could have a quick phone call.

Jerod Morris: Wow.

Pamela Wilson: I know. I was like, “Well, sure.” So she gets on the phone, and she made me an offer. She wanted to represent me. That was when I realized, “Oh, maybe I’ve actually got something here,” but I’d never written a book before. I had no clue what I was doing, so I started reaching out to people. In the process of talking to different people, I made the decision to self-publish — which I think was the best way to go with this book — but self-publishing means that there are that many more things that you have to figure out for yourself.

It’s just complex. Having an agent means that the agent takes on a lot of those responsibilities, and I was going to have to do them myself. I was feeling a little insecure, a little unsure about what to do, so I reached out to Jeff Goins, who is local. He’s also in Nashville. He’s a best-selling author and has built a business around helping people to write books and become better writers.

I reached out to him. I sent him an email, and I said, “Listen. I’m just looking for somebody who I can ask questions of as I go through this process because I’m anticipating that I’ll have some questions. Do you know anyone who could help?” He wrote me back the shortest email that I received in 2015.

It said, “Me.” I was like, “Oh, well, that would be awesome.” So we get on the phone, and he said, “I would be happy to help you. But look, if we’re going to do this, we should do it live, and we should record our conversations so that other people can benefit from what you’re learning, other people who want to write books can benefit from what I’m coaching you through.”

I thought that was such a smart idea. I take zero credit for the idea, really. He came up with the idea of making this into a podcast. I thought of the Zero to Book name, but that’s easy because I’m a branding person. Those things come naturally to me.

Anyway, we put together this podcast, started recording in at the beginning of January as I just was starting the process of the book. It has been such an amazing movement, really, because a lot of people have gathered around this project — and we can talk more about this. I’ve channeled them toward this free member thing that they signed up for, and they were able to participate in the production process. It has just made it a much more interesting, much more community-based project than it would have been. Writing a book tends to be a very solitary act, so this made it more of a community thing. I loved it.

Jerod Morris: This is a podcast about podcasting, so I do want to dive into the details of how you set up Zero to Book, what the format was. Then you mentioned this community that built up around it. Can you explain some of those specifics about this and your thought process that went into them?

The Setup of Zero to Book: How an Open Question Format Fueled the Show

Pamela Wilson: Okay. Seriously, Jerod, this was the easiest podcast ever, and I’m going to tell you why. It’s because Jeff Goins is one of those people who … I’m sorry, Jeff, I hope you’re not going to take this the wrong way, but I have told people he’s like a wind-up doll.

You just wind this key on his back by asking him a question, and then he gives this super-smart answer with all these citations and all these websites that you can go to for more information. You basically just have to show up with a good question, and then he just spins out and talks for five or 10 minutes. All I had to do was think of questions, and that was so easy because I had a lot of questions.

I think the other thing that I did was I tried to basically ask all the embarrassing questions that new authors might have, and they might be too embarrassed to ask. I just was like, “I’m not going to be embarrassed,” because it’s helping someone when I ask these stupid questions.

It’s going to help somebody who’s listening, so you have to be willing to be a little bit humble about the whole thing and just ask the questions that are knocking around in your brain — and also maybe confess to the fears that you have and the worries that you have. It’s all in the name of helping your community who might get something from the information.

Jonny Nastor: Did you map it out beforehand? I think you said 16 episodes once you put out this last one, or 26 episodes?

Pamela Wilson: It’s 26. It’s going to be 26 altogether.

Jonny Nastor: How structured was it?

Pamela Wilson: No, it wasn’t structured at all, Jonny. It was not structured.

Jonny Nastor: Fair enough.

The Unstructured Nature of the Show vs. a Structured Writing Process

Pamela Wilson: Seriously, my writing process was very structured, so I had that all mapped out. I had the writing. I had set a deadline that I wanted the book to release in October 2016. One of the things that Jeff helped me to do early on was to reverse-engineer the production schedule, so I knew how much time I needed, basically how much time I had to write the first draft of the book, and then how much time the original editing process would take, how much time the revisions would need, how much time a proofreader would need. He just helped, and that was one of my big questions, “How much time do I need to blackout for this?”

That piece of it was structured. In that sense, I knew that every couple of weeks, I would show up with questions about whatever phase I was at, but seriously, it was just like, “Okay. What am I going to ask him this week?” and I would write down three to five questions. That was the whole thing. Then we would get 30 minutes out of the handful of questions. You use good conversation practices, so he starts to talk. He mentions something. You insert a follow up-question.

If anything seems the least bit confusing, you make sure you ask a follow-up question so that, that confusion is not sitting in the mind of your listener, things like that, but it was super easy. I had done a podcast before on the Rainmaker.FM network that was very involved, multiple guests, and very involved, had an overarching theme. I made it really, really complex, and I ended up having to stop doing that because I was put in charge of Copyblogger, and my time just didn’t allow for it.

This was super easy. It was really just show up with your questions and ask the expert your questions, and then turn that key on his back and let him spin and answer your questions. It was super easy.

Jerod Morris: I was going to say, that’s such a great lesson. Make your show only as complicated and complex as it needs to be. Keep it as simple as possible because, a lot of times, the best content comes from that, and it makes it easier on you.

Pamela Wilson: Yes. Absolutely, and that allowed me — even in the midst of a pretty large project that I was doing on my off time — I mean, I wrote this book. It was not on company time. It was a personal project, and I was having to fit it in around all my other responsibilities. It was a little bit overwhelming to think, “Okay. Not only am I going to fulfill my responsibilities in my full-time job, but I’m also going to do this personal project on the side — and I’m going to create a podcast that talks about the whole thing while I’m doing it.”

But it was really easy, and it was always valuable to me. It was information that I wanted to know so that I could complete the project, so it was super helpful.

Jonny Nastor: I was going to say, I think that that’s probably also for the accountability’s sake. It’s a brilliant way to do it. How many people have started a book and have it half-finished on their laptop somewhere? You really gave yourself no option, put your back against the wall. “We’re launching a podcast as I write a book, and I’m going to launch the book.” You basically couldn’t stop halfway through.

Pamela Wilson: Oh absolutely, yeah. All these people were watching. I had to finish it, so yeah, it’s a huge motivator.

Jerod Morris: Exactly. All right. Pamela, you mentioned that there was a community that built up around this. I want to ask you about that, about how you used the podcast, how you’re using it to launch the book because the launch is happening actually as we speak. Well, not as we speak, but as people are listening to this episode. But first, real quick, I do want to take a quick break and let folks know about Acuity Scheduling, the sponsor for this week’s episode of The Showrunner.

You know how challenging the back and forth of booking appointments, meetings, and podcast guests can be, and in fact, Pamela, this is a lesson that I learned from you — which was the importance of using scheduling software to schedule meetings. This is not something that I did probably a year, a year and a half ago. Whenever you and I would schedule meetings, you always would have a nice link to go to, and then I would go pick out an easy date on the calendar. It was so simple, and it made it so easy. That’s the thing. What if you never had to ask, “What time works for you?” again? That’s what Acuity Scheduling makes easy.

They make the entire process of scheduling appointments easy. It works with your existing Google Office 365, iCloud, or Outlook Calendar. Clients can view your availability, self-book appointments, complete onboarding forms, and even submit payment, so you can get back to running your business. It helps you avoid no shows with automatic texts and email reminders. It’s simple to use, and they offer phenomenal customer support. Go to AcuityScheduling.com/Showrunner to start booking all of your meetings with zero hassle right now.

Paid plans start at just $10 a month, which Showrunner listeners can access a free 45-day trial of Acuity Scheduling’s stress-free schedule management. That’s a month and a half for free just by using AcuityScheduling.com/Showrunner when you sign up. We thank them for their support of The Showrunner.

Pamela, this episode is going live Wednesday, October 26th, so your book will have just been released. Correct?

Pamela Wilson: Yes. That’s right.

Jerod Morris: We should reiterate, for folks who want information on the book to order the book, it’s MasterContentMarketing.com. How has the podcast played a role in the launch? Did you build an audience around the podcast that you will be targeting with the book once it is out? How did that entire process play out?

How Pamela Developed a Community Around the Show, Which Informed the Production of Her Book

Pamela Wilson: Yeah. It’s interesting because, as you know, it’s not super easy to target a podcast audience — unless you’ve sent them to a website. One of the ideas that came out early in the process of the podcast is Jeff was talking to me about … the thing that’s awesome about Jeff is he’s very well-connected to other authors, and he knows what people have done in their launches. He’s a keen observer of what people are doing around books to promote them.

One of the things he mentioned is that several authors have done this thing where they build a community around the book. They post chapters as they write them, and then they get feedback on those chapters. I loved that idea. Because this project was not complex enough, I went ahead and added another layer of complexity and created this member section of my website on Big Brand System called The Book Factory.

What I did is post the chapters as I wrote them. They were first drafts, and I told everyone, “These are decent first drafts, but they haven’t been through an editor. They haven’t been through a proofreader, so you will see mistakes.”

Again, you have to be a little bit humble about it and just not realize that it’s not going to be perfect and manage expectations around that, but I built up a community of more than 900 people who went through, read chapters of the book, gave me feedback. Some of the early feedback was crucial to how I ended up structuring the book.

I had some ideas early on, and I just asked them for feedback. There was one chapter that I wasn’t sure if it actually fit in the book because it’s kind of about content marketing, but it’s a side topic in a way. It’s equally important, but it’s kind of a side topic. So I asked them, “What do you think? Should this chapter be in there?”

People loved that particular chapter. I ended up taking it out of the main flow of the book and putting it into an appendix, but it’s still in the book. It stayed in the book because people gave me the feedback that they really liked it. The most important chapters have checklists at the end of them, and I handled those checklists differently based on feedback that I got from Book Factory members. It was fantastic to have that feedback and communication with potential readers. It was really important, and it ended up being a great way to capture people who were listening to the podcast.

Every podcast episode, we would say, “If you want to read chapters of the book as it’s being written, visit The Book Factory,” and we would give the URL. It was just a great way to take the community that was listening and turn them into people you could talk to.

Jonny Nastor: It’s a great, great idea, and I realized when you were talking that MasterContentMarketing.com redirects to your site.

Pamela Wilson: Yes.

Jonny Nastor: I guess it’s an easier URL to say and for people to hear.

Pamela Wilson: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: So you’re grabbing people’s email, getting them to register for free bonuses during pre-launch. How are you going to change your strategy? The book sells a lot and does well for exposure at a launch, but this is an evergreen piece of content you created. That’s going to go on for years. How do you think you’ll change your strategy, say, even in the next three to six months with those people whose emails you’re grabbing since you’re no longer in the process of writing?

How Pamela Is Considering Using the Audio Asset Once It’s Complete

Pamela Wilson: Right. What’s so interesting that I learned from Jeff from this whole process of doing the podcast and getting the live coaching is, he said, “Launches are important when it comes to books. Launches are very important, but probably the most important thing that they do is they create awareness about the book.” So a book doesn’t have a lot of urgency around it built in. Once a book is out, the book is out, and it’s always available. It’s not like you’re going to take the book off the market, close the doors to the book and make it unavailable, or anything like that.

Once it’s out, it’s out. What you want to do at the beginning is create some urgency, and there are ways to do that. For example, I’m offering a free webinar to people who sign up for the bonus content between now and the end of the month. That’s hopefully to motivate people to get off the fence and make a commitment to buy the book so that they can join me on this free webinar.

You can do things like that, but he said, “In the big scheme of things, what you do after the launch is over is probably more important.” You end up getting more long-tail sales that happen after the launch than what you might get during the launch.

He quoted some figures. I think it was 20 percent of his sales in the first year were from the launch, and then the other 80 percent happened after the launch. I think it depends on your goal for the book. My goal for this book was never to hit a best-seller list. I think when you pick a really niche topic, like content marketing for people who don’t consider themselves writers, that’s a pretty niche topic, right?

Jonny Nastor: Yeah.

Pamela Wilson: It’s not how to find the love of your life, how to lose the last 10 pounds, or whatever. It’s not going to be something that appeals to the entire universe. It’s a slice of humanity that’s going to be interested in this book, so I never had these illusions that I was going to hit some big best-seller list. It was mostly that I wanted to share this information with people who really needed it.

I’m hoping it does well, but my ultimate goal wasn’t a best-seller list. It was to have this thing that I could offer over time, maybe eventually build additional products around, and things like that.

Jerod Morris: You said something interesting there — something that you have over time that you could build additional products around. With this book, you’ve created an intellectual property asset. Our friend Joanna Penn, who was at Digital Commerce Summit, that is a term that she uses often. It strikes me that you’ve also done the same thing with the podcast, so I’m really curious what your plans are, what you’d love to do with the podcast.

Now you have this sitting out there, and just because you launched the book and may not have any future episodes of the podcast, that doesn’t mean that this entire podcast series is irrelevant. This is still great content that you guys have. What are the plans, and did you put anything in place to future-proof it or make it evergreen so that the calls to action will remain relevant even after the book has launched?

Future-Proofing the Podcast

Pamela Wilson: That’s a good question. Yeah, it’s interesting because this is probably a slightly different podcast than many people’s podcasts. This was a project podcast. I always knew, we always knew, that it was going to have a beginning and an end, and it would end once the project wrapped up. But the great thing is, the podcast will live on forever.

As far as we know, that digital content will be available for a long time — as long as it continues to be hosted and offered. People who want to write books three years from now should be able to listen — from the first episode all the way through to the end — understand how the process develops, get their questions answered as they go along, and all of that.

It is in that sense very evergreen. I don’t plan to take down any of the website pages or sections that I created and that were mentioned that I have some control over. None of those are going to go away, so if people find the podcast in a couple of years, they should still be able to join The Book Factory, get access to the original chapters, and things like that — in case anyone wants to geek out on my first drafts. I can’t imagine why they would do that. But we tried to keep it evergreen.

Since the big purpose of the podcast was to get the book out, right now, my focus is definitely on giving it the best possible chance in its first couple of weeks of public life. But I could potentially see a lot of things that could happen with that podcast.

It’s something your listeners might think about — that if you do have a podcast that’s a project-based podcast, that has a beginning and an end, you can be putting it together and thinking about how that eventually could be a course. It could be sent out episode by episode in an autoresponder. You could build supplementary materials that you put on show notes pages. There’s a lot of potential for how you could take a project-based podcast and turn it into something else.

Jerod Morris: Oh yeah. Like you said, you’re in branding. The Zero to Book branding is great. You can almost take the transcripts and turn that into its own book, Zero to Book.

Pamela Wilson: That would be interesting. Oh, Jerod, giving me all these ideas.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, because that’s what we need is more projects to work on and more great ideas, right?

Pamela Wilson: I know. I don’t have enough going on, yeah.

Jerod Morris: We only have a few minutes left, Pamela, but you’ve given us great insight about the podcast. We really appreciate it. Any general thoughts just about the book, the process of writing the book? Maybe one key thing you learned that surprised you or something that you would do differently. Again, this is something that Jonny and I have talked about and experienced ourselves over the past year, and I know that a lot of our listeners, it’s something they’re thinking about doing, too. Any insight for the aspiring authors out there who may be thinking about going down this road?

Pamela’s Advice for Aspiring Authors

Pamela Wilson: I think one of the best things in retrospect — at the time, I didn’t know how important it was — but in retrospect, one of the best things I did is I gave myself 12 weeks to write the first draft. That’s always where I hear people getting stuck is, “I’m halfway through the first draft, and I gave up on it.” I am telling you, halfway through the first draft, it is so tempting to give up on it. It’s really hard because you’ve put in all this work. Sometimes if you don’t have a strong idea at the very beginning … our first three or four episodes are about creating the big idea for your book.

When we did them, I was like, “Why are we still talking about the big idea?” It turns out getting your big idea really fleshed out so that it’s very compelling is a super important step in this whole process. When you hit that middle point of the first draft, it’s so easy to lose sight of what you’re doing and lose enthusiasm. I gave myself these 12 weeks because he helped me figure out the production schedule. I knew if I wanted to stay on track, I needed to have the first draft written in 12 weeks. That was really good.

Honestly, once you have the first draft written, it’s like your raw material is done, and then it’s a matter of shaping that raw material, polishing it so that it works better working with your … I’ve worked with a structural editor, and that person helps you, in some cases, to rearrange how things are presented so that they make the most sense for the reader. That ended up being a good thing — just giving myself a tight deadline to push through and get that first draft written.

Jerod Morris: Very nice.

Jonny Nastor: That pre-idea, that pre, getting that big idea, that’s showrunners, too. If you’re not doing a project-based podcast like you did, Pamela, you’re going to hit those dips where it’s hard, and if you haven’t worked on that — we’ve never called it the ‘big idea,’ but getting your USP and all those things aligned properly, I don’t think you’re ever going to push through those dips, which is the same with writing that first draft. You hit those dips that it’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to do this.”

Pamela Wilson: Yeah. One of the things Jeff talked about a lot is it’s not just that the idea is solid, it’s that it’s interesting in a way that people find intriguing, that they say, “Hmm, that’s kind of interesting. I want to learn more.” That’s the feeling you need to evoke if you want to get someone to pick up a book and make a commitment to buying it. It can’t just be the usual thing. You need to have some kind of angle that’s just interesting and intriguing. We talked a lot about that.

If anyone is interested — even if you’re not interested in writing a book, but you are forming a podcast idea — you might want to listen to the first few episodes of Zero to Book because we talk a lot about it. Jeff, like I said, turn the key on Jeff. He cites all sorts of authors and studies, and we have links on the show notes. There’s a lot of really good material about formulating a big idea that ends up being very compelling.

Jerod Morris: I’m seeing all kinds of brand extensions here, Zero to Podcast. You could take this a lot of different ways, Pamela.

Jonny Nastor: Zero to Podcast is awesome.

Jerod Morris: I know.

Pamela Wilson: We’re going to have to talk offline about that, Jerod. That sounds great, yeah.

Jerod Morris: Yes, we are.

Pamela Wilson: Yeah. I love that kind of stuff.

Jerod Morris: Pamela, thank you for your insight. Again, the URL for the book is MasterContentMarketing.com. You can listen to the podcast at ZeroToBook.FM, correct? That is the URL?

Pamela Wilson: Yes.

Jerod Morris: Excellent. Well, Pamela, best of luck with the launch. It’s been a pleasure having you on The Showrunner.

Pamela Wilson: Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about the role the podcast had in the book. It was not anything I expected, but it ended up being just a delightful experience. It was really wonderful.

Jerod Morris: Good, good. All right, everybody. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Showrunner.

Make sure that you go to Showrunner.FM. Join the email list so that you get our weekly newsletter, and we will be back next week with another brand-new episode. We will talk to you then.

Jonny Nastor: Take care.

Jerod Morris: Seriously, though, there’s so much that you could do, just with the existing podcast.

Pamela Wilson: I know.

Jonny Nastor: It’s also cool that you don’t have to have that plan leading into it.

Jerod Morris: Yes.

Pamela Wilson: That’s the nice thing about books. It’s one of the things that I’m really enjoying. Jerod, you know how it is. We have a lot of stuff that’s coming at us all day long, and books just feel like they have a completely different pace, you know?

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Pamela Wilson: It’s a longer term project that you can devote a lot of time to, and you can just let them develop naturally. I have thought about courses related to the content of the book. A course related to the content of the podcast would be awesome as well, but it’s like you said. That doesn’t have to happen next week. There’s a lot going on right now, and it can happen in a few months. That gives your audience an opportunity to tell you what they’re most interested in as well.

Jerod Morris: Right. Yeah, absolutely. Hey, by the way, we always keep the recording going after we officially wrap. That was good stuff. Do you mind if we keep that in?

Pamela Wilson: Go for it. Yeah, totally.

Jerod Morris: Behind the scenes with The Showrunner. This is for all the folks who listen all the way to the end. We like to give them a little extra.

Pamela Wilson: We like those folks. They’re persistent.

Jerod Morris: We do.

Pamela Wilson: Yes.

Jerod Morris: We do. All righty. Well, thank you, Pamela. This was great.

Pamela Wilson: You’re welcome.

Jonny Nastor: And congratulations on the book. Well done.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, no kidding.

Pamela Wilson: Thank you.

114 episodes