People were always phoning or writing Don and Bill with requests for more specific instruction. Bill just referred them to Don. Don, though, was getting even more letters and calls than Bill. Finally, the two of them met and decided that they should create a book to go with the new television series. Don introduced Bill to Valerie Lee, an editor and writer at KOCE. She was a skilled writer who knew how to put words onto paper the way Bill put paint onto the canvas. She was able to convert Bill’s words into concise, clear instructions. They planned three “Personal Guides,” one to go with each of the first three Magic of Oil Painting series. Valerie helped create, write, and publish them; and all three became best sellers. Bill was proud of those books. They helped him teach over three hundred-and-fifty thousand viewers in less than four years.
It wasn’t enough, though, to write books. Someone had to handle the increasing volume of mail and make sure those books got delivered. In the beginning, two volunteers at KOCE helped handle the stream of mail which soon became a mighty river! Before long, KOCE hired six more people. What started as a borrowed desk and typewriter soon became a workplace of word processors and computers. The employees called it “Alexanderland”. Everyone was proud of their work, none more so than Bill.
In 1979, KOCE asked Bill to do a new Magic of Oil Painting series, the first one with a special book to go with it. Don got Bill together with a new director, Carrol Ellerbe. Before they met, Don told Bill that Mr. Ellerbe had earned several Emmy awards for his earlier work at NBC. Don wanted Bill to work with Carrol so that they could maximize the use of close ups that were essential to the shows.
Bill was nervous, at first, working with such an esteemed director as Ellerbe. He feared he would be too intimidated and do a poor job.
Ellerbe, though, was the consummate professional and taught Bill how to work with the camera. He helped direct Bill so the camera was always focused on what the viewer needed to see.
Before they started taping, Carrol took Bill aside and told him, “We’re going to make it real easy for you, Bill. Just pretend we’re dancing. You lead and I’ll follow you anyplace you want to go.”
The two of them hit it off right away. Carrol even laughed at Bill’s jokes. The camera crews also got involved in the action. They were always laughing, joking, and swapping stories with each other. When they were ready to tape, there was always someone who would yell, “Okay, Bill, FIRE IN!”
Little did Bill realize at the time that what he was doing in that studio would win the most prestigious award in television.