Author James Gordon on Publishing & Marketing His Work

BoboG.P.A. (Greatest Poet Alive), aka James Gordon, is a Chicago poet, performer, storyteller, and most recently, a children’s book author — and that’s just to name a few of the big items on his resume. His newest book, Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader, has received top ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. James was also recently nominated for Poet of the Year in the National Poetry awards, and you can vote for him here.

Camera in hand, I sat down with James to discuss publishing, the live lit scene, and the writing life at Muldoon’s Irish Pub in Wheaton, IL. This post is the first part of our lively discussion, and is focused on publishing — stay tuned to read and view more clips from our interview with G.P.A.

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James Gordon’s journey as a published poet and author began in 2007, when he published his first book of poems, A Confessional Heart of a Man. He’d always written poems (though, he confesses, he at first wrote them to woo women), but his dad had always told him to write a book. He set a deadline for himself, allowing only 30 days, and stuck to it. When it came time to publish, he went the route of subsidy publishing. He wrote, edited, and marketed the book himself, and hired a company to help him print it. “I just got my book out and I was happy,” says James. “I didn’t know there would be a second book or a fourth book or fifth of sixth book, anthologies — I didn’t know that. But I love writing.”

Though he didn’t see it coming, James has had a lot of success publishing his own work. But he admits it took time to get used to the idea of book marketing and promotion: “It wasn’t until the progression of time [after my first book] and networking with people that I said ‘Hey, you know what, you’ve got to have something in your budget for promotion,’” says James. “You’ve got to give away something free sometimes, as part of the promotion, to garner readers. So it was a learning process.” Recognizing that no one could be a bigger advocate of his work than himself, he set out to promote his work by immersing himself in Chicago’s literary scene. He performed in live lit events, promoted himself and his work on social media, and attended as many events as possible — putting his books directly into the hands of readers.

“I believe nobody pushes you like you push you,” says James. “I’m aggressive . . . I’m always looking for opportunities because the opportunities are always there. Facebook and Twitter, your social network — they’re all always opportunities.”

It wasn’t until Hi, My Name is Bobo, that James changed up his promotional habits. With his previous work being a sensual book of poetry, James surprised his fans and reviewers with a book for children. Instead of promoting it online and at events before it was available to readers, James waited until it was published to share it with his fans. The sudden change in genre caught the attention of readers, who were excited to see his range as a writer. James says the book is the first in a series, and readers will soon hear more from Bobo.

Watch the video clip to learn hear what James has learned from publishing and promoting his own work.

 

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Marcy Farrey is a storyteller with a passion for all things literary and independent. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. Despite living in Illinois most of her life, she only recently became an official resident of the City of Chicago. She spent the first two years of her career working as a one-man band TV news reporter and producer, and she's still recovering. She now works as a corporate communications professional in Chicago.

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