Friday, November 6, 2015

Adventures with Shameless Self-Promotion by Gerry Walker

Morgan says: When Gerry Walker launched his second self-pub book, due to the timing (specifically, he was running ahead of schedule) he decided to do a two-stage launch. In this second installment of G's adventures, we'll see how placing himself in a high traffic area at a conference and executing a 'soft launch / pre-launch' helped to broaden the reach (exposure) of his book. Thanks, again, G for sharing your experiences!

Gerry Walker says: 
The following is merely an account of my marketing experience thus far pertaining to my new novel. The experience has just begun, but here’s what’s happened so far.

At the time of this post’s creation, my novel, OOGA BOOGA, had been on the market for nearly two months. This time out the gate, significant (non-)strategies were adopted that had not been utilized during the release of my first novel. Significant Marketing (Non-)strategies.

Yes, marketing. For some reason, to me it’s always been a four-letter word, and not one of the fun ones. “I’m an artist, and marketing just seems so slimy,” I would tell myself. But for an unknown, self-pub’d author, not marketing my book and my brand proved to be a big mistake the first time around. It’s actually a wonder my first book even got read.

With OOGA BOOGA, I decided to do things a bit differently. First, about three months before publication, I updated my email address with a signature that informs recipients of the novel’s release. I dusted off my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and started posting stuff. Just stuff – it really didn’t matter what. “Stuff” is after all what social media outlets mainly consist of, and somebody’s reading it – and sharing it. So I figured, why not join the party?

OOGA BOOGA (notice how many times I’ve already mentioned the title? Call me slimy if ya want…) has a kick-butt cover, so when I received it, I posted it on my blog and all of my outlets. Friends, and people I didn’t even know re-posted it over and over again. And the book hadn’t even reached its final edit phase. This was encouraging.

NOTE: let me tell you what I did wrong here. My Facebook account was initially set up to share my posts with “Friends Only”, which meant – unbeknownst to me – that whenever a friend shared something I posted, it would only go to people who were also my friends. The problem was corrected quickly, but dang. Don’t do that.

Next, I researched book conferences and found a popular one in Atlanta. Only problem was, it was literally occurring the next weekend. I had missed the registration period and therefore hadn’t signed up for it. But did that stop me? Nope. If I could grapple with social media, I could do anything. So I printed up a few hundred postcards with that lovely book cover graphic on them, logged onto Priceline, got myself a cheap plane ticket from NYC to ATL, and flew down to the conference.

Look who I bumped into...Ceelo Green!
Check out what he's holding in his hand!
I was careful to be seen, but not to step onto the official conference grounds. Didn’t want to get kicked out. But I guess my faux-hawk and bright slacks stood out, because conference attendees – including many bestselling authors – approached me. All I did was sit in the hotel lobby, smile, and give a postcard to anyone who looked literate. While doing so, I also struck up cool conversations with great people who even posed with me and my postcard (“Instagram, yo!”); people like Walter Mosley, Eric Jerome Dickey, Luther Campbell and Ceelo Green.
Here’s another thing - though my book wouldn’t be available to purchase for another three weeks, I released it FOR FREE on my website. I mean, why not? All I asked is that anyone who downloaded it, tell others about it. Some will and some won’t, but something’s happening, because OOGA BOOGA is selling better than Pretty People Are Highly Flammable did in its first two months.

I made a lot of contacts and gained many readers at the conference whom I hope will turn into fans.

One thing that struck me there, was the power of the book club. Those (mostly) women commanded the whole event, enjoying the attendance of bestselling authors at their own private gatherings, like teas, brunches and dinners. The authors obliged, simply… because they kinda had to. Book Clubbers are like their own mafia-like network. They’re intimately connected to each other across cities, states and countries, and as an author, if you piss off one, you could end up regretting it later. I loved that the actual stars of the event were the consumers. It gave me faith in the system again.

When I returned to New York, I reached out to bloggers, asking them to review the novel. Summer is admittedly not the best time to do this, as many of them are not accepting requests, but I will launch another campaign around December and see what happens. 

I’m also trying to come up with a promotion that will bring in more Amazon reviews. Maybe an autographed copy to the next five that come in?

That’s where I stand as of today’s writing. Not yet a marketing guru, but definitely a user of common sense and part-time risk taker. If you have hang-ups about marketing your book(s), don’t worry: you’re normal. But I invite you to check out and try out some of the easier techniques described in this post, and see if within 60 days you see increased sales.


You owe it to yourself – and you deserve it.


Gerry Walker is a Harlem writer. Catch him on Twitter @gerrywalkerInstagram: gerrywalker, Facebook: facebook.com/GerryWalkerAuthor, and GerryWalker.net.


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