Back in that proverbial day when I started writing, publishers did all the work on promotions. Those times are long gone...though publishers still help, if you're lucky.
Yeah...there's more social media than that, but I only got time for the above.
Here's the thing: more than one million novels are released annually in the United States, and more than two-thirds of those are self-published.
In this very crowded marketplace, it is not enough to write your book, sell it to a publisher, and start on the next.
You have to promote your novel to boost sales figures…to not get lost in the numbers. There are great promotional opportunities that won’t cost you anything beyond your time. However, spending a little money here and there can improve your exposure. Set a budget, and decide where to allocate your funds.
Bookmarks, pens, tote bags, coffee mugs…they’re all nice, but they don’t return any significant “bang for your buck.” In fact, they usually cost you more than you’ll make from selling a few books to someone who picked up your swag. However, if you really want them…to slip into a book when you have a signing or appear at a convention, here are a couple of links to reasonably-priced services. Look for promo codes to boost the savings.
Some studies have shown that the greatest response to book promotions is through author newsletters. Build your email list, then send out a once a month or twice a month newsletter highlighting what you are working on, and what’s coming out and when. Newsletters should be short; people don’t like to read long missives. Ten good newsletter services, some of which are free, are detailed here: http://www.awwwards.com/best-top-10-email-marketing-services.html
I HAVE A NEWSLETTER! It comes out twice a month, filled with a bit of promotion on my current project, as well as recommending books by other authors, some useful writing tidbits, and the occasional silly contest. I keep it short so not to take up much of your time.
If you'd like to get my newsletter...which also sometimes has dog pictures in it...here's the link: http://eepurl.com/cdUI_v
Hold a book launch in the first or second week of release. An online event, which could include a blog hop, a virtual book tour, or an “ask me anything,” session. If you are unfamiliar with these activities, publicists will handle them for you (for a fee, of course). Here are four good links about book launches:
Buy a stock of your paperbacks as soon as it is published so you can plan a local book launch at a library or other venue. Publicize this in the local newspaper. Newspapers usually love to do features on local authors. Though the books will cost you, they usually are available at a 40% author discount, and so you can recoup this—and more—through your sales.
Define your target audience and discover where they hang out online. You can promote there. FREE.
Browse the major blogs your target audience reads. Ask if you can do a guest blog or if they will like to your blog. FREE.
Join an author network, where the members cross-promote books. FREE.
Gather reviews and quotes, use these in promotions. Good quotes from respected authors will help sell your book. In some cases you will have to provide the books to be reviewed or pay the service a fee for finding reviewers.
Consider a book trailer. While most of these cost varying amounts of money, there are a few services where you can do short trailers for free. Here’s one of the free sites: https://animoto.com/
Send a “shout out” to friends with well-visited webpages and well-read blogs. Ask for promotion help.
Attend writing conventions, mystery conventions, or set up a night at the local bookstore or library where you can hold a discussion, a reading, and sell your new book.
I'm picking and chosing from all of the above right now in my effort to promote my mysery novel, IN THE DEAD OF WINTER (which is available at Amazon right now for a 99-cent pre-order sale price).