Author, Author read all about it...
What does an author want most once their book is published? Sales, of course. How you use the Internet and mainstream marketing can make a huge difference in visibility and sales. Following the path well worn is a start but you'll also want to be innovative and stretch the boundaries to get your book noticed.
A writer in today's fast-paced, small-attention-span world must come to terms with their writing as a business and that business needs to be marketed. Knowing the business of book sales and promotion is so important. You need to know the basics or you will be quite disappointed that your book isn't getting the attention it needs to grow your fan base and bring in earnings.
You need a strategy--an understanding of how books get on shelves at bookstores; how virtual book tours can take you where you've never been before; how print and electronic media play a crucial roll in your success; that there probably isn't a legitimate book reviewer out there who is dying to get their hands on your book; that promoting your book requires book business savvy, a lot of dedication and focus.
That said, that's why there are publicists and marketers. We have been up the road and down the road and up every alley. We've learned a great many things—one is that most writers just want to write and secondly writers often have unrealistic expectations. Remember I mentioned growing a fan base and growing income? Well this is the part that is your first rung in the ladder leading to success.
Everyone wants to be in O magazine (Oprah) or on Charlie Rose or in the New York Times. The truth is sobering. You are not likely to reach those goals, although with great luck anything is possible. With help from professionals you and your book can be marketed, as long as you get involved and do your part and allow the professionals to do their job. Ask any best-selling author and you will find a trail of rejections by mainstream book companies, a lot of blood, sweat and tears (or being on the verge of giving up), however, in the right hands there is no reason your book can't get a decent amount of publicity. And you, the author, can start getting name recognition through a vast network of websites or through book stores and other venue signings. Be open to interviews and virtual book tours and always be grateful when someone says YES to you—be it a bookstore, a radio host, or a website that specializes in your genre and therefore has your target market of readers.
Between you and the professionals in the industry you can market your book and get people talking about it. You just have to be willing to go out in the world and be seen, to think of any interview as a wonderful occurrence, to be thankful when opportunities to talk about your book come your way, and gracious when a venue or a newspaper messes something up--it happens. Keep your cool and chalk it up to a learning experience. We're all human (well most of us).
Through a mixture of radio, television, websites and blogs and, if you have a budget at all, advertising, you can use your time to generate the buzz your book needs. However, by using professionals who know their way around, you also free up your time so you can get back to what you love—the craft of writing. Remember this when thinking about hiring a professional--your success is also our success.
And a word to the wise--love your local bookstores, support your favorite independent store, and always be grateful if they carry your book--in fact, many authors post the information about their favorite store to their website. Believe me, indie stores are happy to know this.