1) There are no rules.
What worked for your last book may not work on this. What worked for your friend's book may not work for yours. Publicity is an art not a science. Feel out what works and go with it. If something doesn't seem to be working, let it go.
2) Your publisher won't do it for you.
With few exceptions, your publisher (unless you're the publisher) won't provide a lot of marketing support -- unless you're famous enough not to need marketing support. So if you want people to know about your book, it’s up to you to tell them.
3) If you're self-publishing, don’t skimp on your book cover.
Your book cover is your most important promotional tool. Unless you have experience in the field, don't design it yourself. Have it designed by a professional book-cover designer (not by a graphic artist with no cover-design experience) and put the image on all your promotional material.
3a) Everyone has a fridge.
Fridge magnets that show off your book cover are great promotional tools. They’re even better than bookmarks because everyone in the household gets to see them. They’re available inexpensively from www.vistaprint.com.
3b) You have to wear something...
...So you might as well be a walking billboard and wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt that shows off your book cover. For t-shirts, go to www.vistaprint.com; for sweatshirts, www.cafepress.com.
4) Abandon all expectations.
Sometimes your efforts will produce the desired results. Sometimes, they won't. Don't stress about it or beat yourself up. Just move on to your next idea.
5) Everyone loves an author.
A recent survey says that 82% of Americans want to write a book someday. The fact that you have -- and that you have a book with your name on the cover -- buys you a lot of credibility with a lot of people, some of whom will buy your book simply because they've met the author.
6) Your town/region loves its authors.
How easy do you think it would be, as an unknown New Yorker, to get your self-published book into a Borders in Manhattan? Many regional bookstores, including the chains, are eager to support regional writers and are happy to set up signings and events for you. Don't be shy about approaching a store's manager or books/inventory manager. Remember, though, that you still have to promote your book and your event. Just because your book is on the shelf doesn't mean it will sell. Just because you have an event doesn't mean people will show up.
6a) Having a book-signing? Be focused and approachable.
Just because you're sitting at a book-signing table doesn't mean people will come up to talk to you...or buy your book. Don't read or do other work at your table. Discourage friends and family from hanging around your table. Don't gossip with your fellow authors if you're doing a group signing. You're there to engage readers and sell books. Be friendly. Be focused. Be engaging. Be approachable. If someone doesn't buy a book, have a card or flyer for them to take away with them.
7) Don’t be shy.
Let anyone and everyone know that you've written a book. Share your passion for your subject. Sell yourself and your book to anyone who will listen. But don't be obnoxious about it. Always carry promotional material -- business cards, fridge magnets, postcards, flyers -- and hand it out liberally. Always have copies with you to sell...and sell them.
8) Everybody loves a winner.
If writing a book buys you credibility, writing an award-winning book buys you even more. Enter contests and competitions. When you win or place, let everyone know and be sure to issue a press release.
9) Get testimonials.
Encourage everyone who reads your book to send you their comments and to post reviews on Amazon. Even if you can’t get reviews in the media, comments from satisfied readers can go on flyers and on your web site.
10) Don’t forget the internet.
Get a web site. Start a blog. Join social networks like MySpace. Let the world know you're an author. Particularly on social networks, let people get to know you first as a person. They're more likely to buy your book if they like you. They're more likely to ignore you if they think you're just connecting with them to hustle your book. There is also an increasing number of social networks geared specifically to authors and book marketing. They're great for ideas, less so for selling books. (Check out my MySpace profile, my web sites at www.markdavidgerson.com and www.lightlinesmedia.com, and my other blog at www.markdavidgerson.blogspot.com.)
11) Stay in touch with your readers.
Collect e-mail addresses from your readers and stay connected with a newsletter that offers them real value, one they'll want to forward to friends and family.
12) Publicity is about freebies.
There are many ways to get into the media that won't cost you a thing. Events listings is the most obvious. When you write book reviews or articles for newsletters and trade magazines, you'll get a short bio where you can include information about your book. If you're a college graduate, contact your alumni magazine. Mine has a regular spread that features new books and CDs by graduates. Contact your hometown paper. It may be thrilled to feature a story about a now-published native son or daughter.
12a) A publicist could be your best friend.
Just because you can write doesn’t mean you can write a press release. Just because there are 1001 ways to market your book doesn’t mean you have the time or expertise to do them all. Even though I have a p.r. background, I choose to work with a publicist.
13) There are no rules.
Read these ideas as well as those in books like Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, then find your own way, your own rhythm. Hone your intuitive senses to know what feels right and what doesn't, what will likely bear fruit and what won't. And then get out there and let the world know you’ve got the book it’s been waiting for!