Understanding book marketing is essential to your success as an author. Many authors make the mistake of thinking that once their book is written, it will somehow sell itself. To save yourself a lot of grief, it's important to shatter this illusion early. Selling your book to the public takes just as much time and effort (and sometimes much more) than it took to write it.
Before your book hits the shelf, come up with a book marketing plan. Although you may be able to use a generic plan from the internet, make sure to tailor it to your book's niche.
You can sell books online, but you also need to take your efforts offline, even if what you're selling is an ebook. Don't miss those offline opportunities to tell people about your work. Meeting you in person and talking with you one-on-one about your book is an organic way to spread the word. And remember, people tell people who tell others. Many people who have purchased my book, Keepers of the Children, have written to tell me that they heard from someone else what an insightful and different parenting book it is.
One of the fastest and easiest way to sell your books is to spread the word on Facebook, but I not talking about just sharing news of its publication with your friends. What you need is a real, concerted promotional effort and to learn exactly how to do this, I suggest you check out this step by step course, Facebook Marketing Mastery which is taught by the foremost Facebook expert in the world. This is a woman who knows how to use social media to build a platform and sell tons of books.
There have been volumes written on book marketing and some guides are better than others. I have read self-published guides that have some typos, like Book Marketing from A-Z, but lots of interesting ideas. The key is to figure out the best ways to reach your target market—those people who are willing to pay for the information in your book. Have fun with this. Be creative. Surprise yourself with your own courage.
Sending out review copies is a good way to reach your target market. Figure out which magazines they read, then send a review copy to the editor of the book review section. If the magazine reviews your book (and it is favorable), this is a personal endorsement of your book. You can then use this review to get more reviews.
Doing book signings is another form of book marketing. Keep in mind that you do not have to limit book signings to bookstores. The most successful book signing I've had was at the local Costco where I sold over 100 books. Much more successful than the book signing I had at Barnes & Noble which I worked very hard to promote and which only generated 12 book sales (which is typical for a signing.)
That said, don't limit your book marketing efforts to bookstores. As Dan Poynter, the grandfather of self-publishing, is known to say, "Bookstores are a lousy place to sell books." He says this because your book is on the shelf, competing with every other book in the store. For instance, if your book is a parenting book, then you're competing with all the other parenting books in that section. People don't generally buy four or five different parenting books at a time.
So the key here is to find other venues. For instance my book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting is not your typical parenting book, in fact, it has a very tightly focused niche. It just so happens that its niche lends well to selling in Native American art galleries and gift stores. In fact, the retailer who has sold more of my books (more than some of my distributors too) is a small store on the outskirts of Reno called, Blue Corn Indian Art Gallery. They place the book next to the cash register and have sold over 80 books in less than a year.
If your book has been out for awhile, seek out new venues. Set up a book signing at a local coffee shop where you are a patron. Use the internet to sell books online and find out if there are forums centered on the topic of your book and become a member of the forum where you can't promote your book outright, but you can append your signature and web address to the end of your emails.
Another innovative way to use the internet to do book marketing is to create an infomercial. You can do this by using YouTube or Vimeo. Almost seventy percent of internet users now have broadband access which means their connection speed supports playing video. Businesses selling products from their web sites have seen a 200-300% increase in sales by posting a video infomercial on their sites. People buy from people they feel they know. When web visitors have watched a short video of you talking about the benefits of your book they feel more comfortable buying it because they've met the author.
For other ideas about how to sell your book online and offline as well, read this article on book promotion.