Some authors love it, some authors hate it, and some just don't have a clue as to where to start with promoting themselves and their book(s). Social media, press releases, articles, websites, blogging, interviews, book signings, author readings, emails, letters, phone calls..... Pretty soon you are ready to just scream at the top of your lungs "I GIVE UP!!!!"
Okay, hold on their partner, come on down off of the ledge. Things really don't have to be that hard. Can anyone do EVERYTHING related to promotion? No, and don't try to kid yourself that someone does, because I will guarantee you that they are missing something that would bring them just 1 more person to buy a book. But, you say, there are all of these things that I NEED to be doing, or at least that's what "everyone" is telling me. What do I do?
First, let me start by telling you that I only do a handful of things at present, for a few reasons: I still have a full-time job that I enjoy, I am still writing my novel and generating new ideas, I have a wife and 3 cats to keep happy (the cats are easier!), and I have other interests that I choose to make time for, like camping, fishing, gardening, etc. So I don't have all of the answers, but I think I've got a good idea of how to get things started, no matter which avenues you choose to pursue. And make no mistake about it, you should choose those things that you find easiest and most productive, because you will then stick with them for the long haul, and that's important - longevity.
First, you should make a list of all of the things that you have easy access to and knowledge of how to do it. For me, I knew about blogging (hey, you're reading this, right?), I had a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account. So that's where I've started. But I didn't do it all at once. I first started with my LinkedIn account, where I started to join groups focused on writing and publishing. I follow conversations, join in where appropriate and where I can offer solid information and/or advice, and generally absorbed and continue to absorb all of the information that is out there. If you aren't on LinkedIn yet, you should look at adding that to the mix!
The next thing that I started was this blog. I had no wild assumptions that I would suddenly have thousands of followers and people would love me - that's just crazy talk. Instead, my approach has been to set a schedule for myself on a minimum of blog posts that I would hit in a given week, and then stick to it. I also chose a focus of what I wanted in my blog - in my case, its to talk about my journey in writing and self-publishing, and to toss in a few random, fun things related to authors/writers and the industry in general. Over time, I knew that I would start to gain followers and a readership, and hopefully that this would continue to grow as time went on and I plugged my blog in the groups that I'm in on LinkedIn and other places. I may not have the most spectacular numbers, but I'm happy to have at this point 10 followers to my blog. I didn't know how quickly I would get them, but I'm satisfied at this point, and will keep working to grow it.
The third thing that I've added now is a Facebook Fan Page. This is a page separate from my personal account, and that I'm dedicating to my writings, books, and industry fodder. My Fan Page is also following other pages of interest to me: writers, publishing devices, etc. (Kindle has a Fan Page, for instance). About once a week or so I post something to my Fan Page - come and visit me and "like" my page if you wish: Darren Lee Kirby. Each time that I do a blog post, I go to my Facebook and LinkedIn pages and post a link back here and invite people to read my latest blog post. Kind of a nice little circle, eh?
I also submit articles occasionally to Articles Base, most of which originate from this blog. That's something else to think about: syndicating your blog posts as articles with links back to your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other pages that you have. The goal is to increase your readership. I'm going to be adding more "layers" over time as well, again to help increase readership and hopefully to have people ultimately get to know me better and purchase one of my books.
So, sit down and see what you already know and do - go after that low-hanging fruit and exploit it. Do each one separately, and add the next after you've gotten a handle on the previous "layers" that you have added. If you find out that you are presently tapped out on time to do more, then at least continue on with what you are doing, as its better to be doing something rather than nothing. Also, be sure to start doing something TODAY! Even if you are still working on your novel, like I am, its important to start making a name for yourself as soon as you can. It will make things much easier when you finally release your novel, as you'll already have a small platform from which to shout to the mountains "Come buy my book!". Best of success to you!