Chuck Wendig has a great post today talking about the various forms of self promotion for writers and which he thinks offers the most effective results. Go read it now.
I listed in the comments some of the things that have worked for me. I realized I had forgotten some after I posted the comment so I thought I’d post them here as well.
Guest Posts: I’m at a low enough level recognition-wise that these work well for me at places that not only have a large audience, but a broad audience. I’d rather post at a site with 500 reader who have never heard of me than one with 10,000 readers who already know who I am. This holds true for blog tours as well. I had a lot of success with a targeted approach instead of draining all of my energy writing for a ton of places that had smaller audiences than my own site.
Conventions: I really recommend going to conventions at least 10 years before your first novel is published. This is how I did it and because of that (and not being an asshole…mostly) I was able to cultivate a supportive community for the eventually release of my book as well as getting to know big name authors and reviewers when they were just starting out. Three of the blurbs I had for my first novel are from NY Times bestsellers, but I’ve known them all for at least a decade or more which helped with the process immensely.
Swag: I found postcards worked well. They’re cheap, easy to mail and work great for spreading the word around town about your book. I was against bookmarks until an influential bookseller told me to get them. She said if authors leave behind bookmarks after a signing the bookstore will put them in comparable titles to cross promote. I though that was pretty smart and the booksellers I visited all shared the same philosophy.
Bookstore Tours: This is another one where having 10 years of conference connections under my belt helped. I’m also lucky to be writing in a field (crime fiction) that still has a robust network of specialty bookstores. I did three (with one more still to come) in-store events at large indie mystery bookstores where 1) I had a decent chunk of family and friends in town to support me and/or 2) I signed with two other authors who were far more charming and well-known than myself. In addition to selling books, which these visits did, posting about them on FB and Twitter and my website gave me an excuse to talk about my book without blatantly talking about my book which was nice.
Free Books: Given a lot away, seen decent results, especially in garnering Goodreads and Amazon reviews.
Personal Website: I gave my site a massive overhaul leading up to the publication of Murder Boy and made sure to include a robust media section to make it easier for publications to write about me, I had a good summary of the book and reviews and blurbs to help validate my book with readers, I posted a nice long chunk from the beginning of the book to entice people to try it, and I posted new content regularly (much of it not about writing or the book) to keep people coming back.
Newsletter: I love Chuck’s idea of setting up the blog subscription as a de facto newsletter. I know it’s important to have some sort of means of distributing my content that I own rather than just relying on social media, but I couldn’t think of anything to add to a newsletter that I don’t write about on my website. So you’ll now see that I set up a subscription link over there on the sidebar. That way people who want to guarantee they get my posts and don’t want to have to rely on Twitter or Facebook to know when I’ve posted something new have an option. Go subscribe. Now. There’s a cookie in it for you.