In my 15 years as a published writer, I've learned here are a million things you can do to market your book. Some of them take time, some of them take money, and a lot of them take both.
The thing is, though, that you'll probably never know if they were worth it.
So before you splash out on candles, postcards, T-shirts, graphic novels, posters, bookmarks, or a video that costs thousands of dollars, ask yourself:
Am I okay with spending this money even if I never see a rise in sales? Do I know how I will use these things or will they end up sitting in the basement? If I give them away, will people really want them?
I have met people who have spent their entire advance on promotion. I assume they were okay with that, but it's not something I would do.
And because social media is technically free, publishers will encourage to use Twitter, Facebook, maybe even Tumblr or Pinterest. In addition to a website, they'll want you to have a blog. But before you do any of these things (although a website is not optional), ask yourself:
Do I like doing this? Is it an enjoyable way to spend my time? Can I sustain it?
If you're forcing it, people will be able to tell.
For me, the most valuable tool in my arsenal is my website, AprilHenryMysteries.com. I use Weebly.com (which is free if you don't need videos or a few other things) and I love it. I can change it a dozen times a day if I want to. I have steady traffic and a low bounce rate. One thing that has really helped is adding a form for people to contact me. You'd think just having my email address on the site would be enough, but maybe because they are teens, readers seem to like the form. I hear from about 20 readers a week, which is far more than I did when someone else was doing my web site and there was no contact form.
A couple of other things I do:
- I will occasionally go on GoodReads and comment on five-star reviews with a thank you and a tidbit about the research I did for the book. [I ignore all bad reviews and you should, too.]
- I migrated my Facebook Profile to a Facebook Page, which gives me analytics for every post. People really, really like it if you ask them a question. When I recently asked for advice on my how my fictional bad guy could get rid of a fictional dead person's fingertips or fingerprints, over 4,000 people viewed that post and several hundred commented.