I knew before I ever sold that I'd have to promote my books. In author-land, this fact is pretty much nailed into our heads while we're writing, trying to find an agent, and waiting to hear if we've sold our book(s). Promotion isn't scary, but trying to figure out what works, what doesn't, what results are worth the time and money can be a little overwhelming.
The thing is, what works for one author very well might not be successful for another author. After all, we're all individuals with varying amounts of resources (both cash and time). In addition, what one author is comfortable with might completely freak out another. So, one of the first things I did after learning about my sale was to create a "possible promo list."
When I wrote this list, I literally wrote every single thing that came to me. Even things I knew I might not be able to afford and those that were outside my comfort zone. Then, when I had the opportunity to speak with the amazing marketing manager at Dorchester (Erin Galloway), she gave me a few other ideas.
What I ended up going with were things that 1) I could afford, 2) didn't eat up too much time, and 3) I knew I'd be able to accomplish. Which meant, for me, having a professionally designed web site, blog, and book trailer; guest blogging wherever anyone wanted me; this blog here; purchasing ad space on certain online romance fiction web sites; running contests; and connecting with local booksellers.
I'd have liked to do more, but as a mother of four, a full-time freelance/copywriter, and writing my next contracted book, both free time and available money were at a premium. That being said, I'm happy with what I have done, and I hope to do more--to learn more--with each successive book. I have no idea if anything I've done has helped, but I figure it didn't hurt. And honestly, that's sort of how I look at promotion: do what you can with your time/money, but focus on writing that next book.
So, those are my 2 cents, but I'd love to hear what readers respond to. Do you read interviews with authors on other blogs? Do you pay attention to things like book trailers, advertising, excerpts, etc. What about contests? Sure, winning something is great--but does it propel you to actually buy the author's book? Basically, for a brand-new author (even if just to you), what convinces you to get them a shot? I'm sure I"m not the only Novel Girl who'd like to know. :)
Speaking of contests...I'm running a new one at my personal blog all month. Two actually! If you read A Taste of Magic, just make a positive comment on my Tracy Madison blog sometime in the month of March for a chance to win a $25 Borders Gift Card. And, if you subscribe to my newsletter by the end of March, you'll automatically be entered to win SIX Dorchester Love Spell books.
Will these contests help promote my books? I don't know, but hey--it can't hurt! :)