Most new authors I encounter are under the impression that after they write the book their work is done.They either turn it over to a publisher, or publish it themselves, and the work is done, right? Wrong. Writing the book is only the first step in a very long process.
Most experienced authors can tell you that after the book is written the real work begins.
First, there is editing, editing, and more editing. I remember when I received the edits back on my first novel. It was covered in red marks, and I wondered how in the world I'd ever get through it. The process can be discouraging, but the whole point of edits is to make the story the best it can be. This means shaving off all the stuff that isn't needed, and polishing up the rest.
Once you've made your novel all polished and ready for readers, it's time to market.
This is the part that usually leaves a lot of authors scrambling. Editing they understand. While writing most writers are constantly tweaking things. It could be as simple as a word change, or as complex as rewriting an entire scene. Either way, editing is something we can latch on to, no matter how painful it can sometimes be.
Marketing, however, is a completely strange and somewhat scary monster.
In a lot of ways, marketing is a crap shoot. I've spoken to authors who've been doing this professionally for years and as with most things there is no one right way of marketing your book. A lot of it is genre specific, and sometimes even author specific. Each author has to figure out what works best for them...what is most effective...and focus their energy on that.
My best advice to new authors is to make friends with other authors...especially those who write the same genre you do...and learn from them. Find out what they're doing that works, and try it for yourself. Don't latch onto these authors clamoring for them to read and review your book. Chances are, that isn't going to happen. Authors are busy people, especially those who've been at it for an extended period of time. They have multiple books to promote, plus whatever it is they are currently working on. Most authors, however, are more than willing to share little tidbits of advice. Make friends and keep your eyes and ears open.
Also, whatever you do, don't get discouraged if your book doesn't make a huge splash right out of the gate. Being an author is hard work. It's rare to write a single novel and have it make enough to pay the bills, let alone the New York Times Bestseller List. If you want to do this long term, concentrate on putting out good stories that are well edited, and have a professional looking cover. Then, work on building your fan base. Remember this is a business like any other. It takes a lot of work and perseverance, but in the end only the author can decide if it's worth it.
Time to tell me what you think. What's the best advice you've received as an author when it comes to marketing your books?