This list is not exhaustive of ALL the ways in which a self-published author can promote his/her book, but this is what I have tried to varying degrees of success. Once you have a completed book that is fully yours, you will do whatever it takes to get the story into the hands of little readers!
1 | Social media is your friend, and also a way to make connections near and far. As an independent author with no marketing team, accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, etc will prove invaluable in establishing your work online. No bit of news is too small to mention, so be sure to share it all!
2 | On that note, to be taken seriously, you'll need a website. When I submit Big Mo to bookstores and blogs, I always include a footer linking to my website. This is pretty much expected, so find a website builder that works for you. I use Squarespace, which is intuitive with a great support team. Look for online coupons for your annual subscription.
3 | Blog! Proven by you in this moment, a blog is a great way to maintain interest and traffic to your website and work. It is also an excellent way to give back, as I hope to do by sharing my lessons learned in self-publishing :)
4 | Elementary School Author visits are a time-honored tradition** and you don't need to be represented by a major publisher to participate in them. Once you have a book (children's or YA), you have an "entry ticket" to discuss the creative process with students. I have visited Preschool to 3rd grade levels, and each event is a learning process! It is a fun challenge to take your completed work (the book) and find ways to engage young readers in creativity. I have designed slideshow presentations that I project in the classroom or library, as well as quick activities involving Big Mo. Kids also love drawing demonstrations!
** Even traditionally-published authors make a major portion of their income from appearances and school visits. It helps to offer a book pre-sale to students in lieu of an author's fee in some cases.
5 | Be creative when considering public speaking events. For example, I have spoken at a college-level writing workshop and at an architecture firm about Big Mo and my process. These were both extremely engaging, and they introduced the story to a unique group of listeners. Try speaking at the high school level, at libraries, daycares or book clubs. Even local farmers markets are good opportunities to introduce your story to gatherings of people.
6 | Bookstores are generally thrilled to welcome local authors, either for a reading or a book signing. Even if you don't draw a crowd initially, these are invaluable experiences for a professional author. Mingling with the public and fielding questions about your work are factors that ANY author should be comfortable with.
7 | It is a sad truth that most books are purchased online at this point – in fact, this is why book designers recommend cover designs that are eye-catching at a 'thumbnail' size. With this in mind, it is important to share about your book in any way you can online. Book interviews and reviews should be a goal. If your work is good, it will speak for itself and interested writers and bloggers may reach out to you. Otherwise, if you are still relatively unknown, it is your responsibility to inquire with media outlets (again, this is where a link to your website is handy). No matter how little or well-read a blog is, it is great to be interviewed or reviewed. Think baby steps! And from my own experience, for every 20 blogs you request a feature in, you may hear back from one.
8 | Professional Book Reviews (such as from Kirkus) are always a possibility, but they do cost money.
9 | A more tactical way to get your book some exposure with relevant industry folk is to submit for book awards. There are dozens of awards that are acclaimed (many specifically for independent publishers), and dozens more that are less so, but still worth considering. Each has its own particular submission criteria, accepts copyrights from specific timeframes, and includes an entry fee. In any case, a submission for an award means that at least one person will be reading your work with a critical eye, and they just may share it with others.
10 | Festivals and Conventions of all types occur throughout the year in the US. Whether an event is explicitly related to your genre of book (or to books at all), each is a fantastic opportunity to meet readers, discuss your work, and receive feedback (and hopefully make some sales!). To name a few: Book Expo America, Shaboygan Children's Book Fest, NAEYC Expo, Texas Book Festival. If your book covers a specific topic or theme, there are conventions and expos for that, too :)
Above all else, be persistent, yet PATIENT. As I mentioned, not everyone is going to respond to you. If they don't, just send gentle reminders until you are convinced that the path is a dead end. Most people are busy with their own lives and work (I am also guilty), and simply can't find the time to meet you or respond to your work. But there are some who will, and it will be a huge boost when they do!