It used to be that an author would send his manuscripts off to publishing houses where, if he was lucky, the novel would be plucked from the slush pile and accepted for publication. Of course, it often took submitting the book to many publishers, perhaps over the course of years, before the novel found a home with a publisher. And many authors never saw their works in print.
The good news in all of this was that the publisher was responsible for marketing the book once it was published. All the author had to do was wait for the royalty checks to come in the mail. Some authors, especially those who had already experienced significant book sales, might be sent on a book tour to meet their fans and sign books.
Publishing is very different now. Authors do not have to wait for a publisher to accept their books, they can publish themselves. There has been another important change, too: Whether self-published or published by a traditional publisher, authors are responsible for marketing their own books. That means that they have to set up events, get blurbs and endorsements, and promote their novels any way they can.
When you self publish a novel, your marketing starts before the book is printed. Carefully proof and edit the book to make sure it is free of errors. Hire an editor to review your book, because you may be too close to your story to see where it needs work.
Choose a professional cover designer who can provide the attractive cover your novel deserves. Do not skimp on this! As much as people say not to “judge a book by its cover,” everyone does.
Get your book reviewed and talked about in the media. Major reviewers have specific requirements regarding the books they review. For example, some only want to review pre-publication copies, such as Advance Reading Copies or galleys. Others will accept finished books. Most will want to receive a review copy at least a few months before the publication date. The chances of getting a review in a major publication are slim, but a single review can sell thousands of copies.
You may have more success in getting publicity for your book, especially in local media. Although most media will not think it is news that a book has been published, local media may want to report on the new author in the area.
Set up a website for your book, do a blog tour and look for opportunities to promote your book everywhere you can. Set up talks and book signings at local book stores and libraries, and with community organizations.
You may wish to hire a publicist or marketing professional to help promote your novel, but remember that you know your book better than anyone else, so you are the perfect one to market it. Use traditional marketing methods as well as new media to create buzz about your book and generate sales of your novel.