I'm a creature of habit. I've worked at the same law firm for over 36 years. I've been married to my husband for almost the same amount of time. I eat the same things for breakfast each day. I watch the same things on TV. Need I go on?
Readers are also creatures of habit. At stores, they gravitate toward books by authors they're familiar with, usually the ones on the NY Times Bestseller Lists. They've either read books by these authors or have seen so much advance publicity, the authors seem familiar to them.
How does an author not on the Bestseller List get sales? It's not easy, unless you're incredibly lucky. Most of us aren't.
So, to get those readers to buy your book, a fledgling author needs to follow through on a serious publicity campaign. You want your name known not only in book circles, but also with the general public.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started. There are many more out there.
First get a website and blog. Be sure to keep them updated. If you're not on the Internet these days, you're not considered a sourced to be reckoned with.
Get advertising material. Some suggestions are: bookmarks and business cards to leave everywhere you can think of; postcards to mail to libraries, bookstores and the people on your Christmas list; rack cards for bookstores; tee shirts, tote bags, caps with your cover art on them; pens with your name, website and book name; flyers and brochures containing your cover art and blurbs.
Whenever possible, get interviews so your name and book information appear in the newspaper. Also, get interviews online.
Arrange book signings. Participate in conference and library panels.
Join listservs and book sites where you can network with other authors or readers.
These are just a few ways to get noticed. I've done them all. Also, I've done far-fetched things like riding in a 4th of July parade hawking my book. You do whatever you feel comfortable with and more. Stretch the limits each time until you get more comfortable promoting your book. Don't just sit at a book signing. Get up and put your book in a person's hands and talk about it, or whatever else the reader wants to discuss.
By now, you've got the idea. Do everything you can to get noticed. It's the only hope you have to get readers to spend their dollars on your books instead of those on the NY Times Bestseller List.
What are you waiting for? Get to work.