Besides obsessively checking your rankings and sales page (and believe me, I speak from personal experience here), there are other things you can do.
- If you don't have a website or blog, establish one. Pronto.
- Write a one-paragraph author bio in third person. You'll need it, not just for your Author Central page on Amazon, but also for future promotional purposes. Every time you send out a press release, offer to do a speaking engagement, or email a book store or blogger, you'll want to supply a professionally-worded author bio. It gives you cred, and who doesn't need cred?
- Create a user/shopper account on Amazon.com and bn.com You probably have one already but if not, you'll want to do this. You'll need it to do the next two things on the list, and also to buy and review other people's books. Good karma and all that. :-)
- Buy your own book to generate a ranking. How can you start obsessing if there isn't a ranking? For those not in the know, book rankings are like golf scores--the lower the number, the better.
- Create an Author Central account on Amazon.com. Lots of options here and easy to do. From the site, "a free service provided by Amazon to allow authors to reach more readers, promote books, and help build a better Amazon bookstore."
- Solicit a positive review for your book. People always balk at this, but I think it's important. I'm not advocating filling your page with fraudulent reviews. What I am saying is that you must have at least one friend or family member who genuinely loves your book. Politely ask if they'd be willing to leave a review. Potential readers are reluctant to buy a book without reviews. Help your book by making sure there's at least one there from the start.
- List your book on Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, and Librarything.com. If you have a blog, add it to your author page on these sites using an RSS feed
- Use social networking to get the word out: Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc. But don't be obnoxious about it. People read to be informed and/or entertained. They don't enjoy being slammed with self-promotion. Figure out a way to be interesting/ informative, and be part of the community. Make your book information available, but don't push it on people. A subtle approach is more effective than a hard sell
- Leave blog comments on heavily-trafficked blogs. Put your book title or website in as a link in the comment. Go here to find out how to do so: http://bloggeruniversity.blogspot.com/2007/01/post-link-in-comments.html Not every blog is set up to allow this, but many, including Blogger, do. As long as you're leaving a legitimate comment, no one should mind.
- Guest blog on other people’s blogs and reciprocate on yours.
- Submit your blog feed to Feed Burner: www.feedburner.com If you're using something like TypePad, Wordpress, or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically. Otherwise, this is a good option.
- Send a press release out announcing the release of your book: www.pr.com The reason you want to do this is not because the news media will rush to interview you (although it would be great if that happened). The reason to do this is because Google gives press releases precedence over other types of content. Make sure your press release contains the necessary information about you and your book, including links to your website/blog and your contact information. Look at examples of press releases online if you're not familiar with the format. Try to include a great marketing hook if you have one. Self-publishing via ebook is currently a hot topic in the news, so if nothing else, that could suffice.
- Create a Youtube.com video, either a book trailer or interview. Not everyone has the skills to do this, but if you know a teenager, you know someone who could help.
These are just suggestions. You don't need to do all of these things (or any, for that matter), and you can do the ones you choose at your own pace. With P.O.D. and ebooks, your book's availability is endless and infinite. It's not going out of print anytime soon so there's really no hurry.
Promotional efforts like these are cumulative. Done daily, a half hour of marketing can build and build and build. And since its done online, it's out there forever.
Do these things sell books? No one can say with complete certainty, but I believe if you start with a good book, and do everything else correctly, the things on this list can only help.