When I first self-published my novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, I made a few missteps that taught me some lessons. First, I waited too long to contact book reviewers like Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, and local newspapers. My book was due to release in September, and I waited until about six weeks prior to contact book reviewers. I learned from reading their guidelines that they require books to be submitted for review SIX MONTHS before the release date. So I launched my book without any reviews to help it off the ground. If you are self-publishing, be thinking six to eight months ahead of your release date. Contact as many reviewers as you can. Here are a couple links for book reviewers.
Another misstep I made was I came across a marketing company advertising they had a program called "The Bestseller Program." They offered consulting on how to make your book a "Bestseller." I paid a $1,000 for a couple of phone consultations that didn't really offer me much. First thing they told me was they couldn't guarantee my book would become a bestseller, so the program was misleading. Now that I've been in the publishing business awhile, I know that no one can predict if a book by a first-time author is going to be a bestseller. I ended up wasting $1,000 I could have put into advertising or bought a nice suit and some new shoes. So, authors beware of book marketing companies that promise you're book will be a bestseller.
My last misstep was I waited till six months after my book's release to get involved with social media groups such as Redroom and other popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. I wasn't much of a social networker and saw them as a waste of time. After hearing numerous success stories from other people marketing through social media, I finally jumped on the bandwagon. And saw a huge spike in book sales. Now, I've connected with hundreds of book lovers, writers, and book reviewers through social networking and I'm having a blast doing it. Had I known the benefits of social media marketing a year before my book's release, I could have built up some buzz and had readers ready to buy my book the day it released. When I release my next novel, DEAD OF WINTER, I'll be able to email a few thousand people prior to the book launch. Live and learn.