Are you lucky?  If you have a subscriber list you are lucky and can pre-sell your book long before it hits store shelves.
It's important to have a list both for selling your book and for getting your book noticed by a publisher. If you can prove that you have an established audience, you have a big advance 

1. Start with who you know.

Most of us have some form of list already, either in your email system's address book or your basic holiday card list that you use once a year. It may be as small as 10-25 or as big as 200-400. Start out by sending a general email letting the people on your list know that you're getting organized and planning to send out regular notes, newsletters, whatever you plan to send. Give them the opportunity to opt out if they're not interested. Most will probably stay on since your family and friends are interested in hearing about what you're up to.

2. Whenever you meet new people, get permission to add them to your list.

At this point in your writing career, it's essential that you're out meeting people at least once a month. You can go to networking events, take classes or (and this is the best) do speaking engagements. Non-fiction authors especially should be speaking regularly because you want to establish your expertise in your topic or topics. You can collect business cards when you network or take classes and get people to sign in with their contact information at your event. Make sure you GET PERMISSION and let people know they will be hearing from you via newsletter, etc. It is truly poor form to put people on your mailing list without their knowledge. It's also called spamming!

I know that signing people up is key because I've observed popular authors doing just that. I once attended a reading by E. Lynn Harris because I knew he had a huge--and faithful-- readership and I wanted to glean some clues as to how he did it. Sure enough, the room was packed and every single person behaved as though they knew him personally. When it came time to sign books, he made an announcement: he would sign your book if you signed his! He made it clear you would be hearing from him via email, birthday and holiday cards. People were all too happy to sign the list. Brilliant!

3. Find a list service to maintain your list.

You'll quickly learn, as your list grows, that your email account may not allow you to send mass messages to groups larger than 50-80. Also, it's not a good idea to only have your list on your computer, you'll want it backed up elsewhere. The solution: sign on for a list service. You'll have your database expertly maintained, plus most list services will give you templates and allow you to send out really good looking HTML email messages to your list. You can also get code and links that allow people to sign themselves onto your list from your website. There are many you can try. I use both Constant Contact (http://www.constantcontact.com) and 1 Shopping Cart (http://www.1shoppingcart.com). If you're not selling products or services, you may not need a shopping cart so Constant Contact may be just the thing for you.

4. Communicate to your list regularly.

You want to keep in touch with the people on your list so they don't forget about you. The way you do it is up to you. As I said above, E. Lynn Harris sends notes and cards to his list. A colleague of mine sends daily inspirational quotes. I'm a big fan of email newsletters because you can provide news on your activities and useful content for your readers. When you provide content, such as tips for real estate investors, marketing ideas, or even cookbook recipes, you are establishing your expertise. You're also giving people a good reason to stay on your list--they're getting good stuff out of it. In the past I have offered discounts on my services, gift certificates for people to give out over the holidays and articles with career counseling and goal-achieving tips. And every issue of Living the Dream also features my book and the stellar reviews it's received. You can see past issues by going to http://www.creativecoachingplans.com/newsletter.html.

5. Generate excitement and anticipation with your list.

When your book is nearing publication, you'll want to start letting your audience know that it's coming. You can generate pre-sale orders, alert your list of book reviews as they come out and let your audience know where you'll be appearing when you start speaking and doing book signings.

 

Too many new authors believe that once their book is written the sales will just come pouring in and they will make a bundle. Sadly, this disillusionment is shattered when they receive a royalty check. The honest to goodness truth of the matter is that the writer's work is only started when the book is released. Even the huge author names of today began by peddling their books out of the back of their car. Many big-name authors also began by self-publishing because no one recognized their talent. They did not start off their career with a huge bang. They did not have the money to afford publicists and big marketing firms when they started out and yet they are super successful now. Take heart from their examples.

Marketing, promoting and networking must be done every single day, for the life of the book, in balance with your other activities and obligations.

Many new authors feel their only way to success is through book signings and bookstores stocking their book. They are wrong. While in larger centers with good promotion a book signing event or book reading event may result in as much as a couple hundred one-time sales... most smaller venues can only expect less than 10 sales. Is this worth the 2 hours or more that you spend at the event? Not counting all the preperation, marketing the event, promotion materials, time taken from work and any displays that you have designed and possibly paid for ahead of time. These events do not pay authors to host an event so any sales they do have may not even cover the traveling costs, hotel cost, meals, parking or supplies - let alone the time they put into it. Nor do they usually result in long-term sales - sales are often only during the few days around the event.

Bookstores can only realistically stock less than 1% of the 3 million books available on the market. Their discount with the publisher/distributor is large. Authors are paid royalties only on what their publisher has recieved. So is all the time and effort going into attaining spots on bookstore shelves worth it?

While the markets above are valuable and important to any author - what authors need to do is think outside the box. Figure out where your efforts will bring the greatest results. Don't expect immediate and overwhelming acceptance by the media or your audience. Marketing, networking and promoting are long-term efforts that will reap greater rewards as efforts continue.

Many authors live in tiny towns and hold down jobs or have physical limitations that prevent out-of-town promotions; much like ourselves. This can be overcome. Again, think outside the box, use the Internet and your contacts - and be persistant. Newspapers, libraries, and bookstores are only the most obvious markets and also are the most difficult to gain the attention of without a strong image because everyone is vying for their attention. Work on your image and get strong promotion materials that help you stand out among the hundred thousand or more new books released annually.

So develop a long-term marketing plan and stick with it for the full term of your contract with the publisher. The market plan will grow and change as time goes on. And keep good records so you can determine how you will go about marketing the next book.

I just wanted to mention here that some authors get overwhelmed by the immense amount of effort it takes to market a book. If we take one day, one step at a time we will find it is not so overwhelming. I find it works best to figure out what you will concentrate on this week and then set a goal for today. I do this nearly every day. It helps me keep a steady pace going, without taking on too much or too little.

Remember too, that efforts you are making today may not reap immediate results. You may have to hit a market several times before they pick up your proposal. For instance, some contacts from nearly a year ago are now resulting in promotions in their publications. So be patient and professional in all that you do. Again, keep records so that you can follow up.

Newsletters can be small but effective markets for your work. On average, they can range in size from 1000-17,000 readers or more. E-zines typically reach an audience larger than 5000. Get a few of them in one month and you are reaching a wide audience! You don't need to be rich or famous or have a publicist if you are determined and able to committ effort every single day. (Do take some time for yourself, though!)