What I've done is no big secret and I'm happy to share it with you, just like everything else I've tried. I hope you can do the same and I hope your sales increase as well. If you're just starting out and don't have a book out yet, even better. Start now and you'll be ahead of the game.
The BIG secret? I'm extremely social.
No joke. I like to talk. A lot. I like to talk to people, meet new people, make new friends, whatever. And the internet has made that a whole lot easier for me. I started making friends long before I had a book come out not only because it's fun, but because it also gives me a wider reaching audience. Here are the five places I've made a home online which I think has helped me get my name and work out there a little better.
Facebook: Originally I only friended people I knew. It's safer, right, no creepers, etc. However, it limited me a lot. There are a lot of nice people out there. And if they are creepers, defriend them. Out of my over 4,000 friends, I've only ever had to defriend someone once. I've met some great people on FB, many who I've never met before but have become great supporters of me and my work.
When I asked a fellow author who had a ton of friends how she got so many, she simply replied that she added anyone who had 20 friends in common with her. And she told me to go ahead and add her friends as my friends as well. So I did. After adding more and more people, mostly writers, people starting adding me. Sometimes I would get 30 friend requests a day. And I accepted them all. Horror, romance, thriller, YA, picture book, whatever. We're all writers and we could all learn something from each other.
It's not enough to collect friends either. You have to be yourself and not just be about writing 24-7. Converse with people, be social. When you're friendly and comment on what is going on with others, you stick in their minds. There are a lot of people that I talk to on FB regularly and it's not always about writing. Sometimes it's about kids, tv, books, music, news, Twinkies, whatever.
I do have a Fan/Like page on FB and that I use primarily to promote the book/blog etc. I do still promote some on my regular FB page, but I try to not go overboard.
Blog: If Facebook is my hangout, the Blog is definitely my newspaper. I use it to share news about what I'm doing, what others are doing that I find interesting, info about other people's books, interviews, book reviews, etc. I've linked it to Facebook and Twitter through Networked Blogs, and it is also linked to Goodreads. When I post something to the blog, it's automatically sent to Facebook (both pages), Twitter, and Goodreads. That makes it super easy to reach a lot of people at once. Another thing to consider is trying to post things frequently. The more people that see it, the more that stop by, follow, interact etc. Over the summer I posted Into the Shadows on the blog for free in installments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My Adventures in Epublishing articles seem pretty popular, they usually have the highest number of views, along with guest interviews. The new Bookaday program brings in people every day that are curious about the book that's posted. You have to give people a reason to keep coming back.
Twitter: Okay, I am totally not one of the Twitterati by any stretch of the imagination. It's actually my least favorite social network option. I think it just moves so fast, I always feel like I missed something and have no idea what's going on. Yet it's great for posting links to the blog. I've done a couple of chats on there as well, which have been fun (#yalitchat, #kidlitchat, #ebooklitchat) but I don't always have time to participate in those. There are a lot of resources on there though if you have the time to look for them. I still highly recommend having a presence on there. Give it a try, you might like it.
Goodreads: This was new to me this year. It's sort of Facebook for readers. You add friends, talk about books, post the books you're reading, your reviews, etc. Now that I have a book, I am a 'Goodreads Author' and can do awesome things like Giveaways. If you have a paperback version, be sure to do a Goodreads Giveaway, it gives you great exposure. Again, it's another nice way to meet people.
Kindleboards: This was also new to me, in fact, I only just joined last month. There is an unbelievable amount of information available for epubbers on there and everyone is so friendly. You can post questions and comments on the boards and interact with the other authors. Many of my Bookaday authors have come from there. It's great to see other authors' news and questions as well. You can post your book in the Book Bazaar and the Writers' Cafe is where to check out all the conversations.
Helping Others: This is something I've tried to do all along. Looking to do a guest post...no problem! Want me to promote your book...no problem! Have a question I can answer...no problem! I know when I first started out with this whole crazy epubbing biz, I was thrilled to find Joe Konrath, epub guru, who laid it all out for me. I'm sure he doesn't know who I am (but that would be *awesome*!), but his helpful articles made me want to do the same for others. I don't see others as competition. We're all in this together, and if we can help each other improve, make sales, make friends, whatever, it makes everything so much more fun. I am an Indie author, but I don't want to be independent. I like being part of a group, part of a community. I like working together with others. It might be my education background bleeding through here, or the need to just talk, but I like sharing.
So I wish you the best of luck, and please let me know what has been working for you. I'm sure everyone would love to get all the tips they can.