Promoting one's book is necessary both when self-published or traditionally published. It takes time and research, a great amount of wheeling/dealing at times and mostly patience. You can spend money to do this, such as placing ads on book sites, but it doesn't have to be expensive. There seems to be a certain amount of double standard thinking along this line. Amazon doesn't want paid reviews, but the prestigious Kirkus Reviews are by no means free. So how does one go about getting his/her book noticed?
If you self-publish a book and do no promotion, chances are no one will ever read your book. Don't be shy, other authors certainly aren't and their wheels will out-squeak yours to get the proverbial grease. There are ways to to attract attention. Amazon's KDP lists promotional suggestions, among these being doing free Kindle weekends. What? Give away my wonderful, sweated-over, golden words for free? Yes, for free. I tried this last fall and my little-noticed book was downloaded over two hundred times. Did I make a dime? No. But this led to another promotion...
I've been following a very nice website called Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. A mother and her two children read books and review them on the site. There are both popular and indie books shown as well as guest reviewers, book giveaways, etc. I love any site that encourages kids to read and to give feedback on a book (or as we teachers call it, using their reading comprehension skills). I wrote to Renee, the site's hostess to see if I could submit Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. To my surprise, she had downloaded my book during the free promotion and planned to review it in the future. She is currently accepting submissions. She has also started selling ad spaces on her site which led to another promotional idea...
There are a lot of book sites that make their expenses back through selling ad spaces along their side columns. They're usually very reasonable and last for weeks at a time. If you've ever placed an ad in a local newspaper, you'd appreciate the low cost of a book ad on these sites. Also, many of these sites boast readership in the tens of thousands. That's a lot of potential readers.
I'm not sure how I started getting Book Baby emails, but I do like some of their articles. A recent one gave a link to a site which lists 20 free e-book promotional sites. I'm exploring these now. I've discounted a few, but have now listed Delores on Ask David. There are only 1,967 books in the queue before mine, but I am a patient person. On to the next one in the list.
Social media is big. Use any form of social media you can to put the word out about your book. Make sure it is seen. One very fun, but addictive site is Pinterest. I now have a page devoted to all things Delores. I've included pins from craft sites or recipe sites which could be related to the story as well as artwork and brooms. If you do book signings, include pictures on your book boards as well.
Speaking of book signings, don't be shy about calling your local libraries. I have been turned down from certain counties which don't offer book readings for children by local authors. I view this as their loss, but mostly feel sad for the kids whose parents can't afford to take them to the book stores to buy them books. The live readings would enrich their lives and their imaginations. I have also been welcomed in small libraries and treated like royalty. The children were so wonderful. I came away as happy as the listeners.
Some local bookstores will also welcome you into their stores. You may do most or all of the promotion yourself, but it's all of the marketing plan that you need to have in place. Even with traditional publishing, after the initial book signing, which many don't do anymore, you're left to do a lot of the promoting yourself. You need to have a plan to keep your book afloat.
Sure, there are books that will always sell. They seem to have a permanent spot on the Barnes & Noble bookshelves. But, for the rest of us, there is limited shelf space left and the spots are hard to come by. So, get plenty of sleep, budget your time to research your options and make phone calls and emails. Your book is your baby and baby will need a lot of new shoes. So, keep writing and start promoting.