Whether you are going the traditional publishing route or are self-publishing there are a number of things you need to do before the book makes it to market.
First, you need to create an awareness of your book. Let people know what it is, when it is coming out, and why they will be interested. Social media has become an excellent vehicle for getting the word out about your forthcoming book. Most of it is free except for the time you put into it. If you are a writer, you should be able to write something about it. Are you excited about the book? Let people know why it’s going to be the best thing they will read this year.
Second, raise your profile. Many people will buy a book from someone they know. I see hundreds of books on store shelves, on the internet, and at various other locations around where I live. If I don’t know who these people are I generally don’t even bother to pick up a copy to look at it. Once your book has been sold (or given) to family and friends, what’s next? If you have hundreds of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and other sites, that raises your profile and also the awareness of the book you will have coming out. Your chances of sales outside of your immediate group goes up considerably.
Third, gather as much information as you can about local and regional media as you can. A well written news release sent to TV, radio, and other news sources about a new book from a local author will usually end up in being commented on some where. Let them know weeks ahead of time and offer a pre-release or advance review copy. Then as the release date draws near let them know again and make note you are available for interviews. If you have set up a book signing or other release appearances, let them know that too.
Finally, as the publication date approaches make sure you keep people aware of the launch date. Try a giveaway on your Facebook page or Goodreads. If you offer a copy in a contest format that describes the book and you, the author, there are going to be a lot of people that will drop their name to enter the contest. This database of information you collect can be used after the book comes out offering a “first edition” copy with free shipping, at a discount or some other enticement.
None of this will happen overnight. It can take weeks if not months to get everything in place and build a good following. One reason people you do not know will follow you is that you are writing and posting interesting content on your Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter account. Extended content can go onto a blog page from places like Wordpress.
Why did I start this noting that this is important for not only self-published but traditionally published authors? A lot of publishers can only devote so much time to any given project. If you are looking for a traditional publisher or are being considered by one, being able to show a strong following and public awareness will pique their interest over someone who has not done some of the groundwork for raising awareness of the author and your book.