Sales of my book have been slow. There, I said it. It's the truth. There's so much more to self-publishing than writing -- indeed the writing is the easy part.
You also have to do all the marketing yourself. And if you take your foot off the gas, the engine stops. Instantly. Plus, there's a long lead time for many marketing avenues available to the small time author.
Blog reviews? You need to find the blogs, convince someone to read and then review your book, and then find time to post it.
Advertising? That can be expensive, and honestly I haven't really managed to find a good plan for where to spend advertising dollars.
This was never a money making proposition for me. I knew going in that I would be lucky to even receive one residual/royalty check from Amazon (still haven't) because the margins are thin and I don't know the first thing about promotion.
The one message I do hear repeated often is that in order to get any kind of real promotion to be worth the time and effort, you have have a lot of reviews out there for your book. In my case, I'm talking about reviews over on sites like (and almost exclusively) Amazon. (as of this writing, I'm stuck at 7 reviews...)
The more positive reviews you have, the more likely someone is to take a chance on picking up a book from an unknown author and the more likely some more popular websites might mention the book. Etc. It's a snowball effect.
One way to get reviews (other than begging friends and family) is to offer free copies of your book in exchange for reviews. You can also just do blind "book giveaways" on sites like Goodreads (paperback only) or Library Thing (ebooks ok) or many others.
I went ahead and did a giveaway at Goodreads (they automate much of the process for you, but in the end, you still need to physically mail your books out yourself) and today I just mailed the books to the 10 lucky winners. I included a brief note with the book, congratulating them on the win, hoping they enjoy the book, and asking for them to consider reviewing it.
But was it really worth it? We'll know in a few weeks, I suppose. But honestly, it can be expensive to do book giveaways. For my Goodreads giveaway, I probably spent over $70. I'd have to sell over 35 printed books to break even.