Published by a commercial imprint or self-published, marketing your book falls on your shoulders. You can depend on the publishing house to secure venues to publicize your book, but, in all cases, the readers want to hear from and/or rub elbows with the author of their favorite genre.
Why is this you ask. Well, you as an author have built a world or situation that takes the reader away from their humdrum lives. You take them into a place where they can live out a situation or fantasy that they don’t have the ability or (in some cases) the courage to experience.
Take me for example. I am an introvert with many phobias. I’m claustrophobic, I have a fear of heights, and I am afraid of flying, etc. So, what do I write, I write science fiction that takes place in the future, on other planets and more than scary for me, out in space. And how do we get from one place to another? We FLY in metal ships that, in most cases, have cramped quarters and are speeding through the nothingness of space.
The scene I get the most comments on is one where a passenger on the protagonist’s ship lets his fear of flying influence a dream he has while flying to a newly colonized world. It accentuates his fear of being caught in the depths of space with nothing to support him — no air, no rescue, and a tight, one-person escape pod to climb into.
Or, take the author of Seraphim Sword, Jeff Ketner, whose book we released on November 15th. He has lived confined to a wheelchair with MS all his life. He created a world in his book where he runs free to chase demons and witches. He writes his fantasy of freedom – to move about unfettered and fight the evils of the world he created.
These are the reasons why readers want to hear from the author, not the publisher. To see why and question how they came up with the story that sucked them into the author’s world. This is why James Patterson’s publisher never holds his books up on the commercials. The readers want to see Mr. Patterson and hear why he thinks his new book is right for them to read.
Authors who attend book signings or shows and sit back in a chair at the back of the booth (or as I watched on one occasion an author who knitted and ignored her prospective customers) are the ones who sell nothing. If you stand outside the booth or at the table and talk to prospective buyers as they pass, you have a chance to sell that book you slaved over. I know one author who does magic tricks to entice customers to his table. Myself, I tell my authors to keep a bowl of candy on the edge of their table and a poster of reviews behind them.
Just like publishers who receive thousands/millions of submissions each year are overwhelmed by who to choose, readers are inundated by the number of books produced each year. Why should they choose your book? What does it offer them? They will never know if you, the author, don’t let them in on the secret.
So, to sum it up, advertising a novel is more productive when done by the author. If authors care about their books and are proud to show them off, then the reader might be intrigued enough to take a chance purchasing a copy.