Your publisher is surprisingly limited in how much effort and money he can spend marketing your book. Surprised? Well, marketing falls into the category of “you can get ‘em into the bookstore but you can’t make ‘em buy your book.”
That means that you have to do a fair amount of work on your own. The big obvious effort is to get yourself hired as a speaker at a technical conference. You can wave your book around before and after your presentation, and, depending on the arrangement with your publisher about who owns the content, you might even speak from one of your chapters. If there’s a bookseller at the event, try to set up a signing (in advance). If there’s nothing formal set up, just hanging out with the bookseller stimulates sales because you can chat with people. The more people with whom you socialize, the better word gets out about how great you are.
If your book is available on Amazon, ask everyone you know to buy through them and to review the book there. You can use Amazon to keep track of what other books pop up about the same subject and how they’re doing compared to yours. Go ahead and get yourself a pseudonym and fake address and write a glowing review of your own book. What. You think other authors don’t do that?
Do Bing and Google searches and see who’s talking about your topic. Draft a letter of shameless self-promotion, and go ahead and send it to them, asking them to read your book. If they like it, they’ll plug it. If they don’t like it, they’ll still mention it and bad press is better than no press. Be sure to sign up for Bing and Google search coverage.
Blog about it. If you don’t have a blog, get one. Ask your friends, relatives, and colleagues to blog about it. If you belong to a collective (like Friendster, Tribe, MySpace or another blog collective, like Office Zealot) get a jpg of the cover and write a little blurb about it to put on the splash page. Office Zealot, where my blog once lived, has a nice little corner for books. With over a hundred bloggers and countless hits every day, even if your book only gets pushed once a week, that’s a lot of viewers.
Repeat your Bing/Google search with Feedster, which is a kind of search engine for blogs. They list a lot of blogs indeed, and you can maybe talk a few people that blog on your topic into plugging your book. They might even plug your book if they offer a competing book. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Send copies to people in highly visible places, like keynote speakers at conferences and other speakers whose attendance is enormous. You can’t make them read it, but they won’t forget that you sent them a present. You might be able to talk your publisher into providing marketing copies for these efforts. Often, they’ll even provide the shipping if you supply names and addresses. Talk to your Acquisitions Editor about it.
Call your alma mater and schools that teach your topic. If you can chat with instructors, tell them to contact the publisher for desk copies. If they adopt your book, so will other schools. Extended education (after work classes) is most likely to want you to teach from the book, and if you can do it, that will look good on your resume, too.
Look for magazines that cover (or might cover) your topic. Propose to them that you write an article on the subject and mention the book in your biography. Most likely, you won’t be able to reuse text from the book itself because the publisher has copyright, but you can apply for permission to reprint. It’s not likely that the publisher will stand in your way, as they’re profiting from your efforts too. Just don’t do it without permission, okay? That’s a good way to get sued by your publisher and lose any chance of another contract with ANY publisher.
If your topic is a Microsoft product or add-in, even if your take on Microsoft isn’t completely positive, contact them about writing for MSDN. They can take criticism pretty darned well, and they often make product changes based on it (or hire the criticizer to fix the problem). Be sure to see what else is on their site and pitch something that hasn’t been covered. Don’t expect to recycle anything that you’ve published anywhere else here but MSDN is a great place to plug your book in your biography.
There are surely other ideas for getting the word out about your book. If you think of any, let me know.