Your masterpiece is written, spelling and grammar has been checked, your blurb is perfect and your cover design is out of the world. All you have to do now is sit back and watch the sales roll in, right? Not by a long-shot!
Indie authors have some advantages over traditionally published authors - we have complete control over the content of our work, we can control the cover design and even how quickly we publish our works. However, unlike traditionally published authors, most indie authors do not have a large marketing and distribution budget behind us. In reading many author discussion boards, this sometimes even holds true for traditionally published authors (with the obvious exception being the big names in the industry - Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, etc.).
Even if you have written a story worthy of a Noble prize, what good is it if nobody knows the book exists? Not much, that's for sure!
There is an enormous number of "advertising" companies that target Indie authors and that are more than happy to help you part with your hard-earned dollars. The number of truly effective Indie book markets however, is up for debate, and based on my personal experience and the experiences of other Indie authors, not many are all that effective.
The most effective advertising that I have personally found for my print and e-books is through BookBub and Amazon Marketing Services. Each company offers a pay-per-click advertising service which can be as inexpensive or as expensive as your budget allows.
Each company caters specifically to print and e-book readers, which is a significant advantage when you are trying to sell your books. Other companies that simply send out mass emails and tweets to everyone on their mailing list may be less effective. As with all advertising, you want to target your reader base as much as possible. There is no sense trying to sell a woman's romance book to a middle-aged man who's interest only lies in 4x4 off road mud bog races. It is highly unlikely he would buy your romance book (but hey, anything is possible!).
For me, BookBub and Amazon have been effective forms of marketing. I can set my own key words that help zero in on the readers that would be interested in my books, set a cost-per-click bid amount, and then set a daily or monthly budget limit for my advertising. If I find that I am paying for clicks but not receiving any sales, I change my ad, keywords and budget accordingly.
Since I began using both of these advertising services, I have seen a steady increase in my print and e-book sales. While I am still not a best-seller, I am pleased with the return on investment for the advertising. In the past, when I have paid anywhere from $5.00 - $250.00 for other advertising (usually mass emails), I have not been pleased with the results.
BookBub is a website designed for authors and readers, so the target market is perfect for an author. Amazon's marketing also targets readers including the increasingly important Kindle Unlimited members which also makes this a good advertising investment. However, both forms of advertising can become very expensive, very quickly.
When you decide to use pay-per-click advertising, I strongly suggest that you always set a daily budget limit so you don't end up with a nasty bill at the end of your advertising campaign. I normally set a budget of $5-$7 per day and then closely monitor the results. It is important to remember that you ONLY pay when a potential reader clicks on your ad, not by the number of times your ad is shown to potential readers. As with any advertising, exposure is key, and the more times your ad is shown, the higher the possibility that you will make a sale.
Both advertising formats allow the advertiser to monitor the number of impressions (meaning the number of times your ad is shown), the cost per click (amount you pay when a potential reader clicks on your ad), and the number of estimated sales. If you find that your number of impressions is very high, but the conversion rate to sales is very low, you may want to redesign your ad, adjust your keywords or even adjust your book's price.
Advertising your Indie books takes time and effort, but as you see the sales start to grow, it quickly becomes a worthwhile exercise.