I want to laugh when people ask how I sold my books, because I'm always asking my friends who sell 5000 or more books a MONTH, how do YOU do it? All our paths will be different, but the biggest thing is studying books that are like yours and determining what paths they took to get where they are. It isn't difficult to start Googling a title and see where it was featured and how it got buzz. You may not be able to replicate its success, but you can learn where the big pushes came from.
For me, joining the Kindle Boards was a critical element. There I learned which ads were useless and which ones actually helped. I figured out that blog tours were about reviews, not sales, and that Tweeting to the same 500 followers just made them ignore you.
I found that there is power in numbers, and that group promotions were wonderful, as long as the group was small enough to keep each book visible but large enough to control the costs. (Ideal size is five to ten books.)
I also discovered it was critical to stay ahead of the mob. Once eReader News Today was discovered to have magic in their Book of the Day, they got booked a year in advance. Other sites, realizing they could raise prices due to overwhelming demand, priced themselves right out of author benefit, or put up so many ad opportunities that the exposure quit working.
You figure out that blogs and web sites have little pull, but big Facebook followings and enormous email subscriber lists are definitely effective.
But most of all, you learn how to balance writing and marketing, as you can't get so wrapped up in one that you forget the other.
While I'm pleased and grateful for my 5000 sales this year, I look forward to an escalation of visibility. I have a marketing plan that goes out nine months now, and I never let any book fall into obscurity if I can help it. I'm in this for the long haul.
Deanna Roy is the author of Baby Dust and Stella & Dane, interrelated novels on the difficulties on finding love and family.