A comment on Facebook had me thinking about promotion and what works. Now, there are all sorts of theories about this, ranging from dumb luck to relentless self promotion and all points in between. Yet I think the most important question to ask yourself is a simple one: what makes you buy a book?
The answer will be different for different people. I will impulse buy a physical book in general only if it is on the shelves of a book shop, where I can be caught by the cover, enjoy the blurb, and read a page or two to make sure I enjoy the writing. It's no surprise that this kind of presence seems to make a big difference for many authors' sales, yet achieving it without the backing of a large publisher is obviously tricky.
So what about online? Here's the thing. I will generally only buy someone's book, no matter how hard they are promoting it, if I have read their writing and enjoy it. Reviews occasionally influence me a little, but I don't read a huge number of reviews. Recommendations from friends will also make me buy books, but my friends don't make a habit of coming up to me and saying 'you must read this' even when they are voracious readers.
So mostly, it's about whether I have the opportunity to read your writing. Oh, and occasionally whether you have a really pretty cover. Which means that I now need to come up with opportunities for people to read mine. I sense short stories ahead.