For those who have chosen a self-publishing route like Lulu, you may well be asking: well, if I can publish my book myself, what was the point in trying so hard to get a literary agent/publisher in the first place? The answer is one word: marketing. That's the most important difference. Your own personal agent has years of connections and contacts who can not only distribute your book in all those coveted bookstore windows, proofread and edit, get promotional articles printed in leading newspapers and literary magazines, promote your book to major 'Golden Globe'-type book competitions and TV programmes like Richard and Judy, but also get you, the author, a handsome 6-figure advance on future royalties.
But now, back to the real world. That elusive agent/publisher didn't want to know, so you must go it alone.
There are various on-line marketing techniques you can try.
1. Make yourself a free website (like this one) and add the Lulu icon to your book in a prominent position. Your bloggers can then simply click and buy your book quickly and easily directly from Lulu.
2. Advertise. A simply way is to add an automatic signature at the foot of all your emails, e.g. 'Hot off the presses, Olga Swan's new book 'Paradis' now available. Click on lulu.com/olgaswan to read a free preview."
3. For more sophistical advertising, you might wish to invest in various offers, like the one below. However, as with all advertising, there is no guarantee of sales. But you have to be in it, to win it. so nothing ventured...
4. Some offer a payable 'click' service. A click is when someone clicks on your ad in the sponsored search results on Google, Yahoo! or MSN. Your ad can be viewed over a million times, but is not considered a click until someone clicks on your ad to go the web site. For example, if your book is about how to grow roses, your ad might show on a web site dedicated to growing roses. What is a landing page? A landing page is where you want your customers to go. It can be your Lulu storefront or your Lulu content page. When someone clicks on your ad, they will be directly taken to your landing page. If you pay for this service, you will be asked to provide a few words that describe your book. You will eventually be sent a detailed report showing how many people visited your landing page each day as soon as your allotment of clicks has been delivered.
5. So, if you want to pay for one of these marketing techniques to boost sales, search your self-publishing website for 'marketing tools', and off you go.
6. There are other things you, yourself, can do. Contact your local BBC Radio Station, especially if your newly-published book is about local issues. I did just that and appeared on a BBC Radio WM programme, that was streamed all over the world (so my family could hear me live). Contact your local book store and ask them if they would be prepared to stock your book. However, most are not interested in POD because there are no sale-or-return possibilities. You would need to invest heavily by first buying a stack of 'author-discounted' copies yourself, then taking them around to any store that has agreed to sell them for you. Negotiation with the store manager over percentages is crucial in this case.
........So, that's all there is to it! Not easy, but if you are successful, the world's the limit as JKR discovered. My own feeling on JKR is that she was very very lucky. In this world you need to give the right message to the right person at the right time. But she managed it, so why not you? Good luck!