Bearing in mind this is only my opinion, and entirely based on my first year being a published author, all I ask is that you research, research, research. What didn't work for me, might work for you, but don't throw caution to the wind. Educate yourself and ensure you weigh the pros and cons of my points.
Spend Your Hard Earned Money Wisely
DON'T buy customized swag (postcards, pens, etc...)
Unless you're attending conferences, or planning on doing several joint giveaways, this was pointless. It was exciting at first to have such pretty postcards done up, but they were essentially a money pit.
DO consider hiring a promotional book tour company.
Prices do range, but I'd highly recommend that you confer with other authors in your specific genre to see who they've hired. Some of the prices can average around $50+, the amount of exposure is beneficial.
INVEST in your online presence, but don't be afraid to be frugal.
Aside from social media outlets like: Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, a free blog through: Weebly, Wordpress or Blogger, is a nice way to start presenting yourself seriously. You can buy a domain from those sites and start off small. While a full blown site would be nice to have, until you've built up an audience, I've found the blogging method a great way to interact with others, and the fact that it's cost effective is a bonus. If you're feeling particularly ambitious but still don't have the money for a web designer, Wix offers some really neat solutions to creating your own website. Drag and drop. Easy peasy. In the event you're looking for a web designer, at the end of this series, I'll be posting the links to some recommended professionals.
DON'T think just because you got one bad review you should change your pen name, and purchase the domain for another.
This was a hard lesson learned. Trust me. We all get bad reviews, but at the end of the day, when you find your audience they will follow you any where you go. Besides, domains cost money. Money that you have to continually invest, even if it never flies. Save those hard earned bucks for a freelance editor if you feel the need to drop money. Which leads on to my next point.
DO consider hiring a freelance editor.
Whether you're self publishing or considering on submitting to a big time publisher, an editor can make the world of difference. Critique partners an amazing part of the process, but a freelance editor can be what makes or breaks the opportunity in your manuscript being snapped up in a jiffy. If you're going the self publishing road, you really should already be doing this. In my case, I used a freelance editor in almost every project that I've released this last year. I can't praise this option enough. Once again, I'll post my recommendations at the end of this series.
Well, that's it for now. Stay tuned for part two. :)