Speaking specifically about authors and books, I understand why an author in today's competitive market needs to self-promote. I understand about 'name recognition' and 'branding'. At the very least an author should maintain an updated website, blog, send newsletters (or submit information to industry newsletters), submit articles to industry websites and magazines, and particpate in interviews. Marketing budget permitting, one should run ads in noted print venues, purchase banners and/or author features, schedule on-line chats, hold contests and givaways.
Beyond the above basics there is a whole new world involving book trailors and podcasts and . . . the list goes on. Authors JA Konrath and MJ Rose are marketing gurus. They are also mega-energized. They routinely blog about the importance of self-promotion and offer valuable insight and advice.
I read, I absorb, I practice what is preached within my limit--time and money wise. But frankly, the more I learn, the more I feel like I'm not doing enough. The more I wish I could afford a publicist. The more I dread researching and implementing promotions because, as is, I don't have enough time for the actual 'writing'.
It must be done and I'm doing it. Picking and choosing as wisely as possible. But seriously, honestly..... it makes my head hurt.
"If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying "Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday," that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flower bed, that's publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. If the town's citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they'll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that's sales." -- Unknown