There is always a fleeting hope that our friends and family will help us hawk our books out into the world and that they will somehow be bought by someone who will tell all their friends and then we'll be cooking with gas cuz they'll buy all our books! Yeah, baby! And then maybe Oprah!
But the reality is that our friends and family have lives of their own, possibly books of their own, and they may tell a few people, but mostly our books will sit at the bottom of the Amazon sales list and will be returned by the independent books stores we send them out to.
The point is, after we've saturated our captive audience of friends and family with the marketing of our books, we need to somehow reach past that boundary to new readers; it is we the writers who are the ones responsible for the hawking of said books and for trying to reach those new readers.
So, it was with great interest when I ran into the Goodreads Giveaways program a couple of months ago (as a reader this means you can get free copies of books if you go through the list and find books you like; as a writer this means sign your books up!).
Any author or publisher can sign their recently published book (within the last six months) up for the program. Provide the book description, copy of the cover, ISBN, etc., as well as how many copies you are willing to give away (and remember to include how much that will be in postage when budgeting for yourself), and time limit (from a few days to a few weeks) for the giveaway.
After an approval process, Goodreads places your book on a list of books that Goodreads readers can go through and sign up for books they would be interested in receiving for free. At the end of your own self-appointed time limit, Goodreads uses their own system to choose the appropriate number of people to receive your free copies. You get their names and addresses (with the understanding that you will not be using that info for nefarious purposes) and they get your books (with the understanding that after reading your books they will post a review).
I'm crossing my fingers.