You’ve written and self-published the Great ______ (fill in your country’s name here) novel and now you’re ready to share your book with the world. What do you do first?

One of the most difficult, if not challenging aspects of self-publishing—whether it’s an eBook, a POD(Print on Demand) or a book published with a traditional printer—is how to market and promote your book.

Unless you’re willing to drop a couple thousand dollars for a marketing package through some of the more popular self-publishing houses such as Lulu, Dog-Eared, or Author House, you are left, if you can excuse the pun, to your own design.

How then do you promote the book you spent x amount of weeks, months, and in some cases, years slaving over? How do you get your book out in the public eye once you have sold all the copies you could to family and friends—either in person or through social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace? More importantly, how do you generate an interest in cyber space for your book without breaking the bank—your bank, that is—and spending all that hard earned cash from your book sales?

Years ago, when I visited Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago for the first time with one of my very close friends, who at one time worked for the store, one of the first things I did (per his suggestion) was ask one of the clerks, what books he recommended. After I listened to his list of books he had read recently, he pointed me to a display of books that were the staff’s picks.

This is what we might do when we visit a traditional brick and mortar book shop when we’re looking for a book. And it’s not that different online. If you’ve been involved with self-publishing for any length of time, you’ve probably already know the importance of having people who’ve read your book, write a review of it for such places as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Without question, it is the most direct way of getting your book noticed once it is out there in cyber space. Having a review of your book posted online is like those staff picks at Barbara’s—steering readers in the right direction.

How important are reviews? This past weekend, my Korean War novel War Remains shot up the charts to Number 9 on Amazon’s Top 100 Korean War books for a brief period. However, what was even more remarkable was that my novel was one of the most top-rated books. That’s how important reviews are for generating interest and creating more visibility for your book. For a few hours, my novel was getting a lot of visibility, and thanks to those reviews, more people bought my book.

Of course, getting people to write reviews is not always easy. Many people are either too busy to sit down to take the time to write a review or perhaps, they are worried about their writing ability. If either one is the case, you might want to create some sort of a contest, like having a drawing for a free autographed book to those who write reviews. And if you have a little money to spend, you might even have a drawing for a Kindle or Nook reader.

Another thing you could do, though it is a little time-consuming, is ask certain authors for a free copy of their eBook to review and in return, share a free copy of your book for them to review. Many authors are more than willing to share a free eBook for a review. What makes this option appealing is that on Amazon, you can list your book in the review—thereby increasing your book’s visibility through your review.

Do all these things work? Yes, they do. I know from my own experience that I have been able to sell more books and create more interest in my books through reviews.

These are just a couple things you can do to promote and market your book through reviews—whether the reviews people write about your books or the ones you write. In the marketing and promotion game, it’s all about visibility and getting your book and your name out there. Good Luck!