Ah, another trick question to which I do not have an answer. But, since we are so near Christmas, I will tell you what works for me and what doesn't as a gift. Keep in mind, this does not mean it will work for you, and some of the things I have tired and failed at do work for others.
Expensive ads do not work. An investment of $350 to place an ad did not amount to one discernable sale, not even at the local bookstore. I asked myself when I ever bought a book because of an ad placed in any magazine and replied to me, "Never." I buy from reviews, book club recommendations, the word of friends, or a favorite author. All of these are free but hard to come by.
Blog tours do not work for me, though I often get offers to have one set up for me for a fee. Frankly, most bloggers will let you take over the task for nothing. I did four guest blogs for Mardi Gras Madness and Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball. Though some of the spots gave me lovely layouts, only one resulted in a few sales. It takes time and thought to create a good blog geared toward the site. So far this has not paid off for me. Yet, I will be blogging once a month at a new site, www.romancingthejock.com starting in January. Designed especially for women who love sports romances, we have a target audience. Eleven other authors are participating. If you like blogs, take a look at it. Will it increase my sales? I'll have to wait and see.
Promotional items are fun, but mostly people pick them up and do not buy your book. The wisdom here is to offer something people will take home like pens and notepads. I give away fabulous flaming foam footballs. The footballs amuse the children while the mothers browse your offerings and do have order information stuck to them. Usually, I will throw one in free with a sale or give them to any who ask nicely. As for the woman who squeezed and coveted my balls and then said she didn't want any of my books in a rather nasty manner-her I charged a dollar. I am under no illusion that any sales ever came from them. I scarf up free pens and such, but rarely even read the imprints. Bookmarks and magnets just get thrown out. Save your money.
Postcards work for me, but often not for others. However, I do not give them out wholesale and never do a mailing. Like everyone else, I order from Vista Print and design my own. The front is my bookcover, the back: a blurb, order information, and other books in the series. I give them to people who show an interest and might later order on their Nook or Kindle as a reminder. Where do I find these people-everywhere. Last night I handed out a few at a party. When I go on vacation, I give them out to other people on the tour, especially if I cannot take any of my books along. By the time I get home, I usually notice an increase in sales.
Face-to-face meetings sell books far more than book signings, though I've had good ones and bad ones. I've worked up two lectures: Adventures in E-publishing and Writing the Historical Novel. Generally, I will have sales after addressing a group and more later from those who buy the e-book. The hard part is finding places to host you and getting people to attend. I have filled entire rooms and fallen flat on my face when only two people showed up (neither bought a book). A recent readers' luncheon I attended gained me twelve new readers.
Art walks and arts and crafts fairs also work well for me, but beware of paying much money for a special booth. Unless the space is free or very cheap, I wouldn't bother. You will never make up the cost in sales. I know one man who keeps up his membership in an art group simply to sell his books at their events. He doesn't paint at all, yet always has sales.
This has gotten long and must end with wishing you Happy Holidays and a Great New Year- with lots of books sales and new contracts galore!