1. Your own blog. Do you have your own blog? Every author should have one. It's like having your own web site which you can update and add to every single day, if you want. You can post a free chapter of your book, list your upcoming book signing events, post photos from your book signing events and discuss your latest writing projects. This post you are reading right now is posted on my own blog. I use the blogging platform Blogger, but there are other free blogging platforms such as Wordpress.com. Setting up a blog on Blogger is easy and free.
2. Paypal. Do you plan to sell your books on your blog? You'll need a way of accepting payments, and the king of online payment systems is Paypal. Have you ever wondered how you can take credit card and check payments at your book signings or at book fairs? If you have a laptop computer with wireless internet access, you can use Paypal to process these payments. Click here for a tutorial on how to set up a Paypal account, if you don't already have one.
3. Facebook or MySpace. Once you set up a blog, you'll need to start driving traffic to it. A good way to do that, and promote yourself and your book at the same time, is to get your own Facebook or MySpace account. As with your blog, you'll want your Facebook or MySpace page to offer some content of value and not seem to pushy while you're pushing your book. People want to know about you. Be yourself. MySpace and Facebook pages can also be customized, which takes a little more know-how. If you can't or don't want to do that yourself, there are services to help you do this (your Tate Publishing marketing rep can help you with this).
4. Red Room. Red Room is like Facebook or MySpace, but it's for authors. It's a great way to connect with other writers or with fans of writers.
5. Twitter. Twitter is like a mini-blog, and you enter updates of 140 characters or less at a time. I use Twitter to pass along publishing news or articles that I think are worthwhile, or to let people know I have a new blog post. Setting up a Twitter account is free and easy, and it's a great way to update your readers about what you are up to, whether its a book signing event, a new book you're writing or news about your book. You can follow me on Twitter for additional marketing tips or to send messages directly to me.
Shelfari - This is a social networking site focused on books. You can use this site to build your own bookshelf (including your books, of course) and discussing books with readers.
Craig's List - Craig's List is like the penny-saver paper for the online community. It has a section where you can post community events, which is a great place to post the information about your upcoming book signing events.
LibraryThing - You can use LibraryThing in a number of ways, such as entering your book to the list if it isn't already listed, discussing your book, listing your events and finding venues in your community which regularly host book signing events.