Often I've been asked what I did to build a fan-base and get the attention of the reading public. For a long time I didn't really have the answer. And though I still haven't figured it all out, after the past two years, I am beginning to narrow it down.
First-COVER!!! And not just any old cover made at your PC from cheap stock art or a picture your husband or wife came up with. If you want attention, this is the first thing people will see. If your cover screams "amateur", the reader will assume you are one of those people who doesn't bother with editing, proofing, or beta reading. They imagine themselves sifting through page after page of double words, misspellings, plot holes, and grammatical errors. A professional cover tells the reader that you care about your work and that you might be worth taking a chance on.
Second-Editing-Once you have your cover, you need a good editor. I don't mean a over-priced proofer. I mean a real editor. And so you know - a real editor costs real money. Your English teacher at your old high school is NOT an editor. An editor is an editor. And be certain you understand the type of editing you need. I recommend two. A developmental editor and a line editor. This can get pricey. But then you must ask yourself if your work is worth the expense. Especially if you intend to publish and sell to the public.
Third-Proofing. Editing is not proofing. Proofing is proofing. Use at least three GOOD proofers. Pay them! If you don't, you'll get what you pay for.
Fourth-Send your book to five beta readers. Be sure they read books in your genre. That may seem to go without saying. But I've read several critiques from beta readers that began with "I don't normally read in this genre." Once you get your feedback, look to see if three betas agree about the same issue. If so, you should take it seriously. If not, still pay attention, but you may decide to ignore the advice.
Now you're ready to begin. Yes. You've only just begun. But you will certainly be off to a good start.