There's a big pond stretching in front of you, and it's a pond full of frogs, and you're sitting on the shore. Now, not every frog will like what you're writing (I had my first one star review today, so this is good timing). Not every frog will read your genre (it astounds me. Stop press! Not everyone likes sexy space pilots. I can't begin to tell you how unfathomable that is...) The frogs that do read your genre might prefer a different type of book than you write: they might be into fantasy, not space; science, not characters; intrigue rather than linear plots that unravel.
Somehow, you have to start to fill that pond with ripples, if you want to reach the people who will like what you write. Each frog you reach touches another, and another, and another until it gets to a frog who does happen to like Space Opera with characterisation and not a little bit of darkness (just for the sake of argument...)
Here's how I've tried to fill my pond with ripples.
1. Platforms - we're all bored of hearing about them. You need a platform. You need more than one.
Frankly, if I tried to extend my current platforms I'd never write. I blog, I facebook, I tweet, I forum on more than one forum. It all takes time. (And explains to my mum why I'm always on my sodding phone when I pick her up - Ka-zing, in that one minute the facebook posts are caught up on).
So, yes, platforms, but be smart about them. Try to share content across them - my blog goes onto facebook, twitter and some of the forums I'm on (depending on subject matter).But! I hate it when people I follow auto tweet to facebook and twitter and it's the same message. They're different mediums. I tweet less than I facebook, but when I do tweet it's bespoke to twitter (and uses hashtags, where my facebook posts don't.)
Each platform reaches different people, and each person causes a ripple, just like frogs jumping into the pond (Sorry, I hope you're not all offended at becoming frogs.)
Sometimes, if I'm lucky someone shares to forums I'm not on (a share of a blog recently on fantasy faction got me lots of hits - thank you, oh kind froggy person).
2. Short stories. Forums are all well and good, but what does it tell anyone about my writing style? I might be the chattiest, funniest person in the world online (I'm not, as it happens), but my stories might stink.
Short stories are a really useful platform for getting your writing out there. Plus - and this is a biggy - they reach readers. In your genre. Who might like your style enough to find out more. But - share them! I have some free stories up on the web at http://www.kraxon.com/writers/jo-zebedee/. I've shared those in lots of places - on my website, here, on forums, on my bibliography. It helps the magazine by bringing traffic, it helps me by giving the much-needed exposure (plus I was paid for them. Just to be clear about that. )
3. Guest posts, blogs etc. Basically, if someone asks me if I'd write something, I say yes. Guest posts, guest blogs, you name it, I'll pull one together. Because, again - each one reaches new people. Yes, they take time but, thanks to my RSA typing qual, not that much.
4. Interviews. Early on another writer questioned if I was wasting my time doing interviews. Surely, the books were what mattered and until people had read them, no one would be interested. I think, in general, this was good advice.
But I enjoy interviews! I like talking. I'm interested in others, so I also interview back from time to time. And those interviews turn up in all sorts of places. (An early one I did gets retweeted on about a monthly basis, and each time new people find it.)
Ditto podcasts, tv, radio and local press - each can be shared. Each touches a new frog and, remember, it's all about the frogs.
5. Don't look down your nose at local coverage. Those closest to you are often the most supportive - we all like to give a leg-up to someone giving something a go.
Plus, local coverage appears on line now. It gets shared on social media, and often in a different market than you were.
I could go on and on about all the different ways to fill the pond. I'm about to spend the weekend at Comic Con, promoting and talking to people (who I will now struggle not to see as frogs. Let there be no Kermit cosplay...). It's not just about the sales (none of this is all about the sales, although, obviously, sales are what makes writing viable) but about interacting, about reaching new people, about new opportunities. (I once did a signing session where one person turned up who didn't already know me - thank you, oh that person - and could have written off as a loss. But, just at the end, someone recognised me from my professional life - the one where I'm not a writer - and gave me a useful contact. That contact brought in about five sales....)
I'll not keep going. You get the picture. Now, start to go out there and find some froggies to start your ripples spreading.