A few months before my first book, Summer Rain, was published, I read that once a book is published, that was when the real work began. 
   I didn't understand how this could be true; after all the writing, editing, correcting, sending my manuscript back and forth with my publishing company and having to OK each step, then rinse and repeat when mistakes were found ... how could there possibly be any more to it once my book was released?
   Now I understand.
   Once a book has been released, someone (mostly the author) must announce the book to the general reading audience.
   Prior to my book release, I wrote a Marketing Plan - a list of all the places I felt would be a good fit with my particular book. Because I wrote an historical fiction novel based on the Trail of Tears and Cherokee life, I first started with book stores and museums that specialized in this genre and started a list.
   To break it down for those who don't know how to start the process, it's really pretty simple, and a plain notebook will do fine. Unless you want to use the computer and keep records that way (which is usually what I do). 
   You will need 7 columns and they will be titled, left to right: Name of Retailer, Contact Person, Address, Phone, Fax, Website, Date Sent.
   I was able to fit 21 businesses on one sheet; once your book is released and you have a case of at least 50 copies of your book (yes, promotion for your book is going to be expensive), you're going to sit down and either phone or email each contact person to pitch your book. If a business does react favorably, you can offer to mail them a copy of your book to read so they may decide whether or not it would be a good fit for their stock. You can even request that in return for the free copy of the book, they leave a review on Amazon for you. (I know many authors who request if the book is not what the retailer is searching for, they donate your book to the local library.)
   It's a good idea to have your business cards printed a month prior to book release so you can place a few inside the book when you send it to each perspective retailer. I also have a small notepad with my book cover watermarked on each sheet so I may add a personal hand-written note with each book.
The next step is the waiting game.
   If you published with a company that only posts your sales quarterly, you will have at least 3 months to wait before finding out whether you've sold even one single copy. Depending on where your book was released during that company's sales department's record-keeping schedule, it is possible not to know what your sales are like for up to 6 months after your book release.
   During this time, you, as a published author, have a lot to get done!
   Twitter, Face Book, your own blog, landing interviews, hosting giveaways (yes, promoting your book is expensive, people) and finding all the online advertising outlets you can - is going to eat up a bunch of your time.
   And somewhere in there you still need to get back into that whole writing-your-next-book thing!
   Add to the mix: family, household duties, feeding the pets and if you still have them during this most hectic time of your life - you gotta keep up with your friends!
   Yes, now I understand why experienced authors warn newbies about how very busy your life will become once that book has been released!