I just returned from Bloody Words, a mystery writer's conference in Toronto. I think it's important to attend as many as this kind of event as you can afford when you're trying to build an audience for your book. I haven't really sold a lot of copies at events like this-- one at Bouchercon, one at Sleuthfest and one at BW. But I know I'm building my name recognition.
I also post on several list serves, such as DorothyL and Murder Must Advertise. Several people came up to me at BW and said that they recognized my name from DorothyL and wanted to say hello. It was nice to meet them, and to connect a face to some of the names I've seen online.
This morning, I made a post to DorothyL about the conference-- how well run it was, and all the people I'd met. That post served to inform the online community about the con, as well as to give me a chance to get my name out again.
Everyone I've spoken to agrees-- it's a lot of work to promote your book. But if, like me, you're in this for the long haul-- I want to make a career out of writing-- I consider it an investment in my future. And along the way, I'm having fun at conferences. I'm learning from panel discussions and from posts about writing, marketing, and mysteries. Sure, I'm not spending as much time writing as I should-- but at least this sort of thing is a lot more productive than computer solitaire!