I'm trying to sell my car (because I'm getting a new awesome one!) and it's made me think about marketing yourself, which is applicable here.
Promotion is a pain. It is also, unfortunately, how you sell books. While it would be delightful to write a book and then never do anything again and have it sell millions of copies, that's just not how it works. Promotion and marketing are especially important if you're published with a small press or self-published. The big publishers will do more to promote your books, but unless you're one of their best sellers, you can still be doing more.
You can always do more.
But, don't be obnoxious about it. That's your basic rule of thumb, I think. Like anything, promotion is good in reasonable quantities. If you overdo it, people will want to hit you. Trust me, I will.
I love Twitter. I think it's a fabulous way to connect with people, see what people are up to, and it's especially great in the writer community. But there are inevitably those people who sign up for an account and then spam-blast their 2 followers every hour on the hour with promotional tweets. Uh, no. That's not why ANYONE followed you. Same goes for Facebook. The people who follow you or like you or are friends with you are there because they're interested in you. In your books too, sure, but you as a person more. So go ahead and promote yourself on Twitter or Facebook or other social networking sites, but don't let that be the only thing you do.
Be personal, let people into your life a little bit. I'm not saying show them pictures of where you sleep, but let them get to know you. Whether that's funny stories about how your writing was going, typos that made you giggle, or whatever, but don't make it all promotion. Because I (and most of the rest of the universe) are likely to unfollow you as fast as possible and possibly report you for spam.
Most people seem to have gotten the hang of social networking these days, fortunately. But word to the wise, real life is like that too. (What? Life is like the internet? No way! It's true. Fewer cats, probably. I digress). Asking your friends and family to buy your book is great. Please do not badger them about it. People have a variety of reasons for not being able to purchase a book. I'm pretty sure your Uncle George is not the reason you didn't make it on the New York Times bestseller list.
There you have it. Promote, but not too much. Just don't be obnoxious.
Words to live by :)