I recently attended a one-day workshop that had Jimmy Thomas as the speaker.
If you're in the romance publishing area, he is a well known commodity. Jimmy Thomas is a cover model and he's on about a bazillion covers. See Romance Novel Center -- that's Jimmy, on the cover.
The thing that was very interesting about this workshop was his business acumen. Yes, he's a hunky guy with a great personality and very appealing eye candy. But from the minute he got into the cover business, as it were, he has controlled his destiny. He came up with the idea of stock covers (see the stock cover page) for authors in self-publishing (and for publishers). He knows how to set up a photo shoot and understands what makes an appealing cover. He created a "community" where authors can hang out and interact with others who are interested in cover art, etc.
He has made a career from his looks, true, but he's also set up a future for himself so he doesn't have to depend on his current appeal to support him. It's like creating a back list for an author -- have those books out there so people can discover them. They may read your 25th book (like mine, which came out a few weeks ago) then say, "hey, I want to read more" and they'll go searching for that back list.
The best way to sell is word of mouth -- reviews, recommendations, 'home grown' publicity. Jimmy Thomas has built up his reputation by providing a nice product at a reasonable price with consistent quality. Authors can learn from this. Always put forth your best work. Always remember with any book you are making a first impression with someone who just picked you up (as an author).
Work hard, do the kind of work you're comfortable doing, enjoy yourself, and focus on your career. That's what he did and it's working. I came away with a few new ideas and a reaffirmation of what I'm doing: writing the best book I can and making sure my products are available for a reasonable cost.
Thanks, Jimmy, for a very enjoyable day. You go, boy...