If I had to give advice to writers who are trying to get 'out there' - be it face-to-face exposure or online networking, that would be the first thing I'd tell them. But there's a second. Study up, so you actually do know what you're doing!
We all have to start somewhere, but imagine if that writer were on a book tour, or being interviewed. Pretty awful, right?
I think writers forget that when they publish a book, they're putting themselves in the public eye. Whether we're going indie or big six, traditional or e-book, when we take that first step into publishing, we're out there. People can see us and we have to make sure they like what they see.
When we're new writers we make big fat hairy mistakes - a lot. I broke a ton of rules when I queried for the first time. (if you want to know, I can refer you to the blog post where I confess them). And when friends of friends asked what my book was about I mumbled something about a Victorian girl and faeries. Since then, I've gotten a lot better with both, but I'm not published yet.
Right now, I'm studying up. I'm learning the business. I'm networking with writers, editors, agents (when I get the chance), and trying to absorb as much as I can. That's what I'd suggest to any budding novelist or potential author. Learn your trade, know what's out there, rub elbows with people who might be doing things a little differently. You'll definitely learn something.
If you can do that, and be genuine and gracious and charming even when you're not sure how to answer me, you'll definitely look like you know what you're doing! And even if you don't really know, I won't remember. I'll remember how nice you were, and how great your book sounds.