In an online discussion about writing, one participant asked when was the best time to start promoting. As I was responding, it suddenly dawned on me I had a blog post!
So, when is the best time to start publicizing your book? At least year before you even sign a contract. Better yet, two years or even three. All the research says if you wait until you’re published, it’s too late since it takes three years for a book to take hold. (The traditional book publishers cheat new authors when they give them a mere six weeks to make or break.) Book promotion isn’t like selling gardening hoses, where you simply have a product to sell. In book promotion, the product is you, not your book. And it’s about name recognition. So start a blog — talk about your writing, your hopes, your successes and failures. Post scenes for critique. Get readers involved in the process, so that when you do sign a contract, they feel as if they have a stake in your book and, as writes, we know that to hook a reader, they must have something at stake.
One reason why so many fail at blogging is that most bloggers do not get the feedback that one gets on places like Gather who award points for participation, because blog readers have no reason to comment. But the stats can show you if people are looking.
Another reason why blogs fail is that the bloggers don’t give them a chance. It takes a year, maybe two or even three to build up a base of readers and a library of articles. People read about the blogs that get millions of readers and expect the same, but those blogs are a miniscule minority.
Facebook is another place where you can start your pre-publicity publicity by gaining “friends.” It takes a long time to build up a name there, but it’s mostly about connecting with anyone you can, posting notes (articles), updating your status frequently, setting up an rss feed so your blog is automatically posted, participating occasionally in a group discussion.
Also, you can join one of the library cataloguing places like librarything or goodreads. Catalog your books, talk about reading, connect with others who share your likes and dislikes.
There are many things a writer can do to publicize long before a book is even finished, and if done right, no one will know you are promoting. Which is the point of guerilla marketing. Sneak in under their guard.
So, one to three years before a contract (or an agent) is even a gleam in your eye is the best time to start promoting. What’s the second best time? Today.