I've never heard of someone promoting a book that's not even published. You can't generate interest without a finished product. Publishers begin a pre-promotional campaign before books are released but they have already been given released dates and obviously, already published.
Look at it like this:
It takes 12-18 months for a book to be published. It of course takes much longer if you haven't even been accepted yet or gotten an agent.
I assume you want to be published traditionally so you can build a rep as a true author and have your book in stores. At least I hope.
Also, if you intend on publishing traditionally through a real publisher, you can't possibly promote the book yet. Not only has it not been written but you have no idea how long it will take you to find an agent, become accepted and have that book sold to a publisher. So, there is no way you can promote something that isn't even close to publication.
Readers don't like to be teased. If an author mentions a book they want to know when the book will come out. If you mention a book and say, it never gets published, then what happens? See, it's best to wait until the book is finished. If you're still writing it, you should concentrate on finishing that. But it wouldn't make sense to promote something that isn't even close to being published.
Interesting, I have set in on a lot of seminars with some really great marketing and PR specialist and one thing they always comment on is creating a buzz (marketing and PR) once you get the concept in your head. They have indicated that your efforts should not wait until you are published because by then you are behind in your efforts. My first book was published with no marketing or PR strategy at all, I thought that everyone would want my book because I liked. I soon learned that this is simply not the case.
My current book line has been promoted, marketed and blogged, I try my best to continue to feed information to my readers so that I can build a solid following for my craft. Am I correct in saying that publishers want you to have a following before? If a person is a first time author how can they build this following? My goal is to continue to learn all I can in order to generate a solid group that wants to hear what I have to say.
My current distributor decided to publish and distribute my newest book before the book was finished. This decision was based on my previous books and the marketing steps that I had already taken. However I am almost positive that if I had come to them without a marketing plan, a following or PR they would have showed me the door http://www.mrdonaldpayne.com/
I am a traditionally published author so I am looking at it from my experiences. I know how publishers and agents work. Real publishers do not rely on authors for the prepromotion of their books. They do all of that by sending out review copies, contacting and putting the books in stores, getting your books listed in major papers and catalogues so libraries can be aware of new books. Big pubs have connections and they are responsible for the buzz. After the book is out, the author can begin their own promotion, but authors are not responsible for or expected to do any prepromotion buzz, IF they are traditionally published.
No real publisher is going to shoot down a new author with no marketing platform. Why? Because they ask you that AFTER they accept your work. They merely ask you if you have any ideas and what you'd like them to do or to give them a list of contacts for them to work with. But they do not rely on authors pre-buzzing a book BEFORE it's published. Any reputable publisher knows this is silly. Publishing goes on a schedule. Your book could be accepted December 2009, but guess what...not released to the public until 2011. Would the author spend a year or more promoting a book that is not available, that much time in advance? Publishers take care of that, it's called marketing. Authors "promote", publishers "market".
Now like I said, if you're going the self-published route that's a different story and good luck. I don't know what publishers you are speaking of, but no reputable publisher is going to require a first time author to have a drawn out marketing plan. That wouldn't make sense because that's what they do themselves. If anything they would require it more from an author already published because we already have fanbases and audiences and can pull it off, but they still don't expect that. The pre buzz is their job. That's why they have different departments, they do different things to get books ready for the marketplace.
If someone decides to go this route before even knowing the book will be published then I hope things work out. But there are millions of problems that can happen and the author is the one who will end up looking silly if a book never happens. Too many problems and things arise. The author could lose the contract with the publisher and get dropped before the book is released. Then what? You've promoted something that's not even being released. Another thing, your release date can change. This happens all the time. So if you risk promoting too early, and then the pub says, "We're pushing the book back another year". Then what? You've wasted time promoting something that hasn't even seen the light of day.
Meanwhile, your potential readers (who you've promoted to) are getting pissed. One day they book is going to be out now, then it's not. You think they are going to stick around? Better yet, if you promote a book a year earlier than it's release, you think readers are going to remember your book WHEN it comes out the following year? Nope they won't. You want that book fresh on their minds when it comes out so they can grab it up. Readers will lose interest if you promote a book in 2009 then here it is 2011 and it's just coming out. They won't remember it or care. But if you begin promoting right before the release (with the pub), it will be more sensible and help sales. But not one is going to remember a book someone buzz's about WAAAAAAYYYYYYY before it's published. So, you can lose anyone who might have bought it.
Writers should at least wait until they've signed on the dotted line because pubs drop authors all the time before books are released. It would be very embarrassing for an author to promote a book, something happens and it never sees the light of day.
Thank you for this insightful information. I have been promoting and marketing my current titles and have done well distributing to non-bookstores. My goal for 2010 is to release another book but I wanted to make sure I did everything correctly this time. I have created a following that is growing daily and people recognize me as an expert author so I am know starting to feel the love.
With my newest book I had an entire marketing and branding strategy that I wanted to use in the production of the book. I see know that I will have to do a little more due diligence. Thanks for the information and I wish you the best in your own success.
I wish you much success too! There is of course nothing wrong with having a marketing plan in your head or even on paper. That's great, we all do it (I hope), it's just better to act on it closer to the project to get the best out of it. You can advertise movies years in advance and people will remember to go seem them, but there are so many books published a year that promoting it before the book is even completed or (a book), can be a hindrance if problems arise.