This post is about the first promoting you ever do, the tasks you can complete before you even finish your book. Since you don't have an actual book yet, at this point you're promoting yourself as an author and building a foundation you'll use to promote your book later. As with all good promotion, this isn't about talking yourself up or schmoozing. It's simply about gradually building connections, knowledge, and a social media platform.
1) Start a blog - You may think you have nothing to say and that no one will read it. That may be true, but still, a blog is a great platform to use to connect with other authors. It's the single most useful tool I've found and it will help you with many of the other ideas below.
2) Participate in blogfests - This is a wonderful way to build connections and garner followers for your blog. As a bonus, this solves your problem of not knowing what to write about, they will tell you!
3) Read other blogs and comment - It's such a small thing, but other bloggers will take notice of you and may follow and comment back...which gradually builds your network.
4) Get critique partners and beta readers - Aside form the obvious benefit of improving your work, this is a great way to build strong relationships with other to-be authors and possibly find your first fans. You can bet that these people will be thrilled to help you promote your book when the day comes.
5) Promote others - Remember the golden rule? Use your blog to spread the word about your friends' upcoming releases. Offer to interview people. Offer to do cover reveals. Write reviews. They are likely to want to return the favor.
6) Decide on what your author's name will be and use it everywhere - Whether it's the name on your birth certificate or a made-up pen name, you need to decide what name will be plastered across your book's cover. You should decide now because you need to use this name for your social media accounts to make you easier to find. Twitter = @Yourpenname, Facebook = www.facebook.com/yourpenname, Blogger = yourpenname.blogspot.com, and so on and so forth...
7) Buy a domain name - If one day you'd like to have www.yourname.com for your author page, it doesn't hurt to go ahead and snatch it up. You can do this at GoDaddy.com.
8) Learn about book promotion - I am the type of person who doesn't like to use brain space on information I don't need right now. So, I didn't research how to promote my book until after I signed my contract. I don't recommend this tactic. The time between signing a contract and your release day is happy and exciting but also stressful and busy (at least it has been for me). Use the time you have now while you're waiting for people to reply to queries.
9) Start using Twitter and Facebook - If you don't already use these social media tools, now is the time to start. Like blogs, they are great tools to help you build connections. If you already use these tools, start using them like an author. This means you should build an following of other authors and readers and post things of interest to them. In my personal opinion, you don't need an author's Facebook page yet, but it doesn't hurt to start gathering likes now if you want to do that.
10) Dress for the job you want, not the job you have - Yes, that's what I said. And I don't mean you should dress like an author (aka barefoot in sweat pants) to your budget meeting. I mean that you should take yourself seriously as an author before you have a contract. Have the guts to build your platform now. If you're working hard and willing to not give up, you'll probably have a book to promote with it one day.
What do you think? Any other ideas for ways to promote early?
This article originally appeared on 10/8/12 at http://unicornbell.blogspot.com/2012/10/10-ways-to-promote-your-book-before-you.html.