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November 12, 2009

When Is the Right Time to Start Marketing Your Book?

Almost every book author wants to know: When is a good time to start marketing a book? While still writing the book, while looking for an agent or publisher, while going through the self-publishing process? When the book is available on Amazon?

There are few certain replies to this question except for one: It’s rather late to start marketing your book when it is already out on Amazon.

So what’s the answer as to when is the best time to start marketing a book? It depends.

And what it depends on is a great number of variables, including is this your first book, do you already have an online reputation, are you a renown newspaper journalist who is about to write a first novel, and any other variable that you care to name. (Such as, do you have a famous last name, such as Mary Higgins Clark’s daughter had when she started writing mysteries?)

If we can agree that we can’t pinpoint an exact right time that applies to everyone, are there general guidelines that can help all authors?

Yes, I believe there are. First, if you’re interested in promoting online, the earlier you start establishing yourself online the better. And the first step is to decide on your brand as a book author.

What do I mean by brand? I mean how you plan to position yourself in your marketing and promotion. What is it that will make you stand out from other writers of non-fiction or similar fiction? What will make people interested in you (and hopefully want to buy your book)?

The strategizing of your brand definitely takes place as early as possible in the publication quest for your book. And as part of this brand strategy, it’s very important to consider the proposed title of your book. This is even more relevant if you’re going to self-publish. You should check out your title with others even if you love the title.

Does your book title “read” the way you think it does? Or does your proposed tile have a different meaning to some people? For example, today I saw someone’s proposed book title that will be very hard to remember, let along spell on Amazon or for a URL. This is probably not the best name for a book.

And does the title stand out? Does it create an image in a potential reader’s mind so he/she can remember the title? A generic title such as “A Good Trip” doesn’t create a specific image, whereas “Six Sunny Days in Paris” creates a strong sense memory.

Once you are clear about your brand and have a good “working” book title (it still may change), you can begin to add elements to your brand positioning.

You can, for example, have someone create short videos (less than three minutes) of you talking about the stages you’re going through in researching and writing your book. Then you can use software such as Sony Vegas Movie Studio to edit the video and to put text such as your name and, if you have a website, your website’s URL on the video.

And you can upload these short videos to YouTube and other video-sharing sites. Remember, it’s important to tag these videos with good keywords that relate to you and your brand so that people will have an easier time finding your videos.

You can start a blog, detailing the stages of your book’s process and sharing sample chapters with your blog readers. Getting feedback early on can help you refine your book. And you can offer to write guest posts for other people’s blogs, again staying true to your brand in what you offer to write about.

And then you’re ready for a website – a site that you can control yourself without waiting days for your web master to make one little change. That’s why I recommend having someone build you a website using Once all the backend steps are done, you will have a website (and blog if you want) that is hosted on your own site and can be completely controlled (read “changed”) by you.

Finally, it’s time to establish a sincere presence on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well as various book sites and other social media sites. Gradually build up your presence on these sites by engaging in conversations with others, offering advice when you can, and establishing relationships that will come in handy when your book is published.

Having a website or at least a blog hosted on another site such as provides you with your own arena of visibility when you set up your profiles on social media sites. By using your website URL or blog URL as part of who you are on the internet, you’re more firmly establishing an online foundation for your book’s publication and marketing.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant. If you liked this article, you’re going to love her free report on “The Top 3 Internet Marketing Elements” – download the report now from