Many first-time authors don't spend much time thinking about book marketing until they've finished writing their book, perhaps when they're putting together a book proposal. However, you should think about your book marketing strategy well before getting to that point.
"What can I do to market a book that doesn't even exist yet?" you might ask. Good question.
Here are three specific book promotional activities that you can focus on early on:
If you care about your book selling and actually reaching readers, you must conduct some form of market research. This is when you determine if there's even an audience out there looking for the kind of book you want to write. It's also when you look into the competition so you can tell if your planned market is already over-saturated or if there is still plenty of room for a new author or book. That's not to say the market has to determine whether or not you pursue every book idea you have. But it would be foolish to write a book that you plan to sell without at least understanding your target market first.
Something else you can start working on early is your author platform. Not sure what an author platform is or if it applies to you? Read "What is an Author Platform?" first.
Book Marketing Plan
You should also focus on your book marketing plan from the start. What kind of marketing budget will you have? Where will you promote your book online? Offline? Will you seek out speaking engagements, organize book tours, or plan other events? If you plan for this book to be part of a series, how will you promote your series branding in addition to this single title? Now is the time to lay out your plan so you can build appropriate relationships and save enough to cover the marketing tactics you want to pursue so you won't be left scrambling when your book is ready to launch.
Can you think of other book marketing ideas that can be pursued before your book is written? If you've already published a book, do you wish you would have been better prepared for the marketing side of things, or did you start early so you could jump right in at launch time?