Ok, i had the same message when i was trying to program my mega8 before i found out the chip was deadbrickedd/fried. Dont start to worry about that just yet though, you will get that message if something is not connected with your electronics or there is something like a short.
Steps for checking your circuit board and power.
1, Check your battery is hooked up right and the connectors are snug and not lose.
2, Check there are no breaks in your power cable, if you are not sure replace it( that is what happened with me)
3,Check all of your connections solders and wire connections
4,Check there are no solder bridges between pads
5,use a multy meter and check the power buses to make sure your board is recieving power.
and with most programmers your power needs to be pluged in for you to be able to program.
i know it must seem mind boggling but always take as many precusion and check and recheck your circuit
good luck and report back with your progress