An influencer is an individual who has built a reputation for his or her knowledge and expertise on a particular topic and likely uses social media to get that message across. Pat Flynn is a notable influencer in the entrepreneur and podcaster niche, best known for Smart Passive Income. People gravitate toward him because he’s an expert in his field (who happens to have a large following: very important). People listen to influencers’ recommendations because they have credibility. You trust them. Think of some people you follow and trust. Chances are that’s an influencer. Here are some of my favorite influencers in the book world:
- Joanna Penn
- Mark Dawson
- Jerry B. Jenkins
- David Gaughran
You don’t need an influencer’s clout to make your book and brand successful. But if you want to reach a larger audience and make more sales, then keep reading.
As with many things, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pitching to influencers and borrowing their tribes. But we are going to cover the basics and some important do’s and don’ts.
Which Influencers Do I Approach?
You start with people you already know or have connected with: notable authors, bloggers, speakers, podcasters, artists, or business people who would be interested in endorsing or promoting your book.
Once you have a list of the notable people you have connections with, it’s time to make a second list. Do you know anyone who is connected to someone notable? Maybe you’ve never met Joyce Meyer, but your cousin helped her with a few details in her latest book or acted as her personal assistant’s assistant during her most recent conference tour. Write down those names! It’s okay that you don’t have BFF bracelets with that person. You have a mutual friend, and that’s a start—but I do recommend having your connected friend write an introduction or the initial pitch, not you.
Your third list: a cold call list. You won’t actually call these people, but you will be emailing them. This one is tricky, and we’ll cover it below—but write down a list of influencers you’d just love to have endorse or promote your book. The sky’s the limit!
How Do I Pitch Influencers?
Flattery never hurts. Tell them not only who you are but why you’re worth their time. Did you practice something they preached? Did you follow their courses with excellent results? Did you write a five-star review of one of their romance novels? (Keep the compliment section brief, though.) Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
- Do be brief. When I started pitching to influencers, I was one verbose cookie. Thanks to Mike Loomis (literary agent, brand marketer, and author of Your Brand Is Calling), I’ve learned to cut it way down. Remember: Influencers are busy people. They don’t have time to read a novel-length email.
- Do give influencers plenty of time to say yes or no. If your book has to be finalized for publication by June 1 and you want endorsements in the front matter by then, ask for an endorsement in April (maybe even March). They need time to read and review your book.
- Don’t be pushy. Hounding them will result in a huge no. It’s okay to email them to check in, but don’t drive them nuts.
- Do write up five to ten boilerplate endorsements for their use. Bet you didn’t know that authors often write their own endorsements, huh? The influencer can tweak them or add to them—it’s just nice to have a few prewritten endorsements for the influencer’s convenience.
- Don’t get your feelings hurt when they say no. Thank them for their time. Don’t burn any bridges! Always be grateful.
For tracking down their email addresses, you can try these methods:
- Go to the influencer’s website and use his or her contact form or use the Find/Search function and type in the @ symbol to scan for an email address.
- Go to the influencer’s Facebook page, click About, and look under email address.
- Go to the influencer’s LinkedIn page, ask to connect, and if you get a yes, look under his or her contact information.
Look for press inquiries or publicist inquiries while on the influencer’s website if the first three options don’t work.
When Should I Start Pitching?
Tim Grahl (author of Your First 1,000 Copies and Book Launch Blueprint) recommends starting six months before your release. I’ve started at three months and done fine. However, these are busy people, so it can take much longer to get things moving along with an influencer.
Don’t forget: You are an influencer to others and have the power to absolutely make a fan’s day. Some readers out there are obsessed with your books. If they were to meet you in person, they would probably cry or jump up and down. You have touched their very souls, and they love you for that.
For me, this person is Mary Kubica. Once I read The Good Girl and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I did a couple of shout-outs on Instagram, and she responded. I asked her for an interview, got it, and eventually wound up with a signed copy of the book that started it all for me as a book blogger.
I. Went. Bananas.
And you have the power to make a fan’s day just as Mary did mine.
When fans tag you, say thank you and talk to them. Repost their photos of your book. Retweet the interview someone did with you. Show that you care, and the reader will never forget it. You want to do this author thing forever, right? Then be grateful to the readers who make it happen.
Note from Jane: If you enjoyed this post, check out Shayla Raquel’s new book The 10 Commandments of Author Branding.
A self-publishing mentor, best-selling author, and public speaker, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with writers every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has been in the publishing industry for eleven years and teaches on author branding, indie publishing, book marketing, and the craft of writing. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books.
She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, “The Rotting” (in Shivers in the Night), The Suicide Tree, The 10 Commandments of Author Branding, All the Things I Should’ve Told You, and “Savage Indulgence.” In her not-so-free time, she studies all things true crime and obsesses over squirrels. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three fur babies. Learn more at her site.