#1 bestselling author & CEO at MindStir Media, an award-winning self-publishing company.
Every day, publishers and authors alike are asking a major question: How do we sell more books? As a bestselling author and owner of a self-publishing company, I’ve seen the problem from both sides of the spectrum.
Through that experience, I’ve also identified what is perhaps the most overlooked strategy of marketing a book: influencer marketing. This is the practice of working with a content creator or celebrity to promote your work to their followers. Because of their online presence, that person has “influence” over the industry, thus the name. These influencers include bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, social media personalities or other influential figures.
I’ve seen this strategy works well because it has something that a lot of ads don’t have: trust. An influencer’s followers often trust them much more than an average internet browser trusts a social media ad, and because of this, influencer marketing drives a high response rate.
It’s hard to say why this approach is so underutilized for book marketing. Perhaps most publishers haven’t built budgets for it, or perhaps it’s seen as too avant-garde for one of the oldest entertainment industries. Regardless, influencer marketing is a secret weapon of the best book marketers, and here are strategies you can practice while forging your own influencer marketing relationships.
First, you need goals. What are you trying to accomplish as you begin this new marketing endeavor? Your goals might affect your strategy down the line, so it’s important to have them clearly defined before you ever start the outreach.
If you are releasing a new book, your main goal is to presumably sell copies. That’s an engagement response that can be measured with KPIs.
If you’re starting an influencer marketing campaign during the time between books — or perhaps leading up to a release — your goal might be building brand awareness for your personal platform.
There’s no right answer on what your goal should be — just ensure it’s one that works best for you.
Identify the right influencer.
There’s a misconception in influencer marketing that the best influencer is one with the most followers. Instead, the best influencer for your book is actually the one who’s most closely aligned to your audience. For example, if you wrote a young adult romance novel, you’ll likely see better results working with an influencer from that genre with 5,000 followers than an influencer who blogs about adult thrillers to an audience of 100,000.
To find the best influencer, you must first know your audience inside and out. From there, simply search your favorite platforms for influencers who are involved in your topic, check out their content, then identify those you’re most interested in possibly working with.
Once you have the right influencer in mind, it’s time to pitch.
Come up with the best terms.
The trickiest part of landing an influencer marketing opportunity is creating terms that appeal to both sides. The influencer will probably not promote your book without expecting something in return, so when you reach out to the influencer, there are two different ways to approach the partnership:
• Exclusive content: In my experience, influencers thrive on creating content that people want to watch, and the opportunity to read and review a book before the rest of the world gives them some “exclusive” content that will appeal to their followers and result in impressions (and revenue).
• Money: You can always ask for rates and write a check for the partnership.
Based on either approach, if the influencer agrees to work with you, then you must decide what sort of partnership you want to have. Here are some options:
• Video: Video marketing is what I’ve found to be the most powerful form of influencer marketing. Having the influencer endorse your book on camera gains credibility for your work and appeals to the influencer’s audience.
• Social media mentions: The influencer tags you in a series of social media posts, oftentimes ones that you draft for them.
• Contests: The influencer leads a contest or giveaway to give copies of your book to people who follow your social media or subscribe to your site.
• Discount codes: If you sell your books on your own website or online store, you could even work a discount code into the agreement, which allows the influencer’s followers to get in on exclusive rates.
The path you and the influencer decide to take will change the price/terms of the agreement, but always be courteous, flexible and open-minded when establishing these relationships. Also, it’s often best practice to do whatever you can to make the partnership as easy on the influencer as possible, so don’t be afraid to offer to draft posts or content on behalf of the influencer.
Track and measure your success.
This is where the goals come back into play. Depending on what your goals were going into the project, there will be different ways to track and measure them, but a few things will remain the same regardless.
For one, you need to make a document of who you reached out to, what terms you proposed, if they responded, and the email/contact you used. Then, if you land an influencer partnership, you need to also make a document to track the mentions of your work and the impressions of each mention, along with the dates.
From there, you can cross-reference the dates of the mentions with the number of units your book has sold online, and a strong correlation between high mentions and sales will be indicative of successful partnerships.
Learn and improve.
Lastly, realize that no marketing campaign is perfect and there will always be ways to improve. With that in mind, actively consider what goes right and what doesn’t.
If you build on successes and fix your mistakes, you’ll be an influencer marketing pro in no time.