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The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing for Authors

influencer marketing for authors cover image

Influencer marketing plays a major role in the digital marketing landscape. Influencers have hundreds of millions of followers across multiple platforms, and their massive, targeted audiences have resulted in nine out of ten marketers working with influencers. And, with the rise of BookTok and Bookstagram, authors are getting in on the game.

 

What is an influencer?

Influencers are people with large, engaged, followings on social media or other platforms.

“Large” is subjective to what is valuable to you. If getting your book in front of 2,000 people would be a big deal for you, then someone with 2,000 followers who posts about books and reading may be an influencer you want to work with. For other authors, they may prefer to go after someone with fifty or hundred thousand followers.

In general, most people consider influencers as those with massive audiences but if a small audience would still be valuable to you, there’s no need to rule out micro influencers with smaller followings.

For authors, influencers you’ll want to work with will likely be using hashtags like #bookstagram and #booktok on social media platforms, and their posts will largely be about reading and book recommendations. Remember, you want exposure to readers, so the influencers you’ll want to work with will likely be those who produce content for readers.

 

Why work with an influencer

So, why work with a book influencer? There are myriad reasons, and it can be helpful to define your primary goals before beginning to find and contact influencers (we’ll cover the contact process later in this post). Here are the most common reasons why authors should work with influencers.

 

Book influencers can have large audiences

Influencers all have one thing in common. Followers. Lots of followers. These people have thousands (or millions) of followers across different platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, and getting your book in front of that many eyes can lead to lots of sales or downloads.

Another reason influencers can be such powerful marketing partners is the specificity of their audiences. An influencer who primarily produces content around fantasy books and stories will almost certainly have an audience who loves fantasy. The same goes for other genres.

The size and specificity of influencer audiences is unmatched in the digital marketing world. Yes, interest targeting on platforms like Facebook gives you access to massive audiences, but sometimes results can bring to question how specific the audiences really are. If someone is choosing to follow a particular influencer, it’s a transparent and powerful signal of their interests. Another factor in why these audiences are so powerful? Trust.

 

Book influencers are trusted by their followers

Influencers are a constant part of the lives of their followers. Posting content multiple times per day, they maintain connection and build the trust of the like-minded people who follow them.

Just as listeners can begin to feel like podcast hosts are their close friends, followers on platforms like TikTok trust influencers who improve their lives with valuable, funny, and entertaining content.

A primary challenge in book marketing is building trust with a new reader. So, by piggybacking on the trust a reader has for an influencer, authors can remove a major obstacle to generating more book sales.

 

Influencers can provide the potential for a ‘big break’

For the reasons we just listed, influencers give authors the potential to take a major leap in their writing career. A large, engaged audience all flocking to your books can be a life changing event.

However, while this potential is real, we don’t recommend focusing on this when developing an influencer marketing strategy. The odds of a big break are smaller, and less in your control than other goals. Instead, keep this potential in mind as you focus on more sustainable goals and building a solid foundation. Aiming only for a ‘big break’ can be financially and emotionally exhausting. Instead, build for the future.

 

Book influencers can be a sustainable marketing tactic

At Written Word Media we are big fans of processes and building on past experience. We encourage authors to embrace this mindset when developing an influencer marketing strategy. Instead of thinking of an influencer engagement as a one-time deal, plan for a future where you repeatedly work with the same influencers.

Avoiding the one-off mindset will allow you to set yourself up for future success. Each time you work with an influencer it will become more efficient. Giving you similar results, but with less effort. This is a great way to build a sustainable author business.

 

Book influencers can help you grow your social media following

If you’re trying to build your social media following, working with an influencer can be a major boost. When someone with many more followers than you posts about your work and tags you, you gain a massive increase in visibility, and if the followers that click through like your content, they are likely to follow you as well.

 

How to find an influencer

Step one in working with an influencer is finding those who you want to work with. Not any influencer will do, you want to look for those who have a focus on reading, ideally in your genre, and maybe even post content that you yourself enjoy.

 

Track your work

Before you begin your research, create a spreadsheet where you can track what you find. In the sample below we have columns to help you remember how many followers an influencer has across different platforms, a rating to help judge how good a fit an influencer is, and whether or not the influencer has been contacted about a partnership.

Influencer research tracker

Another key metric to look at is engagement. Do the influencer’s followers routinely comment on their posts? Does the influencer reply back to those comments? This is a great way to gauge how much influence and credibility the influencer actually has with their audience. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that an influencer with a smaller audience that is more engaged will usually perform better than a larger audience that is less engaged.

The “Audience Fit” column is not necessary, but we like to have a quick judgment to help us remember how good a fit we think an influencer might be. If an influencer posts content that you think would definitely help you sell lots of books, then maybe a 9 or 10 is appropriate for this column. If the influencer tends to not post about books or you just can’t see them driving many sales, and 1 or 2 is a good number. Once again, completely arbitrary, but this column can help you decide who to contact first after you have completed your research.

Once you have your document set up, it’s time to start your research.

 

Research on your own

Start by downloading Instagram and TikTok and searching for hashtags related to your genre. This could be as simple as searching for #fantasybooks on TikTok, clicking on the top post, seeing what other hashtags that poster is using, and searching for those as well. Soon you’ll be finding new influencers AND learning about social media marketing.

Another easy way to find influencers is to look at who the influencers you’ve already worked with or would like to work with follow on their social media accounts. 

 

Ask your readers

If you have a mailing list or even a few trusted readers, ask them for help finding influencers to work with. These people love your books, so if they use social media they could very well follow influencers that will be a perfect fit for you. 

Not all of your reader suggestions will work for you, but they may just turn up a gem.

 

Use a paid tool

As the influencer economy has boomed, so has the industry built around it. There are tons of online tools that you can use to find and contact influencers in your niche.

While a paid tool can be appealing, we recommend staying away at least for the start. Most are not cheap, and, especially while you are learning the ropes of influencer marketing, your time is better spent on the platforms themselves (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.). This will help you learn what’s popular and make better informed decisions about which influencers to work with.

 

Ask your network

Similar to your readers, your author friends could very well have great suggestions here. Maybe they have worked with influencers that you could also work with, or maybe they just follow influencers in your genre. It never hurts to ask your friends.

 

How to approach an influencer

So, now that you’ve found an influencer that you want to work with, it’s time to get in touch. But, before you go firing off a direct message (DM), you need to craft your pitch.

 

1) Develop your pitch

Your pitch is why an influencer should work with you. Typically influencers are busy, have multiple brands wanting to work with them, and are focused on only working with brands that fit their focus. An influencer that talks about reading and books is much more likely to work with an author than one that has never posted about reading. 

Influencers want to keep their audience engaged and your job is to explain why working with you will help engagement.

When you first contact an influencer you have to grab their attention, and make a compelling offer.

Keep it short

When it comes to writing your pitch, the shorter, the better. Also, avoid boilerplate pitches. Make them individual for each influencer—they get pitched all the time and can see right through a message that’s been copied and pasted to a dozen other influencers.

Make a unique, concise offer

If the influencer seems like an amazing fit, consider offering them an exclusive to promote your book to their audience only. Influencers love being able to offer their followers things that they can’t get anywhere else. Here are some ideas on how to make your pitch unique and appealing:

  1. Personalize your message. Suggest a partnership like one have already done, and try to structure your message to allow for a quick yes or no response. It’s also good to show that you have spent some time looking over their content and appreciate what they post. Flatter them, but it must be earnest and not seem insincere. 
  2. Give them a free link or offer to your book or books.
  3. If you have an audience of your own (email list, social media followers etc.), consider including the option to promote the influencer to your followers.
  4. Keep it short. Influencers are typically busy. So shorter pitches are more likely to get attention, and will be appreciated.

 

2) Send your pitch

Now that you have crafted your pitch message, it’s time to send. Ideally send your pitch via multiple methods, and call this out in the message. For example, if you are able to find the influencer’s email, send an email and an Instagram DM and include a sentence like this: “I sent you a DM but also wanted to send you an email as well.”

 

3) Negotiate

If the influencer responds and wants to work with you, it’s time to decide how much you’re willing to spend, and what your likely return will be.

Compensation needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties. If the influencer wants up-front payment, ask if they could share data on how their previous mentions have gone so you can get a feel if the promotion will have a positive return on your investment.

 

How to continue to work with influencers

Always follow up with the influencer and let them know how their shout out of your book performed (whether it went well or not). Sometimes they’ll re-shout you out for free if you didn’t see the results you were expecting. If it did go well, let them know how happy you were with the results and ask if they’d be willing to work together again.

 

Influencer marketing is a less reliable strategy than email promos or running ads, but if you have the time to pitch influencers and have a compelling offer, it could be a game changer.

Have you worked with influencers or considered working with influencers? Have any tips to share with your fellow authors? Share in the comments below.

 

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15 comments on “The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing for Authors
  1. “If the influencer responds and wants to work with you, it’s time to decide how much you’re willing to spend, and what your likely return will be. ”

    How much do they charge? What’s the usual range for this sort of thing?

    1. Hey Mark,

      So rates are truly all over the place. They will vary based on an influencers followers, engagement, how much they like your offer, and if they make their living full-time by creating content. We wanted to put a range in the post but we really found that the only way to know is to contact individual influencers. There is really no standard rate unfortunately.

      The best way to sort out rates is to contact a variety of influencers with different followings, some may work with you for free, some may charge in the thousands, and others in-between.

        1. Well I wouldn’t say a gamble exactly. You only pay an influencer if you agree to work with them, so there’s no monetary risk in simply reaching out. But yes the costs vary wildly, as do the audiences sizes of influencers.

          I think one of the good things about influencer marketing is it can really be a good fit for authors with different budgets because there is so much variance between influencers. Some will work with you for free if you have a compelling pitch and they like your work, others will require thousands of dollars. It all depends on how popular the influencer is, and how in demand their posts are.

  2. Hey Clayton,

    Thanks for the great article! This is literally THE BEST information regarding Influencer Marketing I’ve ever read. Marketing is the most challenging aspect of being a fiction author, imo. So, I really appreciate your direct, step-by-step approach above.

  3. Hi Clayton,

    Thanks for this.
    What percentage rate do you charge for loans in the thousands of dollars? 30-Year fixed okay?

    (Just having fun as I recover from the sticker shock.)

    1. Haha we can talk about a 30 year variable ;). But I understand, it’s really all over the place and some prices you hear when it comes to influencer marketing are wild. But, there are plenty of influencers that will work with authors for free or certainly much less than a thousand dollars, so I wouldn’t let the high-end scare you off if you’re interested in the tactic.

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