I gave a presentation on how to promote your book (or your client’s book) by engaging online influencers. And I cited six books that I’ve promoted over the past couple of years on behalf of their authors: Glock and Law of the Jungle by Paul M. Barrett; Search Engine Marketing, Inc., by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt; Mindful Work by David Gelles; and The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson
The most important part of the premise of this entire presentation is that I have never been retained by a publisher, only by authors who have taken it upon themselves to span the marketing gap in the absence of serious marketing efforts by their publishing houses. They all took responsibility for the success of their books online with online influencers.
Remember, publishing isn’t the same animal it was even 10 to 20 years ago:
- The publishing industry has changed in the last decade
- With eBooks, self-publishing, and a decrease in traditional book reading, the margins on all but the top-sellers is paper thin
- First-time and niche authors have much less support and resources towards book-promotion
- Marketing budgets have been slashed or preserved for top sellers and top earners (that’s assuming you can even get a book deal these days)
- Unlike advertising or a book tour, there is no barrier to entry to social media
- Social media enables both intimate one-to-one relationships with online influencers
- Social also enables access to one-to-many and many-to-many social media shares
- Influencer marketing allows authors to identify and then engage topically-relevant online influencers and bloggers
- Time, talent, and treasure are all you need to support your online “shadow” book launch and book tour
- You can do it on the cheap using just your time and talent or you can subscribe to a dedicated blogger outreach platform like GroupHigh with a little bit of treasure
- Or, you can open your wallet and either collaborate with an expert or hire a publicist to do the outreach on your behalf (I’m always happy to help)
3 essential rules for social media marketing
While social media marketing lacks formal protocol, there are three essentials:
- Treat everyone as if they’re a Kardashian: be excited and grateful and don’t take anyone for granted — no matter how little clout (or Klout) — and be willing to lavish time & attention on everyone
- Be responsive and follow up more than once: “no reply” doesn’t mean “no”
- Provide an exceptional gift: bloggers love bound galleys, they love hardcover copies drop-shipped. They’ll take paperbacks, some prefer Amazon-compatible downloads — but nobody at all loves a PDF attachment.
In each of the preceding books, each author was willing to lavish as many books, at much attention, and as much time was as required to make a connection and honor each influencer:
- Paul M. Barrett was willing to brave the gun message boards for Glock.
- Amy Wilkinson hosted a reddit IAmA question and answer session.
- Mike Moran & Bill Hunt never met an interview they weren’t willing to take.
- David Gelles took podcast interviews as readily as NPR interviews.
Why you should reach further than the A-List
- Top newspapers, journals, celebrity sites, and high-status A-level blogs are highly competitive.
- Don’t forsake the crème de la crème but don’t only rely on them to fuel your book’s promotion — everyone’s fighting to go to prom with the prom king and prom queen.
- If you don’t already have a brand, it’s entirely possible to build a powerful brand from the bottom up: blog by blog, influencer by influencer.
- Social media goes beyond blogs, Facebook, and Twitter — don’t ignore message boards and specialty sites.
Rule #34b — If it exists there is a blog about it.
There’s so much more than mommy bloggers
- Paul M. Barrett made best mates with both the pro-gun and anti-gun online — I helped him connect with shooting sport hobbyists on both general sports shooting and Glock-specific message boards for his book Glock.
- I found David Gelles hundreds of influencers connected with the mindfulness movement, both spiritual and secular.
- I helped Amy Wilkinson connect with both entrepreneurs and women with the goal of connecting with women entrepreneurs.
- Mike Moran tapped me to help him and Bill Hunt track down everyone outside of their personal SEO/SEM database of contacts.
Run your campaign on any budget — here are some tools
- For years, I did all of my blogger outreach campaigns using Excel spreadsheets and then Google Sheets.
- I discovered bloggers using keywords on Google and blog search engines and tracked engagements on those blasted spreadsheets.
- You can do it cheap and hard or spend a little money to make it easier.
- I currently use a combination of Google, SDL (formerly SM2), InkyBee, and GroupHigh to do my blog and blogger research.
- I use GroupHigh to manage my outreach campaigns, including contacts & follow-ups.
Never forget that every single profile, website, blog, and email address represents a person, a soul, an ego, and a heart. Never lose sight of the fact that you’re reaching out to people and not just reviews, ratings, blog posts, or earned media mentions.