5 Tips for Approaching Influencers About Your Book

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Think of it as the Oprah effect: whenever someone with a bigger platform than you pays attention to your book, you are nearly guaranteed a significant sales boost that can sometimes jump-start your author career.

But how you do approach someone with that kind of power—especially since influencers are constantly being asked by all kinds of people (authors and otherwise) for the favor of their endorsement or nod?

1. Before you make an ask, do what you can to support them.

Sometimes it’s possible to establish a connection with an influencer by supporting their work in public and meaningful ways. This can include writing and publishing reviews of their work, sharing or liking their content or updates on social media over a series of months (even years!), commenting on their blog—or anything that might positively and productively draw your name to their attention. That way, when you contact them later, they may remember your earlier generous support and be more likely to respond.

Note that it is possible to go overboard on this; don’t appear in their line of sight so often as to seem solicitous or overbearing (or like a stalker).

2. Research who they’ve supported in the past and what that support typically looks like.

Some people actively offer support on Twitter and Facebook, others use their blog or website, and still others have podcasts, interview series, or newsletters that become ways of offering recommendations. Closely study where and how the influencer’s recommendations tend to appear so that you when you make your ask, you can be specific about what you have in mind and customize your pitch.

3. Follow standard or recommended channels of contact.

If you’ve been thoughtful so far in the process, you probably know how the influencer prefers to be contacted, or have found instructions at their website. Or perhaps you have seen communication patterns that provide insight on what works or doesn’t in approaching them via social media. As you plan your approach, do it in a way that makes it likely they’ll be open to it, rather than annoyed and immediately put off that you didn’t follow protocol or good etiquette.

4. Craft a personalized ask that is specific and respectful of their time.

Make it as easy as possible for an influencer to help you: tell them specifically what you would like them to do—based on your research and knowledge of how they most typically lend support (e.g., through a tweet, Facebook post, newsletter mention, review, etc). While this may seem presumptuous or rude, if it’s done politely, it is extremely effective. It takes the burden off them to come up with an idea of how they can or should lend support, and allows them to offer a quick and definitive yes or no. It’s also OK (even preferable) to offer them specific marketing copy or language they can build on or edit for their own use.

Keep your ask brief and to the point, and if you think the person may want or need additional information, provide a link to a page, download, or online document where they can find out more.

5. Thank them for any help offered and don’t argue with their response.

Whatever happens, show appreciation for their time if you receive a response, and don’t try to convince them to say “yes” if they’ve already said “no.”

Even if your first approach doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t mean you might not succeed in the future. Keep sharing and supporting that person—assuming you have genuine admiration and interest in their work—and keep your eyes open for future opportunities to connect or interact, especially at events. Sometimes meeting in person can make all the difference on a future ask.

 

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Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. A frequent speaker at writing conferences, she has delivered keynotes on the future of authorship at the San Francisco Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, and HippoCamp, among others. She has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).